Thursday, 6 July 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Hogan: (Clare): On Section 2, I should like to know what are the powers of the trustees on, for instance, a simple matter such as bridging the river and making it available for vessels of greater draught? Would they have power to do that?
Acting Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Derrig): I cannot say what the powers of the trustees are. The Bill does not propose to deal with that. I will communicate with the Deputy on that matter before Friday.
Mr. Derrig: The liability is laid down in the Shannon Act of 1885. It empowers the Commissioners of Public Works, with the consent of the Treasury, to commit the maintenance of any one or more of the seven piers in the estuary of the River Shannon, specified in the First Schedule to that enactment, to a body of trustees or local authorities. The present measure does not deal with the powers or duties of the trustees. It only deals with the position that has arisen in connection with the personnel of this particular Board which has been found now not to be so strictly legal. This Bill has been introduced to regularise the matter and to validate such actions as the present Board may have taken.
The Bill does not propose in any way to deal with the question that Deputy Hogan has raised. The trustees have powers to appoint and employ a harbour master and any other officers, servants or labourers necessary for the due maintenance or management of the Clare Castle Pier and from time to time to determine the salary or other remuneration to be paid to such officers, servants or labourers respectively. That is according to the order made under the original Act from which I am quoting, the 1885 Act. The  order goes on to set out the powers of the master and also the regulations for filling the post of master. I do not find in the order any definite statement beyond this: “The said trustees shall have the following powers, rights, duties, interests and liabilities with reference to the employment of officers, servants and labourers in connection with the said Clare Castle Pier....” That is for the appointment of harbour master and such other officers, servants and labourers as from time to time may be necessary.
Mr. Good: I think the acting Minister will agree that these powers and liabilities are exceedingly vague. My reason for raising this question is that we have a number of piers all around the State and it is exceedingly difficult to know on whom should fall the liability for their maintenance. There is one pier with which I was concerned a short time ago and I was told, after a good deal of difficulty in getting information, that the liability rested with the county council. When one got into communication with the members of the county council they were not at all clear that the liability was theirs. I think the information the Minister has given us about the responsibilities and liabilities of the trustees in this particular case shows us it is equally indefinite with all the others. I think we ought to have this matter inquired into and settle on whom the liability rests. Large sums have been expended in erecting many piers around the coast and it is a wretched thing to see these piers falling into decay. It seems to be nobody's business to maintain them.
Mr. Cosgrave: On the Schedule, will the Minister state whether the older members of the Board have been reappointed, if they have been consulted  with regard to other appointments, and what are the qualifications of the other appointees?
Mr. Hogan: (Clare): As regards the Schedule, I have no objection whatever to any name, or to the whole list of names, for that matter, but I would like to know how the members were chosen. Did the Minister get a register of the county and stick a pin into it here, there and everywhere for the purpose of selecting names? What bodies did he consult? Did he consult the county council, the chamber of commerce, or any labour organisations? Did he consult any people interested in the pier and the working of it? I think the labour organisations in the district might have been afforded an opportunity of getting representation on the Board. The labour organisations in Clare Castle might be interested in having a representative on the Board of trustees. I do not see any good reason why they should not have a representative. I quite realise the Minister is acting at a disadvantage, but possibly he may be able to tell us how these names were selected.
Mr. Derrig: I am sorry to say I cannot give Deputies any further information beyond mentioning that I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce consulted various representatives and endeavoured to see that local authorities were given representation. I cannot say whether he consulted any particular organisation or local authority. I think I would be safe in saying that the Minister endeavoured to give representation to responsible local persons and to see that local authorities were represented in the names which he has put upon the Schedule.
Mr. Hogan: Would not one imagine that in the case of a little pier like that, where members of labour organisations depend to a great extent on the boats arriving there and departing from there, that they would have a direct interest and would be responsible people? I cannot see that any attempt was made to give them representation.
Mr. Derrig: I do not think it comes quite within my sphere to deal with the points Deputy Good has raised. I think, so far as the administration of harbours or piers is concerned, the Deputy should direct his remarks to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.
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