Wednesday, 1 June 1932
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £65,567 chun slánuithe na sinme is ga chun ioctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de  Mhárta, 1933; chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig na nOibreacha Puiblí. (1 agus 2 Will, 4, c. 33, a. 5 agus 6; 5 agus 6 Vict., c. 89, a. 1. agus 2; 9; agus 10 Vict., c. 86, a. 2, 7 agus 9; 10 Vict., c. 32, a. 3; 33 agus 34 Vict., c. 46, a. 42; 40 agus 41 Vict., c. 27; 44 agus 45 Vict., c. 49., a. 31, etc.)
That a sum not exceeding £65,567 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, 1933, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Public Works. (1 and 2 Will. 4, c. 33, ss. 5 and 6; 5 and 6 Vict., c. 89, ss. 1 and 2; 9 and 10 Vict., c. 86; ss. 2, 7 and 9; 10 Vict., c. 32; s. 3; 33 and 34 Vict., c. 46, s. 42; 40 and 41 Vict., c. 27; 44 and 45 Vict., c. 49, s. 31, etc.)
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Flinn): It has been customary to take Votes 10 and 11 together because they are practically the same. There is a reduction in Vote No. 10 of about £1,300 on a total of £95,000, and a reduction of about £100,000 on the Vote for public works and buildings. This reduction is very largely accounted for by the practical completion of all the big works in Dublin; the Four Courts and the rest. I do not know that there is anything more to be said on that. There is just one other matter: that a certain portion of the total reduction in Vote No. 11 which is under new works, alterations and additions which have been reduced from £385,000 to £284,000 is due to the putting off of the doing of certain works, all of which are regarded as desirable as and when the opportunity is available. Token votes are taken for these, so that these matters can be raised as desired.
Mr. Esmonde: I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether it is his intention to carry out, roughly, the programme as arranged by the Department before he took over, or does he intend to make very considerable changes in the programme?
Mr. Everett: I wish to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to a grievance that local bodies have in connection with the hiring of dredgers. Under the Department crews are insured, but when a local body hires a dredger they have to take out an insurance on the crew for thirty days. In the case of Wicklow, for instance, if the local body hires a dredger it may only require it for seven days, but it has to take out an insurance on the whole crew for thirty days. The dredger goes on to Arklow, say, in the following week. The local board there has to do what has been done in Wicklow, and the same course is followed if the dredger goes on to Wexford. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that some method should be adopted of insuring the crew during the whole of the period that they are operating in outside centres and charge the local boards a reasonable sum. It is hardly fair to local boards to have this duplication of insurance of the crew by a number of public bodies.
Mr. Brasier: I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary if it is possible to make use of some of the destroyed coastguard stations. Could they not be repaired and let as houses, or would it be possible to sell the sites, many of which are situate in very picturesque parts of the country? Would it not be possible to turn them into money instead of allowing them to remain in their present state? In connection with minor drainage schemes, I would like to know if the Department is prepared to deal more generously with these schemes than they have been doing up to the present?
General Mulcahy: I understand the statement was made here that out of the additional money to be raised by the Budget quite a number of works were going to be dealt with by the Office of Public Works. I would like to know if the Parliamentary Secretary is in a position to make any  statement as to what his Department is doing in that respect.
General Mulcahy: I understand that there was a list of works referred to— drainage, buildings, schools and so on and that more than ordinarily the Office of Public Works was going to take over the supervision of all works that are relief works.
Mr. Wolfe: Referring to what Deputy Brasier has said, I am aware that the Office of Public Works is in possession of various plots, suitable building plots, which they could most usefully let or dispose of if the Government is serious in its views about reducing unemployment. If these plots are disposed of, private capital will come to the assistance of the Office of Public Works, and moneys will be expended without any cost to the ratepayers. Work of that kind would add not only to the beauty of many districts, but would help to reduce unemployment. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into that matter. It is quite true that the Department have some sites which they cannot so easily get rid of: sites held on short leases. These sites, for that reason as well as for others, are unsuited for building purposes unless negotiations can be carried out with the owners in fee. There are legal difficulties I know to be got rid of, but there are some sites which have been purchased by the Commissioners of Public Works themselves since the Treaty was passed, and there can be no difficulty in getting rid of them either on lease or by sale. I would urge on the Parliamentary Secretary to look into these cases and either turn these plots into money with as little delay as possible, or as an alternative, lease them on a building lease and procure much-needed employment in various districts.
Mr. Minch: I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to pay special attention to a building that was taken over by the Board of Works outside of Athy at the initial stage of the Barrow drainage scheme. It is a big old mill which was producing flour up to  a few years ago. It is now the property of the Board of Works and it is lying idle.
Mr. Corish: I would like to draw the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to a practice which prevails, in so far as his Department is concerned, of permitting contractors to ignore the fair wages clause. I do not know whether it is the intention of the Board of Works to insist, for the future, that where a contract is entered into between that Department and a contractor, for the building of a school or a barrack, or anything of that sort, a living wage shall be paid to the workers employed by the contractors. I have in mind a case in which a contractor was brought from, I think, Co. Leitrim, into Co. Wexford, within the last twelve months. He was competing with local contractors, and, in one case, a local contractor was a few pounds less than the man brought in. Notwithstanding the fact that the local contractor was prepared to pay the standard rate of wages, as agreed on between the contractor and the trade unions concerned, the other contractor was given the job, and I have since found out that he is paying a wage altogether less than the wage which prevails in the district, and which the other contractor was prepared to pay. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that that is a procedure which ought not to be tolerated so far as his Department is concerned.
One would look to this Government at any rate to try to secure that, for the future, when a contract is being entered into a living wage will be paid to the workers employed by the particular contractor. It is certainly detrimental to the best interests, not alone of the workers, but of the contractors in the various areas of the State. It will be quite easy to secure contractors of that kind from any part of the country, I am sure, but it is not fair to the worker or contractors in one district that people should be imported into their area to do the work that should in all fairness be given to them, and I would ask the Parliamentary  Secretary to secure that this does not occur in the future.
Mr. Nally: I want to call the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to the drainage of the River Robe. It has been before his Department for the past five years. The necessary surveys, and so forth, have been taken, but nothing has been done up to the present. Last year, that river flooded the church at Crossboyne, and several persons had to leave their houses owing to the floods, which rendered the road between Claremorris and Ballinrobe impassable. The Minister for Industry and Commerce was down there and saw the condition of affairs then, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give the matter his attention as soon as possible.
Mr. O'Neill: With regard to the matter raised by Deputy Everett as to dredging, I believe that the Board of Works is in possession of very efficient machinery, in the form of dredgers, particularly for use in tidal harbours. I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he might revise the charges made to local bodies for the hire of these dredgers. There are many small harbours around the coast that are very sadly in need of dredging, to enable the ordinary trade of these little ports to be carried on, but their revenue is not sufficient to warrant getting a dredger of their own or hiring an independent dredger. I would submit to the Parliamentary Secretary that matters of this kind should be made a national charge, rather than a charge on the small, and necessarily restricted, revenues of these harbours.
Mr. Dillon: I want to touch on the question of the old drainage boards, but it is exceedingly difficult to get the old drainage boards under any heading. I am informed, however, that the drainage boards under the Drainage Acts of 1846 and, I think, 1863, have a kind of general persuasive supervision at the hands of the Board of Works, but they are in the anomalous and peculiar position that they do not seem to be absolutely controlled by any Government Department. The only Government Department  that has a connection with them is the Board of Works, and while I am not free to suggest that there should be legislation to bring them directly under the control of the Board of Works, I want to suggest, by implication, that something more drastic should be done than is at present being done. The suggestion I have to make to the Parliamentary Secretary is, that he should exercise his powers of persuasion more emphatically, and more frequently, than has hitherto been done. I believe he will find on investigation that many of these Boards are doing their best to discharge the work, but it is so long since their terms of reference were settled that many of them have really lost all cognisance of what their duties are, and they are not in a position to check up on their own gangers or contractors as to what is the minimum that should be done, and, while suggesting no new legislation, all I can say is, that if the Parliamentary Secretary should find his powers of persuasion failing, he should look around him for some additional weapon to fortify his own persuasive powers.
Mr. Esmonde: I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will, in the course of the coming year, be able to increase the activities of his Departments with regard to the rebuilding of police barracks. Very little has been done for the last few years, although very large sums have been voted, and he will notice from the Estimates that very little money was expended last year although large sums were voted. I do not know, of course, what the policy of the Government will be with regard to the number of Gardá barracks in the country districts. They may have a change of policy which will render unnecessary the rebuilding of a number of these barracks, but I think that some effort should be made to see that the Gárda are properly housed. I have raised the question of the town of Gorey on the Estimates for the last seven years, I think, and nothing has been done. It is a big expenditure, undoubtedly, and I think that, at one time, the Minister  for Finance objected, because it was an expenditure for which it was not suitable to borrow. I think, however, that was a pessimistic attitude, based on a view that we were going to have a revolution every year and that these premises would be burned down. At any rate, I think an effort should be made to provide proper accommodation for the Gárda.
I suppose it is useless for me—although under the new administration. I hope it is not—to raise the question of the improvement of the surroundings of Leinster House. I have raised this matter with two predecessors of the present Secretary.
Mr. Esmonde: I sincerely hope that he will not take up the attitude of the ex-Minister for Finance who said that the expense would be too great. We have certain symbols to which people object, such as Oaths and Privy Councils, and other things, and I think that the most prominent symbol, which it would be most advisable to remove, is the one which is in the power of the Parliamentary Secretary to remove. In this year, particularly, it is very unsuitable that this Oriental potentate, first Empress of India, should be displayed in front of our legislative assembly, and particularly, in view of the situation in India to-day, and certainly, if the Parliamentary Secretary wished to have a monument, he could have no better monument than the removal of that one.
Mr. Coburn: There are a few things to which I would like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary on this Estimate. They come under three headings, military barracks, the Rampart River drainage scheme and the Glyde Drainage Scheme.
With reference to the military barracks, I understand that Dundalk Urban Council has made application to the Board of Works to have the barracks handed over to them for housing purposes. The Minister for Defence, in a letter read at a meeting  of the Council about a month ago, stated that his Department had handed over the barracks to the Department of Public Works. A letter was sent on 14th of last month to that Department and no reply has yet been received to it. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to say if, in the immediate future, he can come to a definite decision as to the ultimate disposal of the military barracks. At present the Urban Council, of which I am a member, is proposing to erect 80 or 90 houses in the middle and south end of the town. The barracks are located in a part of the town in which very few houses have been built for the past 20 years. They consist of married quarters and some very fine blocks which could, at very little cost, be turned into nice, little, self-contained dwellings for the people of that area. I may state, for the information of the Parliamentary Secretary, that there has been recently established in that area a very successful boot factory. Many of the skilled workers in that factory have come from England. They find it very difficult to secure housing accommodation. Most of them are married men. It is generally agreed by the members of the Council and by the townspeople that the barracks would be an ideal spot in which to house people of that type. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will see his way to have these barracks handed over to the Urban Council.
The question of the drainage of the Rampart River is in the same position as the question to which Deputy Dillon referred, but it is so long since the question of the drainage of this river was introduced that the terms of reference have been quite forgotten. I understand that at the inquiry held certain objections were put forward by, amongst others, the surveyor attached to the Urban Council. Largely as a result of his evidence, I think, the Board of Works were somewhat dubious about proceeding with the scheme they had outlined. Certain engineering difficulties presented themselves, and a question also arose as to the effect which the proposed deepending of the river would have on the sewer known as the Rampart River sewer. I understand  that an alternative scheme was put up by the Board of Works, and two months ago a new survey was made of the river. At present, we are waiting for the report of the engineer who made that survey. The flooding of this river has caused great damage to property adjacent to the river and also to sewers. It is a great annoyance and a danger to the health of a large section of the people who live adjacent to the river. Many houses have been flooded during the abnormal rainfalls. There was also the question of the working of the Cambrieville Brewery as affected by the flooding. In company with the manager, I inspected the damage done to the brewery by the continuous overflowing of the river. Unless it is checked, I am afraid that it will have a very serious effect on the future of the business run in connection with the brewery. I should like if the Parliamentary Secretary would look into the correspondence and come to some definite decision in connection with this river.
There is also the question of the River Glyde, which, so far as I know, also presents great engineering difficulty. There, again, an inspection was made quite recently by one of the Board of Works engineers, Mr. O'Flynn. I am not in a position to state whether or not he has yet made a report. The Parliamentary Secretary is, I am sure, aware that the flooding of this river caused enormous damage to the crops last year in Tully area. That was, again, due to abnormal flooding, but this flooding is becoming too frequent. Last year, I think, the river overflowed its banks on three occasions and many of the farmers had to re-sow their crops. It is suggested that the original scheme was, more or less, responsible for this flooding, that the cleaning of the upper reaches of the river caused the water to flow down so quickly that it was not able to get away from this area, which serves as a sort of basin, with sufficient speed. It was with a view to relieving that flooding that the inspection was recently made. I should like that the Parliamentary Secretary would intimate to Louth County Council when the report of the engineer will be available. I  understand that it is not the intention, at the moment, of the Board of Works to let the County Council have that report. They are anxious to have it, because they think they may be able to give some valuable information as to the real causes of this flooding. Those are the three things to which I would like to call attention—(1) the military barracks, (2) the Rampart River, and (3) the Glyde River. Those three things are of very great importance to the interests concerned, and I hope to have a statement from the Parliamentary Secretary with regard to them.
Mr. Norton: On the Post Office Estimate, I raised the question of the rebuilding of a central sorting and postmen's office in Dublin. I was assured by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs that something tangible in that connection would be done this year. As I understand the work will be carried out through the agency of the Board of Works, I shall be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary will say what is doing in that connection, when the contract will be placed and when the work will be undertaken. The provision of a new office of the kind mentioned is absolutely essential to the smooth and efficient distribution of mail traffic in Dublin. An early decision to proceed with the erection of the new office would do a good deal to provide employment in Dublin in skilled and unskilled trades in which there is at present a considerable amount of unemployment. There is another matter which I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to take note of. I do not think he will be able to give me any information to-day. In the southern portion of Kildare, which is in the area of the drainage of the river Barrow, there is a river called the Greise, which causes a considerable amount of flooding in a district where unemployment is extremely bad at present. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into that matter with a view to seeing whether it is possible to undertake the drainage of this river in conjunction with the drainage of the Barrow. If he would do that it might be possible to have  the work carried out comprehensively over the whole area, and the provision of work in the drainage of that river would provide employment in an area which is particularly badly hit by long-continued unemployment.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: There are two matters to which I wish to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary, and to which I am sure he will give a satisfactory reply. The first is in connection with a matter somewhat similar to that which Deputy Norton spoke of. It is the necessity for the immediate erection of a post office and telephone exchange at Rathmines. I can understand that the matter is not entirely one for the Parliamentary Secretary, because I addressed a question to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs a few weeks ago, and he told me that everything was in train and it was only a question of tenders being sought at an early date. Deputy Good intervened after the answer, and said that the Minister's predecessor had given a similar answer 12 months ago. I should like if the Parliamentary Secretary would tell us if anything definite has been done. The particular want is not one which the Parliamentary Secretary deals with, but I should like to hear from his point of view what is the possibility of an early start, especially as now, with the desire to reduce unemployment in Rathmines and surrounding areas, an excellent opportunity would be afforded, if the work were started.
The other matter is a very small one, but it is a serious one. It arises out of an answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary on 21st April last, as reported in column 332 of the Official Reports. The Minister for Finance was asked, “If it is a fact that residential quarters are being provided in Government buildings for the President of the Executive Council, and, if so, if he will state (a) what is the estimated cost of the necessary adaptation and furnishing; (b) the number and salaries of the staff who will be employed there, and the estimated cost of maintenance.” The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister replied: “The quarters provided  are a reception room for visitors, and a study for the President which can be used as an occasional bedroom, and a similar room for the President's aide-de-camp. The total cost of adapting and furnishing these bed-sittingrooms is £110. No extra staff will be employed, nor will there be any increase in cost of maintenance.” I do not suggest that there should be any diminution of the facilities afforded to the President of the Executive Council in receiving visitors from at home or abroad, but during the term of office of the late Government, the then Opposition availed of every opportunity to sneer in the House and to jeer in public, at what I call the dignity which should be attached to the office of President.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for what is done? Is he not only responsible for how it is done? He is not responsible for the policy of the thing being there, or in what fashion it should be there.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I do not want to raise anything which is out of order. Perhaps, when I put the question you will see that it is apropos. From the question and answer, it is quite apparent that there is provided for the President two public rooms which were not available to the late President and which were not sought for by him. I take it that the cost of these and the upkeep of them will be on the Vote of the Office of Public Works. I understand that there is what is called a “let-down” bed. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell me if any bachelor Deputy were seeking a flat from the Office of Public Works what rental they would want for a flat consisting of two rooms, a study to receive visitors with an occasional bed in it, plus another room similarly furnished? I raise this because the reply given on that occasion did not say what it has cost. I invite the Parliamentary Secretary to say at what rental he would be prepared to let a flat in Merrion Street consisting of two rooms sumptuously furnished?
Mr. O'Sullivan: I am sure it would be well done. I should like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary what the Office of Public Works would be prepared to accept from any business firm or professional man for a suite of rooms in that particular place. Having asked that question, I want to say that it is in order, because there is no doubt that these rooms have to be kept. They are the property of the Office of Public Works, and have to be maintained. I take it they are carpeted, or possibly they are not, in view of the “hair-shirt” policy here. I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary for what he would furnish a similar suite for some bachelor Deputy in exactly the same style, not in the same place, but in an equally suitable position in the City of Dublin? There is no doubt that a good deal of, I do not want to say dishonest, but I will say, unfortunate propaganda was made out of the expenditure which the ex-President of the Executive Council undertook in the matter of entertaining visitors here. If he did entertain them he did not entertain them at the expense of the people of this country and at the expense of having a special suite of rooms in Government Buildings and a special let-down bed.
Mr. Derrig: On a point of order, will the Deputy tell us on what occasion the late President entertained visitors at his own expense and not at the expense of the State? I would like very much and I am sure the country would like to know the occasion on which money was expended by him out of his private income.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I said, in opening, that I desired to refer to it with the intention of making our position clear —that we wanted the President of the Executive Council of this country to be in the position that he could entertain visitors, either home or foreign, and that we were not a mean or a small people. I had to refer to statements made from the benches here when the present Government was sitting on this side of the House, and to speeches made throughout the country. We have all heard of speeches made at cross-roads about the champagne Government.
Mr. O'Sullivan: The Deputy knows well it is not. I wore it before the Deputy. I claim that the Parliamentary Secretary should give a full and explicit statement on this particular matter in view of the fact that it has been made public that the President of the Executive Council is receiving in future a salary very much—I forget now how many hundred pounds—less.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I said several hundred pounds less than the President of the late Government received. It is a matter of importance that the country should know that though the salary or emolument is reduced, at the same  time the country is paying for all the things for which it only partly paid previously. The Minister for Education in correcting me asked when did the late President pay for everything. I do not want to give details, but the new Government has in its desire to help employment suppressed the use of the one article of head apparel which we can wear at functions and which is made in Ireland—the tall hat. This is quite apropos, I submit——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The reference to tall hats and champagne suppers is not going to enable the Parliamentary Secretary to answer the question the Deputy has asked. The Deputy must come to the point.
Mr. O'Sullivan: I agree but it is very important for the country that they should know that the let-down beds of Merrion Street are now substituted for what were called the tall-hat garden parties of President Cosgrave.
Mr. O'Hanlon: There are a few points which I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to answer. The first point has reference to the disused military barracks in Cavan. I understand that negotiations have been going on with the Ministry of Defence for the acquisition of these barracks for building sites. As in the Dundalk case, the Cavan barracks have been handed over to the Board of Works. Now that we are going to have a Housing Bill, I think that some steps should be taken by the Board of Works to give these barracks over to the Urban Council at whatever figure would be arranged. The difficulty which the Urban Council in Cavan has in dealing with the housing question arises out of the formation of the ground around  the town. It is very difficult to get proper building sites. A very large space is occupied by the disused barracks and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to take the matter up at once and try to get the barracks handed over to the Council.
I should also like to have from the Parliamentary Secretary a statement of policy with regard to drainage. If it is the intention of the Government, as I believe it is, to do their best to give productive employment to 80,000 unemployed people, I think the Parliamentary Secretary will find in his office sufficient drainage schemes lying there for the past six or seven, or perhaps ten, years that would absorb the 80,000 people in employment at once. I could spend an hour speaking about schemes that are in County Cavan.
Mr. O'Hanlon: I am not going into the question of spending. The Parliamentary Secretary can deal with the question of policy afterwards. We should like to know in Cavan whether it is the intention of the Government to devote any money at all to the drainage of the water-logged land in Cavan. I should also like to know, hinging on the minor schemes in Cavan, whether the present Government have taken up the question of the Lough Erne drainage with the Government of Northern Ireland. Many minor schemes were held up by the late Government for the reason that they depended on the larger scheme of the drainage of Lough Erne. I have reason to believe—it is my opinion whether I am justified in it or not—that the late Government and the Government of Northern Ireland adopted a go-slow policy and that they were in perfect agreement that neither Government would do anything at all with regard to the drainage of Lough Erne in order to avoid expense. I want to know is that to be the policy of the present Government and if they are going to allow the people in these areas of County Cavan to be  at the absolute mercy of every shower of rain, which last year for instance destroyed the crops in June. I want to know first of all is it their policy that they are not going to spend money on drainage? If that is not so, if they are going to spend money on drainage are they going to take up the question of the drainage of Lough Erne?
I was at a very large farmers' meeting last Saturday and one of the principal complaints they had to make was that there was no particular policy for drainage adopted by the present Government. I want to have a definite statement of policy from the Parliamentary Secretary so that I can go home to my constituents and tell them exactly what is going to be the policy of the present Government in providing employment for these 80,000 people and if drainage is one of the things that they are going to include in their programme. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary for a definite statement as to what his policy on drainage is going to be.
Mr. Davis: I would like to avail of this opportunity in order to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to a very important work in County Mayo. I refer to the drainage of the River Moy. I do not think it will mean any great endeavour on the part of the Board of Works because their engineers have already been engaged for two or three years making investigations and devising schemes to ensure that the river can be properly drained. The drainage of this river will bring relief to thousands of people who live along its banks. It will make available some of the very best land in the county. The expenditure as estimated originally was fairly substantial, but possibly the new Government, with the many means at their disposal that they are only too anxious to utilise, will be able to effect economies. Possibly on further investigation this work might be carried out on a more economical scale.
The people are looking to this Government, as they looked to the Government previously in office, to effect an improvement in the drainage of this  river. I hope the investigations already made will form the groundwork of a new scheme. I am sure it will not entail any great effort on the part of the Board of Works. The drainage of the river will confer great benefit on the people living along its banks. Many thousands of acres of the very best land in Mayo will be made available. I think this matter should receive earnest consideration from the Government. Mayo has many congested areas with very limited valuations. Most of the people who live along the River Moy earn their livelihood mostly as migratory labourers. It is well known to us all that just now there is no great opportunity for employment across the the Channel. In these circumstances a drainage scheme along the Moy would be greatly appreciated.
I hope the Government will give us ample proof that it is their desire to alleviate the lot of the people there by giving them much-needed employment and by carrying out drainage that will be highly beneficial and that will be of a lasting character. The land at the moment is practically useless. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to give this matter his very earnest attention.
Mr. J. Flynn: I would like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to some very important drainage schemes that have been held up in County Kerry. At its meeting to-morrow the Kerry County Council will have those schemes under consideration. The people there are anxious to bring matters to a head because the conditions existing in several districts are such as need very urgent attention. The schemes I have particularly in mind are those affecting the districts of Fermoyle, Castlegregory, Cullinagh, Beaufort and Castlemaine. The full details connected with those drainage schemes will be gone into at the County Council meeting in the hope that the schemes will be expeditiously carried out. I might mention to the Parliamentary Secretary that these schemes have been held up for two years or  more. It is very essential that they should be carried out immediately and I will ask him to give his earnest attention to them.
Mr. Conlon: I wish to refer to the work carried out on the River Suck. This matter concerns large areas of the counties of Roscommon and Galway. The reason I raise the matter now is because of a reply to a question given recently in this House by the Minister for Finance. The Minister stated: “Under the Drainage Maintenance Act, 1924, restoration works were carried out by the Commissioners of Public Works in the Suck Drainage District between 1926 and 1929 at a cost of £18,806, towards which a free grant of 30 per cent. was made by the Government.”
When the work was about to be carried out originally the Office of Public Works sent a letter to the County Councils of Roscommon and Galway. In that letter they outlined what was proposed to be done. The letter was dated 3rd May, 1926, and it contained the following passage:—
We are advised that the River Suck District is now in a neglected condition, and we propose to carry out a general restoration of the main river and its 73 tributaries within the district at an estimated cost of £16,000, of which the Minister for Finance will make a free grant of 30 per cent. of the actual cost of the proposed works, independent of any contribution which your County Council may make. Apart from such contribution, repayment of the cost of the works, less the Government grant, in 20 years will involve an annual charge of about 1s. 2d. per acre on the Drainage District.
The estimated cost was £16,000. We now find, according to the answer given to a question in the House, that the total cost was £18,806, almost £3,000 more than the estimated cost. If that be so, it means that the occupiers of the benefited land will have to pay something like £2,000 more than they were expected to pay originally when the £16,000 estimate was made. What was the actual cost of the  maintenance work which was completed in the year 1929? Does the amount include interest which possibly may have accrued? If not, what was the actual cost at the time of the completion and what was the amount of the interest which has accrued since then? Will the occupiers, the owners of the benefited land, have to pay interest since 1929?
From 1929 to 1932 is a very long stretch and I am of opinion that the Board of Works ought to have made the charging order, to which the Minister referred, long before this. If that had been done the amount of interest would not have mounted up. The people would not be called upon to pay such an amount as they will probably have to pay now. I do not know what the amount per acre will be when the charging order is issued. I would like to know whether an opportunity will be given to the County Councils of Roscommon and Galway, before the charging order is made, to have it revised if necessary. Once it is made I understand it will become statutory and there will be no opportunity of revising it in any way.
Will the county councils be given an opportunity and will the occupiers of the land affected be given an opportunity of knowing what the whole scheme is going to cost them? Can we have some idea now how much more, if any, than 1s. 2d. per acre will be required from those people? This matter, to my mind, is being dealt with in an exceedingly slow fashion by the Department. I would like if some effort were made to bring matters with regard to the River Suck to a conclusion. I may say that the whole position seems to be in a muddle. I beg to report progress.
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