Committee on Finance. - Vote 11—Employment and Emergency Schemes (Resumed).

Friday, 2 July 1948

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 111 No. 15

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Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers  Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers  When the House adjourned last night, I was discussing certain aspects of the administration of the employment schemes. I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether he anticipates an improvement in the rate of inspection of rural improvement schemes. In my constituency, some of the schemes sponsored by people seeking grants for roads and drains have not been inspected for a period of some eight months and that position dates from before the present Government took office. I understand that there have been administrative difficulties in securing the services of the necessary number of engineers, but my experience is that, if the inspection of a rural improvement scheme is too long delayed, some of the interested parties lose interest, and, when the scheme is finally inspected and sanctioned and the contribution indicated to the Departments concerned, the persons who previously had agreed to contribute frequently say that they will not contribute, thus leading to the abandoning of the scheme. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will do all in his power to advance and expedite these inspections in order that that most valuable work can be carried out.

There are a number of areas where the Employment Schemes Vote operates in respect of special employment [2096] schemes, owing to there being a fairly small number but nevertheless the minimum required for such employment schemes. In these areas, the people concerned who urgently need road works and bog drainage works to be carried out frequently wait year after year in the hope that they may get an absolutely free grant for their work. No matter what effort Deputies make to inform them that the mathematical chances of any particular scheme obtaining a grant are extremely small, because of the continued small number of unemployment assistance recipients registering in January, they still hope for the best. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary considers that it would be advisable to do something more to advertise the rural improvements scheme in such areas, and to point out that very few works are likely to be undertaken, and that therefore the vast majority of these seeking road repairs would be well advised, if they possibly can afford it, to take part in a rural improvements scheme.

I fully realise that for any Government, and least of all the present Government, to advertise the expenditure of money is a most unusual procedure. Generally, the Minister for Finance is only too content if the amount of money spent on a particular service remains at the minimum, but in actual fact, if we are to improve the amenities of country life and to encourage the young people to stay here one of the first duties is to improve communications. There are 20,000 miles of road, of non-public roads, as I understand, in comparison with some 50,000 miles of public roads. The figure of 20,000 miles is highly approximate— it might be 15,000 and it might be 25,000—but it presents a serious problem for the House in connection with this Vote.

As the House well knows, it would require legislation for county councils to repair cul-de-sac roads, save in most exceptional circumstances. There are circumstances, such as where a cul-de-sac road leads to a river or the coast, and certain other circumstances, in which such roads can be taken over by the local authority, but these circumstances are rare. There is a method by [2097] which the local authority can decide to construct an entirely new road, and, even if that road is a cul-de-sac road, I believe they can be financially responsible for it. By that means, they could construct a new road over the remains of a cul-de-sac road, but even that is legally doubtful. It was tried on one or two occasions in western counties and in certain cases there was no surcharge on the local authority concerned. Apparently the matter escaped the attention of the auditors.

The fact remains, however, that there are from 15,000 to 20,000 miles of non-public roads, many of them in a very poor condition, and in a great many areas these roads are not likely to be repaired, save under a rural improvements scheme, but, owing to the existence of free full grant employment schemes in the neighbourhood, in the adjoining electoral division or in the electoral division itself, the people do not take a realistic attitude towards the repair of these roads.

Another thing I have frequently found is ignorance to a considerable degree on the part of persons living on small farms of the fact that, if they live over six miles from an employment exchange, they do not need to go to the employment exchange in order to qualify for unemployment assistance in January, which is the key month, and upon which is based the grant for the ensuing year under the Special Employment Schemes Vote. There are areas which must be well known to the Parliamentary Secretary where either the local Deputies have not advertised this fact sufficiently well or where it is not sufficiently generally known that either January or February are the key months, and, the higher the figure during these months, the more money will be made available.

With regard to the farm improvements scheme grants, I was very glad to learn from the Minister for Agriculture that new applications are now being received. It is rather hard for me to judge as between the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture and the Parliamentary Secretary with regard to the administration of that scheme. I asked a question recently as to the number of applications under the scheme in the various counties and [2098] it is quite evident from the figures received that the percentage of applications in the areas where there is paid labour as a percentage of all farms in the area is very much lower than the percentage in the areas where the farmer and his family do the work and receive the cash for the scheme.

The Parliamentary Secretary will find the answer to the question in a recent report of the Dáil and he will very quickly observe, without having to make any calculations, through making use of the handbook of statisties, that in counties like Carlow, Wexford, Wicklow and Louth, the number of applications is very small. From an inspection of these areas, I feel sure, Deputies will agree with me that there is just as much need for land improvement in the areas where farmers normally would employ labour as in the other areas. There is need for reclamation. There is also need for the improvement of the farmer's road, frequently, and there is certainly need for farmyard improvements. I do not think it would require an alteration in any legislation to make an experiment in a particular area of increasing the amount of the grant for those who employ paid labour as distinct from those who do the work themselves. So far as I can gather, that would not require legislation.

I am fully aware that there are administrative difficulties, which were found hard to overcome by the previous Government. I am also aware that the matter was under constant examination by the previous Government. Surely the Parliamentary Secretary will be willing to carry on that investigation. I am afraid it would need some more of these inspectors that are found so objectionable by the Minister for Agriculture but, of course, the Minister for Agriculture, with his usual sweeping phrases, seemed to include all types of inspectors. So far as I know, the inspectors under the farm improvement schemes are tremendously popular with the people concerned. They do their work splendidly and there is no objection to them entering within the gates of the farm and, if it required some extra inspection in order to make grants available on a more expensive basis for paid labour, I think [2099] the experiment would be at least worth while and, so far as I know, there would be no objection to operating on an experimental basis in a particular area to see what the result would be.

Whether the Parliamentary Secretary would have to confine the grants to farmers who took a given type of worker who was unemployed at the labour exchange at the time I do not know. That might present considerable difficulties. The farmers who were satisfied with the increase in the grant and were prepared to take up schemes and so increase the amount of money spent on land improvement, so urgently required to-day in the large farm areas, might be quite unwilling to take the labour if it was proffered to them from the labour exchange. They might wish to choose their own labour. That, again, seems to me a matter for examination.

In the course of the Departmental examination of the methods employed in recruiting labour for employment schemes, an examination was made of the degree to which the labour available was suitable and the Parliamentary Secretary will find a most interesting report resulting from an inspection in a large number of areas of the men concerned. He will find that a very considerable number of the men were regarded as only suitable for light manual labour. He will find, no matter what he does, no matter what change there is in the policy of the State, that is likely to continue. One of the difficulties, of course, never foreseen by the Clann na Poblachta Party, in employing all the unemployed, is the fact that there are a very considerable number of persons who are not skilled labourers or highly skilled craftsmen, for whom, on the whole, work has been made freely available in the last 15 years. Indeed there has been an increase of some 80,000 in the number of such persons employed. The difficulty arose that there are a large number of persons on the employment exchange who would like to be lorry helpers, who would like to do anything but heavy manual labour, and many of whom are not naturally suited for such labour. There is a tremendous difficulty in finding [2100] employment schemes for such persons.

I was wondering whether the Parliamentary Secretary would consider the inclusion of employment schemes moneys for amenity schemes on a more extensive basis than hitherto made available, whether he would consider, for example, making grants to civic associations or associations for the improvement of towns, associations who would like to make river walks, clean the weeds and the rubbish around rivers in the neighbourhood of towns, clean the weeds in the town itself and the outlying roads, remove derelict sites and create parks, whether he would consider that that form of grant to civic associations or town improvement associations would be a good thing and would be desirable, if the association, through its own resources, raised a certain proportion of the funds. I am aware there are already amenity grants and that in the employment schemes there is a considerable number of miscellaneous schemes of that character but it might be possible to devise a system whereby a contribution could be given by people in the towns towards such schemes.

The Parliamentary Secretary will also be aware that there is still a great number of derelict sites throughout the country and in the towns a difficulty arose until recently whereby it was not possible to remove derelict sites through an employment scheme Vote because, in the case of the towns, the houses were rather large and would require the services of a contractor. That applies to some of the old houses in Waterford and certain other cities. When the change took place in the rotational method of employment, it was also agreed by the last Government that contract labour could be utilised for employment schemes and that, in turn, makes it possible to remove larger and ugly buildings which are an eyesore in some of the larger towns and which require the services of a contractor because of the danger to human life. I do hope the Parliamentary Secretary will advertise that fact and that local authorities in these towns will learn that dangerous buildings [2101] can be removed under employment schemes.

I should like also to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give some account to the House as to who is going to suffer as a result of the Employment Schemes Vote covering the special provision for turf workers unemployed —one of the examples of what we would call false economy. As far as I can understand, there has been no actual increase in the total estimate for unemployed persons as a result of the abandonment of the hand-won turf scheme. Who is going to suffer? Who will not get employment schemes as a result of certain moneys being diverted to this special purpose? Surely that is going very far from the fantastic policy advocated by the Clann na Poblachta Party whereby there would be a guarantee to all unemployed persons all the year round.

I would like also to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is satisfied that everything is being done to provide employment in Dublin City, particularly during the winter months. There have been serious bottlenecks in regard to the provision of road schemes in Dublin, due to the absence of machinery and due to the difficulty of carrying out road works without co-ordination of the electricity, the gas and the other authorities. Many of the roads of Dublin very urgently require rehabilitation, particularly roads along disused tramways. Explanations were offered for the delays in preparing such schemes by the Dublin Corporation. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary finds them satisfactory. I hope he will investigate the position.

One of the difficulties that has arisen has been in the provision of work for ex-soldiers in Dublin. So far as I recall, at some recent time there were some 400 unemployed soldiers who were willing to do manual work and the difficulty was to provide them with work under the general regulations governing employment schemes. Dublin Corporation made several propositions. I think these were examined by the Departments concerned. One of the propositions was the preparation of the foundation of housing schemes. It [2102] was agreed that the contractors might alter the contracts and divide them into two—the laying of the foundation and the rest of the work—and that unemployed soldiers should receive special consideration for employment on the foundation works. I do not know how far it has progressed, but I hope it will have the serious attention of the Parliamentary Secretary.

Another suggestion for employing the unemployed labour in Dublin on a large scale basis, which I think was postponed for the time being, was the erection of an athletic open-air stadium in the Phoenix Park. It is a scheme which involves a great deal of planning, but it is not a kind of scheme I would imagine would appeal to a Minister for Finance who had recently cancelled a miserable Vote of £25,000 for athletics, so it is not much use speaking of that here to-day.

I fail to understand how Clann na Poblachta can even consider voting for this Estimate, in view of the fatuous statements they made about giving employment on a basis which, at a minimum calculation, would cost the State some £12,000,000 a year. It is all very well to fly one's kite very high and promise whatever one believes is even remotely possible in the way of amenities and services to the community. The last Government was able to give employment to some 14,000, 16,000 or 20,000 people—varying from year to year—on bog development schemes and employment schemes. It represented to us a reasonable contribution, which we would like to have improved upon, towards solving the unemployment problem; but, of course, the difficulty of cyclic employment due to the climate of the country, the difficulty of ensuring mobility of employment and the difficulty of employing persons when there were actual bottlenecks in certain types of labour, would always arise and provide a problem for any Government now or in the future. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will make clear to the House what the employment policy of the present inter-Party Government is, so that they may fully appreciate the utter hypocrisy of Clann na Poblachta in even attempting to vote for this Estimate.

[2103]Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am definitely influenced in my decision to be brief by the fact that I would rather see these schemes in operation than talk to the Parliamentary Secretary about them. I feel that he knows a good deal about them, from his experience, but there are many things that his Department and himself might learn. I am glad that he is establishing offices and centres in various rural areas. In the administration of all Departments of State, there has been too much of a city or urban bias, and it was time the rural bias was given to some of the administration. These new rural offices will have an opportunity of investigating at firsthand, in an effective fashion, some of the problems in rural areas. I am not saying that an attempt was not made to do this by the staffs of the county councils, but they had not the time or opportunity, or possibly the training, necessary to examine the problems the Office of Public Works will come up against now when they are in the heart of the districts where those problems operate.

I suggest to him that a rural survey should be undertaken to obtain firsthand information. To wait until these problems come up and demands arise for work or development, might be a rather slow progress and I suggest he should go out and look for them. Not that that will be necessary, as I am sure they were poured in by hundreds and thousands, but that is no reason why he should not go out and see which are the most suitable and employ some staff in inquiring into them.

The Board of Works is over-departmentalised. There are too many departments, too many types of scheme, too many qualifications as to what constitutes the right to operate a particular scheme. There is a good deal of delay in dealing with applications. You apply in respect of one scheme and you are told it really belongs to another, and you are sent from Billy to Jack, ultimately resulting in a good deal of delay. If there were one all-powering scheme, with sections under it, it would bring about more expedition in the carrying out of rural improvements and other work that we desire to have done.

On many occasions, I have asked various Parliamentary Secretaries to [2104] alter the qualification by which there must be a certain number of unemployed men in an area before a work is put into operation. The workers do not register, for the simple reason that at a certain time of the year there is no value in registering. Therefore, the unemployed register at that time of the year does not present a true picture of those seeking work and in need of it. I asked previous Parliamentary Secretaries and got a good deal of sympathetic consideration from them, but sympathy is no good; nothing has been done in the matter of altering these conditions. Every Deputy knows districts where there are manifestations of this trouble. You put in an application in “X” rural district, where there may be only five or six registered unemployed, and you are told the scheme cannot be operated. But, across the wall or across a few fields, in “Y” rural district, there may be 25 or 30 unemployed, yet because they are not registered in “X” the “X” scheme cannot be operated. Surely, if there ever was any manifestation of red tape, that is it with a vengeance. That has been the case all the years down in the Board of Works, and there is no reason in the world why it should continue. The Parliamentary Secretary should buy a safety razor blade and cut that red tape.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  He could spare the investment. It has already been cut.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  When Deputy O'Grady himself was in charge of the Department, it was not cut.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  I think that in fairness to the Parliamentary Secretary, who is new to the job, it is only right to point out that no such scheme as Deputy Hogan has referred to has been in operation. Everybody who has had experience of the working of these schemes knows that, when there is a number of people registered in a particular electoral division, several other electora divisions can be grouped in order make a scheme workable. That operation even before I went to Board of Works.

[2105]Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I do not want to contradict Deputy O'Grady.

Mr. J. Flynn: Information on John Flynn  Zoom on John Flynn  I could.

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  You could not.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I know perfectly well that schemes are held up and the reason given by the Department is that there is not a sufficient number of unemployed in a rural area, while within two or three fields of it you would find 20 or 30 people unemployed. That did operate. I do not want to say that it operated only when Deputy O'Grady was in charge of the Department. It operated when the late Deputy Flinn was in charge of the Department, and I can say that he gave very sympathetic consideration to the matter every time that I put it up to him. I am now asking the Parliamentary Secretary to give it his consideration and to see that that red tape is removed. I do not want to delay the House, because I would sooner see the Parliamentary Secretary use the money that is there in putting these schemes into operation in the rural areas. I suggest in all seriousness to him that he should make full use of his powers so as to give a rural slant to the administration of his Department.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am rather surprised at the manner in which this Vote has been taken, and at the statements made here as regards county council officials and their readiness to put up work. I am also worried as to the amount set out in the Vote in view of a public statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary on the 20th June last and published in the Press.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  What Press?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I have the three here and you can have any one of them you like —the Irish Independent or the Irish Press. In this statement the Parliamentary Secretary said:

“That from £12,000 to £15,000 would be saved to the ratepayers in each county this year for work on making new roads connecting public roads, and that the cost of making [2106] such roads would be paid by the Board of Works provided the county councils undertook their maintenance.”

That was the public statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary. I took his figure of £12,000 to £15,000 for each county. The total amounts to £390,000. There is not anything like £390,000, nor even the one-fifth of it in this Estimate for this road work. I want to know exactly where we stand in this matter. I think we are entitled to have that information. I admit that times have changed. There was a time when you could rely on a Deputy's word, and when a Deputy's word was taken in this House. All these days are gone, and we cannot even take the Taoiseach's word to-day.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy should deal with the Estimate. That has nothing whatever to do with it.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  That is the statement that was made, and here is the Estimate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  I hope the Deputy understood me. He is not to accuse any Minister here and say that his word is not reliable.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Donnellan): Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  May I intervene and say that if the Deputy reads on he will see “if conditions were fulfilled”?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Immediately this statement appeared in the public Press our county council took the matter up. Our officials are not in the parlous condition that the officials appear to be in elsewhere, judging by Deputy Hogan's and by Deputy Maguire's statements. Within three weeks we forwarded to the Department particulars in relation to £74,000 worth of work. The estimates for that work were prepared by the county surveyors and were sent to the Department with a guarantee of future maintenance and with all the conditions referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary being fulfilled. I do not doubt for one moment the good faith of the Parliamentary Secretary, but we learned from him last night that there is another wheedle in it. He said that his Department only makes [2107] roads 11 feet wide and that the Local Government Department will not allow a county council to take over a road unless it is 25 feet wide. We, in our own small way, have been making a certain number of those roads each year under the county council. They are roads which serve the farming community which has to pay rates for the tar macadam roads and for the removal of dangerous corners to suit the speed motorists, but have no roads for themselves.

We have been trying to do something for the farming community and each year we set aside a sum of £15,000 for that work. As soon as the county council officials have the roads finished they are taken over and maintained by the county council, and there was never a whisper or a word from the Department of Local Government to say that they would not allow them to be taken over because they were only 11 feet wide. Therefore, I say that the Parliamentary Secretary will not be able to wheedle out of that. When we sent up the estimates for this work we got an extraordinary letter in reply from the Department which stated:

“I am directed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance to refer to your letters of 31st May and 3rd June which were addressed to the Office of Public Works. As that office has no function in the matter of the repair or reconstruction of roads, it is presumed that the letters were intended for the Special Employment Schemes Office, which is a separate departmental entity from the Office of Public Works.”

That would seem to bear out what Deputy Hogan said that there are too many departments in the Board of Works.

“I am to point out that there are two types of schemes under which repairs to accommodation roads are carried out by this office—(1) minor employment schemes, in which full cost grants are given for the relief of unemployment in areas where expenditure under this head is justified; and (2) rural improvement [2108] schemes, for roads benefiting a number of landholders, towards the cost of which the applicants normally contribute a proportion not exceeding 25 per cent. The amount of the funds available under these heads is limited, and the Parliamentary Secretary could not undertake to consider the large programme of works submitted with your letters, having regard to the needs of other parts of the country.

In regard to applications received under the rural improvements scheme for roads connecting two county roads, our inspector, when preparing his specification for such a work, gives particulars of the use made or likely to be made of the road by the outside public, and in many instances an offer of a grant in excess of the normal 75 per cent. is made to the applicants. In very exceptional circumstances where it seems that such outside use would make it desirable to have the road taken over by a county council, the recognised procedure is for this office to ask the Department of Local Government to obtain the views of the council in that regard. This procedure was approved when the scheme was initiated, as the Department stated that in many counties the funds provided for the maintenance of the existing county roads is barely adequate, and sometimes less than adequate, so that they could not recommend any serious additions to the mileages for which the councils are already responsible.

If, therefore, applications are submitted under the rural improvements scheme for any of the roads included in the lists furnished by you, each case will be considered on its merits in accordance with the procedure outlined in the preceding paragraph, and any suggestion for the taking over of a road by your council for future maintenance will be submitted in the usual way through the Department of Local Government. In this regard, however, it is necessary to emphasise that only for a very limited number of such cases, in which there are exceptional circumstances, would there be any prospect of grants being [2109] made; and that in any event the large programme proposed by your council would be altogether in excess of the amount which is likely to be available for County Cork from the Employment and Emergency Schemes Vote.”

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  What programme did you send up to me?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  We sent up £74,000 worth of roads in the first lot, and, I think, about £56,000 worth in the second lot. It is not a bad lot.

A Deputy:  Is it by train you sent them?

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  They made a free gift of them.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I heard statements here that county council officials are unable to do their work, and that Department officials were sent down. Our people were able in three weeks to prepare £130,000 worth of road schemes for the Department of Local Government, and I say that they need not send any more officials down our way. We are asked to put our hands in our pockets as ratepayers and stump up £3,000 or £4,000 for a rate on which the Department will contribute something to relieve unemployment caused by the ending of the hand-won turf in County Cork, while we have plenty of work, more work than the men can do, enough work to keep every unemployed man going in County Cork for the next five years. I do not know where the £390,000 for doing this work is. Cork sent up schemes amounting to £75,000 or £100,000 but the £15,000 per county of the Parliamentary Secretary's statement might make it up. Cork County, in accordance with its mileage of roads and its poor law valuation, is entitled to a proper share, and that would not be confined to £15,000 but would be in the neighbourhood of £60,000. If any county is entitled to £15,000, Cork County would be entitled to £60,000.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Deputy Corry made a definite charge that I made a misstatement. I again repeat the statement I made and I would ask him when he reads the paper to see if it says that link roads would be done, that [2110] it says also that the full grant would be given only if the conditions are fulfilled.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Every one of the roads sent up by Cork County Council were link roads and every one of them serves the general public as well as the farmers who happen to be living on them. We have sent them up with a definite guarantee from Cork County Council as to their future maintenance. Every condition laid down has been fulfilled and we now call upon the Parliamentary Secretary to deliver the goods. We want none of this kind of sailing round the country and telling the people that they will have heaven next week. That game is all right during an election, but the election is over now and we have got to get down to solid work and solid facts. I have not the slightest intention of allowing any sum of money to float round in that way through the Parliamentary Secretary's office but I intend to see that Cork County is going to get its share and its rightful share. On behalf of the ratepayers of the county, I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary what is going to be done. The Parliamentary Secretary thinks that he has found the way out. The Board of Works, he says, will only build a road 11 feet wide.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  The Board of Works will not construct roads. This is Vote 11.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The Board of Works sent down a grant for the construction of roads and they state that the roads must be 11 feet wide.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Is there any alteration since the last régime?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I want to find out what the alteration is. That Parliamentary Secretary of yours said there was. I am entitled, on the Parliamentary Secretary's public statement published in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the Irish Press of the 20th April last, to know where is this money. I was dealing with another matter, but we are told now that there is an innovation. The way the Parliamentary Secretary has of getting out of the [2111] burrow in which he is confined is to say that the Local Government Department will not allow a county council to take over a road for maintenance unless it is 25 feet wide. That is the latest joke. I have sent two notes to the Minister for Local Government on the matter and he has assured me, as far as his knowledge goes, that there was no barrier at all in the way. From previous experience I believe him and from my knowledge of the Minister for Local Government I do not believe that he is going to leave that port-hole open. To get down to business, I find here in this Estimate that in the provisions in the rural employment scheme for roads and amenity schemes in rural areas, instead of the £390,000 I would like to see, there is a reduction of £10,000. Where the dickens is this £15,000 per county which is going to be taken off the ratepayers' back going to come from?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy should not repeat himself.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  This Estimate was prepared by the previous Government.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  If the Parliamentary Secretary tells me he is going to find the “dough”, then I will bless him.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  I guarantee that I will not find £80,000 for Cork.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  As I stated, in the first week when I came into this House and found those boys there, it is my intention to get as fair a crack of the whip from them as I gave them previously. I am going to hold the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary to every statement they made and see that we get the last penny.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  What are you going to do about an Estimate prepared by your own Party?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Will Deputy Rooney kindly keep quiet? We are dealing with an Estimate put up by a Department of a “mixum-gatherum” Government.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Prepared by your own Party.

[2112]Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  Surely since last February you should have been able to do something with it. If they were unable to do anything with it, that is not my fault.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  When was the Estimate prepared?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I do not care when it was prepared. If I were bringing in an Estimate into this House it would be my own Estimate and not any other fellow's. I would not be trying to find a bolt hole to get away from statements of mine. The Parliamentary Secretary is a member of the Clann na Talmhan Party and I have always had a certain amount of gradh for him, but, apparently, he is trying to wriggle out of these statements. He must have joined Clann na Poblachta.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Clann na Poblachta do not wriggle out of anything.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  The “Cod the Public Party” or the “Cod the Publicans Party.”

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Or the Cork Publicans' Party.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Clann na Poblachta is the largest single Party in the House to-day.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I would be very sorry to see the Parliamentary Secretary adopting that attitude or getting mixed up with the “Cod the Public Party.” I am definitely anxious as regards this particular matter. The ratepayers in County Cork this year found themselves saddled with roughly 4½d. in the £ on their rates through a manoeuvre of the Labour Minister for Social Welfare. As a ratepayers' representative, I am looking for some way of getting that back. Whenever any Government puts a load on the shoulders of the ratepayers I always look for some means of getting out of it. In this instance in which the Minister for Social Welfare shoved this on to the ratepayers for six years in connection with the food voucher scheme I want to find a way of using that to remedy an injustice that was inflicted——

[2113]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The food voucher scheme does not arise on this Vote.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am only alluding——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy is alluding to it. It does not arise on this Vote.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  In this particular case the only way in which it arises is that that amount of money was put on to the ratepayers by the Government and I was hoping that the Parliamentary Secretary had given me a way of getting it back. I should like him to let us know exactly where we stand if there is a difference of opinion as to the width of a road.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Deputy has spent 21 minutes repeating about three sentences, with variations. The Deputy must not repeat that again.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am not repeating it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  The Chair is the judge of that. I have heard references by the Deputy to the width of a road 20 times already between 11 o'clock and 11.25.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  An expenditure of £400,000 depending on the width of a road means a lot. It is a very serious matter. I want to know from the Parliamentary Secretary the amount of money that will be available for County Cork arising out of that statement that he made on 20th April. I want to know the ways and means by which we can get that money. I want to know what frills are tied on to it. I want him to deliver the goods. I think a sum of practically £500,000 is an important matter and I shall leave it to the Parliamentary Secretary now.

Mr. Cogan: Information on Patrick Cogan  Zoom on Patrick Cogan  I should like to congratulate Deputy Childers on his contribution to this discussion. There is certainly a good deal of confusion throughout the country regarding the number and variety of schemes which we have under this Vote. We have the urban employment scheme, the rural employment scheme, the minor employment scheme, the farm improvements [2114] scheme, the rural improvements scheme, and, in addition to these, the seed distribution scheme and the lime distribution scheme. I think there is room for some co-ordination and unification as between all these schemes. It is certainly very embarrassing and very annoying when a group of people anxious to develop their own areas come together and make an application, say, under the rural improvement scheme and find that they are directed to some other Department. I cannot see any valid reason why we should not combine the rural improvements scheme with the farm improvements scheme and the minor employment scheme. Those three at least do fit in together. Certainly, so far as the minor employment scheme and the rural improvements scheme are concerned there is a very good reason for unification.

At present we know that an accommodation road can be repaired or reconstructed under the minor employment scheme if there is a sufficient number of unemployed workers in the area. There is a natural tendency on the part of those residing on a roadway or laneway to defer seeking aid under the rural improvements scheme to which they would have to contribute when they find there is a hope of getting a completely free grant under the minor employment scheme. What could be wrong with merging these two schemes into one? It might mean a contribution in all cases, a very small contribution perhaps in some cases, and a graduated contribution in other cases.

For example, I think that, in the main, the contribution of one-fourth on the part of the people affected under the rural improvements scheme is in many cases too great. Take ten or 12 farmers whose lands adjoining a choked-up watercourse get flooded. The benefit they will derive from the clearing up of that watercourse is problematical, but the contribution which they have to pay under the rural improvements scheme is very definite. They have to contribute one-fourth of the cost and the cost may be very considerable. In a case like that it should be possible to reduce the contribution to one-tenth.

[2115] There is another aspect of the matter to which I should like to refer in passing, and that is the case with which the rural improvements scheme can be frustrated by one individual whose lands adjoin the proposed work. At a recent meeting of the Cominform a public service was rendered to the community by the reviving of the word “rancorous”. That is an ideal word for describing a certain type of individual who for pure spite tries to block and obstruct a work of development in his area. I have in mind one scheme in particular in which ten smallholders joined together to have a watercourse cleared. It emptied into a fairly substantial river but a person whose land adjoined that substantial river objected on the grounds that the clearing up of the watercourse would add to the flow of water in the river and might thereby eventually flood his land. That, in my opinion, is the type of objection which will be encountered, and it can hold up a scheme under the existing regulations. Such a state of affairs should not be tolerated. There ought to be reason and justice in everything.

In a matter of this kind which would benefit a number of people a frivolous objection should not be allowed to stand in the way. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will consider this matter of uniting the minor improvement schemes and the rural improvement schemes into one combined scheme and thereby ensure that other work of development, whether it be the clearing or the draining of an area or the improvement of an accommodation road, will be undertaken without delay. There is no work more urgent than this. After the provision of houses for our people in the rural areas there is nothing more important than that those people who reside far from the main roads, far from methods of transport and from towns and villages, should at least have a decent accommodation way to their homes. Nothing such as red tape or regulations of that nature should be allowed to delay the carrying out of these improvements. I know that if every county was as ambitious as they should be in seeking to avail of those schemes—if every county was as greedy as Deputy Corry [2116] claims the County of Cork is—I suppose the Minister for Finance would be thinking of some trouble. I do not think that we ought to allow ourselves to be held up by mere financial considerations in a matter of this kind. Go out to the areas around the City of Dublin such as the Sundrive Road, Kimmage, Fairview or any of the other places which have been developed, and see for yourselves the fine development work and the fine concrete ways that have been laid down. Compare that work with the accommodation which the unfortunate smallholder living in a remote country district has. You will then see how grave the problem we have to deal with is and how we, by our intensive development of the urban areas and the very necessary development of the urban areas, at the expense of the rural areas, are drawing our population steadily more and more from the remote rural areas.

I have dozens of applications from smallholders in remote areas who are anxious that the Forestry Department or some other Department should buy up their little holdings which have been in the hands of their families for generations in order to get away first, perhaps, to better land nearer to the towns, nearer to the main roads and eventually to find their way into the City of Dublin or some other large city. That is a tendency that has got to be arrested. There is an immense opportunity in the hands of the Parliamentary Secretary to administer those Votes in fighting against that tendency. I have great sympathy with Deputy Corry and every Cork man. They are quite right to avail of every scheme of this type that comes within their reach. The undeveloped link road which accommodates people in the remote areas ought to be put into proper repair. It may mean a very considerable amount of money but the money would be better spent in that direction than perhaps in seeking to solve the problem of our over-crowded slums which arises directly from the depopulation of our rural areas. I have a great sympathy with any effort that is made in this direction. Once the farm improvements scheme, the rural improvements scheme and the minor improvements scheme are merged into [2117] one it may then be possible to graduate the grants in proportion to the amount of employment given. For example, it is desirable that if a farmer undertakes to relieve unemployment by taking on additional workers he should get a higher grant than if he is not giving additional employment.

If a local association such as a parish council or a town improvement asssociation, wishes to improve the amenities of their town or village by clearing derelict sites, by developing, if possible, building areas in an effort to make their district more attractive and if, at the same time, they are willing to give employment to unemployed workers I think they should be entitled to a grant of at least 75 per cent. of the cost. These are very urgent and important matters. I do not think we have taken sufficient advantage of these schemes in many areas. The reason for that is that the people sometimes suffer from a sense of frustration because of lack of co-operation, perhaps on the part of one individual or perhaps because of the complicated nature of the scheme itself. It is the first duty of the Parliamentary Secretary to cut away the entanglement of red tape with which these schemes are surrounded and which make it difficult for the smallholder or the local organisation to avail of them. I think money spent on advertising these schemes would be money well spent. It may be said that it would be a waste of public money to advertise these but one must remember that these grants are not entirely free. A contribution is required for them. Taking the long view, it must be remembered too that the ultimate effects of these grants are to the benefit of the nation as a whole and not merely to the benefit of the individual. This is work of national importance because it leads to an improvement in the country as a whole. I do not think it is unfair to suggest that public money might be usefully spent in bringing these schemes to the notice of those concerned. In addition to that I think there should be a simplification of the method of application and a simplification of operation.

There will always be, of course, a certain priority as between the merits of one scheme and another. Work may [2118] be required more urgently in one area rather than in another. Priority is a matter which will have to be decided by the Parliamentary Secretary's office. I think that there is need to add to the provision made under this Vote. Next year when the Parliamentary Secretary has an opportunity of presenting his own Estimate I am sure that he will take advantage of that opportunity to increase substantially the amount of money made available.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  That is my devout hope, Deputy.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It is significant that on this Estimate a Government which has committed itself to provide employment has drastically curtailed some of the essential schemes for providing employment throughout the country. Urban employment schemes are cut by £10,000. Rural employment schemes are cut by £10,000. Minor employment schemes are cut by £5,000. Farm improvement schemes are cut by £10,000. These cuts will reflect themselves in the unemployment problem throughout the country. In connection with farm improvement schemes I was glad to see, even at this late stage, the announcement that it is now proposed to continue with them. The farm improvements scheme, as it was being administered, was not sufficient in the past and there was not sufficient money provided under it in the past. Neither is there sufficient money provided now in connection with these schemes to satisfy the demand for them.

The method of administering these schemes seems rather a peculiar one. In some areas the inspectors have told the people that applications could not be considered during a particular period because all their money, they stated, was gone. Evidently the system was to allow the inspectors in different areas a limited amount of money irrespective of the demands that existed in those areas. They were confined to that particular amount and they could not in any one particular period or season deal with more applications than would be covered by the amount of money allocated to them. I think that system is wrong. In some areas there is a greater demand for these schemes [2119] and I think special consideration should be given to such areas. Originally this scheme was intended to deal with congested areas. It was primarily intended to help the people in those areas. In a number of the congested areas in the west there has been a definite curtailment of the scheme. But, insufficient as it was before, it is now proposed to cut it by a further £10,000. The only result of that will be that less work will be done under the particular scheme. It is a good scheme. It was a workable scheme. It is a popular scheme and it had the advantage of being one which was not overburdened with too much red tape.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  If the Deputy will allow me to intervene for a moment— the Deputy must know that these are the printed Estimates, printed not later than last January. Who then is responsible for the cutting down?

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

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The Parliamentary Secretary states that these are not his Estimates. It is the Government's job and the Parliamentary Secretary's job to provide employment in this country. At the present moment, due to the Parliamentary Secretary's and the Government's discontinuing the turf scheme, unemployment has increased by leaps and bounds. The Parliamentary Secretary has created an unemployment problem.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Where?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It is the duty of the Parliamentary Secretary to solve that problem and the Parliamentary Secretary cannot hide behind this popular saying that it is not his own Estimate. Since the Parliamentary Secretary came into office there has been nothing to prevent him changing this Estimate. He could have increased this Estimate if he wished to do so. He is endeavouring now to find some way out of this Frankenstein problem of unemployment created by himself and his Government.

[2120]Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Will the Deputy allow me, for a moment?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Surely, I am entitled to make my speech without these interruptions.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  The unemployment situation will be kept under observation during the winter months and, to the extent to which it may be found necessary to provide additional works, the money will be found.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Moran is entitled to speak without interruption and he ought to be allowed to do so.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It is, as I have said, the duty of the Parliamentary Secretary in these schemes to provide employment. It is his further duty, in accordance with his own undertaking, and in accordance with the undertaking of the Minister for Finance in this Government, to provide employment for people who have become unemployed as a result of the stoppage of the turf scheme.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  We are looking for the unemployed.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  In his Budget statement, the Minister said: “Let all these workers who have been unemployed hurry to the local branch manager to register and we shall see what unemployment we can absorb through alternative schemes.”

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Did they register?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  He undertook to provide employment immediately for the people who became unemployed as a result of the stoppage of the turf scheme.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Your county council refused the £18,000 we offered them.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  If the Parliamentary Secretary will have the goodness to keep his mouth shut until I make my speech, he will have every opportunity to answer me when he is winding up the debate.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  I am trying to direct you.

[2121]Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I need very little direction from the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Not in some spheres of life.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The workers will be long waiting for direction from this Parliamentary Secretary if they are to wait on him to get employment on the schemes provided for under this Estimate. The Parliamentary Secretary said that he would have many alternative schemes of drainage and so forth to absorb the workers who became unemployed, particularly in the turf counties, as a result of the stoppage of the turf schemes. One of the methods by which those workers who became unemployed were to find employment was under a special scheme purporting to be one of the schemes that would replace the hand-won turf scheme and that was the field drainage scheme. With reference to that scheme, I submitted a Parliamentary Question yesterday and I was informed that the applications under the scheme for Galway—I asked about Galway and Mayo —numbered ten, and the work had commenced, and in Mayo there were 14 cases in which work had commenced.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  How many have we approved of if we could get the workers to commence the job? There are 45 in your county.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The position is this, that arising out of the scheme the Government put forward to replace the turf schemes, there are ten acres being drained in Galway and 14 in Mayo— and that is supposed to provide the alternative employment for all the people in these counties who were formerly employed on turf schemes. There is a further scheme provided for under this Estimate—I presume it is to be under this Estimate—and that relates to an offer to the county councils affected, of a grant to deal with the people who are now unemployed by reason of the dropping of the turf schemes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That does not arise on this Estimate.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  With all respect, I suggest it does.

[2122]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  How does it?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It is to be deducted from the money provided for minor employment schemes.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Not for minor employment schemes. Our minor employment scheme is the very same as last year.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The money is provided under this Estimate; it is an emergency scheme.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Under what heading does it come?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It is provided for as one of the special emergency schemes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  It does not come under the Parliamentary Secretary's administration.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I can put it this way, if the Chair is going to be very technical——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am not going to be technical. The Deputy can only discuss the administration of the Parliamentary Secretary's Department. There is nothing here in respect of grants which the county councils receive.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The money for the special employment grant sent down to the county councils comes from the Parliamentary Secretary's Vote.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Where is that set out in this Estimate?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  It may be under Miscellaneous Schemes. There is a sum of £46,500 provided. It certainly comes under this Vote and the money comes from the Board of Works.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the administration of that money?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The money is provided for the relief of unemployment and it has been stated that the winter unemployment grant for this year will be deducted from that. I therefore take it that this amount must come under one or other of these schemes.

[2123]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The point is, is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the administration of that grant?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Our Department voted £18,000 to his county council to relieve unemployment and they have not accepted it.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Therefore, I am entitled to refer to it?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  If that is so, the Deputy is in order.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  There was a sum of £18,000 offered to the County Mayo to provide alternative employment for people who lost their employment as a result of the stoppage of the turf scheme. That sum was offered to replace the amount of money that was being earned in Mayo on the turf scheme. According to official figures, the amount directly earned by the turf workers of Mayo, under the county council scheme, was £112,000. There was employment provided under the turf scheme in County Mayo—directly under the county council—for 3,500 people. In addition to that there was turf privately produced for the various institutions and factories and for the different towns and a conservative estimate of the amount of money earned on the turf scheme there would be in the region of £200,000, while the number of people provided with employment would range from 5,000 to 6,000. That has gone and now we get the glorious offer of £18,000 to provide employment for those 6,000 people and to replace the £200,000 paid under the turf scheme.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  On a point of order. I would like to point out to the Deputy that the £18,000——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That is not a point of order. That is an argument. The Parliamentary Secretary has already informed the Chair that his Department voted £18,000 to Mayo and therefore it comes under his administration.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  I understood that the £18,000 was provided by the Local Government Department.

[2124]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Chair also understood that, but the Parliamentary Secretary says the offer came from his Department.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  How did all these people manage before the war?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The fact is that £18,000 was offered by the Parliamentary Secretary to replace the £200,000 and to provide employment for 5,000 or 6,000 people who are unemployed as a result of the stoppage of the turf scheme. Not alone that, but there is a tail shoved on to this offer of £18,000, demanding that the Mayo people should provide a contribution of £6,000 to supplement this scheme. That would be approximately 4d. in the £ on the rates of the Mayo people and as regards every unemployed man—and most of the workers in Mayo would be entitled to work on these schemes, their valuations are so small—for every shilling he would earn out of this offer he would pay 4d. by way of rates. A sum of £24,000 in a county the size of Mayo would not alone be useless to provide alternative employment for the people who were formerly employed on the turf scheme, but it could not even be divided amongst the different parishes so as to give approximately £150 to be spent throughout each parish. It is no wonder, in these circumstances, that the Mayo County Council turned this offer down. It would be bad economics for them to accept it. It would not provide an answer to the unemployment problem we have there and it would be absolutely useless for them to try to administer such a small sum to replace the turf scheme. It is the first time that a grant purporting to be for the provision of employment, was made subject to a local contribution.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  We only wanted to make a start with the £18,000.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  This is another way by which the Government seeks to get out of its responsibilities. A local contribution was never demanded from local authorities as a condition for a grant for the relief of unemployment. This is the first time that any Government tried to make the county council contribute as a condition of getting a grant [2125] for the purpose of providing for the unemployed. It is not the duty of the county council to provide work for the unemployed; it is the duty and the responsibility of the Government to provide such work. This attempt to get out of their responsibilities, by shoving this rate on the local authorities, is typical of the way in which the Parliamentary Secretary and his colleagues are running away from their responsibilities generally. In County Mayo we would require a grant of at least £50,000. Even that would come late now because the time when the grant should have been made and work should have been provided was when the turf scheme was discontinued. Unfortunately, we have had a continuous trek from these turf areas across to the other side as a result of the Government's failure to formulate a scheme immediately after the turf scheme was abandoned.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  We offered you £18,000 and you would not take it.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I have dealt with the conditions under which that offer was made. It was made on condition that we provided £6,000. The Parliamentary Secretary offered £18,000 to replace a scheme that was bringing in £200,000.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Why did you refuse it?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Would that have been any use to replace a scheme which provided work for thousands and which brought £200,000 to Mayo? Does he suggest for a moment that with this miserable £18,000, we in Mayo, by a wave of some magic wand, could stretch it to £200,000? Does he for one moment suggest that the £18,000 would keep 6,000 workers employed for one week, let alone for the whole season?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  On a point of correction, the Deputy has stated that this is the first time that local authorities were asked to contribute towards schemes for the relief of unemployment in their areas. In all cases local authorities have been asked to contribute their share towards minor relief schemes.

[2126]Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Towards minor relief schemes?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Towards all unemployment schemes.

Mr. O'Rourke: Information on Daniel O'Rourke  Zoom on Daniel O'Rourke  No.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  They are asked to contribute towards grants for works on the county roads for instance.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The county roads are different schemes altogether. The Parliamentary Secretary is endeavouring to quibble. County roads have nothing to do with unemployment schemes. County roads were an old charge administered by the local authorities and we always contributed towards them. But this is the first time we were asked to contribute towards an unemployment scheme. This was a scheme that was announced as a scheme to solve the unemployment problem for the turf workers. This is a scheme that was held up as one that would absorb the unemployed and I defy and challenge the Parliamentary Secretary to point out an instance where a grant for the relief of unemployment was made subject to a contribution by the local authority.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I am inclined to think that the unemployed are a secondary consideration in all this discussion.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  If the Deputy is able to fix up his difficulties with his colleagues in the other Labour splinters, they might be able to contribute their share towards a solution of the unemployment problem but he will not do it by his interruptions here.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  They always do.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Even to take the edge off the serious problem existing in the turf areas, it would take at least £50,000 and that grant of £50,000 should not be made subject to any local contribution. Without such a sum being made available in counties like Mayo we have no hope of keeping the few people at home we have left there. Unless a sum that amount is made available under this Vote, there will not be any necessity in 12 months' time to provide unemployment [2127] schemes for Mayo as there will be no people left there to do the work. If the Parliamentary Secretary and his colleagues are serious about the problem they will provide a much bigger sum for these areas. The Parliamentary Secretary should know that when a body like the Mayo County Council, composed of all Parties, unanimously reject an offer of £18,000 they are not doing that for fun and that when all Parties on the council tell the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government, in so many words, that this grant of £18,000 is futile and useless from the point of view of dealing with the problem of unemployment, they should at least sit up and take notice.

Of course the Parliamentary Secretary has changed his mind in this matter in the last few months. Immediately the turf scheme was discontinued, he was crying from the housetops in Galway and all over the country that all the people unemployed would be absorbed in a new scheme. He changed his mind within a few months. In reply to a Parliamentary Question, I think two weeks ago, he announced that he was shifting the stance which he had taken on this matter. There was a question raised here in connection with the workers formerly employed by Fuel Importers——

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  How did they manage before the need for turf arose?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The people of Mayo always produced a big quantity of turf. The turf scheme in Mayo was developed over a number of years throughout the emergency. For the information of the Deputy, who I presume never saw a congested area, I may say that the population of areas like Mayo has been increasing. A number of people who otherwise would have emigrated—there was always a big amount of emigration from Mayo—were getting steady employment on the bogs under the turf scheme. They were earning as much as £250 per season per family unit on the turf schemes. These people, having been without employment for many years, suddenly found that they were sitting on gold mines. They found that in this native industry, started, so to [2128] speak, in their own back yards, they could get permanent employment. That was the position over a number of years but in a few days all that has been wiped out. That may give the Deputy some idea of the problem we have to face in areas like Mayo. The Parliamentary Secretary has evidently changed his mind on this matter of providing employment for the turf workers, because he said here, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, that the workers disemployed by Fuel Importers Ltd. would not be provided with employment by his section, that they would not be eligible for work until they had exhausted their unemployment benefit.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  What was the reason for that?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I wonder is that still the mentality of the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  I was prevented by a regulation of the previous Government from finding employment for these 400 workers. The regulations set out that they must take their place in the queue.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The Parliamentary Secretary cannot have it both ways. He cannot proclaim in Galway to-day that he will absorb all the people who have become unemployed by reason of the discontinuance of turf production and tell us here to-morrow that he is prevented by some regulation from providing employment for these people.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  In Dublin.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  He stated that from public platforms and I am sure he will not go back on all the speeches he made about all the alternative schemes on which these people would find work, but he is now hiding behind some regulation and suggesting that he cannot find a way of going ahead with these famous schemes he talked about to provide employment for these people.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  As soon as I smash the regulations of your Government.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  According to the reply he gave to this Parliamentary Question, he is now washing his hands of this matter——

[2129]Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Not at all.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  ——and endeavouring to shelter behind some regulation which he says he cannot get over. That is a breach of the undertaking given by the Parliamentary Secretary, and it is a breach of the undertaking given by the inter-Party Government that alternative work would be provided for these people. The Parliamentary Secretary is making no attempt whatever in this Estimate to provide employment for these people, and, if we are to judge by the 14 cases in Mayo and the ten cases in Galway, I am very much afraid that the lookout for these workers is very blue. The Parliamentary Secretary evidently is not very worried about that position, if we are to judge by the answer he gave here the other day.

I do not know how the Parliamentary Secretary proposes to justify taking out of the amount of money provided for unemployment these special grants to county councils. Surely that is an endeavour by the Parliamentary Secretary and his associates to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. These were supposed to be special grants to meet a special situation and to do a special job, and what the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government are now doing is paring down the ordinary annual Estimate in respect of unemployment, taking so much out of that Estimate, calling it provision for a special emergency scheme and publicising it throughout the country in an endeavour to placate the turf workers and to put it across the public that something special is being done for the unemployed.

If the Parliamentary Secretary never provided any such scheme, if it was never suggested that a special scheme would be made available to absorb these workers, the same amount of money would have been provided in respect of unemployment, but picking out a special scheme for County Mayo to which the people have to contribute £6,000 for an £18,000 grant and asking them to swallow that is pushing things too far. Without any such scheme being suggested, we on the Mayo County Council, at the beginning of our financial year, could have got a free [2130] grant of £90,000 by putting up £10,000, under the road schemes—a 90 per cent grant simply for the asking. Then the Parliamentary Secretary comes along with what is supposed to be a special scheme for the relief of the unemployment problem, following the stoppage of the turf scheme, of £18,000.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy has told us about that scheme three times at least.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I am pointing out that the terms of the scheme, from the point of view of anybody wanting to avail of it——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy has already pointed that out three times at least. He may not repeat himself.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  If I have mentioned it three times, two of the three were due to the unparliamentary interruptions of the Parliamentary Secretary.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  All interruptions are unparliamentary.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  There is a further matter with regard to the administration of this scheme, that is, that the expenditure of the money is confined to contract roads. These contract roads are not so bad. A few of them may be bad, but there are roads which are in a much worse condition and which are more in need of repair, and, whatever we might feel about the inadequacy of the scheme, if we were allowed to spend money on village or cul-de-sac roads, some case might be made for it, but we are confined to spending it on these contract roads. No doubt the Parliamentary Secretary will tell me that that is the law and will suggest that I am endeavouring to discuss legislation on this Estimate, but he will find, before he is very long in his position, that the same objection will be raised by every local authority and that the people in the more backward areas are demanding that their roads be done.

If these roads cannot be done under the scheme as now administered, something will have to be done whereby these grants can be availed of for the purpose. These roads, which have been [2131] neglected for a great number of years, are in a very bad state, and the Parliamentary Secretary knows well that, in areas where grants are being given without any contribution, where schemes are being carried out under the Minor Employment Schemes Vote, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get the people to avail of a rural improvements scheme. If one road in the area is done under a minor employment scheme, for many years after it will be virtually impossible to get the people who want any other road in the area done to avail of a rural improvements scheme, because they will not provide the necessary contribution. They will argue that when John Brown's road was done free, there is no reason why theirs should not be done free also, and in counties like Mayo, where there are a large number of unemployed and where consequently a number of these grants have operated over a great number of years, that position is more apparent than in many other counties.

Further, there should be some way of getting over unreasonable objections by people who hold up these schemes. In some cases, there will be one crank in a village or one riparian owner a crank who will not allow a scheme to pass through his lands, possibly because he does not like his neighbour or for some other spiteful reason. There should be some way of dealing with that. I have come across good schemes which have been held up by frivolous objections by people, who, in the main, would possibly not contribute to the scheme at all, particularly in relation to drainage.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  The Deputy must know that we have not got compulsory powers. I assure him that we have not.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  If the Parliamentary Secretary has not got power to deal with that matter, he would have co-operation in getting the power. I think power was taken under the Arterial Drainage Act to deal with a similar problem, or the possibility of a similar problem.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  That is so.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I do not know if that power would be sufficient for the Parliamentary [2132] Secretary's purpose in relation to the point I am making.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  It was the Board of Works which got that power.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to examine this problem, because, as I say, I have come across a number of schemes which have been held up for this reason. If he can avail of that particular power, I would suggest that he would make it known to the House or to the Deputies interested because I am sure this problem has worried many people. I am glad Deputy Commons is in the House now because I am sure that if the Parliamentary Secretary does not accept what I have to say to him because I am on the Opposition, Deputy Commons, who is a colleague of mine on the Mayo County Council, can assure him of the position that exists there. In particular in regard to the grant that I dealt with earlier on, Deputy Commons cannot shirk responsibility. He has been of the same mind as I have been in connection with this particular grant.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Is the Deputy going over the grant again?

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I am not going over the grant. Surely I can invite my colleague to make representations to the Parliamentary Secretary. I would like to point out to Deputy Commons that he cannot shirk responsibility in connecnection with the unemployment problem in the turf industry. It will not do for Deputy Commons to tell us down in Mayo in connection with unemployment that he is against the Parliamentary Secretary, that he is against the inadequacy of the money in this Vote.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy is trying to get in by a side wind what I have already ruled out. He has already spoken three times of the Mayo County Council. I will not allow Deputy Moran to proceed further on that line.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I am not dealing with the £20,000 grant. What I am dealing with is that Deputy Commons cannot divest himself of responsibility.

[2133]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy is not going to proceed on that line. Either he will desist or he will sit down. He will not avoid the rule of the Chair in that fashion.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  I would be sorry to disobey any ruling of the Chair but I would finally point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that the provision for unemployment throughout the whole State in these Votes—on urban employment schemes, rural employment schemes, minor employment schemes, reconditioning and repair of public roads and the lime distribution scheme, which I see has also been cut by £2,000 in this Estimate—is completely inadequate for the problem facing the Parliamentary Secretary and the country and unless the Parliamentary Secretary is prepared to face up to his responsibilities in this matter, and in particular, to get from the Minister for Finance adequate assistance to deal with this problem, he will have much to answer for throughout the country.

There is a grave feeling of unrest throughout the country as a result of the unemployment we are getting. The Parliamentary Secretary, under this Estimate, if it was only by way of demonstration, could possibly show that his intentions were sincere in endeavouring to meet this problem and to solve it. He will not allay any public unrest by presenting to the House this Estimate showing cuts in the provisions for schemes which provided the most employment. Possibly the Parliamentary Secretary has not the courage to say that these cuts were made at the dictation of the Minister for Finance, as part of the new economy. At all events, for whatever reason, it is no good defence for the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the House and the country that he is introducing the Estimate that was prepared by somebody else. His is the responsibility. It was he and his Party that created the unemployment problem I have referred to. Let him face his responsibility.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Fianna Fáil never accepted responsibility for unemployment in the country.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  Indeed we did.

[2134]Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  They were not interested in Wexford town last year when there were 300 unemployed. What did Deputy MacEntee ever do about unemployment?

Mr. O'Grady: Information on Seán O'Grady  Zoom on Seán O'Grady  How many unemployed are there in County Wexford to-day?

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Less than this time last year.

Mr. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne  Zoom on Seán Dunne  It is a strange thing to hear Deputies talk of their worry in regard to the unemployment problem who never so talked before.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  If you are referring to me, that is untrue.

Mr. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne  Zoom on Seán Dunne  This is my first term in this House.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  With respect, Sir——

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  If the cap fits, wear it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Deputy Dunne is quite entitled to say what he said.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  With respect, Sir, I say that Deputy Dunne stated that I never referred to unemployment before.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  He never mentioned Deputy Moran's name, good or bad.

Mr. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne  Zoom on Seán Dunne  If the Deputy wishes to engage in a shouting match with me, I will take him on any time. This is my first session in the House. I understand in previous sessions the Deputy who has last spoken, far from being concerned about this particular problem heretofore, had the greater part of his Parliamentary duties taken up in requesting permission for residents of his county to go across to Britain to get employment. So I regard a lot of the discussion that has occurred here to-day as so much political propaganda.

We on these benches have a very real concern about unemployment and we are in contact with this problem and have been in contact with it, not since the 18th February, but over a long period of years. I do think that the rural improvement schemes and [2135] minor employment schemes should be utilised to the fullest extent to eliminate the unemployment which exists but it is true—I have personal experience of it—that in many cases where application was made for these schemes, and when the Department were willing to implement them, there were not sufficient persons unemployed to justify them.

It may be that in Mayo there is a peculiar situation but it seems an extraordinary commentary on the Mayo County Council to say that they threw away £18,000 which could have been utilised to relieve, to some extent at any rate, unemployment there. All this professed worry about turf workers is a new growth, a mushroom growth. There was not quite so much worry last year when there were hundreds of Mayo men and men from every county in Ireland starving in the turf camps of Kildare as a result of the policy of Bord na Móna and the previous Government in relation to their wages. They were starved out — literally starved—for 11 days.

Mr. Gilbride: Information on Eugene Gilbride  Zoom on Eugene Gilbride  They are starving somewhere else now.

Mr. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne  Zoom on Seán Dunne  I wish to refer to my own constituency in relation to this matter. In County Dublin we have had very little experience, if any, of rural improvement schemes. We have made very little demands on the Department in this connection. At present we are trying to drain a large area of flooded land in the district of the Bard of Ring, outside Balbriggan and, as I stated in connection with the question I asked the Parliamentary Secretary a couple of days ago, part of the river which floods that land is bordered by commonage or State lands to a considerable extent. It is felt locally, and felt I am sure by all the Deputies representing the district, that since the proposed rural improvement scheme for this area will improve this commonage or State lands, some contribution should be forthcoming from the Department in order to help the small working farmers of that district to put through their rural improvements scheme. In this area, which is close to [2136] Deputy Rooney's residence and which, contrary to what the previous Deputy said, is a congested area—and we know as much in our county about congested areas as do any of the western Deputies—there are small working farmers who supply the Dublin market. They are some of the best farmers, who are getting more advantage out of the land, by dint of their intelligence and application, than many farmers elsewhere. They are seriously affected by this flooding and I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary to give serious consideration to this case. One method would be to raise the percentage of the grant.

A similar situation, as a result of flooding from the Tubbersue river, a tributary of the Delvin, occurs in a district adjacent to Ballymascanlon, and the small farmers of the district are adversely affected. We in County Dublin have made very little demand for many years in connection with rural improvements schemes or grants for minor relief schemes and when we do seek something it should be dealt with speedily and generously.

Regarding the men unemployed as a result of the stoppage of the turf scheme in the Phoenix Park, there is no one in this House more in contact with those men than I am and I can say that the men concerned will be the very first to admit honestly that it was high time a halt was called. However, it is the duty of this Government unquestionably to provide them with employment. I do not see how the Parliamentary Secretary could be made responsible for the provision of that employment, since those men are resident in the city and it would require something in the nature of a special scheme by Dublin Corporation to provide employment for them. Therefore, it is more properly a matter for the Department of Local Government. I do think that the misery of unemployment should not be made the plaything of political discussion in this House, as that is all that has been made of it. There has been a great deal of talk, but very little real earnestness.

Mr. O'Rourke: Information on Daniel O'Rourke  Zoom on Daniel O'Rourke  These Votes are very important to all rural areas and [2137] particularly to the congested areas of the West. Many years ago, we had not any such grants, either for the relief of unemployment or for the provision of facilities and amenities which the people require. We should be very grateful that a change has come about. A small amount was done in the days of Cumann na nGaedheal and this developed into a big thing in the days of Fianna Fáil. There is a twofold purpose in these grants. I take it that it is to provide firstly employment as a measure of relief, and in most cases without permanent employment, as it is mostly seasonal. The other deserving object is to give some form of comfort and amenity to the poor people, particularly in the congested districts. For a long time, we had no such thing as a rural improvement scheme. I and all the Deputies from the West of Ireland were very much concerned with the fact that, while there were many works that could and should be done, we could not get enough registered unemployed to permit the work to be done. There was the question of valuation, and so on, which prevented a great many people from registering as unemployed. I do not agree with the Deputy who said that there were people too noble to register. That is only nonsense, since if a person is genuinely unemployed there is no reason why he should not register. If he goes to a city or big town, he has to do so and if he goes to a foreign country he has to do so.

There are two kinds of schemes mentioned—one in relation to urban districts and the other in relation to rural districts. I am sorry to see there is a reduction in the Estimate in both cases. While I am certainly not blaming the present Parliamentary Secretary for that, as it was not his Estimate, I think there should be a supplementary or additional Estimate to make up for the conditions that now prevail. I am not going to harp on the discontinuance of the turf schemes as a political expedient—I do not believe in that at all—but there are thousands in those congested areas now knocked out of employment and thousands of others who were producing hand-won turf and who—possibly wrongly—discontinued it [2138] this year. Certainly, there are families who did earn large sums of money, apart altogether from the county council schemes. I believe the Parliamentary Secretary will find it necessary to provide a supplementary sum this year to make up for that loss.

With regard to urban employment schemes, although I am not so much in touch with them, I discovered recently in connection with the contemplated building of a number of houses in various towns, not very large ones, in the County Roscommon, that, after making allowance for everything, for the State grant which appears on the surface to be generous, for the grant from the Transition Development Fund and for the contribution that may reasonably be made by the local bodies, the cost of building is going to be so excessive that we cannot do it. For the building of an ordinary cottage which is provided with water and sewerage in the towns and the county, contractors will not undertake the work for less than £1,300 odd. For the number of houses we require immediately in the towns of Roscommon, it would take an additional £4,000 off the rates which at the moment are 22/4 in the £. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government, who is here, will have it conveyed to his Minister that it would be absolutely impossible for a county like ours to build the number of houses that are required in the towns or in the country districts at present prices. My suggestion is that, as an aid to the building of these houses in the towns, we should use the unemployment grants, wherever possible, for the development of the sites. It is a thing that was done in the past. These unemployment grants have been used for the development of sites in some towns, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government to take a special note of that. I know that in my county this development work is very costly.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  Cannot they do that at the present time?

Mr. O'Rourke: Information on Daniel O'Rourke  Zoom on Daniel O'Rourke  Yes, if we had the money, but we are asking you for the money. Where these housing schemes are carried out, wide concrete roads [2139] have to be made into them. The provision of sewerage works, the laying of water pipes and all that makes the development of the sites very costly. A lot of that work could, and should, be done with help from the unemployment grant.

There is a local matter that I would like to bring to the notice of both Parliamentary Secretaries because I feel they would be interested in it. It is the condition of the Roscommon sports field. It is flooded for almost six months of the year. The park, one of the finest in the country, is an excellent one, and I am told it could be drained. Owing to the flooding, it is not possible to play on it for the greater part of the year. I and others made representations for an unemployment grant to do this work. The Parliamentary Secretary is like myself an old footballer, and I hope that he will try and get an award for that work this time. The park is very important for the County Roscommon, and I hope to see a big assembly there on the 18th July.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  And we will win, I hope.

Mr. O'Rourke: Information on Daniel O'Rourke  Zoom on Daniel O'Rourke  I would like to take with the minor relief schemes the bog development schemes. I have not seen any bog roads or bog drains made this year in my neighbourhood. Possibly that may be an accident, but it represents a very serious loss indeed. The Parliamentary Secretary knows the bogs almost as well as I do. He will agree that farmers in the bog districts suffer great hardships in trying to get the turf out, especially where there are no roads into the bogs or where the passes are in a bad condition. The result is that the best turf in the bottom of the bog is lost owing to flooding. I am not going to blame the Parliamentary Secretary for that. He is only a short time in office, but I do suggest to him that one of the best things any Government Department could do would be to drain the bogs by the provision of even small grants as well as for the continuance and repair of bog roads. The amount that is laid out on that work is really inadequate.

With regard to the selection of schemes. I know, of course, that it [2140] would be impossible to have all schemes carried out in the one year. I have in mind a few jobs that we applied to have carried out within the last ten or 15 years. This may appear a small thing, but in these congested areas, the Department, I suppose, try to do the bigger jobs. You may have the case of seven or eight families living on a byroad and the county council will not do anything for them. The people themselves are too poor. When applications are made to have some of those small jobs done, they are turned down on the report of the supervisor, but I think they should get more consideration. I have made representations in these cases several times, but the result has always been the same.

I know the Department takes the view that more important jobs in the district would give more employment and hence the others are left there. We cannot get away from the fact, however, that these poor people, apart from the unemployment question, are in a very bad way and have been over a long period of years. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give priority to some of those jobs that I have in mind. In fact, some of them are in a part of the county that is very near his home area.

The rural improvements scheme was, I think, one of the finest things that ever came into the countryside. I agree with Deputy Moran that in a great many cases it is not easy to get people to contribute the 25 per cent. Someone suggested to the Parliamentary Secretary that it might be possible to do away with this local contribution altogether. Possibly, that might not be altogether desirable because rural improvements schemes are carried out in some areas where the people could afford to pay something, but as regards the congested poor areas, the State contribution should, I think, be increased. I am informed that in some cases it is. A contribution of 10 per cent., or even less, would be a good thing.

Finally, I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to try and have the Estimates increased and, if necessary, to bring in a Supplementary Estimate. I know that some people—this, of course, does not apply to the Parliamentary [2141] Secretary, who knows those areas—have false ideas altogether about the conditions that prevail in certain areas in the West of Ireland. The houses are almost on top of one another. The people have been in the habit of migrating and emigrating. They had been in the habit of coming to Dublin to get employment, but in more recent years they have been going to England and Scotland. They are in a very bad plight. Neither the Parliamentary Secretary nor anybody else would like to see them going across the water, and hence I am sure he will agree with me that everything possible should be done to make their position such that they will remain at home. I would ask him to press on the Department of Finance to increase the grant for the relief of unemployment this year. Deputy Moran appeared to be going very much against the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  He is a Mayo man.

Mr. O'Rourke: Information on Daniel O'Rourke  Zoom on Daniel O'Rourke  The Parliamentary Secretary is not responsible for a good many of the things that Deputy Moran spoke of. It was not his fault that such a low grant was offered in lieu of turf production. That came through the Department of Local Government and, therefore, if anybody is to blame it is the Minister for Local Government. The Parliamentary Secretary was represented as saying that there was a local contribution that was asked for year after year under the Unemployment Schemes Vote, and was made not through the Department of Public Works but through the Department of Local Government. I suppose I am not entitled to speak on this subject now, but I am very dissatisfied with the amount that has been offered.

£77,000 odd was paid out by the county council for employment last year, and over £100,000 with everything included, so it is a very serious loss in our county. We got a £12,000 grant; a special meeting was called and we decided to accept it. One of our reasons for accepting it was that we thought the poorest section of our people wanted it. We put an additional 3d. on the rates and I think the Parliamentary [2142] Secretary could accept that as an earnest that we were genuinely interested in unemployment. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary makes a great success of his job and that he will pay particular attention to the few points I have made.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I propose to be very brief in this matter, and I am very glad to say that several of the Deputies opposite have debated this Estimate in the light of the fact that it has been prepared mainly by their own Party. I am brought to my feet, however, by reason of the remarks which issued from Deputy Moran; he tried to make this a political issue by references to unemployment caused among turf workers. Deputy Moran does not hold the view which people in Dublin City and other cities hold as a result of the wet turf which was dished into this city during the emergency when no alternative was available.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  What kind of turf have they now?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  They do not use it.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Are you sure?

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Perhaps they use machine-won turf. I have nothing to say against machine-won turf. Deputy Moran said that Deputy Lemass found himself in a dilemma in the early part of this year when he found that he could get large quantities of coal and that the turf would not be used by the people of this city when they could get coal; he found that he would have to compel them to use machine-won turf if the scheme was to be continued. I would go as far as to say that in the case of those unfortunate areas, where hand-won turf provided employment and men are left without employment as a result of the abandonment of that scheme, I hope in the future provision will be made to ensure that machine-won turf will be made available. I know that machine-won turf can compare reasonably with coal of some kinds and if it is for the purpose of providing employment city people would not object to taking a small proportion of machine-won turf if they could get something which would be near coal. The people in the machine-won [2143] turf areas expect no charity and they have no reason to expect it, especially if they can work their own way without assistance from the State. Taxpayers in the emergency years were required to provide large sums of money so that hand-won turf could be provided when coal could not be obtained. Unfortunately an unfair advantage was taken of the position and turf was sent to Dublin which could not be burned even when paraffin oil was poured on it, except in the case of machine-won turf and perhaps some good class hand-won turf, so the people in the city cannot be blamed when they decided that they would never again leave themselves open to the possibility of having to use wet turf when they can use coal as an alternative.

Deputy Moran indicated a gloomy outlook as far as the Mayo people are concerned, but I would like to point out that this Government and the last Government made grants available for development in those areas to ensure that people who decide to take advantage of these grants can carry on regardless of the fact that the hand-won turf schemes were abandoned. We have the poultry development scheme——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The hand-won turf scheme has been mentioned in every second sentence but the poultry scheme has nothing to do with that.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  I was merely pointing out that in the absence of the hand-won turf scheme people can take advantage of the poultry scheme.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy could range over all our administration by that method.

Mr. Rooney: Information on Eamonn Rooney  Zoom on Eamonn Rooney  Deputies opposite, generally speaking, debated this Estimate reasonably and if some of the Deputies tried to make capital out of the fact that the hand-won turf scheme was abandoned they are entitled to do it.

Reference was made to roads and the rural improvements scheme. The only scheme applying to my county is at the [2144] Bog of Ring to which Deputy Dunne referred. The unfortunate people find themselves in a position there where it will probably cost more to drain that area than the grant because it is bounded by commons and estate lands and these commons and estate lands are responsible for the great need which exists for drainage in that area. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will send an engineer there to examine the commons and estate bogs and see their effects on the surrounding areas, and I hope that he will find himself in a position where the State can take responsibility for that area so that the holders along that area needing drainage can benefit by it.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  I think it is a pity that any Deputy should try to score political points when dealing with unemployment, and I am disappointed at the absence of so many Deputies from the House when an Estimate of so much importance is under discussion. I would like to say that the unemployment problem is a serious challenge to everybody in this House and to the people of this country and that the last thing people in this House should indulge in is the scoring of political points. Deputy McQuillan referred to some unemployed people signing at labour exchanges for pocket money. I think that that is a reflection on the unemployed of the country and I would not stand for it.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  On a point of order, I referred to the very young elements that signed at the labour exchange, not the majority.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Nobody can sign under 18 years of age.

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  People from 18 to 20.

Mr. Hickey: Information on James Hickey  Zoom on James Hickey  Men are compelled to be unemployed and are not unemployed otherwise and these people are compelled to be unemployed. This is a matter, I think, which we should consider more seriously than in trying to score political points from each other on either side of the House. I should stress to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should make an effort to find [2145] work for the people who have been rendered unemployed because of the changes in the times during the past six or eight months. These changes were inevitable. They had to come and nobody is to blame for them, but why hesitate to spend money on schemes by which these men could be absorbed? I have been in very close contact with the men who were employed on the hand-won turf scheme in County Cork. They are fine, decent men who are prepared to take employment anywhere and to go a long distance for it.

We are confined to an expenditure of £1,250,000 for employment schemes over the whole Twenty-Six Counties and nobody is going to suggest that that will relieve the unemployment problem. A good deal has been said and done to shatter the complacency of Deputies in this House regarding relief schemes and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not be tied up because of financial stringency from finding employment for those men.

Like Deputy O'Rourke, I think these relief schemes at times should be used for far more important matters. I remember not long ago when relief schemes would not be undertaken except they had a large labour content. On one occasion in Cork when we were digging up roads which were good enough for use for some time, we could not get a relief grant for works which were suggested because they had not a large labour content. Certain works could have been undertaken under these relief schemes of a very important kind which would be a relief to the rates as well as useful for the people of Cork, but red tape interfered and they could not be undertaken because they had not a large labour content. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary to cut out all these restrictive regulations. The question of financial stringency should not enter into the problem of finding work for those who have been unemployed because of the changed times. I appeal to Deputies on both sides of the House that in discussing the serious matters with which we are confronted political scoring should end once and for all.

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  The formation of the Special Employment Schemes Section [2146] of the Department of Finance has been the culmination of a long and patient effort on the part of the officials who now operate it. I remember in 1932 when that body of officials undertook the organisation of what were then known as minor relief schemes. We have watched its development ever since. It had to start from scratch, because this type of service was very haphazard and patchy previous to that. The introduction of the unemployment assistance scheme and the registration of people who were partially unemployed as well as the industrially unemployed made the provision of a permanent scheme of work of this nature a complement of the unemployment assistance scheme itself. I should like to take this opportunity now that I am in opposition to pay a little meed of praise to the officials who organised that Department and brought it to its present very fine state of efficiency. At first it only dealt with bog roads and stop-end roads. Later some of the money was applied to county roads and small drainage works. The development of the rural improvements scheme was also a result of the experience of the Special Employment Schemes Office.

As it is progressively developing and taking on new jobs I should like to make an appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary. In making that appeal I may say that I believe that the development to which I am about to refer would have taken place now that the war is over and the emergency conditions are easier. I refer to the treatment of marine works in the same way as bog roads and small drainage works have been treated. I think that the time has now come when the Special Employment Schemes Office should change the regulations which it operates in connection with marine proposals. They insist on the local authority making a contribution and also keeping the works under constant supervision just as they do in connection with their own roads. In view of his experience in the County Galway, I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that the representatives on the Galway County Council, in the main, are not interested in marine works. Very few of them [2147] represent areas which have a littoral of any sort. I suppose about six or seven out of the 31 representatives on the county council would be the maximum who would be interested in marine works. I mention that to demonstrate the difficulty of getting the local authority to make a contribution to these proposals for shore development works of any sort. I know that in the smaller areas the local authority finds it very difficut to collect the rates and that adds to the disinclination of the local authority to provide any money for this service. Other services are provided, however, even where the rates are not fully collected. Assistance under the Medical Charities Act, for instance, is not withheld from these areas simply because there is not a full collection of rates.

I should, therefore, like to make an appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary —it is an appeal which I would have made no matter what Government was in power; I did not press the matter during the emergency here, but I intended to press it once the emergency had passed—as his Department has taken so many matters under its care to go a step further and take up this question of applications for small slips and piers, the blasting of rocks, and various other facilities which would be of help to fishermen and the men who use small craft like curraghs and corracles. There are a good many of these around the coast, especially in County Galway. The provision of these facilities would be of the greatest benefit to the fishermen and, in bad weather conditions, might often mean the difference between life and death. I do not think the cost would be prohibitive. Even if it were, the great service which these facilities would render would fully justify it.

While I am on the question of marine works, I should like again to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary—I have already done it by means of questions in the House and by correspondence—to the application of the Galway County Council for a grant to repair the pier at Bunowen near Slyne Head, which is also known as Ailbrack. This pier was very badly damaged by a [2148] heavy tide which involved not alone the coast of this country but of other countries in Western Europe in the winter of 1942.

The reply was given that the traffic at this harbour was not sufficient to justify the making of a grant by the Special Employment Schemes Office. The traffic at that particular pier is, I admit, irregular. Nevertheless, it serves fishermen and it also serves fairly large sized boats that come from England for the shipment of kelp and dry weed, and various incidental services. In any event, even if you have a temporary easing off in the traffic in any of these ports—and we have had that easing off all round the coast, even at our best harbours all during the emergency—it would be very foolish policy to allow a fine harbour works such as Bunowen Harbour to be left in that state of disrepair indefinitely. Rather than wait for the initiative to be taken by the local authority in the matter, the Special Employment Schemes Office—now that they are establishing an organisation of their own—should keep all these works under continuous survey. There should be a constant jogging of the local authority as to the duty in respect of these marine works instead of waiting for the local authority or the local Deputy to move in the matter. I readily appreciate that the Department of Industry and Commerce may be very vitally interested in this particular problem. However, so far as the smaller works are concerned, I think that the Special Employment Schemes Office would be adequate to do all that is necessary to be done. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will look up the records in respect of this pier and see if he can do something about it.

I was very interested in the lectures which we, on this side of the House, got about using the question of unemployment for political purposes. A saying that I used to hear very often some years ago, and I suppose it is still in use, was: “When the devil is sick the devil a saint would be, but when the devil is well the devil a saint is he.” We were lambasted on this question of unemployment for a very long period of time. We now come into Dáil Éireann at a time when unemployment has been [2149] caused in the very worst possible way in a constituency such as mine and we are lectured on this question of talking about unemployment for political purposes. All I can say is that if one has a sense of humour one has something to laugh about here. I had a letter only yesterday from a man in my constituency in which he told me that it is only now that West Galway is experiencing an emergency—they have not had anything in the nature of an emergency since the war began until now. If we are hurting the political susceptibilities of the Coalition Parties by referring to the terrific hardship that has been inflicted on the people in our constituencies in regard to unemployment, we cannot help it because we have no excuse to offer for it.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on John O'Leary  Zoom on John O'Leary  Who did away with the turf scheme?

Mr. Bartley: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  We have got to keep on telling the Government that there are people in the country who have been very seriously affected and whose standard of living has been reduced enormously by the stopping of this source of remuneration. I heard one speaker recently refer to these schemes as relief schemes. Certainly that is the term for them now. Turf provided a way of living that enabled the people engaged in it to have a proper self-respect. When we consider that in County Galway a sum of £26,000— £6,000 of which is to be provided by the county council—is the quid pro quo for wages amounting to £116,000 annually which they were earning, it is quite easy to see that we have some cause for complaint and that the people who were in receipt of that £116,000 annually have something more to talk about and have some motive other than merely an interest in politics.

One of the Deputies on the opposite side referred to the fact that people in the eastern parts of the country got a surfeit of wet turf and that they, therefore, had a real welcome for the coal when it came in. We know they got wet turf. If the weather records for the period from the middle of 1946 to about the month of May in 1947 are looked up, it will be seen that it was one of the wettest on record and that even in the turf areas turf was scarce [2150] then. We know that it is because of the acute shortage of turf consequent on that continuous period of bad weather that coal had to be brought in.

If the then Minister for Industry and Commerce had not brought in the coal he would have been criticised much more severely for not helping to mitigate the sufferings consequent on the bad weather period than he has since been criticised for bringing in the coal. By doing so he left himself open to the charge that he deliberately set about to kill the hand-won turf scheme. It was most unfortunate that the hand-won turf scheme should have been dropped because this has been one of the best turf years that we have had that I can remember. Turf could have been saved from the middle of February this year until the end of May or the first week or so in June. Large quantities of the best quality turf would by now be stacked all over the country—turf that would not have got any rain. It was a pity that the scheme was dropped because certainly the people would have had a choice of two good fuels. They would have had good turf and coal and they could have bought whichever best suited their pockets and domestic requirements. We are now in the position that not alone have the public schemes of turf production ceased in consequence of which great unemployment has been caused, but private producers of turf have also got notice. If anything should happen to prevent the import of coal next winter, or if the price of coal should increase to such an extent as to prohibit its importation, we shall be faced with a real fuel crisis before the end of the following spring. That will be the experience even of those people who live in close proximity to the turf producing areas. We are, however, not dealing with the production of our necessary requirements; we are dealing with the employment aspect of the problem. From that point of view I think one is entitled to deal with turf under this Vote.

Reference has been made to the subsidising of hand-won turf. To the extent to which it would be necessary to subsidise turf until such time as we could put the turf industry definitely on its feet and free it from all its emergency [2151] aids and subventions, I think a good case could be made for subsidising it. Just as good a case can be made for the subsidising of turf as can be made for the subsidising of the growing of beet for sugar, the growing of wheat for bread, the production of milk and butter and the hundred and one other commodities which are subsidised at the present time. No one criticises the subsidisation of these particular commodities. Fuel is as important and as essential as any of these things. The country people, if they were given a choice between having a fire and having food, would choose the fire. If one has not the fire one can hardly use the food. One Deputy on the Government Benches advocated a poultry scheme in the congested areas. In the slang of other days that is tantamount to “giving the bird” to the people in the congested areas.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  I did not intend to intervene in this debate but matters have arisen during the course of it which make it imperative for me to do so now. For the past two years I have taken part in this debate. I and other Deputies in this House have laid down general principles in relation to potential employment under this scheme. I, and other Deputies likewise, have received very little hope. When I crossed over to this side of the House I thought the best attitude to adopt would be to use whatever little powers I have in an effort to make the task of the Parliamentary Secretary and his officials as easy as possible in order that they might thereby find it possible to distribute the moneys under their control in a manner satisfactory to the Deputies in this House and not have the Deputies continually asking for something which they will never get. With that end in view I put down on the Order Paper three motions. If these motions are debated and passed through this House their effect will be to alter the whole system of affairs in the Office of Public Works thereby making the work of the Deputies in their particular constituencies and of the Parliamentary Secretary and his officials easier than it is at present.

[2152] We have been talking in this House for the past 25 years. The roads and drains about which Deputies spoke 25 years ago are to-day in a worse condition than they were 25 years ago. Nothing has been done. As legislators it is our duty to do something. Talking about it seems to get us nowhere. It is our duty to give the people responsible for these things an opportunity of improving their administration and consequently improving the conditions of the people about whom we are talking. For that reason I shall curtail my speech as much as possible on this occasion and I shall reserve my ammunition for a later date when the motions I have tabled come to be discussed. Unfortunately there is very little prospect of these motions being taken at an early date.

Meantime the winter employment schemes and the special employment schemes will continue in the same old way. There is an immense amount of work that could be done by the Special Employment Schemes Office. The present system reminds me of an experience of George Bernard Shaw. He once said that at the outset of his career as a writer he received so many rejection slips from various editors and publishing houses that he could have papered his entire house with them. As far as I am concerned, I could cover every road in my constituency with the blue cards I have got from the Special Employment Schemes Office refusing to carry out certain works because there was not enough money allocated for them.

This office is a useful one to me personally and a useful one to my constituents. The hardest work I have to do on behalf of my constituents is that connected with the Special Employment Schemes Office and the Irish Land Commission. I am particularly interested in employment for the unemployed in County Mayo and in the country as a whole. Secondly, I want to see work done which will make rural life easier and more attractive to the people living in the rural areas. We have to face up to the fact that not enough money can be found to carry out all the schemes we would like to see carried out. If the problem had [2153] been seriously approached in the past much greater progress would have been made and the maintenance and upkeep of such schemes would now require the expenditure of a much lesser sum of money than is being demanded at the present time. We are now faced with the task of finding from the Exchequer a sum of money sufficient to make conditions in the country generally such as will satisfy the people who live in the rural areas.

There are two simple rules governing the carrying out of these schemes. The first is that there must be a certain number of unemployed on the register. If the number is sufficient, then the full cost is borne by the State. If the number is not sufficient, then the local people have to contribute 25 per cent. of the grant. These two schemes can be very beneficial. I do not approve of the first one because I hold that necessary works should be carried out irrespective of the number of unemployed in a district. By improving conditions we shall eventually lead to an improvement in productivity. I am opposed to the first method of working these schemes because the Special Employment Schemes Office is tied inasmuch as it provides money solely for the relief of unemployment and irrespective of the need for the particular work. I believe in giving employment but I also believe that the scheme, as well as giving employment, should be beneficial to the people and should have as its chief aim increased productivity.

I have seen certain areas in County Mayo where there are considerable numbers of unemployed; I have seen these people living in small, congested, miserable, poverty-stricken holdings. They have always been eligible and have always been in receipt of unemployment assistance. Into these areas year after year some of this money is poured. Roads have been done in some places three, four and five years in succession, while roads in other parts of the country are not done at all. Until this scheme is altered, we cannot have even the nearness to perfection that we would like. I have decided that instead of wasting time talking about what should be done we should alter the procedure in that connection.

[2154] I will now deal with the rural improvement scheme—a very useful scheme. This scheme gives an opportunity to the local people to contribute 25 per cent. of the cost. Any Deputy who lives in the country knows how difficult it is to get even 25 per cent. of the cost of a scheme from the people. Deputies have pointed out that in some areas a full grant of 100 per cent. may be given and in the adjoining districts, with only a road or a drain dividing, the people have to contribute a quarter of the cost, with the usual stipulation relating to the unemployed.

I submit that 25 per cent. of the total cost is too much to expect from the people. I have tried to get it; I have coaxed the people from house to house, with others, in connection with different schemes, all in an effort to collect the 25 per cent., and in very few cases have I been successful. Few people realise the immense amount of labour involved in trying to get a scheme under way, sometimes to find it turned down because you cannot get the necessary money. That state of things must be altered. I have set out to try to get the Government to increase their grant to 90 per cent. and demand only 10 per cent. from the people.

There is another matter I should like to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary. I will bring it to his notice in a more forceful manner later on. What I have in mind now is where one crank or individual can hold up a scheme. There may be 25 applicants in a locality willing and anxious to agree that a certain work should be done, and then one individual holds it up. Unfortunately for this country, we will get one individual out of every 25 who becomes a crank, and he can hold up a scheme that would benefit all the others.

That man's complaint will be conveyed to the Special Employment Schemes office; it bears fruit and the result is that all the other people cannot go ahead with the scheme. That man can hold up the scheme possibly because he may not get on too well with his next-door neighbour. The scheme is thrown into the waste-paper basket, notwithstanding the inspection [2155] of the land and all the money expended through inspectors calling there and all the time wasted preparing the scheme. It is sad to see a scheme like that thrown aside because of one individual. Legislation must be introduced so that in any locality, if the majority of the people are anxious to get a scheme through, it must go through.

I was sorry to see a political tinge brought into this debate. Of course, while we have politics in this country people will always try to play them to the best advantage. I thought we had given up talking about turf and the cessation in the production of hand-won turf. I thought that subject had got a bit old and that those who used to make political capital out of it should try to get some other tune to play on the political fiddle; but it seems that it will be resurrected at all times. We know well what caused the stoppage of hand-won turf. Hand-won turf saw the writing on the wall, saw its coffin being prepared immediately the coal-cattle pact was signed and the people of Dublin decided they wanted coal instead of turf. The different factories also decided that coal was more valuable to them. It was then that the turf producers saw the writing on the wall.

The stoppage of hand-won turf naturally has turned people out of employment, but it was purely an emergency scheme. Perhaps hand-won turf might be useful in five or six years time. Perhaps three years from to-day we may be appealing again to the people to go to the bogs and produce turf. Perhaps we shall be telling them: “There is money in it; you are doing something of national value; you are providing fuel for the country because we cannot get coal.” The people in the cities will not burn turf if they can get coal.

As regards the people who have lost their employment, no one knows their circumstances better than I do, because I spent longer in the bog than I have spent in Dáil Éireann and I know more about those who have lost their employment through the cessation of the turf industry than some other Deputies. [2156] The small farmer in the West may have a holding to which, unfortunately for him, quite a large portion of bog is attached. He with his family—very often a small family of school children —was able to produce turf for which he had a ready market. This man could never be considered as totally unemployed. If he went to a labour exchange to register as unemployed he would be doing something definitely wrong. He had his little farm, his home, and he could not be classified in the same category as unemployed persons in the city and elsewhere. When those individuals were told that turf production had ceased, their source of income was affected. There was no market for turf. Why then produce an article for which we had no market? That work had to cease.

I agree with Deputies, particularly Deputy Dunne, that the duty of this Government is to provide employment for citizens available for employment. If the Government fail to do that, then it has failed in its promises to the people. We are in a transition period so far as this Government is concerned. It has been in office only a few months. Everybody knows that the schemes of one Government may not find favour with the schemes of another Government. We know that while a certain number are unemployed because of the turf industry ceasing, that number has been magnified a hundred fold in order to make political capital.

I want to refer to Deputy Moran's remarks. I do not intend to be hostile or bitter, but would like to give the facts. Our people in Mayo have lost a valuable source of income through the turf industry ceasing. We were offered £18,000 by the Government if we agreed that we would put up £6,000. It was stipulated that the entire amount of money should be spent on roads already under the jurisdiction of the county council. Now we in Mayo had during the past year doubled the expenditure on every single road and the contract prices for roads which are under contract had been increased by 100 per cent. So far as I am personally concerned, I would not advocate, either here or at the Mayo County Council, the spending of £18,000 plus [2157] £6,000 on roads for the maintenance of which we had already provided sufficient money.

We put up the proposal that if we got authority to spend this money on roads which are of equal value—that is cul-de-sac roads and village roads— we would accept the grant and put up the necessary contribution but, unfortunately, the red tape and the officialdom which has tied Governments here, hand and foot, for so long is really and truly still in operation. I suppose if we were to wait to unravel that red tape and the different clauses and sections of various Acts of Parliament which stay our hands, we would be old men before we would have authority to spend the money in the way we desire. I should like to add that the different county engineers in Mayo have informed us that their biggest job at the present time is to get gangs to repair roads and to spend the money already provided by the county council. The extent of unemployment there is not anything of the magnitude which we are led to believe. The persons who are unemployed generally are very small farmers who would not, if they were able, work on the roads. They find it more profitable to stay at home and attend to their crops, as I myself found it more profitable hundreds of times before I came into this House. If we are to believe our own county council officials—and I have personal knowledge of it—men cannot be found to work on the roads. In my own district I have seen roads—and this is in an area where turf was produced and sold—from which the county council ganger had to go home twice in the last fortnight because he could get only one man—he could not even get a second—to carry out the work for which the county council had already provided funds.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  The Minister was too slow in acting and the men left the country.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  Like Deputy Moran and Deputy Blowick, I was approached for a number of years past by men who were anxious to go to England. During the past ten or 12 years there has been a considerable amount of emigration [2158] from Mayo. So far as I personally am concerned, I helped more people to leave Mayo for the past three years than I did for the past four months.

Mr. Butler: Information on Bernard Butler  Zoom on Bernard Butler  Naturally.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  I did my best at all times even during the past four months to get passports. I have been frequently told by the manager of the local branch of the unemployment exchange that a person who wishes to go to England may be the only son in a place and that he wishes to go merely to see life in England for a few years before finally settling down at home. Therefore this tale of woe and these tears that are being shed——

Mr. McQuillan: Information on John McQuillan  Zoom on John McQuillan  Crocodile tears.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  Crocodile tears, definitely, by people who suddenly are taking a terrible interest in the workers of Mayo. They did not display such a great interest before in these workers when they neglected to stand up and protest, as we protested several times, in regard to the conditions of bog workers in the different camps of Bord na Móna. We have had many talks with these bog workers who have come from the different camps and they told us the conditions there were such that nobody could exist on them—bad clothing, bad food——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Bord na Móna?

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  No, but this debate has ranged over a wide area.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Over Bord na Móna?

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  Even over Bord na Móna.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  The Deputy told us he was not going to say anything when he started.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  I am not a Deputy like Deputy Kissane in that respect. Deputy Kissane for the past few years said very little and I suppose if he were lucky enough to be still in his old seat over here, he would say even as little [2159] at present. It is pleasing all the same that we have this debate and it is pleasing to see those men, whose tongues were glued tightly in their cheeks for the past ten years, now shedding tears because of the conditions of this unfortunate country at present. However I shall not detain the House any longer but even though I said at the outset that I would be brief, all the utterances to which I have given expression and the good intentions expressed from all sides of the House are absolutely wasted because of the system under which the special employment schemes operate. However, I wish to say to Deputies who are anxious to help that they will soon I hope have the opportunity, when certain motions on the Order Paper come to be debated, to back us up. Then, and not till then, shall we get justice for the workers of the country and for people who are anxious to have special jobs done in the rural parts of the country.

Mr. Sheehan: Information on Michael Sheehan  Zoom on Michael Sheehan  I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary and every member of the House are interested in the unemployed but, for the life of me, I cannot see why some Deputies should stand up here and say that the production of turf should continue. First of all where are we to store it? Dublin is surrounded with turf and timber and Cork likewise. The men who say that are not sincere. Turf did serve its purpose during the emergency, but the emergency lasted for only four or five years, and, before this elaborate scheme of turf production came into being, we were able to keep our people employed.

I say that we can keep every one of our people employed and it is our duty, as legislators, to find employment for them. There are roads to be made; there is drainage work to be done throughout the country; there is land reclamation; and there are our harbours, many of which are derelict. There are also derelict sites in Dublin, Cork and other cities, and small provincial towns, which could be dealt with. Government Departments, however, are slow and it is hard to get them moving. The private individual who [2160] takes on a job gets working quickly, and in this connection I am thinking of Mr. William Dwyer, who, during the emergency, built three extensive factories. We all thought it was impossible, but he got the materials, wherever he got them, and built the factories. In addition, he built a very large extension to his Sunbeam-Wolsey premises in Blackpool. If the Government undertook these works, they would not complete them in a lifetime.

I say in all sincerity that it was time the production of turf and timber stopped. It is well to have it, but if another emergency arises the people will be alive to it and will produce turf, if it is needed. I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary not to be niggardly about money. To keep the men employed is the great thing—to employ them on some productive work and not on the storing of turf and timber in parks here and there where it is left to rot. There is plenty of work to be done in the country and every man and woman can be kept employed, if we are big enough and prepared to spend money. The taxpayer will not grumble if he sees some productive work being done—land being reclaimed, roads improved or houses built for our people. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary not to be niggardly about money.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Having listened to Deputy Commons lecturing Deputies on this side of the House as to why they should speak and should not speak, I have been prompted to get to my feet. Deputy Commons started off by saying that he was not going to contribute much to this debate. I do not know whether he contributed very much but he was long enough, and his contribution, if it could be called a contribution, was most unhelpful. He spoke about the great employment available for people in County Mayo and said that, in fact, when certain schemes of work are being carried out there, enough people cannot be got to work on them. If that is the case, the workers of County Mayo are in a very happy position. They are very lucky, because I have to say that that is not the position in Kerry. In North Kerry, in particular, there is no work for the [2161] people. There is a complete standstill in the matter of work in that area at present, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary how that comes about.

Recently I had occasion to contact a certain official in County Kerry, with a view to getting employment for unemployed people. He wrote back and said there was no employment available in North Kerry, and said that if I would try to use my influence to get the powers that be to provide employment for the people, I would be doing a good day's work. I am afraid, however, that I have no influence with the powers that be to-day in the matter of getting work for the people, so that, according to the remarks of Deputy Commons, the people of Mayo are very fortunate indeed. I daresay that Deputy Moran would have a different story to tell——

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  And I told it.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  ——and he has already told it, with regard to employment in Mayo.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  And I happen to know it myself.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Reference has been made to the closing down of the turf scheme, and Deputy Commons said that it was because the people of Dublin and other towns decided that they wanted coal instead of turf that the turf schemes were closed down. Everybody knows that such is not the case. Everybody knows that a market could be found for turf, even in the turf areas, if the Government made sure to establish the necessary organisation to do it, but they have not done so. We find to-day that, in the scheduled turf areas, coal is coming in wholesale and being used, when turf would be accepted by the people there just as well as coal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Is that a matter for the Parliamentary Secretary's Department?

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  There is an item in the Estimate: development works in bogs [2162] used by landholders and other private-producers—£90,000.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Roads and drainage of bogs—I do not think there is any coal in it.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  I understand that I am not at liberty to discuss the turf question at length, but I am merely replying to remarks made by Deputy Commons, who said it was because the people of Dublin and other towns decided to use coal instead of turf that the turf schemes had been closed down. I do not propose to pursue that any further, because I realise it is not quite relevant. As I say, in North Kerry especially, there is no work for the people. The minor employment schemes which we used to have at this time of the year are not forthcoming, and I cannot understand why that is so.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  At this time of the year?

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  During these months— such work as minor drainage schemes.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  There were minor employment schemes in Kerry in days gone by at this time of the year?

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Yes. During the winter and spring there was work on the making of bog and accommodation roads and the improvement of these roads, and at this time of the year there used to be work on the minor drainage schemes.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  This is not the spring time.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  This is summer. We are not fools and I know what I am speaking about. The Parliamentary Secretary should turn his attention to the statements he makes down the country—he would be better employed than in trying to interrupt me here— especially the charges that were made here last evening against the Parliamentary Secretary of revealing the contents of certain confidential documents which he did not deny.

[2163]Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  I will deal with those, of course. For the Deputy's information, I want to point out that it is only from this time of the year on that bog development and drainage schemes are carried out.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  That is what I am speaking about.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  You said they were on at this time of the year in your county.

Mr. Moran: Information on Michael Moran  Zoom on Michael Moran  They are in progress in Mayo for the last month under your own Department.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  I thought you said [2164] a few moments ago that there was no work in Mayo.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  I am talking about this time of the year. It was customary for the special works branch to carry out minor drainage schemes at this time of the year. Does the Parliamentary Secretary dispute that?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  From this on.

Mr. Kissane: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Very well. This is the appropriate time.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  From this on, I said.

The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6th.


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