Friday, 23 May 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
“Go ndeontar suim bhreise ná raghaidh thar £10 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh Márta, 1931, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Tailte agus Iascaigh agus seirbhísí áirithe atá fé riara na hOifige sin.
“That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st 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 Lands and Fisheries (Mr. Lynch): This vote is required for the purpose of enabling my Department  to put into operation certain proposals in regard to the future development and better organisation of the kelp industry on the Western sea coast. I have already referred to the matter in this House. It is also intended to carry out on a substantial scale certain experimental operations in Connemara on the treatment and marketing of carrigeen moss which, if they are successful will, I anticipate, promote better conditions and considerable development in this particular industry also. These two industries are mentioned in paragraph 160 of the Gaeltacht Commission Report. The conditions in the kelp industry for a number of years have not been satisfactory. There is a belief amongst the kelp makers that they are not being fairly treated by the buyers. This belief, whether justified or not, has resulted in a considerable amount of adulteration taking place and this adulteration has reacted both against the buyers and the makers.
As a result also of this belief, the making of kelp has in many places been abandoned and in many other places considerably reduced. It is quite easy to understand that, because the making of kelp is a very laborious task. Roughly speaking, it is necessary to gather 4½ tons of the seaweed, save that and burn it in order to produce a ton of kelp. Furthermore, in some instances the kelp has to be carted fifteen or sixteen miles to the market or place of sale. Naturally, people along the western coast are not going to engage in so laborious an undertaking if the market is precarious either in demand or in price. If, however, there exists an assured market at a fair price, the industry could be established on a much wider basis with great advantage to a very large number of families, who would be very glad of this means of supplementing the family budget. The seaweed which is the basis of this industry can be fairly looked on as one of the natural resources of the west coast and therefore should be exploited as far as possible.
 The Minister for Industry and Commerce has, for some time past, been co-operating with me in the achievement of this purpose, and I am glad to be able to say now that a satisfactory market has been obtained for all the kelp that we can produce. It gives me the greatest pleasure to make this announcement because it was rendered possible almost solely by the interest and intervention of a Deputy of this House whose reputation is a sufficient guarantee of his ability to carry through successfully any commercial enterprise to which he may set his hand. His sympathy for the people of the Gaeltacht is very well recognised by all who know him. I am confident that this announcement will be an equal source of gratification to Deputies of all Parties in this House. The possession of an assured and satisfactory market enables my Department to proceed with the measures which we had in mind for the improvement generally of the industry with some greater degree of confidence. The marketing of the kelp is very important. After the market a very important consideration is that the kelp maker should be enabled to have some knowledge of the value of his commodity. In the past it was only the buyers who had that knowledge, and no matter how straightforwardly such a transaction might be carried out, the person dealing in the dark had always some doubts.
I propose that in future each kelp maker shall be furnished with a docket showing the iodine content of the kelp, the percentage of iodine being the principal index to the value of the kelp. The analysis for this purpose will be made at the time of delivery of the kelp to the Department's agent. The method has been devised with the assistance of the State chemists, and it is known as the colorimetric test. A sample of the kelp is taken by a method which will ensure that it is a representative sample, and carbon bisulphide and nitrosulphuric acid are added in predetermined proportions. The result is to liberate the iodine, the quantity  of which is measured by the degree of intensity of the colour of the resultant liquid when compared with ascertained standards. This method does not possess the degree of accuracy of a laboratory analysis, but it will provide a good working test for the information of the kelp maker. It will have the advantage of being made on the spot and in the presence of the owner, if he so desires. Ordinarily the test will be made by the Department's agent, but for this year we propose that the agent shall have the help of a chemist in the working of the test, such chemist to be nominated by the State Chemist. Neither the agent nor anybody else will have any personal interest in obtaining anything but an absolutely fair test. If, however, any kelp maker should be dissatisfied with that test he can, for a small fee, have a laboratory analysis of his kelp made by the State Chemist.
I hope that this measure, which will ensure a fair deal all round, will greatly assist in putting an end to adulteration of kelp. Adulteration will be a crime, not against the Government or the buyers, but against the general body of kelp makers. We propose to deal very severely with any person detected of adulteration. We are certain from the plans we have laid that it will be almost impossible to escape detection. We propose, if anybody is detected of adulteration, to exclude him permanently from the industry. The analysis to which I have just referred will be for the purpose of determining the quality of the various lots of kelp as between the kelp makers. The kelp will be sold on the basis of a laboratory test of a bulk sample made in the State Laboratory or under the direction of the State Chemist.
The arrangements for the sale and the price will be arranged by the Department, acting as agent for the kelp makers. This arrangement will enable the transaction to be carried through on terms of greater equality, so far as the kelp maker is concerned, and this advantage will be felt to a greater extent in those more remote places where  there is less existing organisation. This Estimate is for the purpose of enabling payments on account to be made immediately on the delivery of the kelp—that is, when the kelp is delivered and before it is sold by the Department. That will enable an advance on the final settlement to be made to the kelp-maker, and I anticipate that in the great majority of cases these payments on account will be larger than the former total payments which they got for their kelp. That is the broad outline of my proposals. There are other improvements of detail.
In establishing the centres at which the kelp is to be received regard has been had to the convenience of the kelp-makers. I am anxious, as far as practicable, to avoid the carting of kelp long distances if more adjacent points of shipment can be availed of. Assistance has been given at several points in effecting certain improvements in the gathering and curing of the weed. At Quilty, for instance, assistance has been given in cutting a passage through a reef of rocks in order to avoid a long journey to the saving grounds. At Pullaheeney certain land near the shore is being drained. These expenses are being met out of other Votes. Research has been carried out as to the value of certain weeds for kelp-making and as to the best methods of burning, and these experiments will be continued. The results of these experiments go to show that the most satisfactory method of burning is to reduce the weed to ash, either on the level ground or in a raised kiln. It is the simplest and easiest plan. There is in some quarters a belief that the kelp weighs less in ash than when made into slag. There is no justification for that belief. The weight is about the same, and the kelp as ash is more acceptable to the majority of buyers and therefore commands a better price. I am anxious to encourage, therefore, the method of reduction to ash rather than slag, but at the same time we are not making it in any sense compulsory that that should be done. Where they desire  to reduce to slag, we will allow it, but we believe that in a short time they will find that it pays them better to adopt the other method.
I also propose to have certain experiments carried out this year to see whether the cutting of the weed from boats at certain states of the tide during the summer-time would have better results than gathering the weed as it is washed in. In any event it may help to add to the amount produced. I know that in other countries that method is adopted. The portion of this Estimate relating to the kelp is £40,000. The remaining £4,250 is required for the purposes of the experimental work relating to carrigeen moss. The total output of carrigeen moss in the past has not greatly exceeded 100 tons, and we believe that under favourable conditions some 700 tons could be gathered on the west coast alone. If better prices were obtainable, I have no doubt that this quantity could be got. We are hoping to improve the prices by improving the condition and cure of the carrigeen and the method of marketing. Analysis shows that in quality the Irish carrigeen is superior to that obtained on the Continent, but that it is not so well cured and graded.
This year it is proposed that the carrigeen in Connemara should be brought to one centre, at which the curing will be carried out in the manner in use in the United States of America. A Deputy, not the Deputy to whom I have already referred, has put at the disposal of the Department a spread ground for the purposes of curing. I would also like to say that the agents who are helping us in this experiment are doing so at a very nominal fee. An advance of ? per stone will be paid to the carrigeen gatherers. The normal price which they got in the past was roughly 1/- a stone, so that the advance that will be got this year will be 50 per cent. greater than the total payment in the past. When the carrigeen has been cured and dealt with in the manner proposed and sold, any further profit will be distributed to the gatherers.  The best selected carrigeen is sold in the United States of America as a food and for medicinal purposes. That of a lower grade is used for industrial purposes in the making of paints, pastes, chemicals and similar goods. I propose to see whether the carrigeen properly cured and graded can be marketed similarly. If in this way improved prices could be obtained the industry, which can be engaged in by all members of a family, might be elevated to a position of considerable importance in the economics of the Gaeltacht.
Mr. Derrig: When this supplementary estimate was first spoken of, we thought it was to be under the heading of fisheries development because on the main vote under this heading the Minister, as reported in column 2232 of the Official Report, stated that the rules of the new Sea Fisheries Co-operative Association were ready and would be submitted to the Dáil in a week or so. Two months have now elapsed and the rules have not yet been placed on the Table of the House. He also stated that a Bill would be placed before us setting out the manner in which the new Association should function. I must say that we feel disappointed that no steps have been taken to tell the House what further developments have been made in this matter. We can only hope that before the Recess the Minister will place some definite information before us to let us know exactly what is being done. The reason I want to emphasise that is that it was stated by the Minister that the amount which is made available for fishery development in the ordinary way was reduced by £8,470. That is under the ordinary schemes of the Department. Therefore it was anticipated that during the financial year this Association would be able to take definite control of sea fisheries.
We are thoroughly in favour of the new project. It is an index of what can be expected when you have men who are acquainted with conditions  in the Gaeltacht and with the business side of the particular industries that affect it. Furthermore, it is an example of the vast importance to a poor community of an industry which might appear small to city people. A sum of £20,000, £30,000, or £40,000 if distributed amongst the poorest communities on the western seaboard will undoubtedly be of enormous benefit, particularly as it will be a regular source of income. I take it from the Minister that the amount which it is now proposed to grant will be in the nature of an advance. It would be useful if the Minister could tell us what proportion the advance bears to the total value of the kelp. He stated in his speech on the main vote that about 5,000 tons would be collected this year. That would be about £9 per ton of an advance.
In the appropriations-in-aid it is estimated that £44,000 will come in and I am anxious to know whether the Minister is quite certain that it will come in. I take it that £9 does not represent anything like the value of the kelp when marketed, although it may be a considerable proportion and that the amount laid out for appropriations-in-aid is quite safe. It would be a great mistake if, when you estimate that your income is going to be a certain amount anything happened subsequently to reduce that. For example, the kelp —the Minister told us—will be paid for in the first instance on the basis of a test, but it will be sold on the basis of a much more detailed test. Therefore there will be obviously a margin of loss between the two tests which might amount to anything.
Mr. Derrig: It might be a margin of gain if worked properly, but I just want to see that the appropriations-in-aid are not over-estimated. There is to be a definite guarantee to the purchasers of this kelp, the people at the other end of the transaction, that the kelp, I take it, will reach a certain content or that, at any rate, it will be according to sample. For that  reason, there will be a great responsibility on the agents. Unless the suppliers of kelp are brought into touch with the whole scheme and are made clearly to understand that the question of weight no longer counts, that, as in the case of sugar beet, it is the content that counts—they will then probably enter into the spirit of the thing—it will be possible that there will always be a number of individuals who will be ignorant of these facts and will attempt to carry out some tricks at the expense of the whole scheme. It would be a pity to jeopardise the development of the scheme and the possibility of the people benefiting.
I would suggest that the widest possible information should be given to the suppliers of kelp and that some effort should be made to instruct them. Officers who are at the disposal of the Department in other branches could be sent round to explain to the people how the scheme is going to work, how exactly they are going to be paid on content and to point out that honesty is the best policy. Are we to take it that the agents will be local business men who will be responsible for collecting the kelp? If that is so, I have no doubt that the agents will be able to give a lot of assistance in connection with the provision of kilns and in connection with the use of boats where it may be cheaper to employ boats to collect the kelp. There is undoubtedly a great field in connection with marine weeds in general. I hope the Department will, if necessary, place money at the disposal of the State chemist or whoever is responsible for investigating these matters. It is suggested that there are many other uses to which sea-weeds might be devoted, that they could, for instance, be used for basket-making of a certain kind. Probably when the scheme is got going properly it will be in one way or another a very big source of revenue to the people.
The point about carrigeen moss is also very interesting as is the fact that the Minister can assure the House that he will be able to raise the price to such an extent that he  will be able to give as a first payment what was formerly considered a big price. That he will be able to give that as an advance shows what can be done when the effort is no longer conducted on haphazard lines by individual businessmen who undoubtedly do their best but who have not that feeling of security that a State Department naturally has and who cannot have these resources of research and organisation that this House can place at the disposal of the Gaeltacht if it wishes. I can only hope that the experiment will prosper and that we shall have more supplementary estimates of this kind.
Seosamh O Mongáin: Is maith liom fá dheire go bhfuil ceann ag teacht ar an obair seo. Do réir mo bharamhla-sa, cé's muite d'Acht na dTithe (Gaeltacht), sé seo an rud is fearr dá ndeárna an Dáil ó cuireadh ar bun í. Tá mise ar aon intinn leis an Teachta O Deirg sa méid adubhairt sé faoi rudaí beaga do dhéanamh do mhuinntir na Gaeltachta. Siad na rudaí beaga seo a dhéananns maitheas don Ghaeltacht. Tá go leor Teachtaí sa Dáil seo agus ní thuigeann siad an Ghaeltacht agus ní thuigeann siad cé'n bealach a d'fhéadfaí aon mhaitheas 'theacht as na rudaí beaga; ach deirim-se gurb' iad na rudaí seo i dteannta a chéile a chuireann bail agus slacht ar an nGaeltacht agus gurb' iad seo na rudaí is fearr a fheileas dí.
Dubhairt an Teachta O Deirg go mba cheart daoine do chur thart le heolas do thabhairt do na ceilpeadóirí. Sílim gurb' í cuthaileacht an Aire é féin do mholadh ro-mhór nár leig dó a rádh go raibh seo dh'á déanamh aige le sgathamh maith cheana. Tá a fhios agam-sa go bhfuil, mar do chuaidh daoine ó n-a Roinn thart ar fud Chonamara agus do labhair siad leis na ceilpeadóirí agus le muinntir na háite agus go háithrid leis na sagairt, agus tá a fhios agam nach bhfuil ceilpeadóir i gConamara nár chuala faoi na daoine seo.
Anois faoi'n gceilp. Is rí-mhaith liom go bhfuil an tAire ag dul dh'á ceannach i ugar do bhaile agus nach  mbeidh, feasta, ar lucht dóighte ceilpe í do thabhairt na mílte treasna na fairrge 'na gcuid bád agus annsin fanacht seachtain no, b'fhéidir, coicís go dteagadh na ceannuightheoirí. Tar éis a gcuid aimsire do bheith caithte mar sin ag na daoine bochta seo b'fhéidir nach mbeadh oiread airgid acu ag dul abhaile dóibh agus a cheannóchadh a mbricfeasta.
Faoi'n scéim nua seo ní bheidh ar cheilpeadóir an turas sin do thabhairt. Tá mé cinnte nuair a gheobhas na ceilpeadóirí cothrom na féinne ó na ceannuightheoirí go dtabharfaidh siad na seacht gcothrom uatha. Roimhe seo nuair a bhíodh an Sasanach agus an Franncach ag ceannach na ceilpe is beag an luach a gheobhadh duine ar bith ach an té a bheadh mór le lucht a ceannuighthe —is cuma cé'n sórt stuif a bheadh aige.
Is maith liom go ndubhairt an tAire go mbeadh baint éicint ag Teachta amháin as an nGaillimh leis an gceannach seo, mar dá mbeadh banna ag teastáil ó cheilpeadóir bhocht bhí a fhios aige go mbeadh an rud ceart. Eisean an t-aon bhanna amháin a d'iarrfadh sé mar ba leor a ainm. Nuair a bhí sé dh'á ceannach cheana rud ar bith a gheall sé do na daoine do thug sé dóibh é le croidhe na féile—mar is dual dó.
Pé ar bith bród atá orm go bhfuil an tAire ag déanamh rud eicínt faoi'n gceilp, tá seacht mbród orm go bhfuil sé le rud eicínt do dhéanamh don charraigín. Obair í seo a d'fhéadfadh na mná agus na gasúir óga do dhéanamh agus bíonn an séasúr ann an t-am céadna a bhíonns na laetheanta saoire ag na gasúir scoile. Mar sin déanfaidh sé go leor maitheasa. Anois le blianta ní raibh na daoine ag fáilt ach ó 9d. go 1s. an chloch. Tá an tAire ag tabhairt 1s. 6d. dóibh de léim agus is iad na daoine a ghlanfas agus a phiocfas an charraigín a gheobhas 'chuile phighinn den airgead sin. Ní measfar an droch rud leis an rud maith feasta agus tá mé ag ceapadh go ngabhaidh an charraigín an oiread eile ar a laighead amach annseo. Pé  ar bith céard a ngabhfas sí ní h-ag an bhfear lár a bheas an brabach ach ag na daoine a shaothruigh é.
Tá mo bhuidheachas agus buidheachas Chonamara ar an Aire faoi'n obair seo do chur ar bun. Tá carraigín dh'á piocadh i n-áiteacha eile freisin i gContae Chiarraighe, i gContac Mhuigheo, i gContac an Chláir agus i gContac Shligigh ach as na háiteacha sin go léir do thogh an tAire ceanntar s'againne don obair sin i mbliana, agus geallaim dhó go dtabharfaidh muinntir Chonamara 'chuile chongnamh dhó. Ba mhaith liom an chaoi a labhair an Teachta O Deirg faoi'n cheist seo ach má bhíonn aon lucht le fáil ar an obair seo i mbliana ní h-ar mhuinntir Chonamara a bheas sé.
Proinnsias O Fathaigh: Mar a dubhairt an bheirt Theachta atá tar éis labhairt, is maith an rud an méid seo airgid do chaitheamh sna limistéir bhochta san Iarthar. Is maith an sgéal dos na daoine annsin atá ag bailiú ceilpe a chlos go mbeidh luach níos fearr 'ná an luach a bhí acu go dtí seo le fáil feasta.
Deirtear go bhfuil tairbhe le fáil as carraigín fosta agus go bhfuiltear ag obair i gColáiste annseo chun a fheiceáil cé'n slí is fearr chun a cóiriú do chur chun cinn. Ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Aire a fheiceáil go mbainfear triail as ag Cillmachoda agus áiteacha mar é. Tá a lán sólaistí—luach na mílte púnt—ag teacht isteach san tír, dathanna deasa orra agus iad milis go leor ach gan morán maitheasa ionnta. Dá mbainfaí triail as carraigín i gCillmachoda b'fhéidir go mbeidhmís in ánn ár gcuid carraigín do dhíol san tír seo agus gan bheith ag brath ar Ameirice.
Tá daoine ann atá ag súil le rudaí móra breaghtha ar son na Gaeltachta.  Is maith an rud, do réir mo bharúil-se, tosnú leis na rudaí beaga. “Deineann triopall beart.” Tá na déantúisí beaga so ag tabhairt congnamh do mhuinntir na Gaeltachta agus molaim an tAire mar gheall ar an scéim seo agus tá súil agam go gcuirfear i gníomh í sul i bhfad.
Dr. White: The total original Estimate passed for fisheries and Gaeltacht services was about £47,000, and this Supplementary Estimate, which is about £44,000, practically doubles the original Estimate. I congratulate the Minister, and I think this venture, like others the Government undertook, will be a success. When Government ventures are first mooted there is a certain amount of adverse criticism, but looking at the Shannon Scheme and the Carlow beet factory, when we recollect the nasty things that were said about them, I think any impartial person must admit that they have been a success, and that the Government must be clapped on the back for undertaking them. I am very glad to see this system of co-operative marketing for the kelp and carrigeen industries coming into being. The net cost of this new Government venture is practically nil to the taxpayer. I am not a pessimist, and I believe this scheme is going to be a success. Iodine is, from the medical point of view, perhaps one of the most important products used in medicine or surgery, and its use is becoming more widespread. There is scarcely a member of the House who has not at some time or other marvelled at the almost miraculous power that iodine possesses. I would go further than is proposed and ask, why should we not have an iodine factory established, perhaps in the West? In the area of Cape Finisterre, in Spain, the people are keeping a dozen iodine factories going constantly as a result of their industry. Perhaps I am looking too far ahead, and that we should be content at present to make this scheme for the gathering, curing, grading and transporting of seaweed a success.
Another very important product of the sea which costs nothing to grow,  as nature provides it, is carrigeen moss. In my own sphere I use carrigeen moss, and I find it excellent for pulmonary troubles, winter coughs, chronic bronchitis, and even pulmonary tuberculosis. It is largely an unknown plant, but when properly cooked and tastily served it is far and away better than any blancmange or cornflour. I would suggest that carrigeen moss should be advertised, and that the medicinal properties it possesses should be made known to the people. I also think that there is a great opening for an export trade in carrigeen moss. At least one Irish chemist is making products from it. We all know that in the sea there are a multitude of metals and other chemical bodies in solution, and in carrigeen moss there are a great many different metals and chemical bodies, which from a medicinal point of view form a very valuable food. I congratulate the Minister and his Department on their work, and I am sure that this happy departure they are now undertaking will be a great success.
Mr. Clery: I scarcely knew whether we were in a surgery or in the Dáil while the last Deputy was speaking. I agree that carrigeen moss and iodine are very useful, and if we used more of them and had less to do with doctors we might be a great deal better off. I scarcely venture any criticism of this Estimate, because our experience of the Minister and his Department for the past seven or eight years has been very disappointing. I think that there has been no more disappointing Department than that of Fisheries. In every part of the Gaeltacht and in the fishing districts it has been our experience that, whatever little hope the people might now have of other Departments, even of the Land Commission, they have lost all hope of getting assistance in the fishing, the kelp and the carrigeen moss industries. I hope that they and I will be pleasantly disappointed in the near future. We will wait to see on this occasion if the Minister will carry out the undertaking that he has given to-day. I  trust he will. But it has lately come to my knowledge that the Minister and the Department could not altogether be blamed for their inactivities in dealing with this matter before. I have discovered that other Ministers—perhaps the Executive Council as a whole—were entirely opposed to the schemes for the Gaeltacht which were suggested.
In the West of Ireland, and particularly along the Sligo coast, the carrigeen moss industry will be found to be a paying venture. Perhaps the greatest need that there is in that industry and in the kelp industry is for co-operation amongst the workers. Up to a few years ago we had that co-operation to a large extent; the workers were forced to co-operate because they had in the fishing industry to get men together to man the small boats, and in the carrigeen moss industry and the kelp industry they had to work in little bands to make any venture a success. But in recent years that spirit has been almost killed; there is very little co-operation among them now, and I think that the greatest difficulty the Minister will find will be to get the people working in these industries to co-operate so that they will be a success. I have hopes that if the matter is taken up in a whole-hearted way these industries can be made a great success and can bring in fairly good earnings to the workers along the coast. We would like to hear a little more about the efforts that are being made with regard to the fishing industry. Are we to take it that a statement will be made about the Board that it is proposed to set up?
Mr. Lynch: My Estimates have already been discussed, and it is hardly relevant to this discussion to deal with anything except what is in this Estimate. I will answer very briefly Deputy Derrig's question.
Mr. Law: We have in this Estimate  another instalment of the fruits of the very hard work which those of us who are in touch with the Gaeltacht know has been put in by the Department of Fisheries during the past twelve or fifteen months. It has come to us in instalments. The first instalment was the provision of houses in the Gaeltacht. We had another instalment in the work done in the reorganisation of home industries, a third instalment in the promised plan for the revival and development of our fisheries, and we have another to-day in the plans for the extension of the kelp industry. However the criticisms passed upon the Department of Fisheries in the past may have been justified, I do not think that we have any reason to be dissatisfied with what has been done during the last twelve months. I do not believe there has ever been so considerable a change in the work of any Department as has come over the Fisheries Department during this particular period. I think it is only fair that we should note that. I think it is pretty clear although it may not be acknowledged openly, that this is realised on the benches opposite, because I have noted with great pleasure, as I am sure the Minister has, the friendly and temperate criticism which has proceeded from those-benches in this debate. It is fairly evident, I think, that the Minister can count on friendly co-operation and help from political opponents in making this scheme a success.
There is one aspect of it which I should like to emphasise. Deputy Derrig spoke of the importance of small laboratories in the Gaeltacht. That is a point which I have stressed more than once in this House. I have found in some quarters, especially amongst people not personally acquainted with the Gaeltacht, a disposition to despair, a notion that we can perhaps keep it as a kind of curious enclave for people speaking Irish, and that, except as a kind of zoo, it is of very little value. I do not say that people use such downright language about it, but I have  found that kind of disposition. Let me tell those who think and speak in that way that that is an aspect which does not commend itself to dwellers in the Gaeltacht. I have always entirely dissented from the view that conditions in the Gaeltacht must necessarily be so bad that the only thing to do, if you are to keep the people at all, is either to get them out of it altogether or keep them, as I say, as some curious creatures in a menagerie. I entirely dissent from that. I believe that, given suitable measures of assistance, the people can live as happily and as well in the Gaeltacht as in any other part of the country. I am sure we are not going to help the Gaeltacht if we attempt to build up on foreign foundations. The wise policy is, I am quite certain, the policy which has been pursued by the Department of Fisheries during the last twelve months—that is to say, we should build upon what is native to these districts. We should build on the industries which are already there, on the hand-spinning, the hand-weaving and the fisheries, on the reclamation of land, and on such industries as kelp, which are native to the district, to which the people are accustomed and for which all that is required is a certain measure of assistance in teaching, in instruction and in organisation. That is what, as I understand it, is provided here. I think that we dwellers in the Gaeltacht have every reason to congratulate ourselves on this proposal and I am quite certain, whatever we may say here, that, without distinction of party, the members for the Gaeltacht will give to the Department in their work cordial support and approval.
Seán O Tuibride: Tá an oiread sin ráidhte cheana ag na Teachtaí eile nach gá dom-sa mórán do rá, ach ó labhair dochtúir ar an taoibh eile caithfidh mise mo bharamhail do thabhairt freisin. San chéad áit, ba maith liom a rá go bhfuilimíd lántsásta go bhfuil an tairgead seo le caitheamh sa Ghaeltacht. Is maith an sgéal é seo. Táimíd ag fanacht agus ag feitheamh le rud mar seo le fada  an lá agus tá sé in am agus thar am é seo do dhéanamh. Dubhairt an Teachta O Deirg go mba cheart é daoine do chur amach leis na ceilpeadóirí do mhúineadh agus leis an sgéal a d'innis an tAire annseo indiu do mhíniú dóibh. Dubhairt Teachta eile go raibh sin déanta ag an Aire cheana. Má's fíor é sin, níor chuala cuid againn aon cheo faoi go fóill. Má tá sé ar na daoine seo dul thart agus dul i gcomhairle leis na sagairt paróiste, níior chualamar aon chainnt air sa gceanntar in a bhfuilim-se 'mo chomhnuidhe. Má tá daoine le dul amach ó oifig an Aire chun an sgéal a mhíniú do na daoine, tá súil agam nach rachaidh siad go dream áirithe ar bith ach go rachaidh siad thart imease na ndaoine uilig. Tá súil agam freisin, nach mbeidh aon bhrabach le fáil as an scéim seo ag aon dream no ag aon chumann no ag aon taoibh áithrid ach go mbeidh gach uile dhuine mar a chéile.
I should like to have a little more information on a few points mentioned in connection with this Vote. The Minister told us that an iodine factory was to be set up, but we did not get any more information. We were not told, for instance, whether the iodine is to be refined and exported. The Minister could have given us a good deal more information if he liked, and the people are very anxiously waiting for it. Deputies on these Benches would like to know more about this factory; how far the work will be done in the factory, in what state the iodine will be exported, and things like that.
There is one point to which I hope the Minister will pay special attention. I do not know anything about the South and the North, but when he is appointing agents in the West I ask him particularly not to appoint any shopkeeper. We are sick and tired of the shopkeeper element in the West—the gombeen type. They have always got the best out of everything which came from any Government. No matter what Government was in power, they always got a bigger share than anybody else. They have the people in these areas entirely in their power. Most people in the parishes of Carraroe  and Rosmuck, where this scheme is going to be worked out, are in debt to the shopkeepers to the extent of £10 or £20 each. It would be a terrible thing if the shopkeepers were now to be given the right to have all the dealings in this kelp. It would mean, of course, that the bills would be gradually paid off, but very little money would be received by the people themselves for the first four or five years until all the arrears were cleared off. Probably by that time other debts would have accumulated. It would be a very serious matter in the West if the shopkeepers were given control of this business as agents.
I do not know what the agents' remuneration will be or how they are to be selected. We were given no information whatever on that subject. There is a feeling in my district that shopkeepers again will have control of this, as they had control of other matters under the Congested Districts Board and during the British régime. If this is going to be made another opportunity for the gombeen men in Connemara, I would rather oppose the Vote. I hope the Minister will state definitely, if he is going to send down men to buy this kelp, that he will employ non-party people who do not belong to any political movement.
Dr. Tubridy: There are plenty of them. There are very cute men in Connemara, and it would take you all your time to find out the politics of some of them. In any case people of the type I suggested can be found. but prominent supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal should not be appointed as agents or buyers or given control; and it should not be said: “This is a Cumann na nGaedheal business. We are doing all this for you.” We are all paying for this matter. It is all on the public estimates. That is the sort of thing that would be spread as it was spread in connection with other questions where money was spent. Let no prominent member of  Cumann na nGaedheal or Fianna Fáil or the Labour Party have anything to do with this kelp business. If possible give it to the people who have nothing to do with these movements. I asked the Minister to state definitely that he will not at least allow gombeen men to have anything to do with it.
Mr. Goulding: I certainly welcome this Estimate as I would anything else for the betterment of the people of the Gaeltacht. But I would like to point out that the people on the south coast of Ireland have no tradition of the kelp industry at all. Kelp has not been an industry there, and I think it is only fair that those people should have an opportunity of getting some benefit under this Vote. I understand also that a certain proportion of the Vote is to be devoted to the promotion of the carrigeen moss industry. That was fairly prominent in the South of Ireland at one time. In my own particular area and other areas on the south coast it was extensively saved and used locally, and I understand a certain amount of it was exported.
In addition to carrigeen there are other edible weeds that were in common use 50 or 60 years ago. In those old days, when times were very much harder in Ireland than they are to-day, many people on the southwestern coast lived extensively on sea-weeds; in fact many people in the famine days were compelled to live on sea-weed altogether. There were many of these sea-weeds whose Irish names are forgotten. There was one —dúlamán—I never traced the origin of the name—which was fairly common at the time. It should be easy for the Department to investigate the possibility of reviving the use of those seaweeds. It may be, as Deputy White pointed out, that they may have medicinal properties. They may prove a valuable addition to the food of the people. I do not think that the general health of the people has benefited by the change of food in the past twenty or thirty years. We were a stronger and a healthier people when we lived on what we were able to produce ourselves.  If people could be induced to return to these old-fashioned products it would be better for the nation as a whole. It would be a good idea if the Department devoted some of its attention to the possibility of creating a demand for other edible seaweeds as well as carrigeen.
Mr. Walsh: I should like if the Minister would say when he comes to reply on what lines the iodine factory is to be run. Is it to be a State project solely or on a co-operative basis? Are the kelp producers to have any control in the factory? Can the Minister state, also, if there is to be a guaranteed market for the kelp producer? He did not explain whether there is only to be one big purchaser, or in other words a monopolist or whether there was to be anything in the nature of a guaranteed price for the kelp producer. Otherwise I join with Deputy Derrig and other Deputies in welcoming this Vote.
Seán T. O Ceallaigh: Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá mar gheall ar an rud adubhairt an Teachta Law ó chianaibh. Ní dó linn, ar an dtaoibh seo den Tigh, gur ceart ceist páirtí do dhéanamh de cheist na Gaeltachta. In aon rud a dhéanfas an tAire ar son muinntear na Gaeltachta, beidh an Páirtí seo taobh thiar de. Táimíd ullamh ar chuidiú leis ar aon tslí in ar féidir beagáinín airgid do thabhairt do mhuinntir na gceanntar so. Siad na daoine is boichte sa tír atá in a gcomhnuidhe sna ceanntracha Gaodhalacha. An furmhór acu, caitheadh amach a sinnsear 300 blian o shoin o áiteacha eile agus ón uair sin tá éageóir 'á dhéunamh orra ag gach Rialtas i ndiadh a chéile. B'é an chéad rud a bhí in intinn na nGaedhilgeóirí i gcomhnaí ná lámh chongnaimh do shíneadh amach do sna daoine seo. O chuireadh an Saorstát ar bun, táimíd ag brath le scéim ón Aire no ón Aireacht chun congnamh do thabhairt do mhuinntir na Gaeltachta. Ba bheag a rinneadh ar a son ach rinneadh tús, ar chaoi ar bith. Tá sé ceaptha ag an Aire a thuille airgid do thabhairt isteach san nGaeltacht fá'n scéim seo.  Déanfaidh sin maitheas do sna daoine bochta. Iarracht mhaith isea é agus ba cheart é do dhéanamh fad o shoin. Ba mhaith liom a rá, ar son an Pháirti seo, go bhfuilimíd toilteanach am ar bith a dhéanfas an tAire iarracht chun congnamh do thabhairt do mhuinntir na Gaeltachta, cuidiú leis. Mion-rudaí isea na rudaí seo atá sé 'a dhéanamh fá'n scéim seo. Is beag an méid airgid a bheas le caitheamh aige i gcomparáid leis an méid daoine atá in a gcomhnuidhe san nGaeltacht. Ach do sna daoine bochta so, is mór an méid é. Má eirigheann leis an scéim, déanfaidh sé a lán maitheasa don Ghaeltacht. Tá súil agam go n-eireóchaidh leis agus má tá aon chongnamh ná aon chabhair ag teastáil ón Aire na ón Rialtas beimíd sásta é do thabhairt. Ar ndóigh, ní bheidh aon duine san Dáil ag súil nach mbeidh rud éigin le rá anois agus arís ón taoibh seo ná ó thaoibh eile ag tromaidheacht ar an Aire mar gheall ar mhionrudaí faoi'n scéim. Ní bhíonn daoine ar aon tuairim ar an gcaoi is fearr chun scéim mar seo do chur chun cinn. Ach mar sin féin, taimíd i gcomhnaí ullamh ar chuidiú le scéim chun staid muinntir na Gaeltachta d'fheabhsú.
Is dó liom go rabhthas mí-shásta le lucht ceannuithe na ceilpe. Rinne an tAire tagairt d'fhear áirithe a cheannóchaidh an cheilp uilig feasta. Is maith an rud go mbeidh Eireannach i mbun na hoibre sin agus go mbeidh greim éigin ag an Aire air Beidh ar an Aire a fheiceáil go bhfuighidh muinntir na Gaeltachta ceart ón cheannuitheóir. Is dócha nach mbeidh cead ag an Aire a chuid leabhar do scrúdú ach beidh cead aige dul isteach san gceist leis, i dtreo nách ndéanfar aon éagcóir ar na ceilpeadóirí. Dubhradh liom an samhradh seo caithte go mbíonn a lán carraigín á dhíol sna tithe ósta i gCill Chaoidhe agus áiteacha mar sin. Ba mhaith an rud dá n-iarradh an tAire ar na daoine go bhfuil baint acu leis an scéim seo, a chur in úil do sna daoine sna tithe ósta ar fuid na tíre a fholláine agus atá carraigín. Deirtear go bhfuil leigheas  ann dá lán galar ach níl fhios agam an fíor sin no nach fíor. Ar chaoi ar bith, ba mhaith an rud fógraí do chur suas sna tithe ósta in a mbeidh cuairteóirí ó thíortha eile i rith an tsamhraidh. B'fhéidir go mbeidhmís in ánn ceannach na ceilpe do mhéadú faoi dhó no faoi thrí ar an dóigh sin.
Ba mhaith liom a rá arís nach bhfuil aon dúil ag na daoine ar an taoibh seo ceist Páirtí do dhéanamh de cheist na Gaeltachta. Tá na Gaedhil ar aon intinn ar an gceist sin agus táimíd ag brath ar an Aire an méid is feidir leis do dhéanamh chun congnamh do thabhairt do mhuinntir na Gaeltachta. Le blianta anois, bhíomar mí-shásta leis an Aire Iascaigh. Bhí a lán trácht ar fuid na tíre mar gheall ar an Aire agus ar an Aireacht agus an méid a bhí á dhéanamh—nó nách raibh á dhéanamh—acu ar son na Gaeltachta. Ach, i mbliana, tá tús déanta ag an Aire agus is deas linn afheiceáil. Beimíd o gcomhnaíullamh ar chuidiu leis in aon rud a dhéanfas sé ar son an dream daoine is boichte sa tír.
Mr. O'Doherty: The Minister must be very pleased that, instead of all the haggling that his Vote usually causes in this House, he has succeeded in getting a great welcome from all parties to-day. Deputy Derrig is very properly concerned as to the amount shown for appropriation-in-aid, but I am fairly certain that the market value of the kelp will more than justify the Estimate. I happened to have been in a kelp-producing district and in a carrigeen-growing district on Monday last. I met a local merchant who buys carrigeen and is an agent who buys kelp for manufacturers. Hitherto the highest price which this man paid for carrigeen was from 10d. to 1/- per stone. He informed the people in that district that he would take all the carrigeen moss he could get at 1/6 a stone, an increase of 50 per cent. on the price hitherto paid. There can be no doubt whatever that the organisation carried out by the Department of Fisheries has caused that advance in  the price offered for carrigeen. I feel certain that when the scientific appliances provided by the Department are put into operation the price paid will be very much more. The same thing applies to the kelp. I have a more intimate knowledge of that subject than probably Deputy Derrig. I can assure him that the contributions in aid will be more than fully made up in the sales of the kelp. Hitherto the great drawback in the kelp industry was the feckless methods of the makers and the uncertain market. That led, of course, to very bad kelp being made by a very large number of the makers and will be eliminated by the organisation that is being set up. I am perfectly certain, from my own knowledge, that the system set up by the Minister's Department, for which he deserves all credit, will make this a very large source of income in the Gaeltacht district of Donegal and the West. There is only one matter that might interfere with it. I am addressing myself, in this respect particularly, to the Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil. One of the members, a Donegal Deputy, has proclaimed a battle of the Foyle.
Mr. O'Doherty: The Deputy will understand what I mean, that they might suspend operations until after the kelp is marketed this year. I congratulate the Minister and his staff upon the advance they have made in their organisation. I am sure that the scheme has every prospect of success.
Mr. Flinn: I also welcome this Vote. I think it is another attempt on the part of the more prosperous portion of Ireland to acknowledge and repay its debt to the West. Speaking as one who may describe himself as a dyed-in-the-wool individualist, normally speaking. Government interference in commercial affairs of any sort or kind is a thing which I regard very critically. But if there is any part of Ireland in which organised Government activity in relation to industrial or  commercial enterprises prima facie seems to have some justification it is in those districts. The poverty of the people, the scattered nature of the population, the primitive conditions of life and transport difficulties all tend to make it desirable that, in relation to the gathering up of the small little bits of sustenance of the people into an effective unit, co-operation even of the most extreme form may be called upon. I have had a certain amount of previous experience in this matter. Many years ago we also were struck by the primitive and wasteful methods which were in existence for the saving of the kelp. They were very largely conditioned by the geography of other surroundings in the country. We did put chemists on the job, and we did make an attempt to find other methods, and we found considerable improvement along that line, but the difficulty was that at the time we tackled it the price was falling completely in the iodine market owing to chemical substitutes being used. It was not commercial, very largely upon the basis that you could not reproduce the conditions under either the Department of Fisheries or this new Fishery Board which I would prefer.
In my opinion not merely is co-operation necessary, but for a considerable period co-operation in conjunction with monopoly. In certain cases, especially cases such as these little scattered industries in the West, monopoly can pay a higher price for the goods than individual competition, because the total amount which can be taken out of the industry over and above the bare cost of producing the stuff is very limited. The whole of the overlapping cost of competition must come out of the price of the goods, and therefore out of the price of the labour used in producing the goods. For that reason, I am rather inclined in this particular case to welcome State interference, but I am inclined to welcome it on more or less monopoly conditions. I would  like to know how this particular enterprise is going to be worked. I think the Fishery Board at the present moment is fortunate in the sense that it has set up a Board in some degree independent of itself. We do not know the details, but we know that it does include at least two or three men with business experience. It includes a man with a very considerable business experience both in the buying and selling and in the manufacturing of goods. The more this particular enterprise is handed over out of the ordinary administrative control of the Fisheries Department—I am not saying that in any disrespectful sense— or any Department, into purely independent commercial management the better hope I shall have of its success.
I understand an iodine factory is to be set up, and the general idea is to give guaranteed prices. If that can be done, well and good. The less interference, either by those who provide the goods or by the Department which temporarily supplies the money, with the actual administration or carrying on of that institution the better for the Department and for the producer, and the better for the possibilities of the success of the scheme. Our experience of the West, owing, as I told you, through its extraordinarily scattered condition, transport difficulties, and so on, is that you cannot in any of its industries afford to put any unnecessary overhead cost of any sort or kind. Our experience is that you can get, even within the most barren piece of the country and the most desolate of its harbours, men, not nickle-plated people, but perfectly ordinary people, with thorough efficiency and unimpeachable honesty, who are capable of carrying on any enterprise of that kind.
It is not necessary, in fact, to send down a lot of inspectors or experts, or anything of that kind. They would find in the district men who with a little training and a little help were capable of carrying out efficiently and reliably any industrial or  commercial process which would be entrusted to them. I hope therefore that in what seems to be the most promising experiment that has been made by the Department they will keep out of it themselves as far as possible, that as far as possible they will keep it under an independent, commercially-minded management. If they do I believe there is considerable hope of success. I think everybody in this House of every Party will feel that behind an enterprise of this kind which might be the beginning of a good many similar enterprises there is and ought to be, not merely passive but enthusiastic support by every member of the House, and the Department or whoever carries this out may unhesitatingly rely on any and every co-operation which we can give them in making this enterprise a success.
Mr. Moore: I gather from the Minister's statement that the organisation of the carrigeen moss business is to be entirely for export purposes. I wonder has it occurred to the Minister that there probably is a market here in Dublin and district for carrigeen moss? Judging by the eagerness with which people buy it when they are in the Gaeltacht that would seem to be the case. In a hotel last year bordering on the Gaeltacht I saw the utmost eagerness on the part of everybody visiting the hotel to get a quantity to bring home with them. I know there are families in Dublin in touch with the Gaeltacht who regularly use it as an article of diet. If it were known that carrigeen moss has the great virtues that are attributed to it by certain medical experts there would be probably a big demand for it, and I suggest to the Minister that it would be worth while for him to publish in some way an authoritative statement as to the medicinal merits of carrigeen moss. Even apart from its medicinal merits its appropriateness and value as an article of food might be published. If there be such a demand in America presumably that demand is founded on the merits of the article, and it would only seem reasonable  that the people of this country should similarly appreciate its merits. I just put that forward to the Minister for inquiry.
Mr. O'Kelly: I wonder would it be possible for the Minister to say—I do not know whether he thinks it wise or not—if there is any truth in a statement made to me some time last year that an offer was made to the Department by a French company or combine, for the setting up of an iodine factory somewhere in the West on condition that they got a monopoly of the supply of kelp, or on some other condition? It was stated that they were to get a monopoly of the supply of kelp and that they would set up an iodine factory and give any guarantee the Minister would ask for. If such an offer was made by a French company would the Minister think it wise to say what reasons there was for turning down the matter? Perhaps they were good and sufficient.
Mr. Lynch: I would rather not answer that, for this reason: It was not I who was concerned in these negotiations, and although I have what we might call a gentleman's knowledge of all the circumstances in connection with the negotiation, owing to the fact that I have not the actual detailed knowledge before me and that I have not recently read up anything about it, I would prefer not to make a statement. I know there were certain negotiations and that for good and sufficient reasons to them the Department of Industry and Commerce were not satisfied.
I was very glad to hear from all sides of the House expressions of opinion which coincided very much with my own, and that is, that these small things that can be done in the Gaeltacht with comparatively little State expenditure are of far greater importance than any attempts at grandiose schemes. There is no use in thinking in dealing with places like the Gaeltacht that any wild expenditure of a great deal of money is going to bring you anywhere. It is far better to deal with the things that are there and which the people  are used to and build on these, and expand them as far as possible. When you have done that, and improved the conditions which you have found you can think about bigger schemes subsequently. I think I gathered from Deputy Derrig, Deputy Fahy, Deputy Kelly, Deputy Mongan and other Deputies that that also was their view.
In connection with the appointment of agents in dealing with the kelp industry, of course a great many of these are already appointed. Some of them presumably are shopkeepers. I do not know whether they are or not—but some of them are not. They were appointed on the basis that some of them already had been agents for various firms. Some of these firms used normally to buy here. These were persons who were agents for them and are now coming along and acting as agents for us. At any rate I think I would find it difficult to satisfy Deputy Dr. Tubridy. I do not know whether I would be able to confine the agents to what I would call a political vacuum, to persons who would have no political outlook.
Mr. Lynch: I do not know who they are. Of course, I can get the list from my Department and read out the names, if that will be of any material interest to the House. They are appointed at a fixed fee of 4/- per ton. That includes the receiving, weighing, sampling and putting into store of the kelp.
Deputy Walsh raised a point as to whether or not we were creating a monopoly. We are not. Kelp will be sold to all the buyers who want it. There will be no monopoly, but the factory which will be established in Galway will, if necessary, take the whole output of kelp. They will be prepared, I think, even to take the whole output this year. We are reserving some for the French firm who have already written to the Department stating that they would want from 400 to 700 tons. We are keeping some for some other firms. So that there will be no monopoly for the Galway firm, but they will be prepared to take all the kelp that can be produced.
As far as instruction is concerned, the agents and persons who have been buying in the past and who know a considerable amount about it have been visited during the year by organisers from my Department or local superintendents who have experience of kelp-burning, and they have been advised as to the better methods of burning the kelp to ash in a level or raised kiln. I am satisfied that we have not neglected to supply them with any necessary information. The kelp will be sold, for instance in the case of the French firm, who wrote to us stating that they wanted from 400 to 700 tons, in accordance with the iodine content. For, say, 1 per cent. we quote a certain fixed price. May weed contains roughly 7 per cent. iodine. Suppose we say roughly £1 for 1 per cent. iodine. That would mean for the best May weed properly done there would be £7 per ton paid. For the kelp made from the sea rods which contain from 1.2 to 1.4 there will be £12 or £14 per ton paid. I have not stated what the advance will be. I think it inadvisable, in fact, to state  it at the moment. Deputy Derrig was rather concerned that there might be a big difference between the colorimetric test and the laboratory analysis. The colorimetric test will be, generally speaking, accurate, but, of course, will not have the degree of accuracy of the laboratory analysis. For all practical purposes there will be very little difference between the colorimetric test and the laboratory analysis.
Deputy Goulding was concerned about the extension of this to the Waterford coast. Of course, we are dealing with things as we find them. Kelp has been made, and there is a tradition behind it in many parts of the coast, in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry. It has died out practically in Waterford, if it ever was there. We will be anxious to increase kelp production in the country as a whole. Now that we are satisfied that we have a regular market for it we will be anxious to increase the output of kelp. This year we sold nearly double the amount that was produced last year. If we could do it we would be anxious to double that amount again next year, and we are sure of a market for it all. Therefore, if the kelp is there for the taking off the Waterford coast it is undoubted that there will be an extension. People will be anxious that there should be an extension there when they see that it is something worth while. It has practically died out for many years, for instance, on the Kerry coast. The burning of kelp was unknown there since before the war, but this year it has been started again at the Maharees in the Castlegregory direction. You will find that it will extend farther down to the south-west Cork coast and the Waterford coast.
In connection with the carrigeen moss, I must say that I always did hear that it had very great medicinal properties. I think I will have to seek Deputy Dr. White's help when we come to boost it as a cure-all. It is undoubted that there is a very genuine and a very definite belief that carrigeen moss has very  good medicinal properties, and it will be the duty, perhaps, of the Department or of persons concerned with the purchase of carrigeen to boost it from that angle. Deputy Moore seems to have the idea that I was looking entirely to the export. We are also looking to establish a home market for it, and we realise that there is room for extension of the sale of carrigeen moss in the State itself.
Deputy Clery thought that we would find very considerable difficulty in getting people in the West to co-operate in this way. Many people in their position are nearly always individualistic. Their type of life makes them individualistic, but I think they are not so confirmed in their individualistic outlook that they will sacrifice their pockets for the sake of their individualism. I am perfectly satisfied if they see that it will pay that they will come into this scheme because they will be getting a better price for their kelp. We have no doubt on the matter from the reports we have received from those who have been going around to the different areas.
Deputy Derrig asked me how the position stood with regard to the rules of the Association and the Bill. The rules of the Association are at the moment before the Department of Finance awaiting their sanction. The heads of the Bill are ready, subject to the approval of the solicitor and counsel for the Association. When they have finally approved them, the heads of the Bill will go on for financial sanction. I can lay the rules on the Table of the House shortly, but it was my intention to lay the rules on the Table when I was introducing the Bill. I think that would probably be the more appropriate time, so that the rules and Bill could be discussed simultaneously.
|Last Updated: 17/05/2011 19:34:07||Page of 12|