Tuesday, 13 June 1944
Dáil Éireann Debate
Patrick F. O'Driscoll: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that the Bantry Bay Steamship “Princess Beara” plying between Bantry and Castletownbere is at present undergoing annual overhaul and that owing to the lack of materials it is not definite when this boat will be back in commission; that the Great Southern Railways have a controlling interest in this steamship company; that the railway company are at present running a daily lorry service between Bantry and Castletownbere, which service is entirely inadequate as Bere Island, where a big military camp is stationed, is at present without service; that it is no longer an economic proposition for residents in the Beara Peninsula to get their goods by lorry as the increases since the “Princess Beara” was laid up amount in some cases to 100 per cent. on the old rates; also, that 25 men are unemployed as a result; and if he will take steps to see that material for repairing the “Princess Beara” is made available as soon as possible.
Mr. O'Driscoll: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that the services of a motor vessel named “Hidden Treasure,” owned by a Mr. O'Keefe, of Bantry, are available for charter for the sea route from Bantry to Castletownbere; and, if so, if he will ask the Great Southern Railway Company to avail of the services of this boat for the convenience of the residents of the Beara Peninsula while the Bantry Bay steamship “Princess Beara,” is being repaired.
I am aware that the steamer operated by the Bantry Bay Steamship Company between Bantry and Castletownbere is at present laid up for overhaul and that substitute lorry services are being provided by the Great Southern Railways Company at their normal scale of road charges. I am informed that the number of persons unemployed as a result of the discontinuance of the steamer service is seven. The military camp stationed in Bere Island have their own boat which is adequate for their requirements.
Inquiries into the circumstances of the discontinuance of the Bantry-Castletownbere service are being made, but it will be appreciated that, apart from the difficulty in procuring materials for the extensive repairs necessary to the vessel, the resumption of the service in present circumstances would be dependent on the availability of coal supplies.
I have no information as to whether or not the motor vessel mentioned would be suitable for operation by the Bantry Bay Steamship Company on this service, but from the particulars available it appears that it has a gross tonnage of 30 tons, compared with the 212 gross registered tonnage of the “Princess Beara” and would have, therefore, only very limited carrying capacity.
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