ESTIMATES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES. - IN COMMITTEE ON FINANCE.

Tuesday, 8 June 1926

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 16 No. 6

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Motion made by the Minister for Justice on the 7th June:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £36,211 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1927, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Iascaigh.

That a sum not exceeding £36,211 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during [618] the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the salaries and expenses of the office of the Minister for Fisheries.

The debate was resumed.

MINISTER for FISHERIES (Mr. Lynch): Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Last night before we concluded, I had covered, in rather considerable detail, the various schemes which my Department conducts, having for their object the development of our sea and inland fisheries. This brings us down to sub-head F., which provides for the maintenance of those industrial centres scattered around the western seaboard and which are State-managed. There are about forty-one of these in all, distributed as follows:—Galway, 14; Mayo, 13; Donegal, 8; Cork, 3; Sligo, 2, and Kerry 1. The output of these industrial classes, as we call them, consists particularly of knitted woollen wear and of stuff in the nature of artificial silk, knitting, crochet-work, lace, embroidery and so on. The changes of fashion and the very heavy duty imposed last year in Britain on imported artificial silk gave the industry a very severe set-back. As a matter of fact, we had to get classes, in which three-quarters of their output was in the artificial silk line, to switch on to woollen knitting.

We were helped in this by the tax in this country on imported ready-made clothing. That gave a fillip to the knitted woollen wear turned out in these classes. In order to meet that increased demand at home for knitted goods, we increased our plant last year and we introduced knitting into districts which formerly turned out lace and crochet goods only. In the Estimate now before the Dáil, under sub-head F, Section 1, and sub-head 7, £16,000 is provided for the purchase of raw materials. We may require that amount and we may not, or we may require more than that amount. It is a thing which one cannot specify exactly. We propose during this year to increase our knitting plant by fifteen or twenty knitting machines. It is unfortunate that we cannot move forward more rapidly in this direction because of the difficulty in getting trained knitters [619] who are able to utilise the machines. We are constantly having very considerable difficulty in that direction.

The subject of marketing the products of these classes is one which, I think, needs very considerable alteration. At the moment, as a matter of fact, it is receiving the very close attention of the Department. We feel that there must be centralised control of the selling side. At the moment one class may be competing against another in their products. That means, perhaps, considerable loss from the point of view of the price received for the goods. We are therefore contemplating a scheme by which we will have centralised control. The scheme, as a matter of fact, is almost ready. These rural industries were really mainly meant to give employment to girls in the remote agricultural areas. We find one exception to that in the Galway toy factory. This factory was set up by the late Congested Districts Board, about ten years ago, in a very small way. At first, in order to try and create the business of making wooden toys in the west, about five years ago they acquired much larger premises. They purchased more modern machinery for the manufacture of toys and went in for the business on a bigger scale generally. Steady employment was given to about twenty girls and boys, and ten adults. However, in spite of the fact that they had cheap power and cheap raw timber—the Congested Districts Board, as a matter of fact, were the proprietors of a wood not very far distant from the factory—the results of the trading of this factory up to last year have shown very heavy losses. After very long consideration I have come to the conclusion that, if it is not disposed of, or run as a private business concern, it will have to be closed down. We are at present considering an offer in this direction.

I would ask Deputies to bear in mind that these rural industries were started by the Congested Districts Board and that that was one of the chief reasons for the creation of that body. The industries were handed over to my Department in 1924. Undoubtedly the setting up of such industries in such a way involves loss, but I think there [620] must be a limit to the continuation of that loss. It is the policy of the Fisheries Department where some of these classes show no hope of moving towards self-support, to close them down. Since we took them over we have closed down several. They were not being availed of, and for one reason or another were a hopeless loss. Some of them are paying—a limited number—since last year. That is because of the set-back I referred to in connection with the tax on artificial silk. I omitted to mention some figures in connection with the output of these classes. In 1922-23 the value of the output was £29,253; in 1923-24 £32,074; in 1924-25 the figures rose to £34,003; last year (1925-26) it dropped back to £29,717. Still it was somewhat higher than 1923-24, but over £4,000 less than 1924-25. That is accounted for by the tax on artificial silk. The drop would have been far greater only for switching on to knitted woollen goods. When these industries are really self-supporting they may be enticing propositions to a buyer. We are anxious that they should be sold. The policy is to sell and remove them from State intervention.

Before leaving the question of rural industries I would like to refer to Donegal homespuns. At one time these were a very important source of income to the small landholders and weavers of south-west Donegal. I think some steps should be taken to revive these industries, the products of which were fairly widely known. It is hardly necessary to reiterate the causes that have led to the disappearance of these industries. They were partly, if not chiefly, the lack of foresight on the part of the weavers, not having up-to-date patterns and, to some extent, the changes in fashion. It became less usual to wear coarse woollen homespuns produced in this way. That, I think, may be only a temporary phase, so that there may be possibilities for reviving the industry. However, there is a danger that the weavers may have lost the art and that spinning and weaving there may die out. There is need for giving a helping hand to the industry. I have put a proposition up to the Finance Department asking for [621] authority to appoint an industrial inspector on my staff. This person must be competent to undertake the introduction of more up-to-date methods of dyeing and weaving. Such an inspector would be essential for a considerable time until the weavers realise that they must keep their work up to the best standard. I can deal with any other questions that arise on sub-head F in my reply.

Sub-head G deals with the provision of £9,500 for the maintenance and operation of the fishery cruiser. The same amount was provided last year, but the actual cost of running was £7,520, or £1,980 less than was estimated. The saving was chiefly due to the fact that we had a lighter repair bill than usual, and to a reduction in the cost of coal. We are asking for £9,500 this year, as, owing to the present position of the coal trade, we are not able to calculate what the price will be. It may rise very considerably. With a twenty years' old boat it is hard to estimate what repairs may be required when she is brought into dock for annual overhaul. Although it has almost become a hardy annual, I have to repeat that it is absolutely necessary to have at least one other ship. Anybody who knows the coast knows that there are at least 1,000 miles to be patrolled, and that one boat could not possibly do that effectively, more especially now when a great many poaching trawlers are equipped with wireless, and inform one another of the whereabouts of the “Murchu” when she is seen at a particular point. When trawlers at Donegal learn that the “Murchu” is at Valentia, naturally Donegal coast is fair game for the trawlers there.

I have been asking for a second fishery cruiser for, I think, three years. I was advised, after reference to the Finance Department, to put up particulars of the cost. I showed that a new boat of the type we have would cost forty thousand pounds to build, and about nine thousand pounds to run. We would have her built in such a way that she would resemble poaching trawlers as closely as possible, so that it would not be easy to distinguish her at a distance. It is unfortunate in regard [622] to our present boat that she is fairly easily distinguishable. After considerable discussion with the Finance Department, it was suggested by them that we should look out for a second-hand boat that might be converted. We did that, and we put up a proposition to the Finance Department for a boat at £16,000, which would help us considerably, though she would not be quite so good as we would like. That proposition is still under consideration by the Finance Department, and we have not got sanction.

Sub-head H represents our contribution to the International Council for the Study of the Sea. I referred to that in my opening remarks. The amount set down represents our contribution in respect of membership. Last year it amounted to £400, and this year it is £550. The contribution is a fixed sum, paid in Danish Kroner, and the increase is caused by the rise on the exchange of Danish currency.

I now come to Minor Marine Works. I should like to refer to these somewhat fully, lest any misinterpretation be placed on the remarks I made yesterday evening when referring to certain very expensive works in the way of harbours and piers which were built in the past, and at which, even to this day, there is no fishing. These small marine works I consider of the very highest importance, and I should like to have considerably more money allocated for them. They are, as a rule, very small slips or other minor works where fishing is actually going on, and where it is worth the expenditure proposed. The money is usually expended in remote places, where there are no landing facilities, where men fish in very small boats, where they are half-farmers and half-fishermen, and where they help to eke out a living by their operations in the sea. This expenditure I consider of very great utility. As a rule, we ask for some contribution from the local body before we expend the money, so as to prevent frivolous demands for these works. Last year we provided under this heading £1,500, but owing to weather conditions, only £606 was spent, so that a considerable portion of the Estimate this year is really a re-vote. The [623] works done last year included harbour improvements at Gortnasade, in County Donegal; Mountain Stage, in County Kerry; as well as some work done in removing obstructions in Brandon Bay. The postponed works from last year were a shelter wall in Lough Swilly, and a slip on Clare Island, County Mayo. In addition to these works, estimated to cost £900, we are arranging for harbour improvements at Clogher Head, in County Louth, where there is a very industrious fishing population. This particular work will cost £500. The remaining money has been provisionally allocated to works in Dublin Bay, in Kerry, and elsewhere.

As regards sub-head J (Appropriations-in-Aid), I do not think I need say much more. I have referred to nearly all these items before. The item in regard to Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Duties Grant is explained in this way: When the Department of Agriculture was formed and endowed with certain moneys for their purposes, there was this allocation set aside for fishery development.

I have taken up more time than I intended to take and more than was fair to the Dáil, but I thought it necessary to give a detailed explanation of the workings of the Department because of what I considered very badly-informed criticism going on in certain quarters. I have already referred to the development of steam-trawling. Three things are necessary for that, in my opinion. In the first place, there is capital required and that must come from private enterprise. Then there is control, which must be ordinary business control, which can never be done by a State Department and which can never be done under our Constitution. Even in smaller things, the C.D.B. and the D.A.T.I. had a certain amount of freedom as regards financial control, so long as they kept within the amount placed at their disposal.

In the running of any kind of business, you must have the power of turning the money over. That cannot be done by the State and it cannot be done under our Constitution. Then it is necessary to have skilled labour. We are lacking at present in skilled labour. [624] Most of our fishermen are capable of working motor boats and sailing boats, but we have very few trained for the more highly developed modern types of fishing—steam trawlers and steam drifters. Many of our young fishermen who were trained have gone to other countries to follow that or some other calling. The work of the fisherman is very laborious and very dangerous and the results are very uncertain. I am not a believer in the development of steam trawling by State management. I think that slow and steady development on sound commercial lines is the proper course. Our fisheries have improved steadily, as I showed in the figures I quoted yesterday, during the past three years, and, with the improvement of markets, transit and world conditions generally, I look forward to the continuous advancement of the industry year by year.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Has the Minister been able to get the figures of quantities as well as values that I asked for yesterday?

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Yes.

Mr. C.M. BYRNE: Information on Christopher Michael Byrne  Zoom on Christopher Michael Byrne  The Estimate we are discussing deals with a subject which is of vital importance to this country. In fact, there are people in my constituency who hold that this fishing industry is of so much importance that it is debatable whether it comes second to agriculture. I should like to examine, therefore, in detail the figures submitted by the Minister. I think it is not necessary to tell him that anything I say is not said in any spirit of hostility either to himself or to his Department. The one idea I have in mind is to endeavour to assist him to make this industry what I believe it can be made—one of the most productive of the country's activities. The first thing that strikes me about this Estimate is the high cost of administration. Considering the amount of money that the Minister has at his disposal, I think that the cost is extremely high. Examining the figures, we find that for fishery development there is a sum of £34,025, for rural industries £31,120, for sea fishery protection £9,500, and close on £26,000 is spent on administration. When you [625] consider that the amount devoted to sea fisheries is only about £24,000, the cost of administration seems to be altogether out of proportion. Another matter that strikes me is the fact that while the amount for rural industries has been increased, the amount for development of sea fisheries—what we on the East Coast, who have the largest fishing fleet, are mostly interested in— is decreased by over £5,000.

The first item is £7,000 for loans for boats and gear. The Minister told us last night that he had applied for, I think, £10,000, but that Finance had reduced the amount to £7,000. I consider, and I have no hesitation in saying this, that that is a ridiculous figure. Whether it is £10,000 or £7,000, it is totally inadequate for the work it is proposed to assist. I certainly cannot understand how the Minister or the Department can expect the fishermen to get the boats that are lying up in all the harbours in the Saorstát to sea this year. Very many of these boats, I understand, require new engines, and 90 per cent. of them require gear. The point has been made by the Minister, and perhaps to an extent it is true, that there are a large amount of loans outstanding. I think about £85,000 is due by fishermen.

That is certainly a very high figure, rather a startling figure, but I would like to find out where that is owed. So far as the Arklow fishermen are concerned, they got, between the years 1908 and 1923, about £43,554, of which they have paid back £37,156. Those were the figures submitted to an inquiry held by the Department in Arklow in 1923, so that as far as the Arklow fishermen are concerned, they have done their best, and have done remarkably well, in trying to repay the loans. I think, taking everything into consideration, that the present system of granting loans is a hardship on the Arklow men, and I am sure it is a hardship on the fishermen in other parts of the country also. There is an item of £2,000 for fishery requisites for re-sale. I had intended asking the Minister last night to add that to the £7,000 for loans, but the explanation the Minister gave satisfied me that this is expenditure to a good purpose.

[626] The next item is £2,250 for what the Minister called vocational training. I understood from the Minister last night that this is to be used for the training of fishermen's sons. I think that that part of their education should be carried out by the Technical Branch of the Department of Education. Certainly as far as the fishermen on the east coast are concerned, especially those I am familiar with in Arklow, there are hundreds of good fishermen who do not require any kind of training, and I think that that money would be better spent if it were added to the amount for loans. The insurance of power boats is put down at £1,000. I was very glad to learn that the system that was handed down by the British is now done away with, and I hope that the Minister will be able to organise a much better system for the men, because I think that many of them are in arrears, largely due to the high amounts they have had to pay for insurance during past years. But I do hope that the Minister will soon be able to arrange a new system, because I understand that a great many of the boats that have gone to sea have gone without being insured, either by the Department or the owners, and it is rather dangerous to have boats of this kind at sea without being insured.

With regard to the item of £1,000 for boat-building, the only thing I have to say is that I do not think the amount is anything like adequate. It is a very useful and a very necessary thing. The next two items are reconditioning of boats £1,500, and maintenance, £500. I have been informed by practical fishermen that a great many of the boats are what might be described as derelicts. That may be rather a sweeping statemen, but it has been made by practical fishermen, and I think it is admitted that the fishermen in my constituency are the equal of any in Ireland. I think the Minister ought to reconsider whether it is worth while reconditioning these boats and whether that amount would not be better spent if it were added to the amount proposed to be given for loans. I am quite in agreement with the transit subsidy. I agree that it is a good thing to help to get cheaper transit, but I would like to know [627] exactly how that is spent. Does the Minister subsidise any railway company, motor people, or anything of that kind?

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  If the Deputy had been in the House last evening he would have heard me state that this was an annual subsidy to the Galway Steamboat Company for the Arran Islands.

Mr. C.M. BYRNE: Information on Christopher Michael Byrne  Zoom on Christopher Michael Byrne  With regard to dredging operations, many of our harbours are subject to silting, and the question of dredging them at certain periods of the year is important. The Arklow men have asked me to impress on the Minister the fact that if the harbour there were dredged early in April it would probably be open for the rest of the year. They complain in a great many cases that it has been the policy to lock the door when the horse is gone. I heard of a case not very long ago where the dredger was operating in Balbriggan. Something happened to a pipe, or something got broken, and she was sent to Arklow to have it repaired. With some difficulty she succeeded in getting into the harbour, but when she got in she could not get out. I know, of course, that the Minister does not control the dredger and that it is controlled by the Board of Works, but I hope we will be able to arrive at the time when these harbours will be dredged at such a period that they will be open for boats to go in and out during the rest of the year.

As far as fish-curing is concerned, I am quite satisfied with what the Minister said last night, and I must certainly say that I entirely agree with the provision for branding, because I consider it most important that the fish should be branded. I believe that our fish have nothing to lose, but have a great deal to gain, both on the Continent and in Britain, by having their place of origin known. With the other figures I am in practical agreement. They are all small amounts and I presume they are all required. To come back to the loans, as I said before, I think that item is practically the most important one on the list. I think any Deputy who has any fishermen in his constituency will agree that it is absolutely [628] imperative that loans should be granted for these fishermen if they are to continue to carry on their ordinary avocations with any kind of resultant profit, and with a view to increasing the potential wealth of the nation. We are told that other countries do this by private enterprise, but I think that there is no analogy and no comparison. We had always been told that one of the first things we would do when we had a native Government would be to develop this great source of wealth. I believe that there is a great deal of wealth about our coasts in the fisheries. The very fact that they are invaded every year by Scotch, English and other trawlers is a proof of that, and I say that the only way that our fishermen can be helped to any great extent at the moment is by giving them loans.

The system of giving loans at present seems to be a great hardship on many of the men. They have to get two solvent securities, and in many cases—my friend Deputy Everett will bear me out in this—it has come under our notice that solvent sureties were turned down. In Arklow recently a man procured two securities and sent up their names. One was turned down and, thinking that the other was all right, he sent up a third name, which was also turned down. He then succeeded in getting a man who had the reputation of being the richest man in the town and who, I have no hesitation in saying, would be taken by any bank in the city. His name was sent up, and then the other man, who had not been turned down on the previous occasion, was turned down, although he is well-off too. That kind of thing will not encourage fishing. If we had the £10,000 that the Minister looked for, or even double that amount, I am afraid that it would not be anything like adequate for the fishing industry to make the progress that we want it to make.

As everybody interested in the fishing industry knows, the main branch of the industry in Ireland is the herring and the mackerel fishing. The herring fishing begins about the 1st April, and continues intermittently throughout the whole year. The mackerel fishing used to be very remunerative, but I am told [629] that at the moment it is not so. That is largely due to the fact that the American Government by its tariffs prevents the fish being sent into their country. At present the mackerel fishing is said to be nothing like a paying proposition. I do not know how true that is, but I have that information from fishermen engaged in the business. Now, people familiar with the fishing question also know that our principal competitors in the industry are the English and, especially, the Scottish fishermen, and our principal market is the English market. It is a fact that fish—both herring and mackerel—come to our shores much earlier than to the English or Scottish waters. During that period of plentiful supply of fish off our shores, and scarcity off the English coast, the best prices are available.

The Scottish season does not open, especially on the Western Coast, until the middle of June, so that, from the 1st April until the middle of June, we should be in a position of having the market to ourselves. What actually happens? From the 1st of April our waters are invaded by English and Scottish trawlers. These boats are much superior, and much larger, than ours, and their equipment is much better, with the result that they take a greater portion of fish, very much so, than our fishermen. The position is that when the fish are scarce in English waters and plentiful in Irish waters, the English and Scottish drifters reap the benefit that we ought to reap. Of course I am not going to blame the Minister for Fisheries for that. He is not sufficiently long in his position to have revolutionised the industry to that extent, but I think the time has come when serious effort should be made to do something to bring about a better condition of things, and, instead of the Scottish and English fishermen getting the benefit from the industry in our waters, that our people should be able to secure, at least, some of those benefits which nature has so bountifully provided for them.

With regard to the question of boats, the Minister referred to the fact that a certain type of boat is not suitable to us. I have been informed, and I doubt [630] if it can be refuted, that the boats engaged in the deep-sea fishing round our shores are the most inferior boats in these Islands, or possibly in Europe. That is the reason why they cannot compete with the Scottish drifters. The Scottish drifters are much better and much larger, and they can fish much more frequently, and practically in any weather, and, owing to their superior size and equipment all round, they are able to get the fish to market much earlier and in a much better condition. That, to my mind, is an appalling condition of things, and I think something could be done to remedy it. We have the fishermen and we have the fish, and we have the fish at the time when it is especially valuable.

Despite what the Minister said that we have not men to man trawlers and other types of boats, I say we have men in my constituency—we have men capable of handling craft of any size. Their work has been recognised in every harbour in the world, and they will be found, not only in the forecastles, but also on the bridges of the biggest ships in the world to-day. We have the material to work in the ship, but in regard to our fishing boats something must be done.

I certainly say if the fishing industry is to survive and continue, in this country, there will have to be a great deal more money allocated for loans, and, also, there will have to be a re-valuation of the present boats. As the Minister has said, a great many of these boats were bought when prices were very high, and it is not fair that they should be taken at the present valuation. Loans will have to be given to fishermen on much more favourable terms than has been the case. I certainly think that the fishing industry is one for which a lot more can be done. With the materials that we have in Arklow there should be no excuse, and I certainly think that a lot more could be done to make this industry not a burden upon the State, as it is perhaps at the moment, but one of the biggest assets of the State.

I am not one of those who advocate the abolition of the Department of Fisheries. In fact, I take quite a different view. I think it is one of the most [631] essential Departments we have, and, in my opinion, we should insist in placing at the disposal of this Department a lot more money than we do at the present time. If we look around and see what other countries, not, perhaps, blessed by nature with the benefits that we possess, are doing for the fishery industry, we shall be compelled to acknowledge that we have done very little to make this industry what we could make it, namely, a great source of wealth.

I urge the Minister to give very serious consideration to the question of loans. If something is not done in that direction, most of the fishermen will not be able to get out their boats, and we will eventually reach a period at which the fishing industry will cease. The Minister has referred to the fact that many of the young men are going abroad, but if that is so it is because they cannot make anything at the fishing industry at home. They have not the equipment, and they cannot compete with the foreigners, who are taking from us the source of wealth that nature has given to us.

Mr. MacBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  I congratulate the Minister for Fisheries upon the very clear and comprehensive survey of the fishing industry in this State, which he has given us. One would imagine, listening to some people, that the Minister, by the way of an office rule, could revive the fishing trade in the Saorstát or create fishermen to order. The Department of Fisheries cannot trade—no Government Department in any country ever traded at a profit—and fishermen cannot be produced in a day or in a week or in a month or in a year or in many years. The trawling industry at the present moment is one of the principal branches of the fishing industry. Within a very easy distance of this coast there are upwards of 44,000 square miles of the finest fishing grounds in the world, and if you take in the Faroe fishing grounds you have about 54,000 square miles of fisheries. The majority of those fishing grounds are considerably nearer to Irish fishermen than they are to the fishermen of France or of England.

The great majority of these fishing [632] grounds, or at least some large proportion of them, are about an equal distance for Irishmen and for Englishmen, perhaps less for Scotchmen, and while you will find all these grounds frequented by Frenchmen, Englishmen and Scotchmen, you do not find an Irish boat, as far as I could learn, engaged in these fishing banks. What is the reason? The reason is the want of enterprise displayed by the capitalists, great and small, in the Saorstát. That is really at the bottom of the whole matter. The Minister for Fisheries should be placed in the position of being able to guarantee a dividend on capital to any steam trawling fishing company started in the Saorstát. It only wants a little encouragement, and I dare say the capitalists, by direction or encouragement, will be induced to invest their money. But the Ministry of Finance is the stumbling block, I am sure, in this as in a great many other cases. It is time for the Ministry of Finance to display some vision. If trade is to be revived in any way you must risk something. As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Finance is giving encouragement to other industries in the Saorstát. I am sure one large industry that is in progress at the moment will take 15 or 20 years to develop, but only a comparatively small number of years would be required to bring the fishing industry into a successful position.

It is good to know that the Ministry of Fisheries has been encouraging the kelp industry along the coast. This industry is capable of very great development and could be made bring a lot of money to the dwellers along the coast. But the success of the kelp industry depends altogether upon the makers themselves. There must be care in small details in order to make it a success. For instance, you often find two men working side by side at this industry, and one man making kelp only worth £2, not really worth buying, and the other making kelp worth £8. The people must make up their minds in this as well as in every other industry in the Saorstát that the details must be attended to. It is just possible that many subsidiary industries may arise from the kelp industry if it becomes a [633] success. This industry practically died out three years ago. Last year they made 800 tons along the coast. This year they have made between 2,000 and 3,000 tons. The question is: how much of that would be really good kelp? It is by a little encouragement that people may be induced to pay more attention to the manufacture and in turning out just the kind of stuff that is wanted. Because really the buyer is the man who will have to be pleased in the end. He has to make his money just as well as anyone else.

Poaching has been largely overcome, but there is a kind of poaching going on in the country that has not been overcome. That is the poaching with the gun—shooting fish. There are men going around the country at this business. I was under the impression that a gun licence was £2.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  The Minister for Fisheries has no control over that.

Mr. MacBRIDE: Information on Joseph MacBride  Zoom on Joseph MacBride  Yes, but he has control over poaching. If they poach with a gun the Minister has certainly control. If the indiscriminate issue of gun permits is continued, and if these men are not compelled to secure their £2 gun licences, poaching will continue, and not only in the rivers. I hope the Minister will bring pressure to bear upon the Department that has control over these gun licences and put a stop to the indiscriminate issue of these and thus prevent poaching by the gun.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  On every occasion when this Vote was under consideration I attacked and I blamed the Minister for Fisheries for not affording adequate protection to the hand-line fishermen against the poaching trawlers. But in the light of experience I have changed my mind. I do not see that the Minister can be in any way held responsible for the parsimonious policy that has been followed by the Minister for Finance. He it is who is responsible and not the Minister for Fisheries for not providing sufficient money for the purpose of a second fishery cruiser to give hand-line fishermen a chance of earning a precarious living. Money was available for broadcasting without the slightest difficulty, [634] and I contend that broadcasting is not a national necessity.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  The Deputy cannot discuss broadcasting at this stage.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  The provision of a second cruiser for the protection of the coast-line fisheries is a national necessity, but no money was forthcoming for that. Well-to-do people could do without the luxury of broadcasting. But money could be found for that. However, when the national necessity arises for the adequate provision of the fisheries, no money could be found for it. The money that was spent in setting up broadcasting could be used with good results in the provision of a second cruiser for the protection of the fisheries. That would be the means of giving hand-line men a chance of obtaining a living and helping to preserve an ancient and honourable calling, and give the local people also a chance of obtaining cheap and wholesome food at their doors.

But these are very small considerations with the Department of Finance. Time and again it has been pointed out with convincing force and argument that one cruiser is not sufficient for the work of protecting the Saorstát coast-line from the depredations of those marauding pirates. These arguments have been used on several occasions with convincing force, but they had no more effect upon the Minister for Finance than a drop of water on a duck's back. It was treated as a sort of stock joke. But it is beyond the stage of joking now. The poaching trawlers have been held up for the past three or four weeks through want of coal, and the hand-line fishermen are now able to get fish. I think that is a sufficient argument for the provision of a second cruiser for the protection of the coast-line and for the protection of the interests of the hand-line fishermen.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  Send a subscription to the coal strike fund.

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  The miners want money.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  Of course we will be told all about what is being done for [635] the fishermen and the fisheries when the next election comes round in Tirconaill, and we will be told by the Minister for Finance how he is dreaming at night about the provision of a second cruiser, and how he is sitting up at night losing his sleep thinking about the interests of the hand-line fishermen. But with the help of goodness if I am a candidate I will trumpet through Tirconaill that the only enemy the hand-line fisherman has had for the past four or five years is the Minister for Finance and not the Minister for Fisheries. These men would be in a position to pursue their calling and obtain a living if there was any sort of reasonable protection afforded.

As I have already said and argued here, it is absolutely impossible for one cruiser to attempt to protect the fisheries of the entire Saorstát coast-line. I do not think there should be any difficulty in providing sufficient money for a second cruiser. It would be a reproductive investment. It would return dividends of thousands and thousands of pounds and give the unfortunate men who are at present suffering from semi-starvation a chance of making a respectable living. I desire also to bring before the Minister for Fisheries the question of the further development in my county of cottage industries, hosiery, homespuns, and shirtmaking. Without those industries in an acutely congested district, such as in Tirconaill, the people could not exist. More care, more attention, and more money should be devoted to that side of affairs—I do not mean in my county alone, but in all counties similarly situated. I do not know if I have created any impression on that adamantine gentleman who occupies the post of Minister for Finance, but unless there is something done between this date and August, 1927, he may rest assured, if I am a candidate at the next elections, that he will hear something forcibly from me and from the county I come from.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  If I may use wireless, strictly as a metaphor, I would like to congratulate the Minister for Fisheries on having a thoroughly efficient wave-trap which has diverted [636] the waves of denunciation from the Carndonagh broadcasting station from his aerial and thrown them on to that of the Minister for Finance. This is probably one of the most important Estimates which the Dáil has had to consider, and one of the very few in which people are inclined to complain that the amount voted is insufficient. It is important because it holds more possibilities, in my opinion, of development than almost any other service with which the State has to deal, if it is conducted on the right lines.

Very little has been heard here about the inland fisheries, and I think that that is a symptom that people are more or less satisfied with the course adopted in regard to them. The Fisheries Act is in operation, and it is a great improvement on the previous codes of fishery law. The Minister might, perhaps, tell us a little more about prosecutions under this Act, particularly about unlicensed dealers in salmon and trout and the sending of fish by rail. If the Act is worked properly, and if the Gárda Síochána give full co-operation, as I believe they do, there is no need to worry about the inland fisheries. If poaching can be stopped, especially in the spawning beds and in the spawning season, these fisheries will prove a great source of revenue. As regards the sea fisheries, there are great difficulties. I do not know what to make of Deputy MacBride's outcry. I do not know what the Minister issues gun licences for except it is to shoot shrimps. One might possibly shoot seals, but I think the Minister for Justice has authority in that respect.

Deputy White demanded a second fishery cruiser. That has been demanded very often, and there is a great deal of weight in the demand, but when he said that it is impossible for one cruiser to protect our coast line he overlooked the fact that it is also impossible for two cruisers to do that. The money which we get from the broadcasting station would not be sufficient. If you are going to protect the coastline sufficiently, you would require six cruisers, and for that Deputy White did not tell us how we are going to get the money. My humble suggestion [637] would be to take the money from the agricultural grant, but I do not know if that would commend itself to Deputy White and his colleagues. Complete protection could only be carried out with a large number of cruisers and with a large preventive staff, but it is questionable whether the game would be worth the cost.

There has been a marked improvement in sea fisheries in the last year. Deputy C. Byrne said that Irish mackerel had been shut out of the United States by tariffs. I do not think that the Deputy has looked at the latest figures of our exports of mackerel to the United States. In 1924 the amount of pickled mackerel exported to the United States was £28,022, and in 1925 the amount had risen to £80,625, or more than three times as much as the amount for 1924. That hardly looks as if mackerel was being shut out from the United States. While I am one of those who do not complain of the money spent on fisheries, I think it is a pity that those who advocate more money for fisheries should attack the Minister for External Affairs, as it is largely due to him that our market in the United States has been developed. I read articles in the newspapers saying that £60,000 was the amount spent on External Affairs. It is not that amount. The net cost is £26,000, and when you find as against that sum the amount of mackerel sold in the United States has been increased by £52,000, or double that much, you begin to realise that this talk of doing away with this Ministry and giving the money to another is somewhat shallow and unreflecting.

Now, I am inclined to agree with Deputy Byrne when he spoke about the problem of boats. I believe that is largely at the bottom of the distressed condition of our sea fisheries at the moment. The Minister told us last night that our men prefer the old type of boat, the old sailing boat, and they do not like the power-boat and that, therefore, loans for the purpose of buying power-boats were unsatisfactory. But, unless our men reconcile themselves to meet competition with modern weapons, they are bound to be left behind. To go out with an old-fashioned [638] hooker in competition with a modern steam-trawler, which can take in fish more quickly and can get to the markets more quickly because of its machinery, is like going out with a squirt to meet a man armed with a machine-gun.

While I am of opinion that all the money that is being voted is not desirable, I quite agree that money spent on education in connection with fisheries is desirable, and I believe a greater effort should be made to make fishermen realise the nature of the competition they have to contend with. They should not be allowed to sit down continually blaming the Government for not doing something for them either by way of a loan or a subsidy. I do not think that the fishermen along our coasts realise what they are up against as yet. I think they should be made aware that they are up against serious competition, backed up by the most modern methods.

I think that our fishermen are intensely individualistic, intensely conservative, walking along in the old ways and disinclined to do anything that their ancestors did not do. As long as that is so, the want of enterprise deplored by Deputy MacBride on the part of the capitalist will be enhanced by the want of enterprise on the part of fishermen. There are fishermen who, when they have caught a certain amount of fish, say they will not fish any more; they have got what they want and they do not see why they should earn dividends for anyone else. The fact that such a mentality exists in the business frightens off a capitalist more effectually even than any foreign competition. If the deep-sea fishing industry is to be reorganised the Minister will have to educate the fishermen to a sense of what they are up against in the modern world.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  It is a matter of frequent comment in the city that fresh fish is practically impossible to procure. Now, obviously, the natural and normal development of the fishing industry should be in the direction of providing for the home market. The jest was made in the fruit-growing districts of the United [639] States and Canada that the natives cat what they can, and what they cannot eat they can for export. The surplus of our catches, after the home market has been adequately provided, should be exported. Why is it not? There is this neglect to consider the home market and this desire to boast about exports. The deficiency is in two directions. There is the want of general marketing centres at appropriate places in the Saorstát. The Minister told us that there is no market anywhere in the Saorstát for this type excepting the capital. There is no market in Cork. Evidently, in Cork they get their cod from England.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  And their fluke.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  I speak only of what I know. One very obvious enterprise for the Department of Fisheries, therefore, is to see to it that those marketing centres are provided and are regularly organised. The great defect lies as regards transport. There is a deficiency of transport. My colleague, Deputy Byrne, asked the Minister just now what did the £1,100 in the Estimate under the heading of Transport represent. It represents a subsidy for the steamboats that go to the Aran Islands. There is nought for the subsidising of transport in regard to fisheries if you subtract the money that is given by way of subsidies to the Aran Island steamers.

Last night the Minister told us there were only two ways of developing industries, by State aid or State schemes. One, as he rightly said, and put it first, was by means of regulations and Acts of Parliament, such as his own Fisheries Act of 1925. The other, which he mentioned only, as I understood him to contend, was the formulation of great, bold schemes. Now what we require for this, which ought to be one of our richest and most productive industries, is the imagination and the courage that would provide a well coordinated service, co-ordinating the catching, the marketing and the disposition by transport of the catches. That is really what is required and money must be spent upon that.

It is all very well to talk as the [640] Minister did about private enterprise. We know the history of our own country too well to realise that we cannot, at this particular moment and under the conditions that prevail, talk about private enterprise in the same way as we would if we were writing academic essays. It is not an academic problem how we should recover lost ground in Ireland or how we could make up for the lee-way of centuries. Whether one approves of it or not, in theory it is absolutely requisite to have State subvention at the initial stage, at any rate, of certain industries. Without that State subvention the industries cannot live beyond a precarious infancy and they will not keep their feet even if they have the strength to attain some little growth for a while. If you contrast what is done for the fishing industry in the little States that are comparable with ours, you will see how sadly, with all his excellent good-will, the Minister lags behind his colleagues in the Fishery Departments of Norway, Holland and Denmark. Why, on that point I referred to just now—assistance for transit—Denmark gave £10,000 a year. I should not be in order, I believe, if I elaborated this point of transit further, but I believe one of the great deficiencies in the Ministers and Secretaries Act was the disregard of the great central problem of transport which affects the well-being and the development of the farming industry as it does the fishing industry and, in fact, every productive industry in the country.

I turn to another point in the Minister's speech, to make a case which I should much prefer had not to be made. There are, as the Minister said, twenty Acts governing fisheries, the details of which were entrusted to boards of conservators while the Department regulated the election of these boards and inspected the financial arrangements, a task that forms a considerable portion of the work of the Department. The Minister might have added from his recent experience, a not too pleasant side of his activities. In the Minister's own constituency in Waterville, there is a board of conservators. As I am informed the method of constituting that board by election is [641] in this fashion: All who have taken out licences in the fishery district are voters. In the Waterville fishery district there are two electoral divisions, one tidal, electing three conservators and the other called the freshwater division, electing six. I believe the tidal voters have net licences and in the freshwater division there are rod licences. For brevity I shall call them in my future references “rods” and “nets.” At the triennial elections for the board, the “rods” elect their six and the “nets” elect their three conservators. The presiding chairman must be a “rod” for the election of the freshwater representatives and a “net” for the election of the tidal representatives, and when all are elected there is one ex-officio member, constituting a board of ten, which acts conjointly. That detail is necessary to understand the case that I have to make.

On 5th October last there was a hot contest for the positions of conservators and an exhaustive poll. The result as I am instructed was declared with all the due formality required by the law, by the respective chairmen of the “rods” and the “nets.” A meeting was thereafter held of the new board to appoint amongst other officers a treasurer, a solicitor and a clerk and inspector. At the meeting the gentleman appointed to the position of clerk and inspector, was a Mr. Sloane, who I am told had held that appointment for some 23 years previously. At the various triennial elections he had been unanimously elected and he had been declared the best fishery clerk in Ireland. In due course as required, the Department of Fisheries was acquainted with the appointments made by the new board and on 2nd November a letter was sent down to the Waterville board of conservators announcing that “the Minister approves of the appointment of the National Bank as treasurer and has no objection to the employment of Mr. Rosney as solicitor. The Minister does not approve of the appointment of Mr. Sloane to the position of clerk and inspector and requests that the board shall, without delay, submit another name for the post.”

[642] In or about the same time—a little earlier, in fact—the Minister pointed out by a letter an irregularity—I do not say an alleged irregularity because, so far as I can understand the matter, it was not contested—on the part of the chairman of the “nets.” By law he should have accorded to each holder, who had paid the particular licence duty amounting to £10 or upwards, no more than four votes in respect of the duty paid. It appears he had allowed more than four to one voter. The Minister's attention had been called to this illegality on the part of the chairman of the “nets” by a Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald who, according to my information—there may be nothing in it whatsoever—has the honour to count himself as one of the intimate friends of the Minister. The Minister in pointing out this irregularity preserved a very proper attitude, a very discreet and most admirable reserve. The pity is that at a later stage he departed from that wise attitude. He communicated to the board a letter which I may, perhaps, read. The words of it have an important bearing in regard to the charge of illegality on the part of the Minister,—the usurpations of the functions of the High Court. This letter is addressed to Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald:—

A Chara,—I am directed by the Minister for Fisheries to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 6th instant referring to the election of conservators for the Waterville district and to state that it rests with any aggrieved person to proceed in the courts, as he may be advised, against the chairman presiding at an election if he considers that votes were wrongfully received or refused recognition. It is not the function of this Department to take such action.

That, I need hardly observe, is quite correct. It is not the function of the Department to take such action. As the Minister has said, it lies with the aggrieved person to put the law in motion. The letter adds—and again I commend the addition for its accuracy as well as its discretion:—

I am to add that while the Minister is not the interpreter of the Fishery laws nor the adjudicator on [643] matters of fact, it appears from the statements made to him that the chairman who presided at the Tidal Division Election acted irregularly in accepting more than four votes from an individual elector.

Now, it merely appears that the Minister, from a letter presumably sent to him, stated the fact by way of allegation, that the writer was a defeated candidate at the election in question. Needless to remark, therefore, since it is not the function of the Department to put the law in operation, nor to state and interpret the law, nor to adjudicate upon facts, it is rather extraordinary that the Minister follows up this letter with a communication to the chairman of the “nets,” directing him to make a recount of the votes, and, as I am instructed, enclosing two blank forms upon which, I presume, the correct results when obtained were to be entered. Now, according to the history that I received, the chairman of the “nets,” on receipt of this communication from the Minister, went through a performance which somehow in his own mind he had regarded as equivalent to the recounting of the votes. That is to say, he entered on the forms a new result. He substituted for two of those who had been declared elected two others, including Mr. Fitzgerald—Mr. Fitzgerald and a friend of his, who had been defeated at the October election. It will be observed what that amounts to. First of all, he did not comply with the requirements of the situation. He published no notice in the newspapers of his intention to make a recount; neither did he offer to make what purported to be a recount, but he announced the result of it within four days. He simply sat at his own desk in his own office, and did what the High Court would secure the doing of by the issue of a writ after it had heard the case argued and had heard evidence.

Now, a meeting of this new board, so irregularly constituted, was held to appoint a clerk and an inspector. The element of comedy intrudes at this stage. It was impossible to appoint a chairman of the board, it being an equal vote—five and five. At the new [644] meeting the same two irregularly elected members took part. They had voted, notwithstanding that they were warned by the candidate for the clerkship, and they were told that they would be held responsible for their action. What does the Minister do? Remember, it was the Minister who wrote initiating these extraordinary proceedings. He received, and I am not surprised at it, a number of communications from this Waterville board, some of them couched in very strong language. I have copies of them here, and as examples of how to write vigorous denunciations, they leave nothing to be desired. The Minister ended by announcing that he would abolish the board, and when he was asked why—it was assumed that it was upon some ground of invalidity— the answer is “no”: It is not because of any invalidity with regard to the board, but because it does not function according to his satisfaction.

Now the Minister is aware that there is a statute which provides that in a case such as this it is possible for the validly elected portion of the board to function. The statute to which I refer is the XI. and XII. Vict. Chap. 22, section 15: “Be it enacted that if the persons entitled to meet and elect such representatives or conservators in any one or more electoral divisions of a district shall fail or neglect for any year so to do, the representatives or conservators of any other one or more electoral division or divisions of such district for which the conservators shall have been elected shall be empowered nevertheless to act in all matters and things relating to such districts under the provisions of this Act.” The Waterville conservators replied to the Minister that, inasmuch as a portion of the board had been properly elected, they and the ex-officio members could carry on, and they asked for Departmental permission so to carry on. The Minister refused, on the grounds that the situation contemplated in this fifteenth section had not arisen. Surely it must be obvious to everyone that in one of the electoral divisions, to wit the “nets,” a failure had been made to elect members. The failure had been made, and [645] the Minister decides a point of law in his own Department in favour of his own view, and refuses to permit the board of conservators to function, and declares that he will abolish it.

The Minister had one way of acting when it was a question of a point of law raised by Mr. Fitzgerald and quite another way when it was his own board of conservators that appealed to him. Now the case that he relied on for abolishing them was that they had failed to satisfy him. The Act of Parliament to which, obviously, he refers, is that they failed to satisfy him within the last six months. How had they failed to satisfy him? That is not revealed, but they make the case that whatever failure existed was due to the Minister himself. During these various altercations, Mr. Sloane, to whom I have referred, through a desire to relieve the tension of the situation, resigned, or refused to be a candidate again for the office for which the Minister would not sanction him.

Bailiffs had to be appointed to prevent poaching. Lists of the bailiffs, as required by the regulations, were sent to the Minister. I am informed by this correspondence that a long delay took place during which poaching was made possible during the very season of the year in which bailiffs ought to have officiated. That is one case of high-handedness and extreme illegality. But that is not the only one. This Mr. Sloane had the hardihood to make a communication to the “Kerryman” newspaper on October 11th, 1924. This communication is somewhat instructive.

Fishery Office. Waterville, 6th October.

“At a meeting of the above Board on the 4th instant the following resolution was unanimously adopted”—this was the preceding board—“That we hereby place on record our vigorous protest against the action of the Ministry of Fisheries in ordering our clerk to withdraw proceedings which had been unanimously ordered to be taken by this Board against Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald” and a number of others mentioned.

Now comes a letter from the Minister ordering the Waterville Conservators [646] to desist from the prosecution on the grounds that Mr. Fitzgerald had been guilty merely of a technical offence. That, you will observe, would have been a matter taken into account by way of mitigation by a District Justice, but the Department writes again usurping the functions of the Justice and orders the Waterville Conservators to desist from the prosecution, and when this Mr. Fitzgerald pays his licence to return him his forfeited net. Mr. Sloane sent this telegram to the Minister: “Please wire must I call a meeting of the Board before returning net? What becomes of process server? Who is to pay considerable costs already incurred?” This is the extraordinary reply: “Withdraw proceedings and return net when licence paid. Board to defray expenses incurred out of the Ministry's grant.”

The Ministry's grant is certainly not in aid of the poacher, or the irregular fisher, or the man who is careless in taking out the renewal of his licence. Yet when this Board, exercising its proper functions, properly takes proceedings against a man who is holding out a very evil example to the poacher of the district the Minister intervenes, and the cost of the thing is to be met not by the offender, who is not to be mulcted in costs, but out of the grants. Surely that is not the way to protect and develop our inland fisheries? It would seem as if the Minister had become infected by contact with the Executive Ministry, and that something of that autocratic spirit which overrides them all and leads them to despise ordinary procedure——

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  The Deputy cannot go into that matter.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  I quite sympathise with the Minister in his relationship with the Executive Council. It is quite obvious that as an extern Minister he has not even the privileges of the head of a Department. He knows that the great requirements in respect of sea fisheries can be met, even in part, only by a sum which he estimates at £10,000, and the Ministry of Finance without any special knowledge or experience in the Fishery Department reduces the amount asked for by £3,000, and so on [647] all along the line. With a commendable amount of loyalty the Minister tried to disguise from the House and the country the inferior and miserable position in which he is kept as an administrator, and yet it is quite clear. Like the ora pro nobis through the Litany it came out wailfully that he was frustrated in enterprises which he as a Minister knew to be necessary to engage in.

I quite agree with Deputy Byrne that fisheries are of the great natural assets of the State. Fisheries ought to be developed and could be developed, and it is because they could and ought, that we support the expense of a separate Ministry. There are many other luxuries in which the State indulges itself at great cost. It might very well have other extravagances curbed in favour of the Department of Fisheries. If this country is going to make any headway at all, it is high time that those who are responsible for its future should take counsel and see to it that in the interests of adding up lists of figures and balancing books they do not kill whatever promise the country contains.

Sitting suspended at 6.40 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.

AN LEAS-CHEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  in the Chair.

Mr. McGOLDRICK: Information on Patrick Joseph McGoldrick  Zoom on Patrick Joseph McGoldrick  Like other Deputies who have spoken in this debate, I find myself in the most complete sympathy with the Minister for Fisheries. His Ministry, to my mind, is being made a joke of. With a penurious Finance Department, inherited with a system not designed in the interests of fishery development here, a Government without a policy and a crowd of howlers demanding to have his Department scrapped, it would be very difficult for him, I think, to make good. Now all those contributory circumstances are wrong. This is, at least to my mind, the second industry in importance to the people of this State. Why have we made no effort to get a national policy? Why have we this niggardly finance? Will Ministers not rise to their responsibilities in relation to this immense and important industry? [648] Can the certainty of its great productive possibilities be denied? No, I contend, but it can be assured. Why, then, not put it on a road of development? The complete or partial livelihood of thousands depend on it in the main. Why not envisage it as it should, must, and I believe, will be envisaged eventually, if the nation is to succeed? Look at what it means. See its food value. See the world demand for its products. Consider how essential to our maritime peoples is its development, and how maritime we are in the State. The Minister says he has no available fishermen. The fishermen say they have no sympathetic Department. Finance refuses money. The market shouts for fish. That there are no fishermen available, I absolutely deny. We have the most enterprising, the most daring and hard-working men ready and willing to pursue this business if they only get the facilities that will enable them to do so. They are poor and without capital—the Minister says they will not be spoon-fed by the Government.

Capital fights shy because it is not plentiful and is well coaxed at present and this particular line of investment for it is not under any acceptable management to guarantee efficiency and a full return to investors. If these poor people had capital of their own, I admit the problem would be very much simplified, but the work of the Department should concentrate on such an organisation in this industry as will be effective in guaranteeing to those who have capital that it can be invested with the knowledge that it will have the full chance of such returns as well organised management can produce. This should be taken up at once. Perhaps the Gaeltacht Commission can line out the road. If they do they will have done the best work yet done for the country. I have some instances within my own immediate area that are truly intolerable. A colony of smallholders and fishermen, at Fannet Head, in my own county, are struggling hard to try and secure a shelter for their small fishing boats. These boats are their own. They have mostly small pieces of rocky land of valuations between £1 and £3. They are most expert fishermen. When these [649] poor people want to land their cargoes from their small fleet of boats they have to go a distance of 11 or 12 miles further on to do so, though they are surely well enough worn out after a stormy night's fight with the waves. Then when they do land these small cargoes they have to walk 11 or 12 miles back home, and on resuming next day they have to trudge back again to their boats these 11 or 12 miles, and all for what: because Fisheries here allege they cannot get from Finance a sum of a few hundred pounds to make a shelter, which is the sum estimated by an engineer who made a rough plan and reported on the case. That is typical of what happens at present. What kind of mental distortion advises such a disgraceful policy? The smallest nominal fee on their landings would repay the cost of this work in a short time, but there is no use in talking. Rough plans and a memorial are in the pigeon holes of this Ministry as yet unsanctioned by Finance. This is a policy of scuttle which must inevitably mean the ruin of one of our most important industries.

Now there is also the other side of the problem with which this Ministry is concerned and that is the problem of rural industries. Now, surely, something co-ordinative should be done, in relation to the fisheries, in the rural industries in the congested areas in this country because the problem that really confronts the State at present is the solution of that particular question. I admit it has its difficulties but I do not think for one moment these are insurmountable.

I believe that if a Government, such as we have here, were to apply itself earnestly and honestly to a consideration of the question, and to an attempt to solve that problem, that the problem would be solved. They have a community there in those areas on whom they can confidently rely. They have a people there honest and industrious, and the only thing we require is that the Government should so regulate, so enact and so organise, in the interests of those congested areas, the fishery and the cottage and rural industries, and that they should put the people in those areas in the way of [650] working their own livelihood in their own land, so that they can support their own families and keep them at home. These cottage industries such as the home-spun, lace-making, knitting industries and county co-operation in marketing and organisation, are of very serious importance. The Minister for Fisheries, I believe, is undoubtedly doing his best in the circumstances. I adjure those, who are really the deciding, authorities here as to how far and how fast progress should be made in the particular direction of putting those industries on a sound working basis, to take an interest in them at once. Whether it be on the considered report of the Gaeltacht Commission or whether it be apart from that on a report in the interests of the Fisheries themselves, they should take the proper steps forthwith to see that the people in those areas are put into an economic position. It is quite easy for them to do this.

Mr. EVERETT: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  I wish to ask the Minister in connection with the amount of £5,000 which he says is outstanding in loans, what amount of that is outstanding in Arklow; also the amount that is outstanding in insurance. I would wish he had explained to the Dáil his policy on the question of insurance. The fishermen in Arklow claim that they have paid more in insurance calls than the amount of the grants received from the Ministry. It is stated in Arklow that the Minister and his Department are very sympathetic, but that they are powerless. I will give an instance. In a case where a man had only £103 due on his boat his gear was swept away while he was out fishing. He made several appeals to the Department for a grant to enable him to get out to fish. The Department agreed, but they were turned down by the Minister for Finance, because it was stated one of his sureties was over age. Then they made out that the man himself was over 61. While the Fishery Department was quite satisfied that he was a strong man and that they were quite safe in accepting him as a surety, the Finance Department refused to accept [651] him. The man then was satisfied to transfer the boat to his son to meet the wishes of the Department. Again he was turned down by the Minister for Finance. A local gentleman came to his rescue and advanced him money. This year the man was able to go out and after being out for a few weeks he was able to send £100 home to clear up the debts he had incurred in the last couple of years while he was idle. I would like to remind the Minister that the Arklow men have paid more in insurance calls than the amounts borrowed from the British Department. That would be a reason in favour of the re-valuation of the boats. It should be reduced by at least 50 per cent.

As regards the question of transport, the Arklow men made an application to the Department for a motor boat or motor car to take the catches that arrive in Arklow port to the Dublin market. They did not require a motor car at the expense of the State. They were prepared to pay mileage, but the Department refused their request, pointing out that a local man had a car and that he was capable of meeting the requirements. The Arklow men objected on the grounds that the man who had the car to take fish to Dublin was interested in the fishing trade and that probably his own fish or the fish of his friends would be brought to the market first. There is a great grievance amongst the fishermen in regard to this question of getting to the market early. Their request is a small one, but the Department did not wish to interfere in business matters.

Deputy Byrne has already mentioned the case of a man who applied for a loan in order to get a new engine for his boat. After negotiating for three months the Department refused the application because a man, sixty years of age, who was worth £30,000, was one of the sureties. The applicant got a loan in the bank without the assistance of the Department and the same surety was accepted without any difficulty. Since then the man has paid off the debt and has been doing good work with his boat. I agree with what other Deputies stated that if a scheme [652] is turned down by a Department that knows nothing about it the Minister concerned should come to the Dáil and explain that he is not able to do anything owing to the attitude adopted by the Department of Finance. The Minister said that would be unconstitutional. Well, we may have to change the Constitution. I hope it will be changed.

The Minister said that there had been a great improvement in the fishing industry. We had 40 fishing boats in Arklow ten years ago, and to-day, under an Irish Government, we have 19 boats. Some of these were equipped at the expense of the owners and their friends. Only £24,000 is allocated for fishing this year. I consider that double that sum or even more should be allocated. I urge the Minister to try and get the Department of Finance to waive its objection to taking men of sixty years of age as security. The Department wants younger men, but the younger men have no property. It is only people sixty years of age that have property, and they will not be accepted by the Department as security for loans.

The Arklow men have not been able to get any advantage from the loans for that reason. The Minister stated that £85,000 arrears were outstanding. I would like to know how much of that amount is outstanding in Arklow. I would also like to know how much money for insurance is included in that. The Minister might also give some further information about the new arrangement for insurance amongst fishermen generally.

PADRAIC O MAILLE: Information on Pádraic Ó Maille  Zoom on Pádraic Ó Maille  Ar an chéad amharc, is léir ón mheastachán seo nách bhfuil ach beagán airgid ghá chaitheamh ar iasgaireacht na hEireann. Tá fhios againn uilig agus tá fhios ag muinntir na tíre nách féidir don Aire no don Aireacht feabhas a chur ar an iasgaireacht ar an méid airgid atá luaidhte annseo. Isé mo bharamhail go bhfuil congnamh a dhith—agus a dhith go geur—ar na h-iasgairí fé láthair. An costas a bhaineas le iasgaireacht, tá sé an-láidir agus an-trom agus is beag saibhris atá ag na hiasgairí as Conndae Chiarraighe, [653] Co. na Gaillimhe, Co. Thírchonaill, Co. Phortláirge agus Co. Cille Manntáin. Ba chóir do'n Aireacht cuidiú leis na hiasgairí chun deis a chur ar a gcuid urlaisí agus chun a mbádaí a chur in ordú. I rith an Chogaidh Mhóir san Euróip, chuaidh an iasgaireacht ar gcúl i ngach áird den domhan. Chuaidh sí ar gcúl san tír seo chó maith. Seachas san, na bádaí a ceannuigheadh an t-am san, ceannuigheadh go daor iad agus níl na hiasgairí in ann an costas a íoc anois. Mar gheall ar sin, d'iarrfainn ar an Aire an luach a isliú agus seans thabhairt do na daoinibh seo leanamhaint de n-a gcuid oibre. Tá sé thar a gcomhacht anois an luach san a athíoc.

Dubhairt an tAire go mba chóir do na hiasgairí comhluchta a chur ar bun chun an éisc a mharbhú agus a dhíol. Is deacair sin a dhéanamh chó fada 's tá na bádaí seo ó thíortha eile ag teacht isteach agus a mharbhú an éisc. Cuireann siad seannradh ar an iasc nách marbhuigheann siad, i dtreo nách bhfuil sgadán le fághail ag iasgairí na tíre seo.

Aontuighim leis an Aire nuair adeir sé go bhfuil geur-ghádh le bád chosanta eile ag an Aireacht. Ní féidir an obair a dhéanamh i gceart gan ceithre bádaí dá leithéid sin. Tá súil agam go mbeidh an tAire in ann ughdarás a fhághail ó Aireacht an Airgid le bád eile a cheannach gan a thuille moille. Gan an bád san, ní féidir cúis na h-iasgaireachta a chur chun chinn. Isé dualgas an Stáit muinntir na tíre a chosaint agus ba chóir dúinn an duaigas san a comh-líonadh.

Molaim an obair atá ghá dhéanamh ag an Aireacht ar son muinntir na Gaeltachta. In áiteacha ina bhfuil na daoine bocht, is mór an méid punt no deich scillinge agus tá súil agam go mbeidh toradh níos fearr ar na ranganna seo feasta. Is truaigh nách bhfuil an obair ag dul ar aghaidh chó maith in áiteacha agus ba chóir agus tá súil agam go gcuirfidh na daoine níos mó suime san obair sa bhliadhain atá romhainn amach.

Más mian linn iasgaireacht na tíre a chur chun chinn, caithfear a thuille airgid a chaitheamh uirthi. Caithfimíd airgead a thabhairt do na hiasgairibh [654] ar iasacht ar bheagán gaimbín. Cúis lúthgára dom a chlos ón Aire go bhfuil feabhas tagtha ar an iasgaireacht le déidheanaighe ach, mar a dubhairt mé cheanna, más mian linn obair na n-iasgairí a chur chun chinn, caithfimíd níos mó airgid a chaitheamh ar an obair agus caithfimíd congnamh ceart a thabhairt do na h-iasgairibh.

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  Deputy McGoldrick stated that the Minister has no national policy on fishing. If I might indicate to the Minister how he should go about formulating a national policy I would say that he should concentrate on Arklow. I do not say that for vote-catching purposes. If there is a fishing fleet in Ireland of consequence the home of that fleet is in Arklow. Despite the fact that the harbour at Arklow is in a very bad condition, it may be said that Irish sea fishing is in the hands of the Arklow fishermen. That may seem to be an exaggerated statement, but amongst the boats that frequent Baltimore and Kinsale, Arklow boats are always to be found. They are the only fishermen who are going out and doing something. If increased exports are any indication of the development of fishing, that is due to the efforts of the Arklow fishermen. The fishermen in Arklow labour under very serious difficulties. The boats should be re-valued. They were bought at too high a price. If the Minister could bring in a scheme of re-valuation, and by that means wipe out some of the £80,000 arrears, he would be doing something that would be very much appreciated.

I have now to proclaim the doctrine of Free Trade. I am entirely opposed to the subsidising of any industry. I cannot demand, on the one hand, a reduction of taxation and free trade in outside or inside markets and at the same time ask for increased grants. I would point out that the whole amount spent on the development of sea-fishing this year, apart from what is spent on the cruiser, is only £14,000. Most of the money under sub-head E for the development of sea fisheries comes back as an Appropriation-in-Aid. Although I am opposed to subsidising any industry, I think £14,000 [655] or £15,000 which is really the sum spent, is not sufficient for the work. After all, this industry is going ahead, and the exports of fish have greatly increased. If we could develop it still further by spending a little more money on it, and by making the conditions for the obtaining of loans easier, it would be an advantage. If what Deputy Everett has stated is a fact, that a man worth £30,000 would not be accepted as security by the Department of Finance for £100, it is most extraordinary. I think that is not business, and I cannot understand it. To say that a man is not suitable because he is 60 years of age does not seem to be good business. I would urge the Minister to try and induce the Minister for Finance to provide funds for putting the harbour at Arklow into proper order. If the fishermen could use that harbour at all times with safety I think something would have been done for the development of the industry. I say that because the Arklow men are the real fishermen of this country. It may be that that is because they are descended from a different race, but the fact is, they are the only people in this country who are making a real effort to develop deep sea fishing.

Mr. SHAW: Information on Patrick Walter Shaw  Zoom on Patrick Walter Shaw  The remarks I intend to make will be confined entirely to inland fishing. Coming from a county whose lakes are the most celebrated, probably after Killarney, for both scenery and fishing, I speak with some authority on the subject.

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  What about Glendalough?

Mr. SHAW: Information on Patrick Walter Shaw  Zoom on Patrick Walter Shaw  During the season now coming to an end, Deputies and the public would be surprised if they knew of the May fly-fishing that was to be had in that county. One boat with two men got 200 fish during the past month. Another boat and one man got 80 fish. Those who went to the district caught on an average 6, 7 and 8 fish a day. Many of these fish were up to 5 or 6 lbs. in weight. That is not generally known. I did not see my way to inform the public and the Press. If I did, I would have brought thousands of people there from all parts of the country, and there [656] was no accommodation for them. Neither men nor boats were available. Many parties came in motor cars and were ready and willing to spend large sums of money, paying up to £1 a day, but for lack of accommodation, they had to pass on to the West of Ireland. I attribute the great success that fishing has attained in the Westmeath lakes to the Angling Society that was formed there a few years ago. The society appointed a bailiff who, with the assistance of the Civic Guard, protects the rivers. As a result, the trout that were in the past salted in barrels when they came in for the spawning season, are now being allowed to return to the lake.

We have four hatcheries, and we receive from the Department the sum of £12 10s. 0d. for the purchase of 17,000 ova. As a result of that investment by the State we have been able to put 33,000 young trout, of which only about three per cent. did not mature, into the lake. I claim that the amount given for the development of the fisheries is entirely insufficient, and that the Government are not aware of the fact that they have a gold mine in the lakes of the Free State if they would give a very much larger sum for their development. I have put the case in connection with our claims for a larger sum before the Minister. These claims are based on the fact that we have at least a live angling society, and I regret to say that I do not think that is the case in very many other places.

A number of letters have recently appeared in the papers in connection with the destruction of fish by cormorants, and having spent a great amount of time on the lakes, I have no doubt at all that the cormorants do an immense amount of harm to the fish. Only recently I saw a cormorant dead on an island in the lake with a large trout which had choked him, in his neck, and the reason that it choked him was that he had another one underneath it, and he was unable to swallow the second one before he had disgested the first. We give half-a-crown for every cormorant's head that is brought in to the Secretary of the Fish Preservation Society, and we have destroyed forty of them. We receive for the [657] bailiff £10 a year, so that the gross amount, as far as the Fishery Department is concerned, for what I claim is the second fishery in the Free State, to Killarney, is a sum of £22 10s. 0d. per annum.

On two previous occasions that this Vote was before the House I mentioned this, and now, for the third time, I appeal to the Minister and the Government to consider the great asset that they have in the fishing industry if they would only help it to be developed. The people who come to these lakes cannot use them because the fishermen have not boats, and if something could be done to give small loans to allow these men to make a decent living, not out of Irishmen but out of the huge number of people that would come to the country if they were aware of the great opportunities that there are for fishing, it would be well-spent money. I confidently ask the Minister for an increased grant for this place that has shown such great development.

Mr. T. MURPHY: Information on Timothy J Murphy  Zoom on Timothy J Murphy  Most of the statements I hear on this Estimate every year are on much the same lines. We have very much the same criticism year after year, and it is unfortunate now, when we have had the Estimate discussed three or four times in the life of this Dáil, that it should be necessary for us to hear the very same arguments and to realise that although advanced before they have had very little result. I have no sympathy whatever with the criticism referred to by the Minister last night and dealt with in the debate to-day. I am quite satisfied that the Department is absolutely necessary. But my complaint in regard to it will be very much on the same lines as that of other Deputies, that the Government have not sufficiently realised the importance of that Department or, if they have, they have failed to put life into it by giving it the necessary funds to carry on properly.

It was rather pitiful to hear the plea for funds that the Minister made last night. I add my voice to that of Deputy Byrne in expressing the complaint made all over the country in [658] regard to the amount of money allocated to the Department, but not so much the inadequacy of the amount as the relationship of the total sum to the cost of administration. Practically half the Vote is spent in administration; very little is left for useful work, and there is a feeling that whatever is left is not being properly made use of. The Minister referred to the fact that a harbour here and a pier there did not necessarily mean any great improvement in the industry. Ornamental harbours, such as those put up in the past, had no real value, I agree, but I want to impress on the Minister that with the funds at its disposal very little is done in that direction.

I do not suggest that it would be desirable for the fishermen to expect everything to be done by the Department, but I do suggest that the Department ought to go very much further than they are going to improve the position, in the interests of the industry. While spoon-feeding is not desirable, they have gone to the other extreme and have failed to give any assistance to it.

The re-valuation of boats has a particular application to the constituency that I represent. In a consultation that I had with the Minister recently I was informed that there are quite a large number of outstanding loans in West Cork area. I am further informed that in Baltimore at present something like twelve boats are lying idle, boats on which the loans have not been paid. It seems rather an extraordinary thing that twelve valuable boats should be going to pieces. If it is a fact that the present rate of interest on loans is 100 per cent. higher than that charged by the Congested Districts Board there is something wrong and there is not much hope of progress. Loans should be made available on easier terms, and the Minister will certainly have to reconsider the re-valuation of the boats. If men got boats when prices were at the peak point, if the whole industry has fallen flat for a number of years since, and the boats are now in a bad condition, there is not very much hope, and I am quite satisfied that in the part of the country I come from there is no hope of [659] recovering the money in a great many cases.

I do not stand over the policy of people who seek to evade their liabilities altogether, but the Minister must face this fact, that there is no earthly use in trying to recover money from a great many people who were victims of the circumstances that prevailed when the depression in the fishing industry took place. Some time ago the Bantry fishermen in my constituency were pressing for some facilities for curing. I brought the matter before the Minister and in a communication received from the Department afterwards it was suggested that consideration was being given to the proposition to put up a kippering house. I would like to know from the Minister what the possibilities are of anything being done in this respect. I am satisfied that the agitation was well founded and that a curing house would be extremely useful to the fishermen of that district.

I turn again to the question debated here to-day, namely illegal trawling, and I wish to mention one aspect of that question not touched upon and that is the difficulty of obtaining convictions where poaching trawlers have been discovered. Some cases came before the District Court in Bantry but owing to some informality in the summons, in two or three cases, convictions were not obtained, and those people who rob the local fishermen of their livelihood were able to get off scot-free. How is it that the Government fail to realise what the lack of protection for the fishing industry really means? I thoroughly agree with Deputy Cooper that two fishery cruisers would be entirely inadequate to protect the coast. I only disagree with him in this respect, that he is doubtful of the wisdom of having more cruisers. If this industry is worth having at all in the country, and there is no doubt about its value and its worth, then more money should be spent in getting enough cruisers to do proper protection work. I suggest that the whole policy of the Government in relation to this Department should be revised. If the Department [660] is made the butt of petty jokes in the newspapers, by people who have no real appreciation of its work and who, perhaps, have not informed themselves as to the actual work done, then the responsibility for that state of affairs rests largely with the Government itself. The responsibility for the present deplorable condition of the industry must rest primarily with the Government.

The Minister referred last night to the position with regard to expenditure, and he said the Department were not prepared to embark on a policy of heroic spending for the sake of spending. No one wants that at all. I am sure that nobody, however interested in the fishing industry, would request that the Department should embark on a policy of spending money freely for the sake of doing something. What we want is that much more money should be spent, and the need for spending more money has been demonstrated in the course of this debate. Nobody wants the Department to shovel out money lavishly as may have been done in the days of its predecessors. The fishermen feel that there is need for a plan, that there is need for more money, but that the money should be laid out in a judicious and well-planned manner.

To illustrate that point, I might mention that I had a communication from some of my constitutents in a remote part of West Cork, Castletownbere, and I would like to put this position to the Minister. It appears that for a long time the fishermen in Castletownbere have been agitating for putting up a light in the western end of the harbour. I do not think the expense would be very much, and as memorials have been received from time to time by the Department in regard to this matter, surely the Minister might consider the necessity of doing a small work of this kind, more especially when it is said that there is plenty of fish available, but that owing to the want of a light, and the consequent danger to boats, the crews are afraid to carry on the work.

There is no analogy as between the position in Scotland and here, where [661] we are living under entirely different circumstances, and are in an entirely different position. The position here is that the industry is in a very deplorable state, and it cannot be revived by the efforts of the fishermen alone nor by private enterprise alone. The State must assist it, and assist it very considerably, and until we realise that we may spare ourselves the trouble of expressing pious sentiments as to what our duty to the industry ought to be and what the duty of the fishermen in general ought to be. We are faced with the fact that the position is going from bad to worse in many cases. While I was very glad to hear the Minister say that there was a decided improvement in regard to the industry in some directions, his own statement is the best argument that I could advance as to the need for a great deal more being done. I was glad to notice that the Minister referred to the minor works of improvement that had been done during the last twelve months or that are contemplated during the coming year, but the number of such works is exceedingly small. Day after day, Deputies from constituencies where the fishing industry is important, are being pestered with applications to get small works done here and there. We are faced with this position. We have to explain to our constituents that it is absolutely useless to press for any works of improvement; that the money is not available, and that the Minister cannot get any money. That is an impossible position altogether, because if this industry is worth keeping alive, and if the Department of Fisheries is to fill any useful function, there must be a certain amount of freedom in undertaking works of this kind and having them carried out.

I am sorry to find that even in the small number of works mentioned by the Minister there is no provision at all for work along the South coast. We have had numerous applications for works of one kind or another, and I think the Minister might look into that position again. I am quite satisfied that if a decided change is not adopted and does not take place in the action of the Government in regard [662] to this whole industry, the Department of Fisheries will become still more ridiculous in the eyes of the people. There is no personal blame attaching to the Minister. It is the general policy of the Government in failing to realise what this Department means for the whole country that is responsible for the present state of affairs. Even at this late hour, perhaps there is hope that the whole position might be reviewed in the light of its needs and that we might be able to look forward to more satisfactory progress in the industry in the coming twelve months as a result of the greater attention which it really deserves.

Mr. SEARS: Information on William Sears  Zoom on William Sears  I support the plea made for a more sympathetic consideration of the circumstances of the poor fishermen. Deputy Wilson referred to Arklow as the high-water mark of the Irish fisheries; he could claim that with very good reason. It must be admitted that in Mayo fishing is in a very backward condition. They complain there that there is great delay in getting loans sanctioned. They have no large boats on the Mayo coast; nine out of ten of the boats belong to the curragh class, the very poorest type, which has been there for three or four hundred years. They have not advanced beyond that stage yet, and when you remember that they have to depend on the home market there you will have an idea of their poor state. They also complain that the Department is too strict in the matter of security. One knows the difficulties in this matter and can sympathise with the Minister in regard to that. Yet there is a fine harvest for the people to reap if they are properly assisted. Large numbers of people engage in the business, and the work of developing it should be undertaken and followed up. To show that a number of people have faith in the fishing there I could give the names of several clergymen along the Mayo coast who have organised the fishermen and who have collected funds to purchase boats. But even these societies complain of the great delay in getting boats, and of the matter of security.

Another complaint made with regard to the mackerel fishery is that the little piers and harbours in Achill and Murrisk [663] have been allowed to fall into a dangerous state. The seas have washed away many of them and the boats cannot come in with a full cargo, and there is also danger in leaving. The boats have a difficulty when they are setting out to sea. The people have applied again and again to the Ministry, and the response of the Ministry is that the fishing is not large enough to repay any heavy outlay of money. Of course there is something in that, if the industry were not growing. But if the fishermen are not to be assisted and if larger takings are not to be made there will be no income. The belief down there is that the only hope for these fishermen is in the home market. They are looking forward to help from the Government in the way of facilities to get to the Dublin market. They are not able to arrange for better facilities themselves. Their idea is that the Government should put on a fish van on the train for the trade from Achill to Dublin, and assist them in the way of freight.

If something like that were done and the home market improved there might be a brighter hope for them. Listening to the speeches made from the various parts of the House this evening, one might ask oneself what are really the dimensions of this problem. I am sure we all felt richer when we heard Deputy MacBride's talk about 49,000 square miles of fishing area off the Mayo coast. Personally, I was very glad to hear the Minister speak of the growing trade of the last twelve months. I would like to know what are the actual prospects of the Irish fishing industry. We are told that a Commission is to be appointed to consider technical education and that foreign experts are to be invited to assist the Commission. A Commission has been appointed in connection with the Banking business, and foreign experts have been brought over. We were told of the great success of the fishing industry in little countries like Norway and Denmark and perhaps a commission with experts from those countries might assist us to realise what are the real dimensions and what are the hopes and prospects of the Irish fishing industry. [664] If that were done, and if the commission were able to mark out a programme, something might be done for fishing similar to what is being done already for agriculture. In agriculture farmers are told what to do and what not to do. If something like that with a more generous endowment were done for fishing, then we might have what Deputy Cooper said, namely, the application of education to the problem. The fishermen would be told what the Government programme with regard to fishing was. I think if that were done we would, perhaps, better understand what are the hopes of the industry.

Surely if foreigners are able to get a big harvest from the fisheries around our coasts, then £14,000 is a poor sum with which to make the attempt to capture our share of that harvest. I must say that I think the Ministry, with its limited powers and money, is doing very useful work. I listened with the greatest interest to the Minister's account of what is being done. But I think that a great deal more could be done. It was the hope of all of us that a home Government would attend to and face up to the fishing problem and find out what was possible in the way of helping the fishing industry.

Mr. PRIOR: Information on John Prior  Zoom on John Prior  As representing a maritime constituency I wish to say a few words on this matter. I think an impression was made in the House already this evening regarding the fishing industry, the importance of that industry and the need for increasing the estimate. We want to develop and protect the industry. I think that the protection given by one patrol boat is altogether insufficient. It might as well not be there at all. As regards the portion of the Saorstát that I represent the problem of a market has been already solved. There is a German buyer there who will buy all the fish he can get. He has been buying and curing fish for some time past and a lot of local girls are trained and are working at the curing of the fish. But they have to cure it in the open and without any shelter. I am referring now to the town of Kinsale. The transport question there is also solved, because the fish is taken away direct [665] from the port of Kinsale to Hamburg. There is no doubt about it but the development of the fishing industry is one of the things that will relieve congestion. Instead of having to give these people the dole it is much better for the Government to assist them to get work and to put them to work. A Deputy spoke here against State assistance and he talked of private enterprise. Well, we have been a long time depending on private enterprise and the private individual has not come in with his capital and I believe he will not come in now. I believe the State must first step in and prove to the private individual that there is money in the fishing industry. The question cannot be ignored any longer. No doubt there has been some thing dragging on the wheel and there has been something preventing this industry from being developed, but I think judging from the atmosphere of this House this evening that these things will be overcome and that the industry will be developed.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  I want to refer to the rural industries. During the previous debate on this Estimate I spoke upon this matter. I would like to know if the Minister has in any way followed up the suggestions I then made. I believe myself that there are great possibilities of development in the rural industries, and I believe if the thing is taken properly in hand and if the encouragement which is necessary is given for these industries, that great benefit will accrue to all those engaged in them. I am not going to suggest that increased expense should be incurred. But the Minister has informed us that he intends to cut the loss with regard to the toy factory. I see that the toy factory was not a financial success. In the year 1924-25 that factory lost £115 per month. I take it now that that loss is cut and as a consequence the Minister will have to his credit a sum of £115 per month to be used for other purposes in connection with rural industries.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  That is good logic.

Mr. HEFFERNAN: Information on Michael Richard Heffernan  Zoom on Michael Richard Heffernan  I believe there are great openings for certain specialised forms of products which can be [666] made in rural districts in the Saorstát in connection with these developments. In the United States, I understand, there is a great opening for certain types of products which might easily be utilised by us. I read recently a statement by the Free State representative in New York, Mr. Lindsay Crawford, to the effect that prices as high as twenty dollars a pair are paid there for golfing hose. If that is so, there must be a big profit in making that hose. That hose is of Irish manufacture. There is no exaggeration in that statement. In the same country there is, I believe, a great demand for special forms of suitings, which could be made in this country, such as those used in connection with sport. If we are to meet the demand we must manufacture the products required.

If we simply manufacture the kind of material which we have been accustomed to manufacture, and without considering what people in other countries, especially in the United States, require, we will find that they will not buy our products. We must manufacture to suit their requirements. I think it is the duty of the Minister to make inquiries and find out the particular kind of material, such as Irish homespun and lace, required in the United States and England, and try to meet that demand. Price is no consideration with people who buy that kind of product, as they are prepared to pay any price, provided they get the article they require. They require an article which is not duplicated and which is perhaps unique as regard pattern and design.

My idea of the help that can be given by the Minister is in the direction of giving instruction and engaging, perhaps, in advertising. It is hardly possible that people in Tirconnaill and other outlying western counties can be conversant with the demands of the modern market in regard to style, pattern and design in connection with these products. I think that the money at the disposal of the Minister could be used in providing instruction along those lines. These people should be provided with up-to-date and unusual designs. Anyone acquainted with the market for [667] sporting suits of a higher quality, especially in England, will realise that there is a great demand for materials made in the Highlands of Scotland, such as Shetland, Harris, and other tweeds, whose style and pattern are more striking than those of the products made here. Our pattern of homespun seems to conform to one idea for years past, and we have not endeavoured to change it. I cannot say what changes are possible but, if they are possible, we should endeavour to have a variety of styles and designs and seek a market for them. We should also advertise these goods. In England people are anxious to give encouragement to Irish industries, especially in regard to the manufacture of these articles. They have a liking there for homespuns but they find it difficult to get the genuine article, as they get machine-made rather than hand-made homespuns.

It has also been stated that the dyeing process in regard to these homespuns is very antiquated. I am not aware that the Ministry has made any attempt to get the people who manufacture these articles to be up to date in their dyeing processes. Inquiries should be made into new forms of dyeing which are suitable to this kind of material, and that information should be placed at the disposal of the manufacturers. My information is that the people engaged in this industry are still using crude vegetable dyes and that the results are not very satisfactory, generally speaking, from an artistic point of view. I believe that there is a much bigger future and greater development along these lines than we realise. We should try and grasp that idea and try and meet the market demand by producing nice, attractive articles. There should also be better methods in the way of marketing as our methods in this respect are very antiquated. Small industries with very little resources attempt to market their good individually and they have very little knowledge of the outside industrial world. Perhaps the Minister might do something in the way of coordinating these efforts and of providing information in regard to marketing.

[668] If any money is available for the purpose of advertising, some of it should be used by the Minister in advertising in some of the English papers and also, perhaps, in the American papers, the advantages of using all classes of our products. I quite realise that advertising in American papers costs a great deal of money and may be beyond our resources, but I believe there are possibilities in that direction. My attention was particularly drawn to this method of advertising by an advertisement which I saw in an American publication, which I think has the widest circulation of any weekly publication in America, namely, “The Saturday Evening Post,” of what is known as Kraft Cheese, which is manufactured by a cheese association in Canada. They apparently can afford to pay immense sums for half-pages in “The Saturday Evening Post” in order to secure a market. They market that cheese in a most attractive way. It is made up in attractive packages with the result that it is now being sold in many small Irish towns. That, in my opinion, is an example of what can be done by advertising. I realise that, unless you have the right goods, advertising is practically worthless. We must get the goods to suit the market, and, when we have got them, something should be done to call the attention of the outside public to that fact.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I sympathise a great deal with the Minister, because I realise that he is facing a very complicated series of problems. I think that he is taking the line of least resistance and greatest ease when he comes down on the side of relying on ordinary capitalist development of the fishing industry in this country. He said one or two things that made me wonder exactly where he is leading himself. For instance, when speaking of the suggestion—I think it came from the Gaelteacht Commission—that the boats should be fitted out and fished by crews of deck hands, he said that this could not be called a method of developing the fishing industry, and he seemed to deprecate that operation. I could not quite understand his method of reasoning. Men are employed, and [669] presumably are earning a livelihood, and they are adding to the national wealth production, even though they are employed as deck hands.

Then the Minister went on to explain that he had hopes of a steam-trawling company being established to supply Cork; that there was an opportunity for capitalist investment, and he hoped a sum of money would be found for the establishment of a company for selling fish both in and out of Cork. He stated that at present fish come mainly from Milford—that they are imported from English or Welsh ports. That again, suggests that the Minister is trusting to the regular processes of capital investment, and that that is going to lead to a development of the fishing industry.

There have been several demands made for the declaration of a national policy regarding fishing. I, too, think it would be well if the Minister could evolve a clear national policy regarding the fishing industry. If it is true that he is counting upon the prospect of profitable investment by inviting capitalists to establish industries to supply the market in the hope of making a fair dividend upon their investments, I am afraid that the prospect is very meagre, and that the fishing industry will not develop satisfactorily upon those lines.

I feel that not enough has been said here to-day about the importance of one aspect connected with the fishing industry. I think almost the key to the whole situation from the national fishery point of view is the development of a market for fish, the creation of a demand for fish and the supplying of that demand. It is common knowledge that Ireland is a very bad fish market. I suppose there is a smaller quantity of fish per head consumed in Ireland than in any other country which is bounded by the sea. That is not at all a satisfactory condition of things, particularly when we realise that no attempt is being made to develop that market or to create a demand for fish amongst the population. I think that almost the first step towards a national fishery policy would be the creation of a demand for fish at the same time as some organisation is [670] being entered upon for the purpose of supplying the demand.

I am very doubtful of the wisdom of the suggestions that were made regarding the entry upon a big boat policy to supply any demand. Big boats because of their power and expensive gear require very much more capital per fisherman; they require five or six times the amount of capital per fisherman that the small boats require. The big boats would require to catch three or four times the value of fish before anything is left for the fisherman than would be possible under a small boat policy. That means that you have to find a market for the increased quantity and that increased quantity can only be sold in the British market. I am speaking now of white fish—trawl fish or line fish—not herrings or mackerel. It means that you have got to supply a distant market with a still further additional charge upon the catch in the way of transport.

I believe that as against that line of policy it would be better to encourage small boats—perhaps better equipped, better fitted small boats—with a view to supplying a local market, an ever-widening local market. When speaking of the western and north-western coasts, I do not mean a fishing policy which is aiming at the Dublin market, but a fishing policy which is aiming at Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway and the rest. I think the first need for the Minister to meet is the development of a small boat policy with the object of satisfying a local demand, having first helped to create that demand.

The herring and mackerel policy is really a different question. The problem in regard to herrings and mackerel is a different problem from that of trawl or line fishing. The mackerel market is wholly and solely an American market. I do not know whether the Minister will correct me in that or whether there has been any successful attempt to supply a German or Russian market with cured mackerel. It is very small, if anything has been done in that direction. It may be said with a good deal of confidence that the cured mackerel market is a United States market and that the fresh mackerel market is a declining one. Reliance [671] upon the mackerel market means reliance upon America and a hope that the American tariff will not be raised still further and that the taste for mackerel in America will continue.

I wonder whether it would not be possible for the Minister to conduct a series of experiments with a view to creating a demand for mackerel in Ireland. I am speaking now of cured mackerel, treated by way of curing or preservation, canning or otherwise. It may be said with truth that there is practically none of the mackerel caught along these coasts consumed in Ireland. Of course there are a few fresh fish, but it would not be far wrong to say that probably not ten or fifteen per cent. of the mackerel caught along these coasts is consumed in Ireland. While we are on that I would like to ask the Minister whether he can reconcile certain figures I have obtained from him. The figures for the year 1924 of mackerel landed on the coast amounted to 79,000 odd cwts. and in 1925 174,000 cwts. I gathered from the returns of exports issued by the Department of Industry and Commerce for the year 1924 that there were 29,700 cwts. exported and for the year 1925 68,500 cwts. exported. There is a very big margin, and I am wondering whether there is any relation between the method of record in respect of the fish landed and that in respect to the fish exported. I am sure, unless revolutions in practice have taken place in the last few years, that the margin between fish caught and the fish exported—I am speaking of mackerel—is not quite so great as is reflected in these figures. That by the way.

A good deal has been said about the necessity for development in the fishereries, and here is where I feel sympathy with the Minister. All the money that might be made available for fishermen, curers and fish boat owners will not bring fish to the nets, and one cannot speak of this industry not having been developed. It has been developed and has declined. It has been developed on the eastern coast, on the southern coast, on the south-western coast and [672] one might say, also, on the north-western coast, but the herring and mackerel fishing has been developed and has declined, particularly the mackerel fishing, not because of the failure of the fishermen, not because of the failure of capitalist enterprise, but from the fact that the fish left the coast. The fish declined and men lost their money. Both fishermen and fishing boat owners have lost their money because of the failure of the fish, not because of the failure of the attempt to catch fish, and one must bear in mind in considering this problem that it is a gamble from the beginning to the end. I could not help thinking when Deputy Shaw was speaking that one might throw a hint to the Minister for Finance and say that the proceeds of the gambling tax might well be devoted to the development of this essential and natural gamble—the fishing industry.

I have the view that until we are prepared to face the problem of fishing development from a national point of view, realising that there is a fishing population which may strive on night after night, week after week and month after month—work all the hours that may be—and yet fail and that the following week or the following month if they can persist, they may retrieve all the losses of that few months. There may be a failure for one, two or three years and then a tide of success not depending wholly on their efforts, but on the chances of nature. These men are taking risks and in that way are working for the community, and I think that there must be something in the nature of communal reciprocity, that while we are receiving the benefits they are taking the risks, that we ought to recognise that there is something required from the community to the fishermen and that the work of the men on one coast must be related to and co-ordinated with the work of the men on another coast. I do not think this can be done by means of the ordinary development of capitalist enterprise.

I think that unless we are prepared to consider this problem of fishery development from an entirely new point of view we cannot look for the [673] developments which Deputies have pleaded for in this discussion. You have, in the case of mackerel as I said, a chance market which you cannot control. You are sending all you catch away without attempting to develop the home demands. You have in the herring trade possibilities of curing wherever fish may chance to show. They may be off Howth to-day, off Dunmore to-morrow and they may be off Baltimore in a week or two and vice versa. If they are there my experience would tell me that if you can rely upon fish from season to season, it is almost inevitable that you will have plenty of boats, not necessarily Irish boats, and plenty of fishermen. The other class of fishing—line fishing and trawl fishing—is somewhat less of a gamble. I think the Minister will agree with me. If persisted in there is a more regular return but I do not think that regular return can become prosperous if we have to rely on a market across water and if part of the transit to that market must be over land.

Deputy MacBride spoke of the immense area of fishing ground off the Western Coast. It is true, as everyone knows who as any knowledge of the question at all, that very large numbers of fishing boats from other countries and other ports fish that ground. So far as the English, Welsh and Scotch trawlers are concerned, they fish the ground and supply a market which Irish trawlers, if they were established on that coast, would be supplying—the English market. But if you had a fleet of trawlers sailing out of Galway what would they do with their fish? I am speaking now of an ordinary capitalist company sailing trawlers out of Galway. They would have the English market to supply, and they would as certain as they catch fish follow the course of the Fleetwood or Milford trawlers. They would take their fish around by sea to Milford or to Fleetwood. They would not land it in Galway, but would send it overseas to England. I feel that the development of the fishing industry is not going to be a national development if we think in terms of big steam-trawlers competing for catches and inevitably [674] competing in the same market. What we should direct our minds to is the catching of fish to supply home requirements, to create a demand for that fish by something in the nature of advertising, and perhaps a teaching campaign in the treatment and cooking of fish when taken home.

I believe it is there that we are going to make any real advance towards a national fishing programme, and I am regretful that the Minister has shown no bias in that direction, but that he is rather taking the line of least resistance, and saying: “We will do what we can with a little encouragement here and there, but we are going to trust to private capital investment in the hope that it will build up an ordinary commercial undertaking to develop the fisheries.” The experience of the last few years, I do not know what it is within the last few months, has shown that around the British coast there have been more boats and more fish than the market was ready to consume. Boats are lying up all round the coast, and they would not be lying up if there was anything like a sure profit in the supplying of their catches to the British market. I think the Minister is making a mistake if he takes that line, and I hope he will re-consider it.

Mr. DONOVAN: Information on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  Zoom on Timothy Joseph O'Donovan  I intend to confine myself to a matter of serious importance to the people in my constituency down in South Cork. It has a big coast line, and I understand there are about fifty boats there which were purchased in the war time, when the fishing industry was in a flourishing condition. The parties who purchased these boats are unable to meet the demands made on them by the Department as regards the loans they obtained. I understand that representations have already been made to the Department of Fisheries and to the Department of Finance on this matter. I would appeal to the Department of Fisheries to have a re-valuation made of these boats, and in addition that the parties who purchased the boats would be allowed to enter into new bonds, giving them extended facilities and better terms for the repayment of the [675] loans they obtained. I think I know every one of the fifty parties concerned on this portion of the south coast. All that their sureties and themselves possess would not, if realised, be sufficient to meet the amount of money due by them at the present time. I would also like to know from the Minister if it would be possible to make small loans of from £10 to £20 available for the people down in that district to enable them to purchase small boats and tackle. If that could be done, it would be a great help to these poor people. The boats would be built in the immediate neighbourhood. It would be a God-send to these people if they were given these small loans. I hope the Minister will deal with these matters.

Mr. RODDY: Information on Martin Roddy  Zoom on Martin Roddy  I agree with a number of Deputies who have already spoken that the amount provided in the Estimate for the fishing industry is entirely inadequate. I have looked through a number of returns relating to the development of the fishing industry in this country during the last 25 years. Between the years 1891 and 1905 the Congested Districts Board, in certain districts in the country, spent a sum of £214,000 alone on improving piers and harbours for the accommodation of fishermen. During the same period they advanced something like £97,000 by way of loans. They also spent an enormous amount of money in instructing fishermen in the arts of net making, boat repairing, barrel making, and so on. I think the present Minister for Fisheries cannot afford to be less generous than a Department of the English Government was heretofore. We must also remember that that Department was only responsible for a certain nine counties out of the thirty-two. I am gratified to learn that there was such a marked improvement in the in-shore fisheries last year. I think that these can now be left to take care of themselves. There is every indication that there is going to be a marked improvement in that direction. I think it should be remembered that even assuming that these fisheries were developed to their utmost capacity they would only give employment to a [676] limited number of men, and that the majority of the men engaged in fishing would still have to rely in the main on their small holdings for a livelihood.

I agree with Deputy Johnson that the proper lines to follow in connection with fishery development is to try and create a demand for fish in the home market. Assuming that we do succeed in creating that demand it will inevitably mean that a number of our men must be trained to embark on deep-sea fishing. I think the Minister indicated some years ago that he intended to provide a number of cruisers for the purpose of giving training to a number of men around our coast to enable them to engage in deep sea fishing. I have heard nothing recently of that scheme of the Minister's, but it seems to me that if we are to give employment to any large proportion of our seaboard population we will undoubtedly have to take some steps in the way of providing them with an education in that direction. The Minister stated yesterday that he did not consider it was the duty of the State to embark on the development of deep-sea fishing. He said he thought that was a matter for private enterprise. I am afraid if we have to rely on private enterprise on the western seaboard for the development of deep-sea fishing, then we will have to wait a very long time indeed. Perhaps it may happen, as Deputy Wilson seemed to suggest, that the Arklow fisheries may develop to such an extent that they will embrace the whole coast in the course of a couple of years. I hope they will. At all events that is our only hope in the West.

There is one other matter that I wish to refer to. It concerns people around the coast which embraces part of the constituency I represent. About fifty years ago there were about fifty boats engaged in the fishing industry with an average of four men in each boat. Somewhere about 150 families earned a livelihood as a result. At present not more than ten boats are engaged in that industry, and only for a short period each year. The decline was due primarily to the want of proper boats, and secondarily to [677] lack of transport accommodation. Since steam trawling was inaugurated it has been noticed by the fishermen around the coast in my county that fish do not come so close to land as hitherto, and the men are unable to follow them to deep waters in open boats. In my opinion, to assist the development of the fishing industry, larger boats and better transport facilities are required. At present it costs about £25 to market £100 worth of fish. It is impossible, under these circumstances, to have any development of the fishing industry around the west coast.

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Quite a number of points have been covered in the discussion that has taken place, and it comes home very forcibly to me as a result of listening to the discussion that we shall be listening to the same discussion in four, five or six years' time if we do not make a more systematic effort to fix the possibilities there are of developing our fishing industry. I suggest to the Minister and to the Dáil that we probably will not get further until it is arranged to have an annual report from the Department of Fisheries. If we are to have a discussion simply like this every year, the Minister has to cover so much detail that he is inclined to be driven away from the really important points of the policy, and he does not fix the situation himself, or give the Dáil sufficient fundamental information so that it could assist him in discussing the possibilities of the industry. I think the Minister should set himself out to present to the Dáil, at the end of the current year, a report of the Department for Fisheries giving us in that first annual report as complete a statement as possible as to where lie the resources of our fishing industry. It should be a brief but comprehensive statement of the lines on which the development of the industry have been attempted in the past, and the lines on which at the moment the Minister is working, together with such statistics as are proper to illuminate an annual report. I think if the Department submits to the Dáil at the end of this year such a report that there will be much more systematic progress in the discussion of [678] the problems of the Department than we are likely to get if we are confined to a debate on the Estimates every year.

Mr. MICHAEL DOYLE: Information on Michael Doyle  Zoom on Michael Doyle  I wish to refer to one or two points. First, I agree with Deputy C.M. Byrne that the amount spent in administering this Vote swallows up more than one-third of the whole sum spent in the development of fisheries, and I think it is rather farcical to have that proportion spent in the administration of the Department's funds. If we are to have a Department of Fisheries at all, I think that the sum expended on the development of fisheries should be something more than it is at present. I am sure the Minister could administer three times the Vote with nearly the same cost of administration. It is a business that involves a good deal of cost in its administration, and to administer a large sum would cost little more than it costs to administer what the Minister is allowed at present. As to those minor marine works, I wish to impress on the Minister that some couple of years ago I put a proposal to him, and asked him to send an inspector down to a small fishing place in my own county. He did so. The inspector reported, I think, rather adversely, and said that the amount it would cost to put the little landing place in order would be too much. Since the inspector visited the place it has wonderfully developed as regards lobster fishing. The people engaged in the fishing are practically all small-holders. If the Minister spent £300 or £400 on that landing place, he would have the co-operation of these people. There is great facility for transport, as the place is within half a mile of Rosslare Harbour. A boat plies there every day, and is in touch with the best English markets. There were about one dozen or fourteen families engaged in the fishing industry, and now the number is doubled. In the district of Rosslare there are several boats engaged in herring fishing, and the fishermen never asked the Minister for grants to purchase boats, or for any other purpose. I do not think it is too much to ask now that he should spend £300 or £400 at St. Helens, [679] which is quite convenient to Rosslare Harbour.

Mr. McFADDEN: Information on Patrick McFadden  Zoom on Patrick McFadden  I am very pleased that the Minister for Fisheries has taken to his bosom the homespun industry in West Donegal. That industry was in a prosperous condition before and during the war, but for some reason not yet stated, it has entirely disappeared. The Congested Districts Board supplied the people with looms, and there was a big market for their products in certain towns. There were three thousand webs of linen amounting to £9,000 sold. Not one thread is now spun in that district. If the Minister sent down an instructor or an inspector to show the people new designs and teach them to make new patterns he would be doing good work.

I hope he will not forget his promise, that he will keep to it and put this industry on its feet again, because it means a great deal to a number of families in four parishes. I am not going to enter on the merits and demerits of the fishing question. It has been discussed from all angles, but I agree with those who say that the purse of the Minister for Fisheries is short and that it would be better if he had a few thousand pounds more to develop the industry.

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I should like to say a word or two in connection with a rather important point raised by Deputy Byrne. That is the question of the depreciation of boats which were purchased during the war. I think everyone will admit that a boat which was purchased during the war is certainly not worth quarter the amount of money paid for it then, and that the fishermen from the various places in Ireland have certainly a stone hanging around their necks which leaves them in such a position that they get disheartened and do not take full advantage of opportunities offered to them in the way of fishing. There is one important point, I think, which has only been mentioned by Deputy Doyle. That is the question of the landing of fish. In my own constituency, and in many other places all over the country, harbours have been [680] allowed to shoal up. Bars of sand have been allowed to accumulate, with the result that it is hard for fishermen to land their fish. They get disheartened and refuse to fish in many of these places. I think in one place in my own constituency called Courtown, near Gorey, it is impossible at present for fishermen to land their fish. I have raised the matter with the Minister for Fisheries, who in turn got into touch with the Board of Works. The Board of Works has sent a query to the Wexford County Council to see if they are prepared to pay if a dredger is sent down there. If we are to develop our fisheries we cannot depend on the county councils of the country to pay for dredgers to remove bars of sand. I think this is a matter that could be directly handled by the Minister for Fisheries and that the necessary money should be forthcoming from the Minister for Finance to enable the Fishery Department to deal right away with a matter of this kind. I hope the Minister for Fisheries will make his voice heard in this connection.

Another important point which many Deputies have mentioned, especially Deputy White, is the question of trawlers from the other side coming into our fishing grounds and poaching fish, so to speak. In South Wexford Bay there are trawlers from one end of the year to the other. The cruiser is seldom there, at least so far as is apparent. I have complaints day after day from the fishermen in my area saying that those trawlers are there from one end of the year to the other and that there is no effort made by the Minister for Fisheries or anyone else to get them out of the place. I agree it is absolutely impossible to patrol the whole coast with one trawler and I think the Minister for Finance ought to let the Minister for Fisheries have the necessary amount of money in order that another cruiser might be provided. I have nothing more to say, as all the ground has been covered by various speakers, but I ask the Minister to pay particular attention to the question of the shoaling up of the small harbours where the fishermen are not able to land their fish owing to this particular state of affairs, and also to [681] concentrate on trying to provide another cruiser to prevent poaching by people outside this country.

AIRE um IASCACH (Fionán O Loingsigh): Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Os rud nár labhair ach oan duine amháin as Gaoluinn, b'fhéidir gur chóir dom freagra do thabhairt do-san ar dtúis. Do dhein sé tagairt, chomh maith le dhaoine eile, ar an méid airgid atá le fághail as Ciste an tSaorstáit. Ach nílim i bhábhair milleán do chur ar dhaoine eile. Is dóigh liom go raibh cúis maith nár thugadar an t-airgead dúinne. Dhein sé tagairt leis ar rud eile agus táim ar aon inntinn leis. Anois, ó's rud nach maith liom moill a bheith a chur ar an Dáil labharfhad as Béarla.

This discussion has gone on for a very considerable time and one Deputy after another has practically covered the same grounds. Deputy Byrne, Deputy Tadhg O Murchadha, some others, and finally, Deputy Doyle, referred to the cost of the administration of the Department. I think Deputy Doyle himself really showed one reason for the high cost of administration as compared with the amount of money that is available. I might say at first that the cost of administration of the Department of Fisheries is certainly not more than the cost of administration of the Fisheries when they were divided between the Congested Districts Board and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. Deputy Doyle in his plea for this little work near Rosslare showed why the cost of the administration of a Department like this is high. He pleaded for a work that was estimated to cost £300. In a case like that a superintendent is first sent and if the superintendent reports that the thing is worth doing the engineer is sent. These trips take a day or the greater part of a day for these highly paid officials; at least in the case of the engineer he is a highly paid official. They have to be paid travelling expenses and sustenance allowances while away from their homes. Deputy Doyle wants us to reconsider the thing. In the light of what he stated I could hardly refuse to agree to reconsider it. He said the fishing had increased to such an extent that we might be justified in this expenditure now [682] where before we would not be justified in spending the money. He further said that we would have the co-operation of the local people in the work. I presume he means we would have their co-operation by giving their free labour.

Mr. DOYLE:  Quite so.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  That is a proposition I could not refuse to consider. At the same time it will probably mean another visit by the superintendent alone, or the engineer alone, or perhaps by the superintendent and the engineer, with travelling expenses and sustenance allowances. I think that is an answer as to why the cost of administration of this Department is high. There is another answer. I mentioned in my general statement at the start that there is daily pouring in requests for inquiries as to the cause of this bye-law, that bye-law or another bye-law and where a prima facie case is put up we cannot in justice refuse to hold an Inquiry. An Inquiry means that an inspector, who is also a highly paid official, is sent to the particular district where the Inquiry is to be held and that costs money. I said in Irish that I did not want to be constantly reiterating that the whole blame is on the Finance Department. That would be an unfair shelving of the burden that is on me. After all I am responsible for the Department, good or ill. I have to shoulder my own burdens in the matter. I do admit that I would like to get more money, but after all when our Constitution was being framed we put Departments in such a way that they have to get financial sanction for the different items of expenditure. We did that with our eyes open and I think on the whole it is a very good thing. The Minister for Education yesterday, referring to his own Vote, said that if every Minister was free to spend as he liked on the various schemes that he might think were worthy of expenditure we would not be coming for a Budget as small as we have.

Points were also raised by Deputy Byrne, Deputy Everett and Deputy Wilson in connection with Arklow. As a matter of fact, we spend more money annually on Arklow than on any other [683] place in Ireland, especially in the way of dredging. I mention Arklow, because of the effects of certain winds the dredger has to go there annually. Nearly everybody who spoke talked of the re-valuation of boats and of the outstanding loans. That is a matter with which I have great sympathy indeed. I have been saying over and over again that very good men put all their savings of the boom years into bigger boats when they thought everything was beautiful and that they would never have a poor day again. After the war was over and when the slump came again they lost everything and were absolutely discouraged owing to the load of debt they had accumulated around their necks. It would be entirely desirable of course to help these men in every way.

Mr. HEWAT: Information on William Hewat  Zoom on William Hewat  That is not confined to the fishermen.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Perhaps it is not confined to the fishermen, but fishermen usually are men of small, if any, capital. The capital they made during the high prices in the few successful years of fishing during the War, they put into these boats. I have been considering it. I avoided saying it in my opening statement, because of the fact that it will create still further difficulties in connection with the loans. I have to warn the Dáil that it is a matter that is bristling with difficulties. What about the person who in spite of the fact that he did lose very heavily pulled himself together, refused to be discouraged, and repaid his loan? What are you going to do about him? Are you going to start paying back, out of the State purse, moneys that have been paid into it? That is one of the difficulties. In actual fairness to him, if you relieve the burden from his colleague who was not so successful, afterwards you should relieve it from him.

With regard to the cottage industries, many Deputies also referred to them. I think I covered nearly everything that was raised in my opening statement, except one or two points that I will come to later on. Deputy Cooper raised the question of the number of prosecutions that have taken [684] place, and asked for actual figures. I suppose we could with a certain amount of difficulty get lists of the prosecutions, but we do know that under last year's Act there have been a great many prosecutions for illegal possession of salmon, apart from poaching, and for the sale without due notice of what the packages contained, their destinations, and who the consignors were. Deputy Cooper, like many others, referred to the cruiser question. He was commenting on Deputy White's remark about getting one other cruiser. He said we needed six, that there was no use in our looking for only one more. Surely having two cruisers is better than having only one. While I quite agree that for absolute protection of the coast six would be necessary I am entirely moderate in my request. I would like to go along by degrees. If I get one more, perhaps next year I may ask for another.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Does the Minister agree with Deputy White that one of these cruisers has to patrol from Galway to Lough Foyle, and that the other has to look after the rest of the coast?

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  There was a great deal of talk by many Deputies in regard to transit. I agree that both the nonexistence of transit in outlying areas and the high cost of transit even where it is, is certainly a great hindrance to development. I think that is a direction in which perhaps State aid might come. There are precedents in other countries, and I think something might be done here in that direction. A great many people outside talk about the absolute negligence of the Department, and say they are doing nothing at all in any direction. The persons concerned in this industry—the Fishermen's Association and the curers— when asked to go before the Railway Tribunal to make a case for reduced freights, did not think it worth while. It was only through the action of my own Department, in sending an official, that we got a lower rate for herrings and mackerel, which is some slight relief in the cost of transit. I now come to Deputy Magennis's eloquent pleading in connection with a certain case in Waterville which happens to be [685] practically my own original home. Deputy Magennis was well briefed by the one side. His pleading, of course, was excellent and eloquent as usual, but I take it he knows very little really of the whole circumstances of the case. He came in the finish to what might have been put first as far as the case in point is concerned. I know that for years before the Free State or the Ministry of Fisheries was set up, that that Board and the whole fisheries there were governed by two cliques. One side was led presumably by the gentleman who briefed Deputy Magennis, and the other side by a person who has been referred to as a great friend of mine—he is a friend of mine— Maurice Fitzgerald. As far as I am officially concerned, one clique is no more to me than the other. I believe both are doing very great harm to the fisheries in the district. The Deputy quoted from certain letters to the “Kerryman”—I think they appeared in October, 1924, a pretty long way back—stating that I refused, as far as I could, to allow a prosecution in a case against Maurice Fitzgerald, and, I think, others. I took care to have private information from outside sources about nearly all the proceedings down there in recent years. This was an entirely provocative prosecution, and would inevitably fail. As far as possible, it is the policy of the Department to persuade the Board of Conservators not to rush into hasty prosecutions unless they are fairly sure of winning. The fact that I was right was proved afterwards. Mr. Sloane, who was then Clerk of the Board, was proceeded against by Fitzgerald and others before the Circuit Court Judge for illegal seizure of the nets. A decree was given against Sloane. I think that proved that my attitude in the case was right from the start.

We come then to the election held on October 5th last, the statutory day. A report was made to me of a certain mistake in the counting of the votes. The chairman claimed more votes than he was allowed by law for these fixed engines. I wrote and asked him if he had exercised these votes. He agreed that he had done so and held that he was right in law. I consulted the [686] Attorney-General and we were advised that, under the Fishery Acts, no man had a right to cast more than four votes. I pointed out, in reply to the complaints, the obvious course for anyone aggrieved in case of invalidity in connection with the elections and stated what the law was, as I was advised. If there is any chance of having good administration in a matter like fisheries, it is by good will. We were advised in the Department that we could ourselves proceed against the chairman for his action, but I suggested, not on legal advice but as a matter of common-sense and in the interests of the fisheries of the locality, that there should be a re-count of the votes legally, in place of the irregular count that had taken place. That was done and a meeting was called of the Board so elected. The meeting was futile because the members could not agree on a chairman. The reason they could not agree was because there was a vacancy for the position of clerk. Prior to this I had intimated to this Board that I considered that the original Board was illegal in the sense that I was satisfied that the chairman had miscounted the votes cast at the election. I am satisfied that that was an illegal or irregular Board and that the subsequent one— after the right count of the votes—was the right one. I intimated to them that I would not recognise or sanction Mr. Sloane as Clerk of the Board. I may say that the chief reason for that is that the aim is to get a man in that position in the different fishery areas who is young and active. Mr. Sloane must be upwards of 70 years of age. I remember that 25 years ago he was a retired sergeant of the R.I.C. Apart from Mr. Sloane's age, I think his whole action and, from what I know of him personally, his whole conduct of the work of the Board was in the past detrimental to the best interests of the fisheries in the district. I am perfectly satisfied that he filled the office with prejudice, waiting for a chance to jump on persons of the opposite clique and that he was openly conniving at grave irregularities by his own clique. That is the position as I know it and I refused to sanction him. When the duly constituted Board met, they could not [687] decide on a chairman because there was the question about the clerkship. I was in the position of keeping the ring. The persons I was supposed to favour and for whom I was supposed to misuse my position grossly would want me to do this, that or the other thing, while on the other hand, the other people would want me to do what suited them. I refused to do either. I informed them that, if necessary, I would have to take steps to ask the Dáil to give me leave to appoint a commissioner for that particular district. I had intended inserting a clause governing such a case in last year's Act, but, because I was anxious that as far as possible we should hold to the last to democratic methods of running the fisheries, I dropped it. I am beginning to be rather doubtful about my attitude now after my experience this year, not only in respect of this district but in respect of Limerick and Ballina. I think I was unwise in not having got such a provision.

I was implored after that threat to allow another chance for a meeting as a settlement might be arrived at. I told them to carry on. But the result was the same. The voting was 5 on each side and there was no possibility of electing a chairman because there was still the job there and two candidates for the job. I heard rather casually—from, I think, someone in my own office—that one of the candidates —shall we call him the candidate of clique No. 1, that Deputy Magennis is pleading for, as distinguished from my supposed clique, clique No. 2, Maurice Fitzgerald's—had threatened legal proceedings against two persons appointed as a result of the re-count, including Maurice Fitzgerald.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  Might I ask the Minister if he regards the re-count as having been properly carried out and in accordance with all the legal requirements?

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I do, and I believe that, besides that, it was the common-sense way out.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  I did not ask you whether it was the common-sense way out. Was it the legal way out?

[688]Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  There was a time when the matter could have been tested. The man threatened proceedings and I am extremely sorry that he did not bring them to the courts. The meeting failed. That meant that six months had elapsed without this Board functioning. The Act says that if a Board ceases to function for six months it may be dissolved. Before the 1st May, expecting such a situation, I sent a draft order from my Department dissolving the Board. We are going to chance a new election. If it fails I shall have to come and ask for power to appoint a commissioner. I received the draft order back yesterday morning and it will be signed and issued within a few days.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  The Secretary of the Department of Fisheries writes on 4th December, 1925, to the Fishery Office, Waterville:—

“The Minister considers that the Conservators elected for the Freshwater Electoral Division B, where the election appears to have been carried out in a legal manner, together with Mr. Butler sitting in an ex-officio capacity as owner of a fishery valued at over £50 per annum, should meet and carry out the duties of the Board pending the further consideration of the question of the election held in the Tidal Division.”

The Minister will remember that I pointed out that under the 15th Section of that Statute it was competent for the body to which he refers in this letter to carry on the work of the Board of Conservators. But they were not permitted to do so. Is not that the case?

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  That is not so. As a matter of fact, there is such a body carrying on in one of the areas. But this body never met and never attempted to meet.

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  The point is, as made in a later letter, the words of which I quoted earlier in the debate, that what did not meet was the tidal element of the conservators, whereas the legal point really is not [689] that they did not meet, but that they did not elect properly a number of representatives. That leaves the other point absolutely untouched.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I do not follow the Deputy. Perhaps he would be good enough to repeat his statement?

Professor MAGENNIS: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  I will give the Minister the exact reference. In a letter of 28th April, 1926, the Minister's Secretary writes:—

“I am directed by the Minister for Fisheries to acknowledge receipt of the communication dated 26th instant, signed by you and Messrs. Thomas J. O'Reilly, F.M. Patterson, and John Dwyer; and to state that in the opinion of the Department the persons entitled to meet and elect conservators for the tidal electoral division have not failed to meet and elect conservators. Consequently, the conservators for the Freshwater Electoral Division of the Waterville District are not competent to act for the District.”

The Minister declared in that letter that the provisions of the 15th Section of the Statute, which I quoted earlier, could not operate because, as he alleges, the tidal electors had not failed to meet and elect conservators, etc. That is what I accuse the Minister of doing— of becoming what he himself in an earlier letter, which I quoted, says he must not become, namely, an interpreter of the law and an adjudicator on a point of fact. That is the point I desire the Minister to be good enough to address himself to.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I do not quite grasp what the Deputy is driving at. There was a wrong count. Pending a decision as to whether that was or was not invalid—at all events, pending my looking into the case—I told them in a letter of December—I have not the letter here but I think that was the date—that, at any rate, the non-tidal men were duly elected plus the ex-officio member, who was actually the chairman of the election meeting. I told them that they could carry on in accordance with that section of the Act —11th and 12th Vic.—which the Deputy has quoted, pending my looking [690] into the other question. I found afterwards that the thing was settling itself or, at all events, that it could settle itself by a recount. I then told them that I considered that the tidal men, plus non-tidal men, formed a duly elected Board.

The question of insurance was raised by Deputy Everett. He asked a question as to the loans outstanding in Arklow and as to whether any of the sum of £85,000 outstanding is made up of insurance. None of that is attributable to insurance.

Mr. C. BYRNE: Information on Christopher Michael Byrne  Zoom on Christopher Michael Byrne  A very small percentage of that sum is owing in Arklow.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  It is fairly evenly distributed between Arklow, Kerry, Galway, and Donegal, if I remember rightly. Deputy Tadhg O Murchada raised a question as to the rate of interest charge on loans. The rate now charged in twice what it was in years gone by. Formerly, I think the rate charged was 2½ per cent. The rate now is 5 per cent. The charge for borrowed money has increased generally, and I think this charge is necessary.

Deputy Murphy also raised the question of a kippering house in Bantry. We have been considering that, and we have been getting our superintendent there to look into the question generally as to the development of the kippering herring industry in South-West Cork. As far as Bantry is concerned, no definite decision has yet been taken. There are several matters still to be decided as to the quality of the herrings and as to a steady supply. There are more prospects at a very small, out-of-the-way place called Barley Cove, but it would have to be done by ourselves, as it is very far away from any of the ordinary centres. The cost of a light at Castletownbere is estimated at £900, and the maintenance at about £50 a year. At present the few boats which use Castletownbere would hardly justify this outlay, but if the progress that is shown generally in the Cork fisheries is maintained and portion of that progress centres in Castletownbere, the scheme could be reconsidered. There have been complaints [691] with regard to the delay in getting loans. That is of necessity so, because when we get in the applications and the security forms we have to get our superintendent to report to us as to the acceptability of the proposed securities. Deputy Heffernan referred to the possibilities of establishing a big trade with the United States of America in golf hose and so on, and he quoted glowing figures. You might find a few American millionaires who would spend the amount that he mentioned on these things, but I am afraid that a big trade in these lines is out of the question. He also raised the question of designs. We do give up-to-date designs to our workers. We produce these in headquarters, and send them on to the workers in the different classes.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  resumed the Chair.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but I wish to point out that I stand up here wearing a suit of Donegal homespun. I do not think there is a man in the Cumann na nGaedheal, the Labour, or the Farmers' Parties who can make the same statement.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Perhaps the members of these Parties have not yet got into their summer clothing. They are not used to the warm atmosphere of Donegal. Deputy Johnson referred to the backward move in putting the men utilising these boats in them as deck hands, because I said that I did not consider that that would lead anywhere. I do not think it is a forward policy that these men should now be working as deck hands, when they formerly owned these boats. That is not something that will get you much further.

GENERAL MULCAHY:  But is it not a step forward towards having a larger number of these boats working?

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  It is desirable to have the boats working if you can, but does the Deputy suggest that the State should do that at perhaps a very serious loss?

[692]Mr. O'DOHERTY: Information on Joseph O'Doherty  Zoom on Joseph O'Doherty  Yes.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  What about the Broadcasting?

General MULCAHY: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Minister raised a rather important point. He invites private capital to invest in the industry. If he takes up the attitude, in word as distinct from deed, that he cannot hope to make money by taking idle boats, putting crews on board, giving the crews half the proceeds of any catches, and taking the other half for the Department, and of making these idle boats in some way remunerative to the Department and to the men, he is not offering very much hope to capitalists.

Mr. LYNCH: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  The Deputy is really so involved and makes so many provisos that it is not easy for me to know what he is exactly referring to. But he is entirely wrong in what he states. When I was talking about the investment of capital I was referring to the big boats used for trawling outside, which, as Deputy Johnson pointed out, is far less speculative than in-shore fishing, in which the boats I have been referring to are engaged, and I did not say that I prognosticated failure. I merely asked that if they still happened to be a failure, as happened in the experiments last year, would he still advise us to continue like that, with big losses.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: Information on Joseph O'Doherty  Zoom on Joseph O'Doherty  I do not know whether I am in order in saying a word at this stage.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I thought the Minister was concluding on the general question.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: Information on Joseph O'Doherty  Zoom on Joseph O'Doherty  My remarks will be very short.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  There is no better authority on this subject in the House than the Deputy.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: Information on Joseph O'Doherty  Zoom on Joseph O'Doherty  I think I know a good deal about the subject, and I will keep to the point. The President is a man who got his sea legs, and knows a good deal about the sea. Some of the other Ministers, in the same way, may have found much information about this question. But it is a real fact that [693] the Department is necessary. If I had not been convinced of that I would have done my best, last year, and the year before, to smash it.

Most of our observations, at least those who come from fishery districts, should be informative. Much of what has been outlined by the Minister should have been adopted by the Department of Fisheries a year or two years ago.

The Minister last night gave us such a pleasant idea of the fishery business run by his Department that, personally, I was astounded. Last year, when this question was raised, the Minister had the support of the whole Committee. The next time the matter was raised was on the Fishery Act. We then discussed this question, and the plea of the Minister was that there was no scheme he could accept.

Many of us who represent fishery districts put up to the Minister a scheme which, after infinite trouble and labour, we believed to be a solvent of the deep-sea fishery question. We have not had one single word from the Minister as to whether he has accepted that scheme or not. Local effort is being hampered and killed by the officials of the Department as it exists at present.

Mr. WHITE: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  By the Ministry of Finance.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I thought the general debate was to be concluded by the Minister for Fisheries according to the general system we work on here. I think Deputy O'Doherty is late now to speak upon this general question. There has been [694] very considerable discussion, at any point of which Deputy O'Doherty might have intervened. I am afraid he is late now to speak upon the general question.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: Information on Joseph O'Doherty  Zoom on Joseph O'Doherty  Anything you say, sir, I shall accept at once. I will only conclude in this way.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I hope this is a real conclusion.

Mr. O'DOHERTY: Information on Joseph O'Doherty  Zoom on Joseph O'Doherty  The Minister for Fisheries has not justified his Department to this House. We gave him twelve months in which to do that, and the Minister has not only not justified the Department for which he is responsible, but has shown that it is retrograde.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  There is an amendment on the paper by Deputy Cooper.

Major COOPER: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I suggest that the Committee might now report progress. There are but five minutes left before the time at which we would adjourn in the ordinary course, and I will take more than five minutes to develop my argument, which involves the whole history of the Congested Districts Board. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Question put and agreed to.

The Dáil went out of Committee.

Progress reported.

Committee to sit again to-morrow.

Dáil adjourned at 10.25 p.m. till Wednesday at 3 o'clock.


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