Wednesday, 6 July 1927
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh  thar £652,680 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh la de Mhárta, 1928, chun íocaíochtanna i dtaobh mille no díobháil do mhaoin a dineadh i rith na tréimhse 21 Eanair, 1919, go 12 Bealtaine, 1923, go huile, fé sna hAchtanna um Dhíobháil do Mhaoin (Cúiteamh.), 1923 go 1926, agus ar shiite eile; agus mar gheall ar dhamáiste do mhaoin, no cailliúint maoine, agus íocaíochtanna tré shlánú no tré aisíoc fén Acht Slánaíochta, 1924, agus chun deontaisí d'íoc a socruíodh a íoc de bharr mola an Property Losses (Ireland) Committee, 1916, mar chúiteamh i bhfoirgintí a milleadh i mBaile Atha Cliath i rith Seachtain na Cásca, 1916.
That a sum not exceeding £652,680 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1928, for payments in respect of destruction of, or injuries to, property within the period 21st January, 1919, to 12th May, 1923, inclusive, under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Acts, 1923 to 1926, and otherwise; and in respect of damage to, or loss of property and payments by way of indemnification or recoupment under the Indemnity Act, 1924 and for payment of grants awarded on the recommendation of the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee. 1916, as compensation for buildings destroyed in Dublin during Easter Week, 1916.
As Deputies will see, the amount asked for this year is very considerably lower than the amounts required in previous years. There is a net decrease of £1,191,320. This will not be the last Vote in connection with Property Losses Compensation, but the amounts that will be required in subsequent years will be very much smaller. We are nearing the end of the work in connection with the awarding and the paying of compensation, but as in the case of many awards reinstatement conditions have been attached, and as payments can only be made when reinstatements  are effected, there will be amounts to be paid in subsequent years. So far as the pre-Truce damage is concerned, the international Commission which awarded compensation ceased to function on the 31st March, 1926, but a large number of awards remained to be disposed of. The great majority have now been discharged, except in cases where there were reinstatement conditions. So far as Sub-head B is concerned, the number of claims lodged was approximately 25,800, and all the cases, except about thirty, have been heard. There are a number of appeals outstanding, and the number of cases still to be disposed of is about sixty or eighty. It is expected that the hearing of the appeals which have been lodged will take place very soon. Reinstatement awards have so far been made amounting to £1,533,582, and £900,000 odd has been paid to date, so that on the 31st of last March there remained outstanding £697,000. In the O'Connell Street area awards amounting to £294,000 were made, and a balance of £141,000 remains to be paid.
So far as Sub-head C is concerned, it is expected that the payment of the £40,000 to the railway companies in respect of the reinstatement of property belonging to them which had been destroyed or damaged will be made this year, and no further payments will be made in subsequent years. With regard to Sub-head E, the work of the Committee under the Indemnity Act involved the investigation of 5,270 cases and the amount of compensation paid to the 31st March, 1927, was £77,394. The provision made this year will complete the payments to be made under this heading. Under Sub-head F, the amount remaining to be paid is the amount awarded for the destruction of the Royal Hibernian Academy's premises in Lower Abbey Street. The Academy has not yet submitted any proposals for re-building.
Mr. JOHNSON: I would like to ask the Minister whether the sum of £6,780 or any such amount that may be awaiting a claimant is lying at interest to the credit of the claimant until it is paid.  Does interest accrue to the credit of the claimant in such case?
Mr. McMENAMIN: I should like to ask the Minister what is his policy with regard to the re-construction of O'Connell Street; also with regard to any outstanding building that has not been re-built where reinstatement clauses are attached to the award? Does he intend to apply a time limit with regard to the re-construction of those premises?
Mr. O'BRIEN: I would like to ask the Minister if 18 Beresford Place, better known as Liberty Hall, is the only building destroyed in the 1916 period for which compensation has not been, or will not be paid. If that is so, does the Minister think that calls for any action upon his part?
Mr. BLYTHE: With reference to the point raised by Deputy Johnson, interest is not accruing on the sum of £6,780. So far as sums awarded by the Shaw Commission were concerned, during a period interest did run. That period has terminated and no interest is now accruing. I did not know whether it would be possible in fairness to bring pressure upon people to reinstate, beyond the pressure of urging them to do so. I do not know that it would be fair to penalise them for not reinstating because it is a fact that, in many cases, the compensation awarded would not be sufficient of itself to re-instate buildings. People who had buildings destroyed were awarded the value of the old buildings. These old buildings must be substituted by new buildings, and, consequently, they will, in most cases, have to add some money to the compensation awarded to effect reinstatement. That makes it difficult to apply penal pressure of any sort to them. But I think construction, speaking generally, is going on fairly rapidly and fairly satisfactorily, and I anticipate that within another year or year-and-a-half, practically all the money that is to be paid in connection with Property Losses Compensation will have been paid. A time might come when we would say to people if they did not take steps to rebuild, or dispose of their awards to people with the necessary  capital to rebuild, that we would approach the Dáil for authority to make deductions from their awards. But I do not think we should do anything at present.
I am not sure about the case of Liberty Hall at the moment, but I would agree with the Deputy that if the supposition he put forward in his question is correct, that it was the only building damaged in 1916 for which compensation was not paid, compensation ought to be paid. I would undertake to investigate that particular matter, and, if it seems a proper case, to arrange to have words inserted under an appropriate sub-head, in a subsequent year, to enable payment to be made, but, as I say, I am not familiar with the particulars.
Mr. McMENAMIN: When I asked about bringing pressure to bear on certain classes of people I understood the awards made came under two heads. First as regards the market value of the buildings, people who did not desire to re-build in the particular place were able to conform to the award by building elsewhere, and, in the second place the class of people who were prepared to rebuild got no order as to re-instate.
Mr. BLYTHE: There were awards with re-instatement conditions attached, but they were awards based on the value of the buildings destroyed and they took into account that the persons who erected the new buildings similar to the ones destroyed would have better buildings, being new, and consequently they did not get the full value of the new buildings. They got the value of the old buildings towards the re-erection of the new building.
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