Wednesday, 12 May 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. A. Byrne: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he can state  what steps, if any, have been taken to end the building dispute in Dublin; if he is aware that a large number of building proposals of the Dublin Corporation are being held up, whilst many thousands are waiting for decent housing accommodation.
Mr. Lemass: On receipt of information that negotiations between the Saorstát Eireann Federation of Building Trades Employers and representatives of the Dublin Trades Union Council had broken down, my Department, by letter of the 24th March, 1937, invited the parties to a joint conference under the chairmanship of an officer of the Department. The first joint conference under the auspices of the Department was held on the 30th March, 1937. A temporary tentative agreement was reached at that meeting, but two of the trade unions concerned would not accept this temporary settlement and their members did not present themselves for work on 1st April, 1937. Many further joint conferences were held, but other unions withdrew their labour on the 13th April, 1937. I am aware that a large number of building proposals of the Dublin Corporation are being held up, and this is a matter for regret. My Department is prepared to summon a further joint conference at the request of either party to the dispute or on its own initiative when there seems to be any prospect of agreement being reached.
Mr. Byrne: Is it not time that the Minister called a conference now on his own initiative, and not wait any longer in view of what is going on in the city? Is anything being done to bring either or both parties together? The housing problem in Dublin is very acute. There are thousands waiting for accommodation. The sites are available, and I think the Minister's Department should call a conference immediately.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy is aware that a joint conference held quite recently proved abortive. The negotiations broke down. I have not been  informed that there has been any change in the position since then, or in the attitude of either party. If either party intimates to me that there is any purpose to be served by a further joint conference, I will certainly arrange it, or if any proposal is put to me from any source as to an avenue along which the possibility of a settlement might be explored, I am quite prepared to summon a conference on my own initiative.
Mr. Byrne: I would ask the Minister to remember that neither party will make such a request, because it would be taken to be a sign of weakness. So far as I know the situation in Dublin, neither party will make a request for that reason. Therefore, I think it is the Government's duty to try once more to bring the parties together and see if any progress can be made. I suggest to the Minister that he should call both parties together without delay. If he waits until either side comes to him, then I am afraid he will wait a long time.
Mr. Lemass: I can assure the Deputy that the situation is being closely watched, and that any action I can take which is likely to result in a settlement will be taken. I must also have regard to the fact that the summoning of a joint conference might delay a settlement rather than promote it.
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