Committee on Finance. - Vote 56—Gaeltacht Services (Resumed).

Thursday, 12 May 1938

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 71 No. 7

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Mr. Brodrick: Information on Seán Broderick  Zoom on Seán Broderick  When speaking on this Estimate last night I stated that it was an Estimate that would certainly require some answer from the Parliamentary Secretary in regard to the amount of money that is being expended and the value we are getting for it. I stated also that the only answer given here by the Fianna Fáil Deputies who spoke was to the effect that they claim credit for the £2 grant given to school children, and for the amount spent on unemployment assistance in the Gaeltacht. I claim that the Fianna Fáail Party have done more than that. I claim that not alone have they the people living on unemployment assistance in the Gaeltacht at the present day, but that the very fact that it was necessary to provide such assistance shows that the present Government has brought poverty to the Gaeltacht. It has demoralised the people of the Gaeltacht while the policy of the Government for the past five or six years has also been the cause of emigration from the Gaeltacht. That is what the Fianna Fáail Government can claim to have done for the people of the Gaeltacht during the last five or six years.

When we look back on all that they promised to do for the Gaeltacht, I [965] think it is well that they should be reminded of what Gaeltacht Services cost this country in 1932 as compared with the amount which it is now proposed to expend in these Estimates of 1938-39. We find that in 1931-1932, the Estimate for Gaeltacht Services was £141,000, while for 1938-1939 the Estimate for Gaeltacht Services is £91,000. That shows a decrease of £50,000 on the amount provided for Gaeltacht Services by the last Government. When the Parliamentary Secretary claims credit for all that has been done by his Department for the Gaeltacht, I say that any reliefs that have come to the Gaeltacht have not been provided by Gaeltacht Services. You have minor relief schemes operating there under the Board of Works. You have local authorities contributing to road works and to home assistance. You also have the Minister for Local Government contributing in his own way through the local authorities for waterworks schemes and sewerage works in the Gaeltacht. Again, when we look at the headquarters staff, we find that in 1931-1932, there were 40 people employed on the staff at a cost of £14,253,whereas for 1938-1939 there are 45 employed at a coat of £16,545. Some explanation is needed from the Parliamentary Secretary of the increased expenditure on staff, seeing that the Estimate itself has decreased by £50,000. The expenditure on the headquarters staff has increased by at least £2,000 in the last six years.

As far as I can see the present Government are not taking the Gaeltacht seriously at all. They have a staff in charge of Gaeltacht Services at the present time but that staff appears to know nothing whatever about conditions in the Gaeltacht and they are not anxious to find out the conditions. The only reason I can assign for their not having discovered something about the conditions there, is that they have no way of relieving those conditions except by means of the ordinary relief that has been administered for some years. If they persist in that attitude, I think we might as well scrap this system altogether because we are only wasting money on this Estimate. We are [966] wasting it in such a fashion that every other Department has to come in to the relief of the Gaeltacht. Deputy Bartley stated last night that the Government spent money on housing in the Gaeltacht but the money which they spent was provided for them by the previous Government in 1931-1932. All they previous to spend on that item for 1938-1939, £47,000, whereas in 1931-1932, £80,000 was provided. Money is being wasted in other directions and it cannot be provided for the Gaeltacht.

Again, in regard to teachers' residences in the Gaeltacht, you will find that £6,000 was allocated for that purpose in 1931-1932. The amount which is allocated for 1938-1939 for that purpose is only £50. We have a toy factory in some part of the Gaeltacht which is costing £4,600. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us the advantages that are being derived from the toy factory there, or the advantages he hopes to derive from it. I hope that industry will a success, and that it will not be handled in the way that small industry have been handled in the Gaeltacht in the past. Again, in regard to domestic instruction, which I believe is a very useful instruction, the same neglect is shown. It is neglected to the extent that in this year we are only estimating £247 for it, whereas six years ago a sum of £560 was spent on it. I cannot understand why there should be a reduction under that particular sub-head of the Estimate, seeing that a great portion of the time of the vocational committees established in every county in Éire is being devoted to the erection of vocational schools, principally for domestic instruction. Instead of increasing it, you are reducing the Estimate, and I think that needs some explanation.

Turning to loans for industrial purposes, it will be found that six years ago, £3,000 was provided, but now the amount is £1,530. If the Gaeltacht is to be dealt with along these liners, by reducing the Estimates and giving no value for the money, I think the next best thing would be to scrap the headquarters staff, because we are getting no value whatever for the money being paid for these services. There is a [967] Central Marketing Depot for which £4,494 was provided in 1934, and this year it is proposed to spend £6,753. It is up to the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some idea of the duties of the board, and not to leave the position as it is. Coming to kelp and carrageen, all that is to be expended this year is £6,723. Deputy McMenamin stated last night that £10 a ton was being paid for kelp in Northern Ireland. If that is so, why can we not develop the industry here? Deputy Tubridy said he believed that they should go back to the system carried on by the old Congested Districts Board. Deputy Tubridy, Deputy Mongan and Deputy Bartley are familiar with condition in Connemara, and from what they know I agree that the Gaeltacht services should be put under a separate Department. I feel that there is an interlocking with the language movement, and that to get any return for money that is being spent we will have to separate these services. We cannot benefit while the other services are linked up with the language. We are all anxious to let language should be preserved, but Deputy Tubridy semed anxious to have some board set up to deal with the other Gaeltacht services and to let the Department of Education take care of the language. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will take his job seriously, so that there will be some return for the expenditure, and that some help will be given to the people in these districts by giving them work that they can do instead of demoralising them with unemployment assistance and home assistance. As long as you continue along the present liners, and do not provide the people with work that would be to some use, the effect will be to demoralise them, and after some years it will be hard to change that situation. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to consider seriously the proposals made by Deputies who come from the Gaeltacht, and who understand conditions there. If he gives consideration to their suggestions I believe he will be going the right road, and that the money expended in the Gaeltacht will be of some benefit to the people.

[968]Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present,

Mr. J. Flynn: Information on John Flynn  Zoom on John Flynn  I wish to deal with the housing question in the Gaeltacht. I might preface my remarks by stating that in my opinion the whole system in the Gaeltacht should be adjusted. I thoroughly agree with Deputy Tubridy's suggestion that it should be recast with a view to having a service somewhat similar to that of the old Congested Districts Board. At the same time I wish to point out that that should not be taken to mean that the Gaeltacht services should be dealt with by a replica of the Congested Districts Board. Whatever body is in charge should be in more extended form, and so arranged that the whole outlook towards the Gaeltacht areas would be recast. Since this Government came into office, and during the term of the previous Government, we heard a lot of lip service towards the Gaeltacht. As far as Kerry is concerned, I wish to point out that the one man who has done real good service in the Gaeltacht districts there is the present Minister for Agriculture. He inaugurated a creamery system there that was criticised and thought to be unworkable both by the previous Government and by experts in the Department. However, the Minister for Agriculture got down to business, and it has resulted in real good work being done in the Dingle Peninsula, South Kerry and West Cork. That scheme was a real step forward, and good work is being done there. I hold that the Gaeltacht Services, as we know that at present, should be scrapped, with the exception of the housing branch. The Gaeltacht Housing Branch has certainly done great work, even with a depleted staff. We have in Kerry a supervisor, Mr. Crowley—in fact for all Kerry and part of Cork one man with a very small number of assistants, and I think that it would be money well spent if the Parliamentary Secretary saw to it that additional funds were provided enabling men like Mr. Crowley and other supervisors that I know to have additional assistants in order to cope with the increasing demands of housing in the Gaeltacht districts. I am aware [969] that at the moment Mr. Crowley is in arrear to the extent of 2,000 applications. He cannot cope with them, and from day to day we have experience of people whose reports have not been attended to simply because the report cannot be forwarded within a specified period and the staff cannot attend to it.

When I mentioned the question of the recasting of the Gaeltacht system, I referred to what we have time and again outlined—a Gaeltacht Council. Some months ago we put forward proposals at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis and at other centres for a Gaeltacht Council which would embody the provision of a separate type of legislation, a separate Ministry, if you like, but certainly a man deputed by the Government to attend to the Gaeltacht services and nothing else, and that man to be in the category of Acting Commissioner or Parliamentary Secretary, or a separate Department altogether. The Gaeltacht is, in my opinion in any case, so important that it would require a separate legislation, separate treatment, from any Government. The anomalies are there and the type of legislation that would apply or the original policy that would be adopted by any Government for the rest of the country, would not in its entirety be suitable for the Gaeltacht. Developments would not accrue from that policy or administration to the Gaeltacht itself. That is the kernel of our proposal that is embodied in this question of a Gaeltacht Council, and I again emphasise the point that sooner or later our Government, or any Government, that wishes to deal or intends to deal seriously with the position of the people in these poorer districts, must come down from theory to facts, and from the fallacies of experts and other people who try one scheme or another and come back and say it is unworkable.

As I said before, we have one example, a rather glorious example, if you like, where the Minister for Agriculture broke away from that tradition. The experts in his own Department informed him that the poorer districts could not be considered in connection with private [970] concerns and other matters but the scheme in operation has been a huge success. It has gone beyond the expectations of any previous report or any one that wished to criticise it. Well, now, the same thing can be done if my suggestion is carried through, that is, appoint a separate commissioner and an advisory body, if you like, acting with that commissioner, embracing that whole west and south coast, the western coast of this country and the southern coast of this country, that is classified as the Gaeltacht districts, and previously known as congested districts. In my opinion you will have done a good work for the less fortunate of our people. Those are the areas that have been hard hit by the economic war and, no matter what developments you have in this country or what set-back you will find in future these people will always be left out and will always suffer unless you so arrange that your system will lend itself to their requirements. We have very sad experience where the original policy of this Government and of the last Government failed to extend its benefits to these areas, simply because, as I said before, the anomalies were there—the social outlook and the social conditions did not lend themselves. The original policy was not applicable to those areas. Seventy per cent. of these schemes would be applicable to other parts of the country; they could never be applicable to those areas simply because the development required is peculiar to each district.

I will finish by saying that, despite all the criticisms that have been carried on in regard to the Gaeltacht services, the development or the attempts that have been made were failures and they should be failures because they have never been approached from the proper angle. A Deputy on the opposite side seems to smile at that, but I could tell him that we have seen the efforts of previous Governments and previous Departments as well as of our own and we can realise why they were failures and why they should be failures. You send men down there to these districts trying to give an [971] example, as they call it, to the locals, to the natives, who had no conception at all of local conditions or who could never come down to the local outlook of the people I am referring to. And the same would happen because the system that you have adopted can never be made applicable. Once you appoint a commissioner, a man who will himself reside in some part of the Gaeltacht and have an advisory body of experts, men who have had lifelong experience of administration and procedure, I think that, with the will to succeed and the funds being made available, you certainly will have tackled this Gaeltacht problem as it should have been tackled, ten or 25 years ago, I mean since we became a native Government. This position has been tampered with, it has been carried on and the moneys made available at the moment certainly are a disappointment to me and to many from the Gaeltacht districts, because, instead of showing some advancement, or some development, or some potential development, you have cut down your expenditure, you have curtailed your services to a point that they are really a farce, that it is really a joke to speak about Gaeltacht services at all. I hope that before many months elapse we will hear some announcement in that direction. I have great faith in this inter-departmental committee or council that has been set up under the chairmanship of Deputy Moylan. I hope that something will come of it and that the views I am expressing here with regard to this Gaeltacht Council will be considered or that some of them, in any case, will be considered and put into operation by that council.

Mr. O'Neill: Information on Eamonn O'Neill  Zoom on Eamonn O'Neill  The Deputy who has just spoken has made a very courageous and a very intelligent speech in regard to the problem of the Gaeltacht. The speeches yesterday were marked by a lot of sentimental slop on the question of the Gaeltacht. I agree with Deputy Seán Flynn in all he has said about the Gaeltacht policy. I want this time to criticise, not the amount of money spent—I do not wish to criticise the Vote from that point [972] of view. I am criticising the Vote from the point of view that there is no such thing as the Gaeltacht at all. I might make an exception as regards the Blasket Islands or the Aran Islands. But in Ireland, on the mainland, there is no such thing as the Gaeltacht. My idea of the Gaeltacht is a district in which one could, in every part of the district, carry on business in the Irish language. Now, in any part of Cork, Kerry, Connemara or Donegal you can carry on your business entirely in English. These places do not deserve to be scheduled as FiorGhaeltacht or Breac-Ghaeltacht. On that account I submit that the money spent here is spent through a policy of sentiment and slop, and does not do any real good to the language or to the Gaeltacht which it is supposed to help.

The setting up of the Gaeltacht Commission had for its object a twofold purpose—to save the Gaelic language, especially amongst those who still speak it as a living tongue; to help these people to gain a living in the very extraordinary places in which they were bound by nature to live, and to aid them in their very uneconomic position. I am afraid we are mixing up sentiment and business in an extraordinary way. There has been a universal condemnation from all sides of the House of this whole Gaeltacht policy. I quite agree with Deputy Seán Flynn. He has shown a great deal of courage, as a Government supporter, in facing up to this matter. I, as a supporter of the previous Government admit that they did not do anything better than the present Government in regard to this problem. I advocate that this whole policy should be scrapped without delay and without compunction. I do not think we have saved the Irish language, or that we are saving it in what we are doing in what is known by courtesy as the Gaeltacht districts. There is not much Irish spoken in these districts. Neither the migratory scheme to place those people on the divided estates in Meath and elsewhere, nor our efforts to keep the people in the Gaeltacht have been a success.

The people of the Gaeltacht are endowed [973] with the ordinary desire of getting out in the world, gaining a living there, and not confining themselves to patches of land in Cork, Kerry, connemara, Mayo or Donegal. I do not think we are succeeding in the original effort. We are not succeeding in improving their position at all, nor are we succeeding in spreading a knowledge of the Irish language. If one goes through the country when the summer schools are on, one finds that the people in the district begin to speak Irish because it is the fashion. The teachers and others begin to visit the stroinséiri who come to the district. In the summer time the district really becomes a picture postcard Gaeltacht, it only lasts for a few months.

I do not want to go into the financial administration of this thing. What I want to get back to is to develop the idea adumbrated by Deputy Flynn and Deputy McMenamin. His suggestion was that we should go back to the old idea of the Congested Districts Board. Deputy Flynn does not want it founded or re-established in the same way as before. At that time it was simply a Department of the English Government; it was founded by Mr. Balfour and it did good work. It developed the resources of the country very effectively. It was worked by a board who were not paid civil servants. They were men who were able to get down to the social conditions in which the people of the Gaeltacht lived. The members of the board knew the lives of these people. On that board there were such very able men as Cardinal O'Donnell, Doctor Kelly, the Bishop of Ross; Monsignor O'Hara and various others who did extraordinarily good work. To get an idea as to the work done by the Congested Districts Board I think Deputies here should go down into the Library and get the history of that board written by the late secretary, Mr. Micks. It would be a very valuable exercise now to compare the work for the Gaeltacht done by that board with the work that we have been doing since it was abolished. It was not a Civil Service Department. In the work done one sees the difference between civil servants and a purely voluntary body [974] in dealing with a matter that affects the lives of the people living in those congested provinces.

There is one thing of which the Gaeltacht Services have taken no account. That is fishing. The first thing one naturally would expect, the first thing that would come to anybody's mind when dealing with these people living on a bare shore is the fishing. But in the working of the Gaeltacht Services no notice is taken of the fishing. If one looks at Mr. Micks' History of the Congested Districts Board one will find that in one year alone in the case of the fishery area in Kerry and the area in some small portions of Cork— because only a very small part of Cork was included in the congested Districts Board—the amount of fish taken in each of those two areas amounted to £500,000. In the whole of the Free State to-day there is not more than £146,000 worth of fish being landed. That shows what the Congested Districts Board were able to do in helping these people to market their fish.

I am as much interested in the Irish language as anybody else but you cannot mix up sentiment and business. In trying to save the language and to get a living for these people in their own native place one cannot mix up sentiment and business. But there is a sea-board problem in Ireland not confined to the purely Irish-speaking districts; there are sea-board districts in Ireland where no Irish is spoken. I give as one instance Muintirvara, in the parish of Durrus in the County Cork. I never knew any Irish to be spoken there and these people have got the same problem as the people in Dingle or in other portions of West Kerry. It is not, therefore, a problem that is confined to the Irish-speaking districts. Neither is it confined to the rural districts because the problem raises its head in Kinsale, Baltimore, Bantry, Dungarvan and other towns of that type along the sea-board.

I am in agreement with Deputy Flynn that some sort of commission should now be set up to take charge of the sea-board problem. Such a commission would deal with the lives of those whom I would call the best and the hardiest of our race. It is in those [975] areas that you find the finest types of Celtic stock. They are disappearing, and unless something is done on the lines indicated all the talk here about the Gaeltacht will not solve the problem. All Parties in the House are unanimous on that. We are all united in one thing and that is that the Gaeltacht Services are doing no good and that no practical results are accruing from them. We all agree that the problem needs to be faced in another way. I have already said that we have before us the example of the work done by the Congested Districts Board. I do not want to go back to that, but that board did something more practical and more efficient than is being done by the machinery at present at our disposal.

Mr. Dockrell: Information on Henry Morgan Dockrell  Zoom on Henry Morgan Dockrell  I just want to say a few words on this Vote from a business point of view. When you come to embark in a business concern, it ought to be run on business lines. I can remember that for some years after the present Government took up office they bewailed what they had stepped into in the Gaeltacht. For the first three years it was a wail about the previous administration. I have repeatedly called attention to the fact that never in presenting this Estimate are we given the stock that is in hands at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year. Are the Government afraid or ashamed to present the account in a businesslike fashion and tell us what the stock is at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year? The financial year, I take it, ends on the 5th of April. Surely there was plenty of time since then to have taken stock? There would be a dreadful row in any commercial concern if, a month after the year had closed, the stock had not been taken. Why cannot the Government, when they embark on business enterprises, run them on business lines?

For some years we were treated to something of this nature, that they had stepped into such a position left by the previous administration that they could not get the stock right or get it taken in time. Well, they must have thought in those days that they were not going [976] to last fore more than a couple of years, because after the lapse of time they have had plenty of opportunity to reorganise things. I think the Minister's predecessor told us that it was just about to be run on proper lines. I would like to suggest to the Minister that when you embark in business you ought to run the thing on business lines, and you ought not to have a business concern which, a month after the year closes, has not taken stock. That is a good enough arraignment of the Government's policy. A business man would not want to know more than that. He would say: “With regard to that place, I know enough about that.”

Deputy MacEoin referred to fishing. It seems as if along the seaboard the obvious thing would be to catch fish, but as well as I remember, when the Government started we all knew the passion they had for duplicating things. Instead of saying that “the fish live in the sea and we will employ people to catch them and market them in the way the fish caught in other parts are marketed”, they went in for a special distribution scheme which has now faded out. The next thing that we heard of was that as regards the type of trawl that was used, they were very much in doubt as to whether it was the correct type. We were treated to statements about the various types of trawlers that were used by various countries and told that the Government were just about to make a decision as to the up-to-date type of trawler that they would use, and they were to put a couple of these on the sea. I am afraid that problem was too much for the Government, and it must still be insoluble, because we heard no more about the matter.

Any Department that cannot take stock and cannot make up their minds as to what boats the men ought to use going to sea, and that cannot arrange to put a couple of boats in the water for better or for worse, are really hopeless. There has been talk about what a ghastly farce a lot of this is, but whether or not you regard it as a farce, you will certainly agree that it is time some serious action was taken by the Government. If we are told that the Government are endeavouring to run things on business lines, all we have [977] to do is to look at the way they are proceeding and the result they have achieved.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  I was hoping that it would have been possible for Deputies on all sides of the House to approach this Estimate from a different point of view altogether and to forget, as a few of them apparently did forget, as a take advantage of the situation for political purposes. There were a few notable exceptions, and I appreciate them, but in the main most of the criticism that has been aimed at the Department has been founded on the idea of making some political capital. There have been a good many suggestions that we should revert to the conditions which obtained some years ago under the old congested Districts Board. Many people seem to think that that would offer a solution for this problem. That is in the main the only contribution that we have had from any side of the House which might be regarded as a solution of the problem.

There are arguments in favour of a course like that. I know that under the old Congested Districts Board a good deal of useful work was done. They were free to spend. I think Deputy O'Neill was pretty close to the mark when he referred to their system of financial control. They were given a certain amount of money which they were to spend. To a certain extent they were unrestricted.

In endeavouring to answer the numerous points raised in this debate, I would have liked if any criticism that was offered, was offered in the nature of constructive criticism rather than in the nature of destructive criticism without any solutions for improvement. It would be much more helpful on the whole than what we have had to listen to both last night and to-day. I would like at the start off to point out that one of the first speakers, Deputy Hogan, was in error. He pointed out that there was an increase in the salaries of the head quarters staff of approximately £2,700 odd. If he would examine the Estimates more closely he would see that [978] instead of that increase there is a reduction of £620.

Deputy Linehan made a very reasonable suggestion, and I fully appreciate that. He said that we should endeavour as far as possible to provide a home market. I can assure him and the House generally that the Gaeltacht Services division concurs fully in that view and I should like to say that arrangements have been made so that an agent of the Department will visit frequently during the course of each year the various towns and villages in the whole country and thus it will be possible, we hope, to increase the sales of Gaeltacht products, particulalry of tweeds and knitwear. Deputy Roddy has touched on the subject of rural industries, and stated that there was a drop in the sales of knitwear and tweeds. That statement is not correct. On the countrary, I believe that it was based on incorrect premises, as a reference to the Appropriation Accounts for the various years will show. In 1930-31, the receipts for rural industries were £3,788; in 1931-32, the figure was £3,242; in 1932-33, the figure was £21,437, while for the years 1935-36, 1936-37, and 1937-38, the figures were £34,431, £32,113 and £39,229, respectively. That presents a different picture. Further, during the years 1930 to 1933 employment was intermittent, while for the years 1935-36, 1936-37, and 1937-38 employment was continuous and the actual wages paid increased substantially.

In this regard the wages paid to employees in 1930-31 and 1931-32 were £5,393 and £6,250 respectively. For the year 1937-38 this figure was £15,091, while for the current year it is estimated that £16,500, approximately, will be paid. Deputy Hogan might note these figures in reply to his question as to what is being done for the Gaeltacht. As further proof of how the sales of the goods are extending, it might be indicated that in the last three years five new centres have been opened or re-opened, and that two further centres, as I have already told you in my opening statement, are being [979] opened during the coming year. Deputy McMenamin suggested that the projected opening of the industry at Bunbeg was for the purpose of closing it again. I can assure him that such is not the case, and that I am quite sure that many other areas in the Gaeltacht would appreciate the opening of a centre in lieu of Bunbeg, having regard to the continuous employment that is now being afforded at these centres. As indicated in my opening statements, the workers appreciate what is being done for them, and the main purpose of this Vote is to provide employment for the workers now on the pay-roll who realise that at last some organisation has been put into the operation of these industries and that, instead of a casual day or two days a week, continuous employment will be afforded at rates of wages which have been substantially increased.

Deputy McMenamin was anxious to know if the goods on hand were lying at the depôt. I think it right to inform him that the practice of manufacturing goods without a definite order ceased some years ago under the circumstances mentioned by my predecessor when the Estimates for 1935-36 were being submitted. In certain lines, however, it is necessary to keep stocks for immediate supply, and these stocks of finished goods represent about four months' supply for immediate delivery as and when required.

Now, Deputies on the opposite benches seem to place great store on the reduction of the output of kelp, forgetful of the fact that the market price of kelp has diminished considerably. Some years ago the value of iodine, for which the kelp was purchased, was 16/8 per lb., whereas the value of iodine to-day is down to 4/6 a lb., due, as I might point out in passing, to competition from the Chilean corporation. The present price of kelp delivered at Glasgow is £2 15s. od. per ton, which would mean about £1 10s. on the shore to the gatherer. It seems perfectly obvious from this that, in order to give the gatherer any price for his labour, the subsidy would require to be from £3 [980] to £3 10s. per ton. The Gaeltacht Services Division, realising this, has set out to acquire alternative markets, and for this year offered a price of £4 per ton for kelp of not less than .8 iodine content, which is kelp of what might be termed average standard. This kelp is ground and sold to a firm in England for admixture in cattle feed. There is an expanding market, but, so far, the necessary quantity of kelp has not been supplied to meet the demand. The price paid to the gatherers is dependent to a great extent on the commercial value of the ground kelp, but the figure for the current year was £4, which is not far away from what is considered to be an economic price for the ratherers. In order to make collection easier for the gatherers, the Department has decided to accept May weed as well as winter weed.

It is true that the Department, in the years 1930-31 and 1931-32, paid as high as £8, and sometimes higher, for kelp. Some of this kelp was sold. at figures varying from £1 5s. to £2 15s. per ton. I do not think that a policy of that kind could be continued. The Department, in addition, has got in touch with a firm in England conducting experiments for the purpose of extracting a chemical used extensively in Great Britain. A trial order for 500 tons of seaweed at a reasonable price to the gatherers has been received, and the outlook in this regard looks promising. Deputy McMenamin mentioned a price of £10 per ton as being paid on Rathlin Island for kelp. He omitted to state what this kelp was being used for, but if his contention is that it is to be used for the manufacture of iodine, I am afraid that he is completely misinformed, because at the present the market price of that commodity would not be anything like the figure he mentioned, of £10. The actual value of the iodine to be produced from a ton of kelp would be somewhat in the nature of £3 10s., and if the cost of manufacture and transport of the raw material is deducted from this figure of £3 10s., it is very difficult to understand how £10 can be paid for kelp. However, if Deputy McMenamin has any further information on the subject, [981] I should be very glad to have that information from him.

Now, in regard to carrageen, all carrageen that has been offered for sale has been accepted, and will be accepted. The returns of exports of carrageen from the Twenty-Six Counties show that in the years 1931, 1932 and 1933 the figures were £5,068, £8,943 and £4,183, while for the years 1935, 1936 and 1937 the figures were £8,732, £10,181 and £8,025, respectively, the average prices for the same years being ?, 2/7 and 2/6 per stone.

Much capital was made by various Deputies in regard to the figures for sanctions for the erection of houses. I am afraid that some Deputies, at all events, were confusing the figures for the amounts sanctioned as compared with the amounts actually spent during the years for which they made comparisons. Sanctions are one thing, but the real test of progress in relation to housing is the actual number of completed houses in any particular year. In 1930-31, one house was completed— that was just after the passing of the Act. In 1931-32, 87 houses were completed, and the figures for 1935-36 are 788; 1936-37, 741 and 1937-38, 794—so that Deputies can see there has been a continuous improvement despite the figures that have been quoted.

With regard to sanctions, the actual number of houses erected, and the amount expended thereunder have increased from year to year. The actual expenditure for these years was: 1930-31, £5,454. I would ask Deputies to remember that figure and to compare it with the figues that they have heard quoted by some Deputies. The figure for 1931-32 is £46,011; 1932-33, £56,725; 1935-36, £44,230; 1936-37, £43,670; and 1937-38, £47,104. Deputy Roddy made some inquiries regarding the staff. There has been a slight increase in the staff, with the result that the arrears of cases have been reduced from 10,817 in 1930-31 to 2,273 at the end of March, 1938, so that considerable progress with regard to housing is being made.

Deputy McFadden mentioned a proposal regarding a spinning mill. This proposal is at present under active consideration in the Department, but [982] no definite decision has yet been reached. Deputy Brodrick, I think, mentioned that £80,000 had been estimated for the year 1931-32, but in that year, as I have already pointed out, the expenditure was only £46,010, despite an estimate of £80,000. It is felt from the experience gained that it is better to estimate as closely as you can to the amount which is actually likely to be required during the current year. He also mentioned teachers' residences. In that year there was an estimate of £6,000 but there was no expenditure.

A number od Deputies more or less reiterated former statements regarding the setting up of a special commission to deal with this problem of the Gaeltacht. I do not want to anticipate any decision of the commission which has recently been set up. That is a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerece, who has told us that we will have the report of that commission in the near future.

Deputy Dockrell criticised the system under which the stock of goods on hands was not made available. I have here some figures which may be of use to the Deputy and which were not available when we were recently dealing with that matter. The stock on hands at the 31st March, 1935, of yarn and material was valued at £12,431 12s. 10d. and of finished goods £9,382 15s. 0d., making a total of £21,814 7s. 10d. On the 31st March, 1936, yarn and material represented £19,459 19s. 6d. and finished goods £7,188 2s. 5d., making a total of £26,648 1s. 11d. On the 31st March, 1937, the figures were: yarn and material, £16,606 14s. 5d., and finished goods, £11,783 0s. 2d., making a total of £28,398 14s. 7d. On the 31st March, 1938, the figures were: yarn and material, £12,461 19s. 2d. and finished goods, £14,005 17s. 9d., making a total of £26,467 16s. 11d. Now, with regard to Deputy Dockrell's criticism about not having these figures available earlier, I would like to point out that there are at least 25 different centres at which these stocks have to be taken and that due allowance should be made for that fact. It is very rarely indeed that a business firm would [983] have so many branches at which to take stock, and have all these materials collected and the necessary data prepared within the very short period of time that the Deputy allows.

The trading account for the year ending 31st March, 1936, has been laid on the Table of the House, and the trading account for the year ending 31st March, 1937, will be presented in the course of a few weeks. I do not think there is anything more to add to what I have already said. I have met all the points of the different speakers as far as I possibly could. I will only say this in conclusion, that I hope that when an Estimate of this kind comes up again Deputies will endeavour to make constructive suggestions rather than seek to make political capital, which I think is at the back of their minds. Every Deputy in the house, and everybody in the country, should be very anxious to see progress made, and I think that for the past few years, at all events, since the reorganisation took place under my predecessor, that we are working on sound lines. While I do not pretend that what has been done is likely to solve the Gaeltacht problem, or even make a serious contribution towards it, I believe that we are working along sounder lines even than our predecessors were. I do not want to decry those who were in charge in those days, or to say that they were not really and sincerely anxious to do what they could, but I think anybody who knows anything at all about the conditions in the Gaeltacht must admit that you have a very barren soil to work upon, and that unlike Deputy Dockrell, who is here in the centre of a huge population in a wealthy city, it would be a different matter if he had to come down and try to develop the barren rocks of Connemara and other barren territories in the Gaeltacht. I hope, therefore, that in the future we will have a more favourable reception, and, instead of adverse criticism, let us have criticism by all means but let it be constructive.

Mr. Brasier: Information on Brooke W. Brasier  Zoom on Brooke W. Brasier  I want to ask the Parliamentary [984] Secretary a question with regard to the erection of houses and the reconstruction of houses in the Gaeltacht. Will he say what progress has been made? In the time of the last Government it was work that was extended pretty largely. I would like to know if he has given attention to that, and will he tell me what progress has been made.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  I think the Deputy must not have been in the House when I was replying. I have given the figures, and if the Deputy will refer to my reply in the Official Report he can easily see that very considerable progress has been made.

Vote put and agreed to.

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