In Committee on Finance. - Vote 54—Fisheries and Gaeltacht Services.

Friday, 21 March 1930

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 33 No. 18

First Page Previous Page Page of 5 Next Page Last Page

Debate resumed on the following motion:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £28,270 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1931, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Tailte agus Iascaigh agus Seirbhísí áirithe atá fé riara na hOifige sin.

That a sum not exceeding £28,270 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, 1931. for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries, and of certain Services administered by that Office. —(Minister for Finance).

Mr. Carney: Information on Frank Carney  Zoom on Frank Carney  At the stage where I left off last evening I was discussing the question of the homespun and [2355] handspun industry. I was pointing out to the Minister that there has been very great dissatisfaction in that industry, and that the dissatisfaction still exists amongst the spinners who, in preparation for the scheme that is to be put into operation by the Minister, had their spinning wheels repaired but now find that they are still without employment. The few people employed at either spinning or weaving were given a test piece to make under the direction of the Ministry. It was held that the spinners and weavers were not competent as a result of that test. The spinners resent that very much. They point out to the Minister that in those test pieces that were made there was no such thing as uniformity, for the reason that the test piece of cloth was woven from the products of five or six different spinners, thus making for lack of uniformity and making it possible for somebody to say “this fabric is not as good as it should be.” If those test pieces were woven from the product of one spinner, there would have been uniformity about them and they would have made a better marketable product. If and when the Minister decides to help the homespun and handspun industry in Donegal, particularly the handspun that will give employment to spinners in the cottage homes, I do not see why he should not extend the benefits to other places as well as to the places I mentioned last night—to places like Dungloe and Gweedore.

In the particular places we were always quarrelling about, Ardara, Glencolumbcille, Carrick and down to Teelin and Killybegs, they have been waiting for two years for all the fine promises to be fulfilled in regard to the industry. One of those who is particularly concerned with the industry at Ardara, and who has in a very special way its interests at heart, when speaking of the Minister, referred to him as drawing a ring around the elusive Mr. Lynch. Whether he meant a twenty-four foot ring or a ring net I do not know. [2356] They want the Minister bound down to something definite, to something more than giving promises that are not fulfilled. The Minister, in speaking of the kelp industry, adopted an optimistic note, which I hope will be fulfilled. It is very necessary that experiments should be carried out to find the mineral salt content of kelp, the amount of iodine it contains and other qualities, and the facts put before the people engaged in the kelp industry, but I am afraid if we have to depend on the Minister's promise in regard to kelp as we did in regard to the homespun and handspun industries we are going, as they say in parts of the North, to “blow a cow home.”

The question of carrigeen moss occupied the attention of the Minister, or at least he told us so. There is room certainly in connection with that for a lot of research work on account of the nutritive and medicinal qualities of carrigeen moss. It should be far more generally used than it is, and would be if it could be prepared in some more portable form than in its raw state. If a better market were found for that product the remuneration received by the people around the seaboard would be of very great help to them. I believe that some years ago a factory was established for the carrying out of experiments in the preparation of table delicacies, and so on, in carrigeen moss and other sea plants, at the Orkneys, but I do not know the result of them. I notice that in the Minister's speech any reference to sea fisheries was conspicuous by its absence. It was very strange the Minister did not deal with the question of sea fisheries at some length. There must be a reason. Perhaps we can find the reason. Before we come to that I would point out a thing that should be well known to most people in this country, or at least to those who live near the sea or on the seaboard, and that is that the small uneconomic holders along the seaboard were, years ago, able to eke out an existence by devoting part of their time to inshore fishing. That industry, [2357] so far as they are concerned, has been almost completely wiped out. It is impossible for the small uneconomic holders or even the wholetime fisherman who, with a small boat, was not able to indulge in fishing at any great distance from the coast.

The Minister knows perhaps better than I do what is the cause of that. The Minister knows that all the spawning beds were swept by foreign trawlers until the ocean bed was clean. We have brought up this question in the Dáil time after time but nothing yet has been done to prevent that. It might have been that the Minister had not power to do anything, but we must find an explanation as to why there was nothing done to prevent it. When the beds were destroyed all the inshore fishing became practically obsolete. If the Minister, for instance, as has been suggested to him, utilised one of the Department fishing boats, that boat could have been detached from the present fleet of fishing vessels and put under the command of a competent captain to investigate and to ascertain if along the western seaboard and at other parts off the coast there are not other untapped fishing beds. The Minister knows that any vessel of a fishing fleet is not going to detach itself from that fleet, from the present recognised fishing beds, for the purpose of what I might call prospecting for new ground. No fisherman, if he is fishing for a livelihood, either in his own boats or on a salary, can afford to do it, but it would have been possible for the Minister to detach one of those boats owned by his Department and allocate certain duties to that boat which the ordinary fishing vessel cannot do for itself.

At the same time, that should run hand in hand with other things, because if we were to expend money on finding for ourselves new fishing grounds in the present circumstances these fishing grounds would not be utilised by Irishmen but would be the common property of any foreigner who liked to come along and sweep the ocean bed. At the [2358] present time even in the fishing ground which we know, even from inside the territorial waters, we have the same thing happening for the last seven or eight years. The foreign trawlers can come inside the territorial waters and take all the fish there from the Irish fishermen. The French and English trawlers are better equipped for that class of work, with the consequence that they can come in, sweep the seas and take away a catch and thus take many thousands of pounds that should be going into Irish pockets.

We are expending—it is the same amount this year as last year— £8,000 on a patrol vessel. Time out of mind foreign trawlers have been seen fishing within the territorial waters of this State or, at least, what we ought to look to as the territorial waters of this State. Sometimes they have been arrested. They have been detained for a time and fines have been imposed but no fines have been collected. In one particular instance when a French crew was arrested and brought into the Civic Guard barracks in Killybegs—I referred to this before—the French crew gave an entertainment in the Civic Guard barracks, free, gratis and for nothing to the people of Killybegs. They contributed vocal and instrumental music, such American classics as “We have got no bananas” translated into French and sung for the edification of the people of Killybegs. If we are going to spend £8,000 per annum for purposes like that, providing an impromptu entertainment for the people of our seaside villages by foreign crews, I think, like the little boy in the school book long ago, we are paying too much for our whistle. The net result of the expenditure of this £8,000 on the Muirchu was an impromptu entertainment by Frenchmen in the Civic Guard barracks in Killybegs. It was a pity they had not the Dublin Broadcasting Station near there and then we might have all heard it. If we are to continue in that way I think the £8,000 had better be spent in some other direction.

[2359]Mr. White: Information on John White  Zoom on John White  They must have got some of the Killybegs poteen.

Mr. Carney: Information on Frank Carney  Zoom on Frank Carney  They do not make it up there. It must have been brought from around Carndonagh. The territorial limits of this State have not yet been defined, at least as regards its territorial waters. Last evening I put a question to the Minister for External Affairs and asked him if the territorial boundaries had yet been defined and if the matter had been discussed in London. It was supposed to have been discussed last October; at least we were told that they were going to discuss it. The Minister told me these limits had not been defined. We are legislating for a State the boundaries of which we do not know. Could Gilbert and Sullivan beat that? We had a case in Waterford last week where a foreign trawler was arrested by the Muirchu and nobody seemed to know what the limits of the State were or were not. They were like the fellow who was referred to long ago in the old pantomime song: “He dunno where'e are.” Nobody seems to know where we are. The Minister does not seem to know where he is. Is it fair for us to pretend to legislate for this country when we are not able, if put to it, to define where our possessions begin and where they end?

The Minister will appoint a Board to reorganise and re-establish the fishing industry in this country, but the peculiar part of it is that if, and when, that Board gets into operation that Board does not know exactly over what particular part of the waters outside the country it has jurisdiction. For instance, if that Board wants to re-establish the industry as far as the Foyle is concerned, where is that Board to begin and where is it to end? Is there any man, including the Minister, who can tell me exactly where the Free State stops and where the Six-County area begins? If the Minister knows it, I would like to have an explanation. I would like to have some definition of the boundaries, something definite to go on. [2360] Here we have anomalies enough to fill reams of paper. We have a Board appointed. I do not think it is very fair to any Board that may be appointed to put it in the position that that Board will find itself in, because if a French trawler, for instance, is arrested for fishing, the captain of that trawler can snap his fingers at anybody in a court of law or at the Minister himself, and say, “Why did you arrest me? The latitude and longitude of the place where I was arrested are not included in the territorial waters of the Free State.” If a man can do that, and if the Minister has to sit with his thumb in his mouth, where are the Board going to find themselves?

Last week, we had a case in point. in which we did not even know whether the islands off our own coast are our property or not. It is not fair to the Board; it is not fair to the Dáil; it is not fair to the country, and last, but not least, it is not fair to the captain or to the crew of the Muirchu, because they have done their duty, as far as I know, conscientiously. They have arrested trawlers; they have brought them into port. Their duties ended there, but when the court was held and fines were imposed in certain cases, they could not be collected. In the other cases when it was attempted to impose a fine the defendant snapped his fingers and said “That particular part of the world where I was arrested does not belong to the Free State at all,” and the Free State has to take it lying down. Why go on with the farce of appointing Boards to re-establish the fishing industry? Why go on with the farce, when the Minister himself cannot give a direction to his own courts, or through whatever channels such a direction should come? I am not saying that the Minister should do it directly, but nobody can give a definition to the Justice himself, for example, as to where the territory in which he is dispensing justice begins and ends. It is making a laughing-stock of the captain and the crew of the Muirchu, of the [2361] Justice, of the Minister himself, and of the whole Dáil.

It would be a farce if it were not so tragic. The tragedy of it is this: that because of all those things I have pointed out, because of the fact that we do not at this stage of our history know exactly what we have got and exactly what we have not got, hundreds of men round the seaboard are being deprived of a livelihood; hundreds are living in a state of semi-starvation and hundreds are emigrating every week. That is the tragedy. If it were not for that it would be one of the greatest farces that ever happened in any country in the world to say that we come here to legislate for a country and we do not know where the country begins or ends—the Never, Never Land. In view of these things I have pointed out, together with my colleague Deputy Derrig, I cannot help thinking and saying that this Vote should be referred back for consideration, not alone for consideration but for reconsideration, of all those points that have been mentioned in this debate or that may be brought up later on. I hope they will be examined most carefully by the Minister and his staff. When there is something that is not so silly, if I might put it that way, put before the Dáil as a programme to help both the fisheries and the rural industries of the Gaeltacht, then we certainly will be prepared to vote the money asked for and if possible to add to the amount to be expended in arrears where the money is so very badly needed.

Dr. White: Information on Dr. Vincent Joseph White  Zoom on Dr. Vincent Joseph White  I am very pleased indeed to learn that the promised scheme for the development of our sea fisheries on co-operative lines has approached so near the stage of actual operation. I may say for myself that I have always thought that the only way to revive our Irish marine fisheries is by co-operation. There appeared some little time ago in the Press a list of the directors whose services had been secured in this matter by the Minister and I venture to say that they are men [2362] whose standing in the commercial world is a guarantee that whatever funds may be entrusted to the new Association will be utilised in a business-like way for the benefit of the fishermen members, without those irritating and sometimes expensive delays which are inseparable from the working of a State Department.

Turning to the question of the revision of fishery loans, I was glad to hear the Minister say that each case is being examined and dealt with on its merits. That, I think, is the only equitable way in dealing with the problem rather than by a set formula, the application of which might in some instances result in overgenerous treatment, while in other genuine cases hardship might ensue to the applicants. Personally I do not at all think that ten or twelve weeks is too long to wait for what, I venture to think, and what we all hope, will be a final settlement of this vexed question. I know for a fact that in my own county there are several hard working fishermen who find it very hard at times to meet the instalments that they are called upon to pay. Anyone who is interested in the fisheries of the Saorstát, anyone who thinks about the matter, anyone who has a practical experience of it, must know that during the last three years especially salmon fishing has been practically an absolute failure. The same might be said of the herring fishing. The mackerel fishing, certainly down in my part of the country, has been a failure, too. I hope that between this new Association and the loan revision some relief and encouragement will be forthcoming for these honest and hard-working fishermen to whom I refer.

There is another important matter which I want to mention. A few days ago I put down a question on the Order Paper addressed to the Minister for Fisheries which had a bearing on the lobster fishing in the South, particularly along the Waterford and Wexford shores. My information is that the decision, or lack of decision, at the recent court has put new heart, if I might so describe it, into the Frenchmen. My information, [2363] and it has come from a very reliable source, is that a large fleet of French boats are being fitted up to come to the Saorstát coast and fish along it. To my mind there should never have been any difficulty about the case tried in Waterford, because the inner Saltee Island is only 2¾ miles from Kilmore Point. The outer Saltee Island is not three miles distant from the inner island.

Therefore, I take it that both islands are within the three mile limit, and I for one, unlike Deputy Carney, have no difficulty as regards the limits of the Saorstát territorial waters. I understand that according to international law the sea within three miles of any country constitutes a three mile limit all round the coast. Now, turning to the question of these lobster poachers, it is a very important matter not only for Waterford and the adjoining counties but for the rest of the Saorstát. These lobster boats are the last word in scientific build. They are built specially for catching and carrying alive to France lobsters, and not only do the Frenchmen catch mature lobsters off the Irish coast, but they also catch and carry away alive, and put into specially constructed wells, the immature lobsters. They bring them over to the French coast and liberate them on the French coast. So if you go to any of the Paris restaurants you will eat French lobsters from Ireland. That is a very serious thing.

Some years ago, when talking on the Fishery Estimate, I suggested to the Minister that we might have something in the nature of a hatchery for lobsters, just the same as we have hatcheries for salmon, and I again throw out that suggestion. As I said, the result of this case in Waterford has put new heart into the Frenchmen, and unless something is done speedily I am afraid that the last of our inshore fisheries will be as bad as the trawl fishing area. I might say I went to some little trouble in finding out about these Frenchmen. I found that each of the parent ships carry [2364] about 120 lobster pots and they also carry two small boats with motors, and the modus operandi of these gentlemen is the parent ship goes outside the three mile line and then despatches the two small boats with about 60 pots in each. These come in perhaps in the evening or in the darkness and set their pots. For two hours in the summer and much longer intervals in the winter they haul those pots and then go and rejoin the parent vessel. When the Muirchu comes along everything is O.K. The parent vessel is outside the three mile limit. The two small boats are hauled up on her decks and when they get a favourable opportunity they come along again and haul their pots.

I might further say that the fishermen down there tell me that the Saltee Island is a breeding place for lobsters and that if something is not done soon I am afraid we will not have very many lobsters left there. Last year I think I ventured to throw out a suggestion to the Minister for Fisheries. I hold that the great and most pressing problem with regard to sea fisheries at present is protection. I suggested to the Minister then with much respect and I do the same now, that two or three vessels would be sufficient perhaps. Let the sons of fishermen be placed on board and let them be taught everything with regard to up-to-date seamanship and fishing. In that way we will be educating these men as professional fishermen. They would also I fancy go a long way towards paying for their upkeep and, furthermore, they could act as guard vessels. I do not think that the expense entailed in providing these vessels would be enormous. In any case the good that they would do would far outweigh their expense. I cannot agree with Deputy Carney when he tries to ridicule the Muirchu. The Muirchu, although she is only one vessel, is certainly doing splendid work all round the coastline of the Saorstát. I have nothing but praise for the Captain and crew of the Muirchu. These men are doing their duty well. I [2365] frequently see them around Dunmore and my constituency generally and if that one boat was not there I think the inshore fisheries of Ireland would be absolutely blotted out by now.

There is just one other point. We have passed many excellent laws here. There seems to be some obsecurity about the fishing laws and if there is I would, with respect, suggest that we take up this question of the fishing laws and if legislation is necessary to clarify the existing ones, which I suppose in 1930 may be a bit obsolete, it should be passed at once. I want to congratulate the Minister finally in introducing this scheme on co-operative lines. As I said in my opening remarks this scheme, if properly worked, will prove a final settlement with regard to inshore fisheries.

Mr. P. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  (Clare): I always endeavour to examine an estimate with a view to trying to form a mental picture of the services it is proposed to finance and I have to confess that I get but a very indistinct picture of this service from the Estimate, and the re-touching that the Minister gave it yesterday evening in his statement did not make the outlines very much clearer for me. This I venture to suggest is a most important Estimate, probably one of the most important estimates that would come before the House during the consideration of the finance for the year. Notwithstanding that Deputy Tierney told us last night that our national status was derived from the Treaty, I venture to suggest that our national status is derived from the Gaeltacht more than from any Imperial conference or any Treaty and is maintained more in the Gaeltacht and protected more in the Gaeltacht than any Imperial or other conference will do in that direction. We should try and see this in relation to this Estimate and then consider the amount of money to be expended in connection with such unwanted services as, say, wireless broadcasting and external affairs. The Minister last night gave us very little information about either [2366] the development or the protection of the fishing industry or that much vexed question of the poaching of foreign trawlers. He did not give us any indication of how he proposes to protect our shores from that encroachment and he did not tell us much either as to how he proposes to develop the inland fisheries. I do not want to follow in the track that has been pointed out by Deputy Carney or pursue him in all the vagaries of the fishing department in connection with the lack of protection for the sea fisheries. I suggest he might try to use some of the air forces in this connection. Surely it would not be impossible for an armed aeroplane to force a foreign trawler to put ashore. It surely might be worth experimenting on and trying. The Minister in referring to this new bureau that has been established spoke only of classes in connection with it. He did not tell us whether it is to be used in connection with marketing and the organisation of cottage industries.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  On a point of explanation, I used the word “classes,” because they used to be called classes; they are really miniature factories.

Mr. Hogan:  He certainly stressed the word “classes,” and he said his Department were going much beyond what the Gaeltacht Commission had in mind when they suggested this bureau. I do not think it is enough. I think it has fallen far short of what the Gaeltacht Commission had in mind. I suggest what the Gaeltacht Commission had in mind was not a storehouse in Beggar's Bush Barracks. You might as well put it in the Pine Forest for all anyone would know about it. I suggest that what the Gaeltacht Commission had in mind was that you should have a show-room and a store-room somewhere between Stephen's Green and Parnell Square where people could come, see and examine what could be produced and marketed from the Gaeltacht, but you might as well have them down in Connemara as to have a store-room [2367] and show-room in Beggar's Bush Barracks. However, he did not tell us whether there is any intention of making a survey as to the possibilities of industries in the Gaeltacht. Are we going to have nothing except lace-making and knitting in the Gaeltacht? Is there any intention of developing such things as manufacturing from peat, from the granite and clay deposits and other things found in the Gaeltacht? I would like to know if any survey has been made in that direction.

With regard to sea fisheries I would like to hear more from the Minister with regard to the small boats. Probably the Minister is not enamoured of that type of fisherman but I would like to hear more regarding tackle for these men and slips for landing for them. I know several districts where, in order to haul his boat up on the land a man has to wade almost waist-deep in water. Something might be done in that direction and if it were, at least it would give some help to these people we talk so much about. Candidly I am not so optimistic about this association. I hope it will be successful and hope that we will help it to be successful. I know it is tackling a big problem. I know also, with the exception of one member of it, that there are very few people in it who know anything about the fishing industry.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Do you know anything at all about the individuals?

Mr. Hogan:  I am not in the habit of saying things that I do not know something about. Regarding the inland fisheries, I would like to know whether the Minister has tackled his friend, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, about the way in which he has left the fishing industry on the Shannon, whether it would not be his job to see the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and tell him how he has destroyed the fishing industry in Killaloe, and put at least two score of people who were engaged in it out of employment. Has he made any representations [2368] that these people should be entitled to compensation in that direction?

Speaking of the inland fishing industry in particular, there is one matter I would like to bring up on this Estimate. I would not bring it up only that I am assured by those people that various representations made to the Department have been turned down without any result. The Minister has abolished cross-line fishing in Lough Derg, and officials of his Department held an inquiry there. Representations were made from the people concerned, and the main case put up by those who were seeking to abolish cross-line fishing was that the river bed was the property of the people on both sides. Now we have the peculiar position that the people on both sides do not want to claim the river bed. Therefore the case put up by the association falls to the ground. I have here a report for 1928-29 from the Lough Derg and Tributaries Fishery Preservation Society. I find in it the name of one of the gentlemen as a member of that society. I find in this report, issued by that society, a statement that cross-line fishing should be abolished. Now if you are going to have a man who is a member of the society that wants cross-line fishing abolished, what kind of a result do you expect? I do not want to mention the name of any official here, but I will say to the Minister that the name of one of the officials he sent down is also that of a member of that association who applied to have cross-line fishing abolished.

I suggest that that is certainly loading the dice against the fishermen and that the Minister ought to see if that decision cannot be set aside and a new inquiry ordered. I suggest also in connection with the Shannon that he ought to consult the Minister for Industry and Commerce and see whether something could not be done to reorganise fishing in that district and give some employment to those who have been knocked out.

[2369]Mr. Daly: Information on John Daly  Zoom on John Daly  The Blackwater is one of the best rivers in this country for fishing. The fishing rights there were supposed to be vested in the tenants, but if any tenant goes nearer than seventeen feet to the water an injunction can be successfully brought against him and he can be put to great expense. I suggest that an amending Bill should immediately be brought in in order that judges will not be able to decide in favour of the landlords and against the tenants in this matter. It is necessary that this amending Bill should be introduced because there are other interests involved in regard to which the landlords have had the better of the tenants up to the present. In East Cork there are some very important sea fisheries at Cobh, Ballycotton, Youghal, Knockadoon and other places. I hope they will not be neglected. I should like to know that the Minister is paying special attention to those places, especially Cobh, which has been hit so very hard owing to the closing down of Haulbowline. Big deep sea fishing could be carried out there if the people were properly equipped with boats. I shall not attempt to dictate to the Minister, because I have the fullest confidence in him, as I know he will do the right thing. I should like to see more money provided in these estimates in order that more money might be spent in my district. The tenants on the Blackwater lighted bonfires when the last Land Act was passed thinking that the fisheries were being vested in them, but they have since had occasion to reconsider the matter. I should like to remind the Minister when he is bringing in that amending Bill, which he must bring in, that he should consider other matters in connection with which the tenant farmers are at the mercy of the landlords.

Prionnsias O Fathaigh: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Is breágh na geallamhaintí a tugadh dúinn ag Aire an Iascaigh ó bhliain go bliain acht níor deineadh na geallamhaintí sin do chur i ngníomh. Is maith linn a chloisteál go bhfuil céim ar aghaidh déanta sa deire ag Roinn an Iascaigh, [2370] agus nach fada go mbeidh an Bord nua ag obair. Dubhairt an tAire go mbeidh an seéim nua fá lán-tseol dtaobh istigh de ráithe ón lá seo, agus nach gá suim mór airgid d'fáil ón Dáil fá láthair. Is trúagh gan an scéim bheith ar fáil cheana, mar dá mbeadh, b'fhusa meastachán so do seagadh agus do mheas.

Níor chualamar aon nidh i dtaoibh na scoile iascaigh úd do bhunú i nGaillimh agus, dar ndóigh, tá géar ghá le n-a leithéid. Gan cheist an airgid d'áireamh, b'fhéidir, nach bhfuil deacracht níos mó ag baint le hiascaireacht sa tír seo ná nach bhfuil ins na hiascairí ach iascairí páirt aimsire. Is dócha nach aon díoghbháil iascairí páirt-aimsire a bheith ann ach ní mór iascairí lánaimsire dó sholáthairt agus d'oileamhaint má's mian linn an tráchtáil sin do bhunú i gceart. Tá eolus na céirde imthighthe agus ní mór é d'aithbheochaint. Iarraim ar an Aire a innsint dúinn ar ball an dtiocfaidh scoilteacha den tsort sin isteach fá Bhille nua an cheárdoideachais, agus cathain a cuirfar ar bun iad?

Ar aon chuma is bocht an scéal é luach na hiascaireachta, nó luach na n-iasc ba cirte dhom a rádh, bheith ag dul a luighead go mór i naghaidh na bliana; dhá chéad míle punt níos lugha i mblian 1929 ná sa bhliain roimhe sin, agus beagnach dachad míle punt sa mbreis beith íoctha againn anuiridh as an iasc a thaganns isteach ó Shasana.

Muna ndeuntar na hiascairí do chosaint níos fearr ó na tráiléirí iasachta ní haon mhaitheas báid agus eangachaí do thabhairt do na hiascairí.

Maidir leis na deuntúsaí, tá an tArd Stór agus Oifig Stiúrtha dá nullmhú sa sean-bhearraic ag Sceach na mBacach. Tá go maith, acht an bhfuil an áit sin feileamhnach? I mBaile Atha Cliath féin, tá ma mílte daoine nach bhfuil fios acu cá bhfuil Sceach na mBacach chor ar bith. Dheunfadh an áit sin maith go leor le haghaidh oifig stiúrtha ach níl sé feileamhnach le haghaidh teasbántas [2371] óir is beag duine a raghadh amach le hearrai d'fheiceál.

Dubhairt an tAire go leanfar de na buidheanta agus de na scoileanna teicneacacha ach ba mhaith linn a fhios a bheith againn céard iad na rudaí a múinfear seachas lásaí a dhéanadh, criotáil agus figheadóireacht. Céard mar gheall ar déantúsaí nua do bhúnú? Tá na rudaí seo—lásaí, criotáil agus eile—maith go leór ach caithfear deantúsaí nua do chur ar bun, má's mian linn slighe bheatha do thabhairt do mhuinntir na Gaeltachta. Dála an scéil, cathain a tabharfar fé fhigheadóirí do mhúineadh i gConamara. Tá a fhos agam go raibh an déantús sin aca i nDún na nGall agus go mba ceart aire do thabhairt don cheist annsin ach ba mhaith liom a fhios a fháil cathain a cuirfear tús ar an obair i gConamara.

Déanfar tuarasdal lucht na ndeuntúsaí úd a shocrú ag Roinn an Iascaigh. Cá mbeidh an t-airgead le fáil? As proiféid na tráchtála, is dócha. Nach gcuirfear cuid de'n phroiféid sin ar leath-taoibh le n-íoc as na húislisí agus na maisíní ar dtús, agus cuid eile le n-íoc as an mbun-adhbhar nó raw materials. Cé mhéid fán gcéad a fágfar ag an lucht oibre, nó an bhfuil sé sin socair go fóill?

Is beag a ndubhairt an tAire fá iasaireacht na n-abhann agus is truagh sin. An bhfuil ceist na sean charters scrúduighthe acu agus má tá, an bhfuil aon nidh beartha acu? Tuigim go bhfuil deachracht san sgéal ach ba mhaith liom a chloisteáil o'n Aire céard atá déanta aige mar gheall air, má tá aon nidh déanta aige.

Dubhairt an tAire nach mbíonn sa ghnáth-mheastachán ach costas seirbhíse na Roinne. Is fíor sin ach caithfear teacht i geabhair don Iasach agus bheadh furmhór mór na dTeachtaí sásta a thuile airgid a thabhairt don Roinn. Is breágh an rud é a rá go bhfuil Bord nua curtha ar bun ach cad é an comhacht a bheidh acu muna mbeidh go leor airgid aca? Ba mhaith an rud é dá n-abróchadh an tAire an bhfuil go [2372] leor airgid aige san meastachán seo le haghaidh an Bhuird nó an mbeidh sé ag teacht chun na Dála arís ag iarraidh a thuille airgid? Níl a fhios againn fá láthair an mbeidh an Bord in ánn cuidiú leis an iascaireacht nó nach mbeidh.

Mr. Law: Information on Hugh Alexander Law  Zoom on Hugh Alexander Law  It will be a relief, I am sure, both to you, sir, and the Minister, when I say that I do not propose to make a set speech. I only want to ask the Minister if, in his reply, he will give us some further details on one or two matters already touched upon. For example, Deputy Dr. White has put a question to the Minister about the possibility of establishing a lobster hatchery. If, as he said, it is a fact that French boats find it profitable to come to our coast, and, besides taking the mature lobsters, also remove the immature ones for the purpose of hatching them out on their own coast, it would seem, on the face of it that it would be profitable for us to conserve our own. I do not pretend to be an expert in this matter, but I have the impression that no very great cost or no very great difficulty would be involved. I remember something like twenty years ago reading a very interesting report of the United States Department of Fisheries in which the system then practised there for lobster hatcheries was described. My recollection is that all that was required was a sort of cage made of rough canvas to be moored out in the water into which the coral of the female lobster was dropped, and in which the lobsters were hatched out. It is quite possible that my recollection may be faulty in detail, but the impression left on my mind was that the process was a very simple and inexpensive one. Perhaps the Department is doing this, but I have not heard of it, and I should be glad if the Minister would give us some information upon it.

Then again, there is the question touched upon by Deputy Dr. White and Deputy Carney as to the protection of our sea fisheries. That [2373] is bound up very closely with the other matter of the extent of our fishing waters. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I have the impression that our bye-laws, in some cases, at any rate, extend beyond our territorial waters. I also have a recollection that when we discussed this question two or three years ago I was told—I am not sure whether it was in the House or not—that certain questions touching these matters had been referred to the then Attorney-General for advice and opinion. I have never heard that that opinion has been received, and I would be glad to know how that matter stands. Certainly, it cannot be said that we have been unduly impatient. My impression is that that question is closely bound up with the other question of the provision of a second fishery patrol boat, which I myself raised in the House of Commons no less than twenty-seven years ago.

I should like if the Minister would give us some further details as to the kelp scheme which he touched upon in his opening statement. He made reference to tests for iodine. I am not clear from what he said whether these tests are to be made, as it were, beforehand for experimental purposes, or whether the process is to be that a man is to send up a specimen or a collection of specimens is to be made, for the purpose of seeing what the iodine content is and that from that the purchase will be made, or whether the Department propose to purchase the kelp in bulk and then pay a sum to each man in accordance with the iodine content. I should be glad if the Minister will give us some further details on the matter.

I think the Minister knows that I have not always been an entirely friendly critic of his Department. I hope I have been friendly, but I have sometimes been critical. I think it is only fair to say that I am satisfied that during the past twelve months things have been very considerably improved. I think there has been progress made in this service—not very much I agree. [2374] Except for our Gaeltacht Housing Scheme, nothing has yet been very visible to ordinary people, but I believe that there has been a real sustained effort in a great many directions in relation to housing, fisheries, kelp and home industries, and I have great confidence that the result of that labour, which I know has been very continuous, will very soon be made manifest. I think it is only fair to the Minister and the Department that that acknowledgment should be made.

[Professor Thrift took the Chair.]

Mr. Goulding: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  This question of the protection of our fisheries is getting a hardy annual. In fact, according to Deputy Law, it is more than an annual, as he evidently raised the question twenty-seven years ago and the position to-day is the same as it was then. Every year the Minister, when replying at the end of the debate, has told the House that the matter was receiving consideration. It is always receiving consideration, but never gets beyond that stage. I thought some time ago when I made the suggestion that small motor boats should be employed for patrolling purposes it was a rather novel idea, but I understand that a similar suggestion was made six years ago. Might I amplify that suggestion? I do not want to attack the captain and crew of the Muirchu, as I think they are doing their best. But what earthly chance has a single boat which has to patrol the coast from Louth around to Donegal.

Unfortunately, as we have had experience in Waterford lately, the Muirchu apparently has simply to stand aside and supervise the poachers. A French lobster pirate came into Dunmore under the nose of the Muirchu. As Deputy White, of Waterford, has pointed out, not alone did they take the immature fish, but they robbed the spawning beds off the Saltee Islands. They came along with special tanks and took away the spawn that should have been the property of this [2375] State; they brought it across to France. If this continues the lobster industry on that portion of the southern coast will be practically wiped out. I ask the Minister to speed up this question of a definition of the territorial limit. The case tried recently in Waterford proves to us that we do not know where we stand, and no form of protection is of use if these pirates can come along and defy us. They have told us that there is no limit defined, and they say that they can fish where they like, and they simply defy us. Assuming that this limit has been defined, I suggest that we should endeavour to restore to some extent the old British coastguard service. We should equip our coastguards with powerful glasses, especially night glasses; we should give them fast motor boats at the important fishing centres, so that at any moment they can pounce upon a poacher. If these fellows got to know that such a system was in force they would be more careful. The chugging of a motor boat anywhere would soon frighten them. The ordinary pleasure-seeker going out in his motor boat would serve a useful purpose, because at the sound of the motor those poachers would begin to think it was the coast patrol, and they would clear off at once. Let us consider the present situation. The Muirchu is off Dunmore and the poachers are up around Donegal or Galway. These people keep each other informed, and they know where the patrol boat is. We spend £8,000, and the men on the boat do their very best to earn the money, but we are not treating them fairly.

I understand that the Department has a number of boats on hands, for which they find it very difficult to get a purchaser owing to the fact that the valuation on the boats is rather high. I suggest that instead of allowing the boats to waste away over a period of five to eight years, they ought to be sold at the best price obtainable, irrespective of whatever valuation is [2376] put upon them. Many men who would be glad to take the boats cannot afford them because the price asked is too much. I suggest the official valuation should not always be adhered to.

In 1924 the Department made a more or less exhaustive investigation of the possibilities of developing the home market for fish. An inspector visited many inland towns in an endeavour to get shopkeepers to take up the sale of Irish fish. I would like to know what was the result. I understand there is to be a new departure by way of a sort of co-operative enterprise. We are in a very difficult position as far as the foreign market is concerned. It is very difficult for our little industry to compete with the mass production, so to speak, of foreigners. Let us consider the enormous fishing fleets of the English, the German and the Norwegians, their vast engines of destruction and their big service ships and we can well realise we are not in a position to compete with them; but we should do more to develop our home market. It is not a very large market, but still there is always a constant demand for fresh fish in the inland towns. If we could put our fishermen in touch with those towns it would be well. Apparently, the investigation in 1924 had no result, but there might now be a possibility under this new departure of linking up the fishermen with the inland towns so that the townspeople would be assured of a steady supply of fish. Perhaps it would be no harm to ascertain what other small States with seaboards do. How do the Finns, for instance, or the Dutch, or the Danes—small people like ourselves—manage their fishing industries, and how do they provide their home market? You could not imagine Denmark sending to Hull or Grimsby for fish, or the Belgians or Dutch sending across to England for their fish supplies, as we do. It is really anomalous to have the people of this country sending to England for fish caught off our own coast.

As regards the question of the preservation of our rivers, I do not think [2377] it is receiving sufficient attention. It does not matter how many bailiffs you employ; if you employed half a dozen for every stream in Ireland it would not avert the most serious destruction of fish that occurs and that is in the spawning season. There is not a little tributary leading to any of our important salmon rivers in which hundreds of spawning fish are not destroyed every year. I know of streams that are practically unwatched. The fish are taken out of these streams with pitchforks. They are hung up in houses to be smoke-dried or else they are salted down. It is not really a matter of the fish that are legitimately killed. What really does matter is the fact that there are potential millions of fish destroyed. There is far more damage done in the way I mention than there is done by any poaching during the open season. The poacher who kills three or four fish only kills that number and does no more damage, but the man who kills fish in the spawning season does infinitely more damage and you cannot watch him.

I would like to suggest again that certain tributaries of the salmon rivers should be reserved for spawning fish and other streams should be closed. That can be done by putting gratings some distance up the rivers so that the fish cannot get to the head waters. If you let them up they will never come back. I believe that certain rivers should be left open. It is a question whether the hatcheries do as good work as the spawning beds. Old fishermen will tell you that fish spawned in the natural way and with the scours in the streams are far better fish and come more quickly to maturity, and more surely to maturity, than the fish in the hatcheries.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  That is quite right; it is established.

Mr. Goulding: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  I believe in the hatcheries myself, but why not have the two? Why not have the development of the hatcheries and at the same time prevent the awful destruction that goes on in these streams every year in the matter of spawning [2378] fish? If this experiment were tried and if these tributary streams were closed, leaving the larger ones open, it would prevent this great destruction of spawning fish that has been going on.

Last year a very mysterious disease occurred amongst salmon in the Blackwater. Hundreds of fish were found dead on the banks of the river. At first it was thought that the fish had been poisoned in the upper reaches or that dynamite had been used on the river. The real cause was some mysterious disease amongst the fish and the result was that hundreds of them were found along the banks dead. I would like to know if the Department investigated the matter.

Some reference was made yesterday to the open season in the various rivers. It is a peculiar hardship on some fishermen that they are compelled to refrain from fishing a fortnight after the fishing in neighbouring rivers has opened. The result is that the men who have the privilege of the earlier opening of the fishing in the rivers adjacent to them get a better market. It is a constant source of complaint that the men on the Blackwater are prevented from fishing on 15th January. The men fishing on the tidal waters tell me that the spawning fish go back all right in January and that no man in his senses would keep one of them. When the fishermen get a fish returning from the spawning beds they throw it overboard. It is not fair to these men that they are not allowed to fish on the 15th January. An inquiry was held a few years ago into this matter.

The conservators in these rivers are mainly rod-men in the upper waters. The conflict between the two forces is rather bitter. The interests of the net-men in the tidal waters are opposed to the interests of the rod-men in the upper reaches and the rod-men always score over them. It is hardly fair to the men who are really depending on tidal water fishing for a living. On the other hand the men in the upper reaches of the river are men who fish [2379] for amusement. The interests of the men who fish for a livelihood should come first and wherever it is possible to do so these men should be allowed to start fishing earlier. They argue that they do no damage whatsoever to the old fish going back to the sea. If by chance they catch a fish they immediately throw it back into the water. The argument does not hold at all in the case of sea salmon fishing. That is to say, it does not apply at all to the fishermen who fish off the coast in the sea. These men should be allowed to fish at the earliest possible moment. If any damage is done to spawning fish going back to the sea that damage has not been done by these men.

There is great destruction by seals in the river estuaries. Lately I read an argument against the employment of marksmen to shoot these seals. I know that in the Blackwater the marksmen employed by the conservators did very valuable work in shooting seals. These seals did a tremendous amount of destruction, unfortunately, and every effort should be made to stop it. As far as I know the most effective method is to employ a sharp-shooter, a man who is a good shot and if he does his work well he will certainly prevent a lot of damage by these seals.

Somebody made a reference to ancient charters. These ancient charters are anomalies. They give extraordinary powers to certain persons in this country. I will give the House an idea of how far these powers go. On the Blackwater last year men were warned and threatened with prosecutions if they continued to swim in that river. Men have been swimming in the Blackwater for generations, and it is only last year by virtue of an ancient charter that the people of the district were prevented from swimming. They were warned that if they allowed their dogs into the stream to swim they would be prosecuted. That is going too far. Men take out a rod licence and then discover that they have no place in which to fish.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I have very many [2380] functions but I do not think I am here to provide swimming facilities for dogs in Waterford.

Mr. Goulding: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  I do not suppose that the Ministry exists for that, but it is no harm to point out that people who own dogs and people who want to swim in the summer find themselves up against such a position as this. When they do so they ask: “Where is our freedom— where is the freedom we hear so much about when we cannot swim in our own rivers?” Fishermen in the same district when they take out a licence discover that they have no river or stream in which to fish. The gentlemen who have the charter graciously allow them to fish in certain parts of the river where there is no fish. Even trout fishermen are warned off these rivers and driven back to the smaller streams in the mountains. The position is an anomalous one.

If we are to have fishing in this country our own people should have the right to fish as well as anybody else. I understand that the question of vesting fishing rights in the owners of land along certain rivers has not yet been settled. That is a matter that must be watched. I have great sympathy with farmers in certain parts of the country. I know men in my own constituency who have been paying rents and rates for the half side of a river all their lives. They have suffered serious damage as a result of flooding on these rivers and now they discover that they are to derive no benefit whatsoever from the river. Strangers can come along and walk on their land and fish off their banks. I think these people have a grievance. On the other hand, if the fishing is left in private hands I am afraid that the average rodman in this country who is not a person of great means and leisure will find himself without fishing.

There are certain free rivers in the South of Ireland on which men make a fairly decent living in the fishing season, as a result of their ability to catch salmon with a rod. If the fishing is vested in individuals [2381] the result will be as in the Blackwater at present—the fishing will be let out to the highest bidder. As a rule this is an Englishman who can afford to pay a high price and the result is that the local men have no chance whatsoever. The State should see to it that our own people should not be deprived of the right to fish in their own rivers. Whenever any change is being made in connection with fisheries in this country the first right of fishing in these rivers should be vested in the people of the country and not in foreigners.

Mr. T. Sheehy: Information on Timothy Sheehy  Zoom on Timothy Sheehy  (West Cork): I have no intention of taking up the time of the Dáil by a lecture on fisheries. I will be exceedingly brief, as I always am. As the representative of a constituency which extends along the seaboard from the mouth of Cork Harbour to Castletownberehaven, I naturally take a deep interest in the present condition of the fisheries and in anything that tends to their future prosperity. I congratulate Deputy Derrig most warmly on the speech he made last night. It was a reasonable, well-thought-out speech. It showed him to be a man more or less superior to narrow boundaries, that when he saw a prospect of serving his fellow-countrymen who are engaged in the fishing industry he would do his part. I ask the Deputy now to go further and withdraw the amendment he has down proposing to refer this Estimate back. That will be a token from him that we are all deeply interested in the question we are discussing. It has been said that our fisheries are our second most important industry. That, at any rate, was the position years ago.

I first entered the fishing business in the year 1882, which is almost half a century ago, when I bought mackerel at Kinsale, Glandore, Baltimore and Castletownberehaven. At that time the fishing industry was in the height of its prosperity. Since then it has taken a downward course. At that period we had not a native Government to uphold us. We had nobody to come forward and give [2382] money to our local fish buyers, our local boat builders or net makers. We were left in the lurch alone. We were left where we were put when robbed of our Parliament over 100 years ago. With one stroke all our industries were destroyed for the benefit of England. During all the years that we were without a native Government there was no hope or encouragement from the other side, but that was not the position in England, where the Government provided the British and Scottish Boards with funds for the development of the fishing industry. They sent their fleets of fishing boats and trawlers into Irish waters along our 2,000 miles of coast-line and carried away the golden harvest that was to be reaped along our shores.

Our poor fishermen, the bravest of the brave, the men of Connaught who were sent from the fair plains of Ireland—they were sent either there or to hell in the centuries before—were there, but what could they do? All they could do was to look on helplessly at these fishing fleets from France, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the South of England. They had nothing themselves but wretched miserable boats that would not carry them outside the three-mile limit. That was the sad state of affairs that prevailed here in the past. We have now, I hope, turned the corner. Deputy Carney, when speaking last night, said that he expected to hear something pleasant from Deputy Sheehy of Skibbereen. I thank God that in the Parliament of the Free State I can raise my voice and appeal to our Government not to follow the example of England in her treatment of our fishing industry, but nobly to come forward and do for that industry what for some years past they have been doing for the agricultural industry. If the Government do that, our fisher boys, who are leaving the country, will be encouraged to remain at home.

The statement of the Minister that it was the intention of the Government to establish co-operative associations in connection with the industry, [2383] at the various fishing centres along the coast, pleased me greatly. I regard that as a great move on the part of the Government. It will give encouragement to the people. It will enlist the support of able, intelligent fishermen and others associated with the fishing industry along our coast at Baltimore, Kinsale, Valentia, Castletownberehaven, and all the way around to Donegal. This gesture on the part of the Government will evoke hearty support from these men, and will be the means of uplifting our fishing industry. I hope that when the Bill dealing with that particular activity is introduced it will receive hearty support from members in all parts of the House. It is up to them to put all feelings aside and to demand with one unanimous voice that plenty of money be placed at the disposal of the associations that are to be set up under that Bill. I am anxious to do all I can to help to bring about prosperity in the fishing industry. The happiest days of my life were spent on fishing boats. When I first entered the fishing business, 48 years ago, we had a population of over six million people in this country. We had 30,000 or 40,000 brave fishermen. I ask where are they to-day? It is our duty, as a new State, to do our part in making good the wrongs of centuries, once more to take the helm and steer the barque of the Free State into safety.

Mr. H. Broderick: Information on Henry Broderick  Zoom on Henry Broderick  I desire to call the attention of the House to the great injustice which a bye-law approved by the Minister for Fisheries is going to inflict on long-line eel fishermen. The bye-law has been made as a result of a conference held last June, and is to be enforced shortly. The effect of it will be to prohibit the fishermen I have referred to from taking eels, seven ounces or under, out of the rivers. So that the House may understand the grave injustice that will be done to these fishermen by the enforcement of the bye-law, I desire to explain briefly the methods followed by eel fishermen, particularly along [2384] the Shannon. There are two methods of eel-fishing—one by nets and the other by long line. The lines are baited with hooks with worms on them. Where the fishing is done by nets, the nets are slung across almost the whole river. The weirs along the Shannon from Athlone to Killaloe have been leased to one or two persons. The eels that are caught by the nets are all exported. People living in the towns and districts bordering on the rivers where this eel-fishing is carried on can never get one of the eels caught by the nets. The only chance of getting an eel is from the people who fish with a long line. Formerly the people who fished with a long line had to pay no licence, and there was no close season. Three years ago the Department of Fisheries decided to put a licence on the long-line fishermen, and they have now to pay a licence of £2. That means taking the living away from these people, because it deprives them of a chance of getting the eels. I think the putting of such a bye-law into force would be a great hardship on the people, and I appeal to the Minister not to enforce it. As regards the references made by Deputy Derrig to salmon-fishing, that fishing begins on 1st February and is carried on until 1st August. In February the river is generally flooded. I think the Minister ought to see his way to make the opening period for salmon-fishing in the Shannon at least a fortnight earlier.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  We could not gather from the Minister's speech last night that he was going to spend sufficient money to make fisheries, both inland and deep-sea, a success. As regards inland fisheries, the Minister has estimated that for development purposes the hatcheries would cost about £1,000, and he told us, as far as I can gather, that the protection of fisheries is costing about £27,000 a year. In my opinion, the £27,000 spent on protection would be better spent on the development of fish hatcheries, of which there are only two or three in the country, and I [2385] think there is room for as many dozen small hatcheries, or several large ones. When the fish go up to spawn if they do get spawning they are subject to the ravages of other fish and of birds, and only a small percentage of the fry reach maturity. If the fish were caught coming up to spawn and the fry developed in the hatcheries, there would be more salmon in the country. The Minister did not say much about inland hatcheries. I would like when he comes to reply if he would state whether it is his intention to develop fish hatcheries. To give one instance of the damage done by allowing fish to come up to spawn in the natural way, I will quote from a letter from fishermen on the point. They say:

“On the Matlock”—which is a tributary of the Boyne—“thousands of salmon fry and trout fry were left to die for the sake of a small grant which the Department refused to give to make an opening at the mouth to release the fry. The Board of Conservators made a temporary cutting to release the fry, but when that was done the fry were dead.”

I hope the Minister will give attention to the development of fish hatcheries. In my opinion it is on the attention paid to hatcheries depends the success of the inland fisheries. I believe that inland fisheries could be made even more valuable than our sea fisheries, and would give more employment if proper attention were paid to them. Another grievance of the Boyne fishermen is that the season does not open until 12th February and closes on 12th August. They believe that the Boyne river is an early river and should be opened earlier. I would like the Minister to look into this matter and have investigations made with a view to saying whether the river could be opened at an earlier date. Naturally when the other rivers are opened before the Boyne the fishermen in the other parts get the best price for their fish. The Boyne fishermen also object—I do not know whether in this matter [2386] they have any great reason for objection, and I would like the Minister to deal with the point—to the fact that they are not allowed to catch with their nets salmon or trout less than 8 inches, and they say there is no prohibition on rod fishermen to catch fish of that length. My principal reason for intervening in this debate is to try and get the Minister to do something for inland fisheries by the development of hatcheries. I hope when he is concluding he will outline some scheme for the better protection of the fry, and the only scheme I can see is to have these fry developed in the hatcheries.

Mr. J. Wolfe: Information on Jasper Travers Wolfe  Zoom on Jasper Travers Wolfe  While I cannot claim to represent the 2,000 miles of seaboard which is so well represented by Deputy Sheehy, still I can claim to represent a seaboard of 110 miles. I am bound to confess that it takes me all my time. Deputy Sheehy's constituency stops at Castletownberehaven, but mine does not; it goes down by Allihies, and to where I met the Minister for Fisheries on the Kenmare River. This question is a vital one, and my constituents have asked that it should be treated seriously. This House should consider that so far as fisheries are concerned, we are discussing not a decaying industry but an industry that is dead and gone. We are in the position of jurors at an inquest, having viewed the corpse. On the question before the House for discussion, we have to decide whether the industry should be re-started. What are the difficulties in the way of re-starting and developing the industry, that was at one time the second industry in the country? Deputy Goulding said the question now is the same as it was 27 years ago. I most respectfully differ with him. Twenty-seven years ago the industry was in existence so far as sea fisheries are concerned. To-day it is dead and buried.

Should it not be re-started? Should we not get over the few difficulties that are in the way of its being re-started? The primary difficulty [2387] in the way of re-starting is the Department of Fisheries. It is the first obstacle in our way all along. If you require to catch fish you require boats and nets. All along the seaboard I represent you will see idle boats out of repair, and there is no chance of sending them out to fish. If you send them out to fish you are met with the suggestion that if the crews can get together to re-start these boats, what happens is the next day they will get a visit from the bailiff claiming six times the value of the boats. We can never re-start this industry which is so vital to so many of our people, until we grapple with the loans due on those boats. At present there is only one thing to do in connection with the loans that were incurred before the Treaty, and the sooner it is done the better—give them a clean cut and let us start as a result of the inquest we are holding to-day, this new industry free and unfettered from the obstacles which are placed before it by the loans unfortunately transferred to this country by the British Government.

It has been suggested here by, I think, Deputy Goulding that the territorial limits should be defined. Of course they should. There is no difficulty in doing it. What Deputy Goulding wanted, I think, to point out in connection with the definition of our territorial limits was that our powers and duties in that respect in regard to Englishmen, Welshmen and Scotchmen are in a far happier and easier position than if we were not sitting to-day under the terms of the Committee. As I understand the position, we can to-day make bye-laws without entering into any international agreement with England. It may be, in fact it is so, that an international agreement with France is necessary but when we go to France for an international agreement we are going to a friendly country, and between that country and ourselves the warmest relations exist, a country which has already bound us by a sea fisheries agreement so that when we go there we [2388] are only asking her to give us back a little of what we have already given to her. Therefore, I think that the matter introduced by Deputy Goulding is very important but it is quite capable of solution and will require only a little more time and trouble to define. I think that the territorial limits of our sea fisheries should be defined and arrived at in such a way as not only to protect us from Englishmen, Scotchmen and Welshmen but also from Frenchmen exactly as we ourselves are prevented from fishing in certain places in the North Sea and other places around the coasts of England, Scotland and Wales.

There has been talk about patrol boats but what use will they be if we do not make the Civic Guards sea fishery officers? I asked the Minister nearly three years ago to give the Civic Guards the powers of such officers. It cannot do any harm, for at present it is appalling to see foreign trawlers coming in within half a mile or less of our coast and openly trawling, knowing well that if a member of the Civic Guard goes aboard he can be ordered off as a trespasser and, not being a sea fishery officer, he has no right to go aboard.

It will, perhaps, be put up by the Minister against me that the Civic Guard have no maritime experience, but that is not strictly accurate, as many of them have such experience. Assuming that they have not, once they go aboard with the requisite authority it requires no maritime experience to arrest a Frenchman, or an Irishman for that matter. That is their job and they require no maritime experience for it. It may well be that the Civic Guards would be as efficient as the Coastguards in this matter, and they would cost next to nothing. They are there already. If he would give them, as he might well do here and there along the coast, a motor-boat, say, at Bantry, another at Kinsale, and another at Baltimore, the crews would cost nothing. It would only mean the initial cost plus the cost of outfit. You would have a willing crew of [2389] Civic Guards in each of these different ports. If the Minister starts that experiment he will have the whole of the coast patrolled by capable and willing sea officers, and he will soon find, so far as foreign trawlers are concerned, that they have disappeared.

There is also the question of collecting sea fishery fines. It is to be regretted that fines that were imposed, amounting in the aggregate to some thousands of pounds, were not collected. They amount to a very much larger sum if we take into consideration the number of cases in which prosecutions were not brought by reason of the inability to collect the fines. It is to be regretted that machinery for the collection of those fines is not yet running smoothly. There ought to be no difficulty in putting that machinery right. These fines can be collected in England, Wales and Scotland. I do not say that the Minister for Fisheries should collect them, as it is not his job, but it is up to the Minister for Justice and the Law Officers to carry out their plain and obvious duty. I know what I am talking about in this matter of collecting fines. I collected a great many of them. I never had one which I did not collect, or get collected. I made them pay, and I thought I was doing a most patriotic work during the war period when I succeeded in getting magistrates, not merely to impose the maximum fine, but to take into consideration the value of the fish destroyed and the damage done to nets, and in many cases they added costs amounting to £130.

It may be that the existing Acts require to be amended, but in the collection of fines it is up to the Law Officers to collect them. It is a very serious blot on our system to expect the captain of that boat with the unpronounceable name—it was formerly the “Helga”—to catch trawlers within territorial waters and then to learn that when they are fined the fines will not be collected. I put it up to the Minister to bring that matter before the proper Department. I do that in a friendly spirit and I say that proper [2390] machinery should be put in motion in order that the fines will be collected, as they were collected under the same laws up to 1921 and 1922. I ask the Minister to view this question in the only way we can view it when dealing with sea fisheries. Make a fresh start, pull away existing obstacles, and start with the most serious obstacle of all, the obstacle which the Minister's own Department has put in the way of restarting, namely, the payment of existing loans on boats which are worth little or nothing. Give us a clean cut, a fresh start, and let us forget the past.

Mr. Kent: Information on William Rice Kent  Zoom on William Rice Kent  I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to several complaints that have been made to me from time to time by the fishermen in Cobh, Youghal, Knockadoon, and Ballycotton. They complain that fishing in those districts has been completely ruined by the encroachment of foreign trawlers. The matter has been mentioned to the Minister on many occasions and the seriousness of it pointed out to him but nothing has been done to prevent it. I hope now that the Minister will take serious steps to prevent that encroachment. I notice that there is in the Estimate a sum of £8,000 set aside for the protection of Fisheries. Within my own recollection there was always an ample supply of fish to be got in Ballycotton and Youghal to supply the needs of the people in inland towns and rural areas but to-day no fish can be got there except what is imported from the Grimsby market. That is a serious state of affairs. The fishermen in Ballycotton are leaving the district as they have no option but to seek a livelihood elsewhere, perhaps in foreign lands.

I would urge on the Minister the necessity of protecting that valuable industry, of keeping the fishermen at home, and of also keeping at home the revenue which would be a valuable asset to the State. When the salmon-fishing opened this year large hauls were made, and a considerable amount of salmon was caught off the coast of Ballycotton. That was due [2391] to the vigilance of the bailiffs in the spawning rivers. There is a great conflict of opinion amongst the fishermen in the tidal waters at Youghal and the owners of the Blackwater fisheries. These fisheries are among the most valuable fisheries in the country. The fishermen in the tidal waters want the close season which opens in February opened at an earlier date. I would suggest, with a view to meeting the parties half-way, fixing the opening of the season for the middle of January and the start of the close season for the 1st September instead of the 1st October, as at present.

A great many fresh salmon go up the fresh water in the summer and do not return until the early months of the spring. They remain there to spawn, and it is very necessary that they should be protected. These fishermen of whom I speak would, I think, be very well satisfied if the Ministry met them half-way in the matter. As regards the protection of spawning rivers, I think if the riparian owners, the unpurchased tenants, got fishery rights vested in them they would be more anxious to protect the salmon fry than all the water bailiffs combined. At present the tenants are agitating for these rights, and I think it is only right and just that these rights should be vested in them, considering that they pay rents and rates for half the river. There is a sum of £1,000 set aside for fish hatcheries in Lismore and elsewhere. I would like that sum to be increased, as I believe if we had more hatcheries we would have a larger supply of fish. It largely depends on the hatcheries to get an abundant supply of salmon and trout in the rivers. Many rivers up to recent years have been denuded in this respect for one reason or another.

There is an item in the Estimates which puzzles me. I notice a sum of £1,000 set aside for State fishery rights. I would like to hear something from the Minister in that respect, and I would like to know whether the State has taken over [2392] any fishery rights in the Blackwater or elsewhere for their own pastime. If so, I hope they will not forget members of the Dáil when they go there and give them a chance of fishing. What I object to most in the Estimate is the large sum of money paid for salaries, wages and allowances. There is an increase under that head of about £654. I would like to know if there is more work to be done in the Department of Fisheries this year than there was last year.

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

Mr. Kent: Information on William Rice Kent  Zoom on William Rice Kent  If that be so, I would like to have the sum considerably reduced, and put to more reproductive work, such as the propagation of fish. There is, I notice, a large number of inspectors. Recently a lady inspector visited Fermoy to attend, I think, a meeting of the Board of Conservators. I was informed that there was a scene of confusion, and that the meeting broke up rather abruptly. I do not know if my information is accurate, but I suggest that the Minister is taking a serious responsibility in sending a lady inspector around to these fishery meetings. I hope that the Minister will take notice of the few matters I have raised, and give them serious consideration.

Mr. Everett: Information on James Everett  Zoom on James Everett  I notice by the Estimate that the Minister has omitted to include any grant for repairs to harbours and piers. In previous years a sum of £2,500 was allocated for that purpose. In the evidence submitted to the Commission dealing with the Industrial Resources of Ireland which sat in 1918, it was mentioned that Howth, being under the protection of the Board of Works, always received preferential treatment for its harbour. In my constituency the fishermen of Arklow devote their whole time to fishing. The Minister's attention has been drawn to the fact that owing to silting in that harbour the fishing fleet has been unable to proceed to sea. I hope that the Minister will bring in a supplementary or some other estimate to give a special [2393] grant towards clearing that harbour of sand. Another point I wish to mention is that from year to year we have been making complaints in regard to loans, and last year we were promised by the Minister that there would be a re-valuation of boats. This year we have a new board of directors who are going to work on co-operative lines. If we cast our minds back to 1918 we will remember that a scheme of cooperation was then initiated by Sean Etchingham, who was then Minister for Fisheries. I hope this new scheme will be a success, but I realise that the job is a difficult one for those men who are directing it, especially when they are dealing with men who are in arrears with the repayment of loans. In Arklow the men have paid over and above in interest and insurance the amount they borrowed in principal from the British. I suggest that the Minister should wipe out those loans altogether. The Minister states that he has considered 500 cases of people who have loans due to the Fisheries Department.

I have knowledge of particular cases that have been brought into court by the Minister's Department. Decrees have been given against these men, but they had to borrow the money from certain merchants in Arklow to pay the decrees and to enable them to go out and fish. I know merchants who supplied fishing boats and food for the purpose of fishing. The men got no assistance whatsoever from the Department. Some years ago in Arklow we had 100 boats with a thousand families depending on them. In Arklow to-day I suppose ten boats, going out for mackerel, is as many as we have. The other boats are there lying up. Still we have the Department pressing these men, bringing them into court and threatening the bailiff on them. The Minister will say that these men must have money. We can give the Minister evidence from the merchants in Arklow with reference to these men. They had to borrow the money. They are solely dependent [2394] on fishing. If these boats are in bad repair then, as Deputy Wolfe said, you will have your Board of Directors to assist them. By the time they will be able to pay back the merchants and the Board of Directors they will have nothing for themselves.

We have heard Deputy Law stating that fishing had improved. According to the returns, we had imported into this country in 1928 £316,000 worth of fish, in 1929 £354,000 worth. The increase over 1928 is £38,000. Against that we exported this year £493,000 worth. Two-thirds of that amount exported is not caught by the Irish fishermen. It is exported by the Scotch or English fishermen, and that does not show that the industry has improved, as Deputy Law says, during the last few years. We only hope that under the new Board of Directors fishing will be properly developed and that it will be possible, not only to supply our home demands, but to improve our exports. To do that I would say give the men a clean slate. Take off their liabilities and give them a chance to start. Under the new scheme that would encourage younger men to attend the schools. The technical committee has recommended a training school.

Personally I would be delighted to see a training school in operation but I do not see that the younger sailors and fishermen are going to take advantage of any training school when they see their parents and others not able to make their livelihood under the present arrangements. I suggest to the Minister that this new Board and the co-operative scheme should consider the advisability of having these men insured because we know in our area that great hardship is caused when the breadwinner is lost at sea through an accident. If there could be some arrangement to have those men insured in the event of death it would be a benefit to the dependents left behind. We have made these appeals year after year to the Minister. I am not criticising his Department. I realise it is a very difficult job and I only hope that his new Board with the cooperation [2395] of Deputies and others who are interested will have greater success than has been achieved up to the present.

Seosamh O Mongáin: Information on Joseph William Mongan  Zoom on Joseph William Mongan  Is maith liom fá dheire go bhfuil an tAire ag cur an Chumainn nua seo ar bun agus is mó ná maith liom go bhfuair sé a bheannacht ó 'chuile duine a labhair. Im bharamhail-sa níl seisear sa Stát a bhfuil, ná a raibh, obair chó cruaidh rómpa, mar, fá mar adubhairt Proinnsias O Fathaigh, tá go leór de na daoine óga nach bhfuil eolas acu ar an gcéird. Den tseisear seo, tá agam ar cheathrar acu agus má tá an bheirt eile chó maith leis an gceathrar sin ní fhéadfadh an tAire Cumann níos fearr 'fháil, go mór mór an Cathaoirleach. Tá dul chun cinn sa bhfear sin agus rud eile tá a chroidhe leis an obair. Ní ar son an airgid ar fad atá sé ach tá a chroidhe san obair. Tá súil agam, nuair a bhéas an tAire ag iarraidh croidhe Aire an Airgid do bhogadh, go mbogfaidh sé go maith é, mar, mara bhfuigheann an Cumann seo suim mhaith airgid, ní féidir aon mhaith do theacht as an obair; agus má chliseann an t-iascach ar an gCumann seo, tá sé chó maith dhúinn slán agus beannacht d'fhágailt ag buaidhreadh an tsaoil chó fada agus a théigheann an t-iascach. Ba mhaith liom comhairle do thabhairt don Chumann. Pé 'r bith céard a dhéanfaidh siad do na rudaí móra no do na ceanntair mhóra gan faillighe do dhéanamh ar na rudaí beaga agus ar na báíd bheaga. Iascach na ngliomach agus na leithéidí is mó a bhaineas leis na daoine bochta mar is cinnte is ann atá an t-airgead, go mór mór i gcás na ndaoine a bhíonn tamall leis an bhfairrge agus tamall leis an dtalamh. Ní call dóbhtha mórán airgid do chaitheamh leis an ngléas freisin agus bíonn an t-airgead ag teacht isteach chuca gach aon tseachtmhain.

Anois, fá'n gceilp, tá bród orm go bhfuil an tAire ag iarraidh é seo do chur ar a cosaibh agus tá muinighin ag na ceilpeadóirí, fá dheire thiar thall, go bhfuighidh siad luach a saothair, agus tá súil agam nach mbrisfí an mhuinighin sin.

[2396] Anois, fá'n charraigín, tá faitchíos orm nach bhfuil a fhios ag go leor Teachtaí sa Teach seo céard í féin, ach saothruightear go leor airgid sa nGaeltacht ghá piocadh. Agus is maith an rud é go bhfuil oifig an Aire ag tógailt a lámh innte anois. Tá an charraigín a faightear i gConamara chó maith leis an gearraigín a faightear i gCiarraighe agus a leithéid d'áit ach, in a dhiaidh sin, fághann muinntear Chiarraighe dhá oiread uirthe agus a fhaghanns muinntear Chonamara. Mara ndéanfadh an tAire ach an luach a fhaghann siad i gCiarraighe d'fháil di i gConamara, ba mhaith an rud é, ach tá súil agam go bhfuighidh siad níos mó uirthe. Mholfainn do Theachtaí an Tighe agus do mhuinntir na tíre go léir an charraigín d'ithe. Dhá dtagadh a leithéid seo as an bhFrainnc no as an nGearmáin, bheadh moladh mór air ach nuair atá sí in ár gceanntair féin níl maith ar bith léithe.

Anois, fá na staideanna beaga, tá mé ar aon intinn leis an Teachta, Pádraic O hOgáin (as an gClár), go mba cheart go leor aca seo d'fheistiú mar theastuigheann siad ó na daoine bochta le haghaidh a gcuid bád agus a gcuid currach. Ach deirtear gur faoi Bhórdanna Puiblí atá a leithéidí seo anois. Do réir mó bharamhala, ní maith an rud gur atharuigheadh é seo, mar ní thuigeann na Bórdanna Puiblí oibreacha na staideanna chó maith le Bórd na nIascach. Bheadh siad sáthach maith do na Bórdanna Puiblí na céibheanna móra do bheith aca ach b'fhearr na staideanna d'fhágáil faoi na Buird eile.

Anois, fá iascach na lochannaí, b'fhéidir go mba mhaith an rud é dhá dtóigeadh an Stát iad seo in a lámhaí féin ach thóigfeadh sé seo roinnt ama. Fá láthair, ba cheart cuid de theorannaí na mBórd d'atharú, mar tá cuid aca ró-mhór agus cuid acu ró-bheag. Tóig Gaillimh, Fear a bheadh ag iascach i nGaillimh agus a thóigfeadh teasbántas amach, nuair a ghabhadh sé 12 mhíle amach as Gaillimh ar thaobh Chonamara bheadh air teasbántas eile 10/- d'fháil; nuair a [2397] ghabhadh sé 10 míle eile bheadh teasbántas eile ag teastáil uaidh. Go minic ní chuimhnuigheann na strainséirí air seo agus bíonn na báillí in a ndiaidh annsin agus ní bhreathnuigheann sé sin go maith.

Anois, fá na déantúisí, tá bród orm go bhfuil rud éicínt ghá dhéanamh agus go bhfuil siad ag cuimhneamh ar Chonamara chó maith agus ar Dhún na nGall. Is maith an rud go bhfuil an áit seo curtha ar bun acu i mBaile Atha Cliath leis na déantúisí do dhíol, mar, roimhe sin, níorbh fhéidir iad do dhíol chor ar bith.

Is maith liom freisin go bhfuil siad ag cur figheadóra go Conamara le teasbáint dóbhtha an chaoi le rudaí níos deise do dhéanamh. Ag cuimhneamh ar 'chuile rud le chéile, teasbánann sé go bhfuil duine éicínt ag cuimhneadh orainn sa nGaeltacht ó tháinig an Rúnaidhe nua isteach agus tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh sliocht ar a chuid oibre.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  Deputy Wolfe, who has been accustomed to practise in the courts before the change came in our present law, is still thinking in terms of the old system, and thanks God for the blessings which the British regime imposes upon this country. The only thing that is wrong with his argument is that it is out of date, and that the situation has completely changed. In fact, it may be argued if we had complete freedom in this country the issue, so far as the fishermen are concerned, would have been cleared up long ago, and we would have clear thinking about matters on which we are discovering now there is a great deal of confusion of thought. I do not want to go into the question of this matter of international law at present, because I understand from the Minister's answer to the question asked by Deputy Goulding that the matter is going to receive further consideration. I take it that an appeal has been lodged in the case of the Saltee Islands. I would be glad to know if that is so.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  The reply I gave was that any further steps we would take [2398] would be the subject of consideration by our legal advisers. We are appealing.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  That is the answer I want. I was afraid that if you were still considering it, your time for appeal would have lapsed. I am very glad, because this is a matter which will have to be cleared up by a decision of the Supreme Court. We want to get it put on a proper footing. There is one humorous aspect that has already been mentioned by Deputy Dr. White. Although the case is sub judice it is a fact that everybody is aware of, and there is no harm in mentioning it. In fact I claim credit for discovering it, and it is that the inner Saltee Island is less than three miles from the shore. I asked the Minister if he had looked at the map. Apparently, my question had the effect of getting the matter looked up, for to-day Deputy Dr. White proceeded to tell the House that the inner island is two and three-quarter miles from the shore. It was an extremely smart piece of bluff on the part of the solicitor acting for the Frenchmen, that he should have taken a point in Waterford instead of Wexford, and deceived the Court into believing that the island was 11 miles from the coast of Ireland. I must say that I think the solicitor who was acting on behalf of the State was wrong in not having a map in Court on the occasion. I think in every case like this, a map should be there for reference. But this case may be all to the good in the long run, because it is going to raise the whole issue, and it may turn out to be more satisfactory to have our position defined as if we were really an independent country, such as Norway, Finland, or any of these other countries. It is just that atmosphere of being half in and half out of the United Kingdom that creates a good many difficulties in various aspects of our economic life.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

Deputy Wolfe referred to this debate as an inquest. I should like [2399] if I possibly could to take up a friendly attitude towards the Department. I find difficulty in doing so in view of the speeches of Deputies Sheehy and Wolfe. Deputy Sheehy always interests me because his point of view is that of a man of about 40 years ago who lived through extremely difficult times. In this particular matter he belonged to a period when the Irish fishermen were really prosperous. The decay has been tremendous during the intervening period. Although the Deputy wanted to throw bouquets at the Minister in fact he was throwing bricks at him and his Department because he showed that although in existence for a considerable time, since the founding of the Free State, that Department was a failure. I think it is quite a fair criticism to say that the Department has not done as much as the old Congested Districts Board and the Fishery Department of former times. In any case, whether that is so or not, they have not turned the tide and one has only to go round the districts that were prosperous fishing areas in former years to see that. Going through the area of Ring or any other fishing area in Ireland you find families there in a state of poverty, their houses in a terrible condition and their children all gone. In the village of Ballinagoul there are hardly any young men to be found and there are only two girls of working age who have not gone to America. These are facts which are a commentary on the administration of the Fishery Department of to-day. But this year, both because of the new scheme which has only been adumbrated and also because of certain changes in the personnel, we have great hopes for the Department that we had not got before.

There is one aspect of the Gaeltacht and the fishing areas that deserves attention and that is the industrial aspect. Fishing is a very uncertain thing and by itself will not sustain the people all the time. The organisation of the fishing industry has not yet reached the point where the fishermen can be told, as a group [2400] any way, that their industry is one of permanent employment and continuous return. The result is that it is absolutely necessary to have other industries as well. The attitude of the old Congested Districts Board towards industries while it was good up to a point was not sufficiently good. It concentrated upon cottage industries, home-spuns and woollen materials generally and did not try to develop larger industries in the fishing areas. That is a matter to which I hope the Department themselves will give very considerable attention — I mean industries which would compete with any of the industries in the industrial districts or in the cities.

I hope the Department will give a very considerable amount of attention to the development of industries in places like Ring and Dunmore, and in places like Galway and other centres where the Irish language can be saved by industry. In Ring there has been a small industry started for the making of boot polish. It is very small at present and only gives employment to a few men, but if it got encouragement from the Department the man running that industry says that instead of employing three or four men he would be able to employ thirty which in an area like that would be very considerable. It would mean the support of thirty families. I take it that any question arising on housing will come up on the Vote for the Land Commission and not on the Fisheries Vote.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  On the Land Commission Vote.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I wish the Minister would have an inquiry held similar to the one held in connection with the Blackwater about the time for opening the fishing season on the Suir because the fishermen there told Deputy Goulding and myself that they believed that the salmon fishing season could be opened earlier than it is at present.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Did they ever ask the Department for an inquiry? There is no use in the fishermen mentioning [2401] it to Deputy Goulding or Deputy Little unless they write into the Department and ask for an inquiry. The thing is absolutely simple. If there is any kind of a local demand for the earlier opening of a particular river, normally we grant the inquiry.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I am very glad to hear that from the Minister. Last year I raised this question, but the Minister did not give anything like the same friendly acceptance of it as he has this time so that again we are in hopes of better times and we will see that the fishermen make the demand.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  That, of course, does not commit me beforehand, that we will do what the Deputy wants. We will grant an inquiry but what the result will be I cannot forecast.

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  Quite so. The Minister will realise, I hope, taking all things into consideration, that the fishermen ought to have the earlier season because the prices are so much better in the earlier season. Another suggestion was that the season should be closed earlier for the rod fishermen and that it would be a great deal better to close it a fortnight earlier.

I was asked also by some of the fishermen along the coast at Waterford to make some inquiries about the development of the oyster fishing and as to whether the Department would not be able to assist in that matter. I went to the Department at the time about it and I was told it was a matter for private enterprise and could not be undertaken by the Department. I think that should be reconsidered and for this reason, that the oyster fisheries are very valuable. The price of oysters is very high and there is a very big market. At the same time the amount of money required to propagate oysters would be beyond the means of the local fishermen who would like to undertake that kind of enterprise. As I said before I am sure we would all be glad to be in a position to congratulate any Department doing good work for the country, [2402] and especially for the Irish-speaking districts, but we cannot unfortunately go upon the promises of the Minister for Fisheries because if we were to take up the speeches of the Minister for some time past and go upon his glowing accounts of what is to be done there would be nothing but congratulations. We have rather to take up the line that Deputy Wolfe suggests when he says that this is an inquest. It is worse; it is almost a post mortem. One Deputy who has spoken told us of suggestions made 27 years ago and others told us of suggestions that were made two or three years ago and which might have been very valuable if they were acted upon, but they were not. These suggestions do not come out of the air; they come from fishermen with large experience and they are generally the result of years of watching and indeed of years of suffering. For that reason I think the Department should take these suggestions very seriously, not as if they were academic suggestions made by Deputies, but suggestions that should be followed at least by further inquiry in order to find out whether anything could be done. If we were merely looking forward to the future our attitude might be different but we are voting against this Estimate because of the record of the Department and it is only by our votes that we can show the seriousness of our attitude in this matter.

Mr. Corish: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  I would like to refer to a matter that has been mentioned by other Deputies, and that is the question of the better patrolling of our shores. In the constituency of Wexford that I represent, we suffer very much from foreign trawlers. There are a continual number of trawling vessels there from France, England and Scotland, with the result that the fishing fleet in Wexford town has decreased considerably within the last ten or twenty years. I know quite well it is almost impossible for the Minister to give this matter the attention it deserves and warrants, because of the fact that he has not sufficient [2403] money at his disposal to enable him to secure further patrol boats. As a matter of fact, the one he has is too slow to get out of her own way — she is absolutely useless. I believe if anything is to be done to protect the fisheries, the Minister will want to make stronger recommendations to the Executive Council, and to the Minister for Finance to provide more money for patrol vessels. Much as we heard in the past two or three weeks about the Saltee Islands, it is only now that the great majority of the public know of the advent of foreign trawlers in that particular vicinity. But for a considerable time for years back these trawlers have been coming in to the Saltee Islands and taking the lobster pots belonging to the fishermen, with the result that very few of the fishermen at the moment are engaged in lobster fishing at all. They have given up the matter in despair because the Minister for Fisheries is not able to protect them.

For the last two or three days we have been discussing international affairs and the deliberations of the Imperial Conference. One wonders if this matter of international law in connection with fishing has been raised by the Government at the various Imperial Conferences. To my mind, it is of paramount importance. Next to agriculture, I believe that the fishing industry ought to occupy a very prominent place so far as this country is concerned. I suggest that the Minister should make strong representations to the Executive Council, and keep hammering at them until the matter has been raised in a proper manner, as one feels that it must be raised at the Imperial Conference or some place like that in order to secure proper protection for our fishermen.

Deputy Everett has also referred to the absence from the Vote of any money to secure that harbours will not be silting up. The position is very serious in various harbours on the east and south-east coast. Courtown Harbour, in my constituency, is silting up very rapidly, and to a [2404] very great extent, within the last three or four months, with the result that the fishermen are unable to put out to sea. They know that there is a good deal of fish outside, but they cannot launch their boats. This matter has been brought under the notice of the Minister repeatedly during the last three or four months, but nothing has been done. We are told that we must wait for the report of the Coast Erosion Committee before anything can be done in matters of this kind. Other places in my constituency, such as Kilmore and Rosslare, are in the same position. At St. Helen's, near Carnsore Point, boats have been held up because proper facilities are not provided for the landing of fish. When the Minister for Fisheries was down there last year on a holiday, he made all sorts of promises to a deputation which waited upon him, but up to this nothing has been done.

I again ask the Minister to make strong representations with a view to getting more help in patrolling the coast, and also to try and secure the establishment of our legal rights in connection with the three-mile limit. Along the Wexford coast, foreign trawlers can be seen repeatedly well inside the three-mile limit, yet nothing is done. Time and again I have brought the matter to the Minister's attention, but he seems to be absolutely impotent in the matter.

With regard to inland fisheries, I should like to stress the points referred to so far as hatcheries are concerned. I do not know what the exact position is, or whether there is any hatchery remaining on the River Slaney, but I do know that for the past two or three years the position there has been very bad. Last year the average number of salmon caught on the River Slaney was fifteen for each boat, and at £1 per salmon that meant that each man was in receipt of five shillings per week over the five months which the fishing lasted. I think the Minister will agree that that is a very precarious existence for fishermen. One wonders if proper attention [2405] is being paid to that river, and if more could not be done to secure a proper livelihood for the fishermen by putting in new fry from time to time. The position was so bad last year that special representations were made by the fishermen in that area. At a meeting held under the presidency of the P.P., they asked that something should be done to enable them to pay their licences this year. The licence is £4, and that is about what each man earned last year. I asked that a grant should be given to the conservators in order that the licences would not be so heavy on these men, but the Minister, in reply, said that he had no fund at his disposal. Of course, we can see that, but the Minister, if he is in a reasonable frame of mind, will admit that £4 per year licence is too much on the poor fishermen who are depending upon inland fishing for a livelihood, and that something will have to be done. If the Minister has no intention of doing anything in so far as the reduction of the licence is concerned, the least we can expect is that more attention should be paid to the hatcheries and the replenishing of the various rivers.

The river Slaney has been getting worse year after year during the past five years. The position there is very precarious as far as the fishermen are concerned. Their principal means of livelihood comes out of that river. I appeal to the Minister to institute an inquiry as to what the actual position is in so far as hatcheries and the putting of new fry into the river are concerned. I notice there is a sum of £200 allocated for shell fish development. One wonders how far that £200 is able to go and what could be done for it. Deputy Little has referred to the development of oyster beds. I have heard people in Wexford say that immediately outside the town was one of the finest oyster beds in the country. Unfortunately, there are no oysters there now. History tells us that French patrol boats were responsible for the breaking up of that oyster bed. I join with Deputy [2406] Little in asking the Minister to do something for the development of the oyster industry. Oysters at the present moment are a very high price. It would be money well spent by the State if it were directed towards developing the culture of oysters. I hope the Minister will do something in connection with the matters I have raised. In various parts of the country they represent long-felt wants. If the Minister applies himself properly to the task that he has set before him, all these matters will be solved.

Mr. Kilroy: Information on Michael Kilroy  Zoom on Michael Kilroy  I rise to support Deputy Derrig's motion. I feel the Minister should give us more reasonable opportunity for examining and discussing his new policy in regard to the fishing industry. I do not think it is fair that he should tell us they have formulated a new policy for the development of fisheries and small industries without giving us a chance of examining the details of that policy and seeing how far we could agree with them. If anything is to come of the fishing industry in this country the Minister will have to hustle a bit. We observe that for the past year or two there has been an increase of about £40,000 in the importation of fish. We observe also that there is about £200,000 of a balance on the wrong side of the industry, taking it as a whole, between imports and exports. We find also that about £354,000 worth of fish are being imported. These are certainly very damaging figures, particularly for a country like ours situated as it is and surrounded by excellent sea fisheries. There is every prospect that the fishing industry, properly organised and worked, could be made most profitable and could, in fact, be ranked as the second industry in our country. We believe that if it were given a favourable opportunity, and if markets were developed as they ought to be, the fishing industry would give employment to very large numbers of people and it would be looked upon as our second great industry. Of course, the agricultural industry would come first, because [2407] it is by far the greatest industry we have.

We do not know the Minister's policy for the development of deep sea fishing. We ought to be given some idea what that policy is. We are given no indication regarding the development of inland fisheries and small industries and we do not know what organisation is being arranged. It is for that reason that we think this Vote should be referred back until such time as we can get a better understanding of those matters. I would like to refer to an old difficulty that exists in the fishing industry. It has reference to the outstanding loans due by fishermen in regard to gear and boats. I would like to know what has become of the boats which have been lying for the past few years in our harbours, rotting and decaying. I was in communication with the Minister about the purchase of one or two of them. I am sorry that our negotiations fell through. The Minister or the Department could not see fit to accept an offer for certain boats and the correspondence had no result. The fishermen concerned were so poor that they could not advance the high price asked for a particular boat. I would like to know how the money which the Fisheries Act of 1925 prevents the local Councils throughout the country from raising is to be allocated and what benefit will it be to the fishing industry. The Mayo Council suffers a loss of about £1,500 a year under this head. That is a very serious loss to the Council. I would like to know how the money is disbursed and what advantages does the industry derive from it. Some members of the Mayo Council are very anxious about that matter.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Surely I made that clear in my opening statement. Under the 1925 Act the rates on valuable fisheries instead of going to the local Councils go to the Boards of Conservators and the money is being used for the protection of fish during the spawning season. There is far more protection now than [2408] there was before the 1925 Act. I thought I made that quite plain.

Mr. Kilroy: Information on Michael Kilroy  Zoom on Michael Kilroy  Is the whole of the money spent in the protection of inland fishery development?

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  Absolutely; it is spent altogether on better bailiffing and more bailiffs.

Mr. Kilroy: Information on Michael Kilroy  Zoom on Michael Kilroy  Around the coast in Mayo there is room for great development in the matter of shellfish, and particularly the lobster industry. I hope that the Minister in his new scheme will not overlook Mayo. There are sheltered harbours there in abundance and splendid opportunities for lobster fishing. That industry was carried on in a precarious way for years. It requires encouragement, and there are people disposed to take advantage of the benefits to be derived from it if they would only get a little encouragement. At the moment they have the disadvantage of being removed from the proper markets. If a local centre were established in Clew Bay it would be a great advantage to the people there.

I am anxious to know about a certain transaction that has taken place between the Minister and the fishermen in Achill. They had some gear and boats on the instalment system from the Department, and though they paid the instalments regularly they were brought to book for not paying them. They approached me on the matter and I put a question to the Minister here. I was told those people had not paid, and that they would not even reply to letters that were sent them. The people felt their case should be aired and the matter squared out. They decided to refuse to pay until the Minister would give them a satisfactory reply. The statement that they had not replied to Departmental letters and had not paid their instalments was untrue, and the Minister later admitted that. Apparently it was discovered that there was some delinquent in the Department of Fisheries who had been appropriating funds and also, apparently, the communications connected with those [2409] funds. I have approached the Minister with the request that at least the law costs of those people would be made good. I am informed that the Department cannot consider the position any further and cannot do anything for those fishermen.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I think when the Deputy spoke to me about the matter last week or the week before, I told him something very different from that.

Mr. Kilroy: Information on Michael Kilroy  Zoom on Michael Kilroy  I hold a communication here stating that nothing can be done for them.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  The Deputy is perfectly right in stating that this was a case in which a person purloined certain moneys coming into the Department. He was brought before the courts and dealt with in that way. I know there were costs incurred by the persons who were brought to court. I really felt that in all fair play something should be done to relieve them of that cost. That is what I said to the Deputy. I did not know that the matter had advanced a further stage. I promised the Deputy I would raise the matter with the Department of Finance at the time, and I would urge that those people would either get a reduction in any outstanding loans as would cover their court costs, or else that we would wipe out the costs for them. I did not know there was a further development.

Mr. Kilroy: Information on Michael Kilroy  Zoom on Michael Kilroy  I am informed definitely that nothing can be done for them on this issue. The whole amount involved is only £10. It is a very small amount, and, considering that the case is a very peculiar one and a damaging one for the Minister's Department, would it not be better that that amount should be made good?

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I can promise the Deputy that that matter will be further considered. I am not quite satisfied with the position as it is.

Mr. Kilroy: Information on Michael Kilroy  Zoom on Michael Kilroy  I am glad that the Minister will give further consideration to this matter. The position [2410] is certainly a very damaging one for the Department to find itself in. When speaking about the cottage industries, and particularly the home-spuns, the Minister did not refer in any way to Mayo. I would like to remind him that in West Mayo there are many localities in which the homespun industry flourished in past years. They have not got any encouragement from the Department. Amongst the localities that were identified with the industry are Lahardane, Glenhest, Glenisland, Newport district, Tiernaure, Ballycroy and Achill. A lot could be done for the homespun industry in Mayo, and I would like the Minister to make some effort to give it and other industries a little encouragement there. Some of the people in Mayo were very adept at the homespinning and weaving industries, and it is only right they should be encouraged to revive those industries.

Regarding the kelp industry on the West coast, it would seem to me that the sum of £150 apportioned for the development of that industry is very small. I am not versed in the industry but I imagine it would take more than £150 to put it on a proper footing so that the people would derive some real benefit and so that the industry would develop as we would like to see it developing. There is every prospect that the industry would make great progress on the Western sea coast. The coast is well protected and there is an abundance of raw material.

So far as the protection of our fisheries is concerned, I agree with other speakers that the one boat, the Muirchu, is not and could not be sufficient to protect our coastline. I think if the £8,000 were spent on half a dozen small motor boats which would be placed at different points around the coast they would do much more effective work. Boats of the motor-driven type would be fast and light and inexpensive as compared with a boat like the Muirchu. They would render much more efficient protection than merely one boat could. Naturally the Muirchu cannot cover the whole [2411] coastline in a reasonable time. The moment it passes round a headland the poachers can again get to work. I trust that the Minister will give serious consideration to the points to which I have referred.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  On every occasion when this Fisheries Vote comes up it is more or less regarded as the Cinderella of the Estimates. There is invariably a long discussion upon it and I think that alone ought to impress the Minister and the Executive Council with the importance of the fishing industry. It would seem as if the fishing industry is a matter in which the Government have no faith. I paid attention to several of the speeches made here and I went to the trouble of looking up speeches made on this subject a couple of years ago. I find that the very same complaints were made then as were made to-day and by the very same Deputies. I observed the Minister to-day taking notes. I do not know what he did with previous notes, but I hope that on this occasion he will make some good use of them. I do not know what is wrong with the Fisheries Department, but there is something definitely wrong with it. I make this honest suggestion to the Executive Council, that on the Estimates the Whips should be taken off and each Estimate should be left to a free vote of the House. Where is the use of Deputies making the same complaints every year and then being obliged by the Whips to go into the Lobby and vote in favour of the Estimate? That is one of the principal faults to be found here; men are not allowed to vote according to their convictions.

Deputy Sheehy here to-day made statements in praise of the Department. Two years ago, when speaking on the Vote for the Department of Fisheries, the same Deputy complained of the manner in which French boats were allowed to come round our coast raiding our lobster beds. He talked about French trawlers committing all sorts of depredations. A somewhat similar state of affairs exists around the [2412] coast to-day; the only difference is that what some years ago was being done on a small, unorganised scale, is now being done by fully-equipped vessels in an organised manner, and there is no stir on the part of the Department. If the Minister is at fault he should say so, and if it is the Department of Justice that is to blame we ought to be told that. Every year Deputies make complaints, and there is never any finality reached. Some steps really ought to be taken by the Department to remedy the matters in regard to which complaints are made.

With regard to the speech made to-day by Deputy Jasper Wolfe, I may say that, I suppose for the first time in my life I find myself in absolute agreement with him in regard to the statements he made. The Deputy said that we were holding an inquest. It is practically an inquest that we are holding on this Department. He put forward the astonishing proposal which, I hope, will extend beyond the Fisheries Department, that the loans given by the British Government previous to 1921, should be wiped out. I hope that the Deputy's suggestion will also apply to the land annuities. Deputy Wolfe, speaking here on the 9th May, 1928, made the same complaint that he has made to-day, namely, that the fines imposed on foreign trawlers are not being collected, and that as a result of the neglect of the Department in this respect, the State has suffered a loss of thousands of pounds. I have no doubt but that the Deputy has good grounds for making that complaint again to-day. Either through the inaction of the Department of Fisheries or the Department of Justice, thousands of pounds have been lost to the revenue of this State. We should know on whom to lay the blame. As soon as we have come to a determination as to which Department is responsible in this matter, then I think the question of getting rid of that Department should be left to a free vote of the House.

[2413] Deputy Wolfe also threw out a suggestion with regard to the Civic Guards. I, for one, would be delighted to see the Civic Guards engaged on that work. When travelling along part of the coastline in my constituency some time ago I saw these foreign trawlers outside. I also saw several Civic Guards strolling along the strand taking a good view of them. I think that the Civic Guards who seem very plucky as regards other things would be far better employed in looking after these foreign trawlers than they are on some other work. During the past twelve months two men who were alleged to be engaged in poaching were shot dead by the Civic Guards —one man in my own county and the other in an adjoining county. I think they would be better employed if they turned their arms on the French trawlers. If they did it might have some effect in keeping them away. In my opinion, the suggestion made by Deputy Wolfe is one that the Minister should take up and consult with the Department of Justice as to whether steps could not be taken on the lines of providing the Civic Guards in each district with a motor boat. If necessary, it could be mounted with a Lewis gun. The present position is that all the unfortunate fishermen can do is to stand by and see the fish whipped away by these foreign trawlers which, in some instances, come to within a hundred yards of the shore. On the same day — that is on 9th May, 1928 — Deputy Daly made an appeal on behalf of the fishermen in Youghal, Ballycotton and Ballymacoda. He referred to the condition of affairs there with regard to the boats. I say that it is a disgrace to the Minister's Department that the fishermen in these districts should be left to depend on the southern loyalist and unionist fund to provide them with boats and gear. It is now almost two years since an appeal was made to the Minister to do something for these fishermen. I would like to hear from the Minister what steps have been taken by his Department to provide loans for the fishermen in these areas. It is time that [2414] the Minister came to a show down and that something definitely was done.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  May I ask for a definition of the words “Show down”?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Minister seems to treat everything said in this debate as a kind of joke.

Mr. Lynch: Information on Fionán Lynch  Zoom on Fionán Lynch  I am trying to find out what a “show down” is for other reasons than in connection with this discussion.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Repeated appeals are made year after year to the Minister's Department on grounds founded on fact, as can be easily proved and as newspapers will show him, and yet no steps are taken to deal with the matters referred to his Department. If the Minister is not prepared for a show down, let the House have a show down. Let the Whips be taken off in the House and settle the matter. Deputy Kilroy, speaking on this question two years ago, called attention to the difference in the cost of administration here as compared with Denmark. I think Deputy Sheehy some time ago also suggested that somebody should be sent abroad to see how the fishing industry was conducted. He also said that representatives of the farmers should be sent to Denmark to see how the agricultural industry was worked there. What is going to pull down the £27,000 that go for salaries and allowances out of the £47,000? The amount for loans for boats and gear for the 26 counties this year is £1,250. And as against that the Executive gave £3,000 for motor races. Is not the whole thing a farce? Motor racing is apparently three times as important as the fishing industry of the 26 counties.

I do not want to go into this matter item by item, but it is time the Minister definitely decided on doing something. Some time ago I asked a question here with regard to Knockadoon and the extension of the pier there. The Minister gave a reply which was based on incorrect information. Instead of the £70 worth of fish which he said were caught by the fishermen in Knockadoon about [2415] £800 worth were caught. Nothing has since been done. I would ask the Minister to send one of the Department's inspectors to Knockadoon. I and the other Deputies representing my constituency are prepared to meet the inspector and go into the facts and have the whole matter thrashed out. I think it is a disgrace that the unfortunate fishermen there should not be assisted in the extension of the pier, so that some protection be given to their boats. Southern loyalists, who have not a big interest in Knockadoon, have contributed £500 or more for boats and gear. Surely the Department [2416] should come along and fix up the pier. They should take some part towards showing that they have some claim on the district and that it is not the property of the southern loyalists. There seems to be something wrong with the Department of Fisheries that is not wrong with other Departments. Other Departments make some small effort to remedy complaints made to them, but no effort is made to remedy complaints made to the Department of Fisheries.

Progress reported.

The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until Wednesday, 26th March, at 3 p.m.

Last Updated: 17/05/2011 20:53:28 First Page Previous Page Page of 5 Next Page Last Page