Thursday, 23 April 1931
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £3,524 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá da Mhárta, 1932, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí na Muir-Sheirbhíse (Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894-1921, Crown Lands Acts, 1829-1866).
That a sum not exceeding £3,524 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, 1932, for the salaries and expenses of the Marine Service (Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894-1921, Crown Lands Acts, 1829-1866).
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Dolan): This Vote might be divided under two headings—what is termed the Marine Service proper— the Mercantile Marine offices—and Coast Life-saving Service. The Mercantile Marine Services are essential  for the administration and control of our own merchant shipping and for the supervising of all merchant shipping visiting and using our ports. The Coast Life-saving Service works in co-operation with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is, of course, a voluntary institution. There are 53 stations. It is all land work. They are in telephone communication, and the National Lifeboat Institution use the boats, if necessary, for life-saving purposes. All the statutory obligations for running the Marine Service have been carried out during the year. We have the active co-operation of the National Lifeboat Institution in any shipwreeks which occur around the coast. On the whole, they rendered very useful and efficient service during the year.
Mr. Lemass: I have been asked to inquire, in relation to sub-head D, whether any inquiries have been made by the Department into the wreck of the steamship “Julia” at Arklow about two months ago, and, if so, with what result. I understand that the local people say that the wreck was entirely due to the bad lighting arrangements on the coast. A lightship which formerly was stationed in that vicinity was taken away by the British Government and was substituted by a buoy, which buoy, however, I am told, does not light in stormy weather. It is alleged that one wreck has occurred in consequence of this change in the lighting arrangements. Others may occur. I presume an inquiry has been held. I would like if the Parliamentary Secretary would tell us the result of that inquiry, and whether any action is going to be taken in consequence of it.
Mr. Dolan: This matter has been engaging our attention since the shipwreck took place off the Arklow coast. We do not, of course, control the Irish lights but we have made representations to the Board of Trade, the responsible body. They are satisfied that the buoy that is there is really sufficient and that, even if there had been greater lighting facilities, the ship might have been wrecked anyway, owing to the general storm that raged  round the coast at that particular time. Even the provision of better lighting facilities there would not have prevented this unfortunate shipwreck. The matter is still under consideration, and if any representations other than those which have already been put forward can be submitted, we will be prepared to take the case up again. It was really a shipwreck caused by the storm, and it was an accident which might have happened even with better lighting facilities.
Mr. Moore: Did the inquiry which took place reveal inefficiency or neglect of any kind, either on the part of the British lightship service or on the part of the coast watchers, who are, I think, employed by the Saorstát Government? Is it clear there was no neglect or no inefficiency of any kind at that time?
Mr. Dolan: The inquiry did not reveal neglect on anybody's part. Everybody carried out his duties as far as it was humanly possible to carry them out. The whole thing arose out of a storm at sea, and the ship was wrecked.
Mr. Moore: May we take it that further representations will be made to the British authorities for the restoration of the lightship that was removed, or is the Saorstát Government satisfied that their point of view is justified? It is a very important question. The wreck of that steamer has, of course, excited great feeling all along the east coast, and local opinion is unanimously in favour of the restoration of that lightship. There are people there with very wide experience of the sea, and very wide experience of all the technicalities connected with seafaring and coast lighting. They are all very definitely of the opinion that the Arklow coast will not be safe for steamers until that lightship is restored. It is important to know whether the Saorstát Government will continue to make representations or whether they have accepted the decision of the British authorities as final, and will not pursue the subject further.
Mr. Corish: I would like to stress the points that have been made by Deputy Moore. I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary is treating this matter sufficiently seriously. The Arklow bank has been looked upon by sailors for years as a very dangerous place. I have heard Wexford sailors referring to the condition of things that prevails there at the moment. I remember two Wexford schooners being wrecked on the Arklow bank when there was no storm at all. I think it is absolutely necessary that the Ministry should make strong representations in this connection. Prior to the War there was a lighted buoy at the entrance to Wexford harbour, and it was maintained by the Trinity House Corporation—the Irish Lights people. That has been removed, and various representations have been made by the Wexford Harbour Commissioners in order to have it restored. The matter has been in the hands of the Ministry for some time, and I would like to know if anything has yet been done in connection with this matter. It is a very serious matter for Wexford, which is a tidal harbour, and it is militating very much against shipping in that harbour. If no reply has come from the Trinity House people I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to push the matter forward and make an earnest effort to have the buoy restored.
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