Committee on Finance. - Vote 41 — Transport and Power (Resumed).

Thursday, 5 February 1970

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 244 No. 2

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration.

[170]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Last night I emphasised very strongly that our tourist industry was one of the most important in the country, worth almost £100,000,000. When I came to this House in 1944 it was worth less than £1 million. For that reason anything we can do in this House should be done and any help we can give the Minister and the Department to improve the position in the national interest should be given. We are not spending enough on tourism promotion. Certain schemes are held up because of the shortage of money.

In my own constituency we have plans for development in Skerries which have been going between the Department, Bord Fáilte and Dublin County Council for years. Councils have many difficulties and the Government and the Department have many commitments but I feel strongly that more money should be diverted into tourism in the national interest. Skerries is one of the chief tourists centres in north Dublin. There are others such as Balbriggan, Malahide, Donabate, Portrane and Portmarnock. I should like the Minister to make a special note of what I said about Skerries. I am very displeased and disappointed that we have not done more in an area where we have quite a few hotels, a holiday camp accommodating 400 or 500 people and we want the amenities improved there.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  And St. Patrick landed there.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  That is right — and St. Patrick's Island. We have scenery, tradition and an historical background in the area and that is why I am anxious that the Minister should do everything possible to have the amenities there improved.

One matter to which I should like to refer is that of toilet facilities in some of our public-houses all over the country to which tourists call from time to time. I should like to see a grant being given for the improvement of toilet facilities in some of these pubs. I can assure the House that if a journalist wanted to keep people out of Ireland all he would have to do is highlight this matter. I have been in a [171] number of them from time to time and it is a question of the hills and the fields when you go out the back door. It is time these public-houses were modernised and a grant similar to a reconstruction grant should be available through the local authority. I hope the Minister for Finance will consider the points I am making. If we can increase our tourist income from its present figure to £200 million then our standard of living will improve. In some of the towns and in the cities where publicans have some money they may obtain overdrafts and modernise their premises but a number of them all over the country are still to be found wanting.

We should also give whatever encouragement we can to people in private houses, particularly in the west of Ireland where we have a lot of emigration, to keep tourists in their homes during the season. The working man who arrives with his family and car wants to go into family surroundings. We have some excellent hoteliers who are doing an excellent job attracting people to the country and the same applies to the holiday camp managements. Some hotel prices are very low in comparison with prices on the Continent and this helps to attract tourists. I should like to see men like that put on a roll of honour in order to encourage others to imitate their example.

There is also a great need for providing shelters at seaside resorts. The Dublin County Council, of which I am chairman, has been erecting shelters but not enough of them. There is a need also for the provision of conveniences in such places as Portmarnock, Malahide, Portrane, Donabate and Skerries and such seaside areas where thousands of people gather in the summer. I should also like to see Bord Fáilte interesting themselves in the matter of providing swimming pools. We have never come to grips with this problem and the provision of swimming pools would be another way of attracting tourists. I wonder if it would be possible for the Minister to make grants available or to set up a Department to deal with this matter.

[172] I appreciate that high administrative costs would be involved if you set up a Department to do all these things, but we should do them. Under the Minister's direction Bord Fáilte should do more about this matter.

The question of the pollution of our fishing rivers is causing concern because our fishing facilities are a great attraction to many tourists, some of whom come in winter. This aspect, as well as the improvement of our game facilities, is developing reasonably well. Any potentialities for attracting people to the country should be developed by Bord Fáilte which should be the co-ordinating link for all these things. The pollution of rivers is very much in evidence at present. It is a problem which exists not alone here but all over the world especially near large population centres. I remember in the River Gave in Lourdes you could catch trout six miles up the river but I do not think any fish could live in the river at Lourdes. Everything possible should be done to reduce or eliminate pollution in our rivers. As I say, it is a problem in England, France and in every country that I have visited. So far nothing definite has been done about this and all we have had were statements blaming some factory or industry along the river.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  You can have purification plants if you put the money into them.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I agree. If you had more purification plants it would be a good thing. While the Minister is not responsible it would be a good thing if he interested himself in the matter of eliminating this scourge. I should also like to take this opportunity of congratulating the chairman, secretary and staff of Bord Fáilte whom over the years I have always found to be courteous and co-operative and inspired by national economic motives. I have also met some of the board's staff in other countries and they were a credit to this country. We should endeavour to make our people more tourist conscious. Our civility and courtesy to strangers is well known in other countries. Our children in [173] school, teachers and university professor should all consider what they could do to help this great national industry. The one thing that impresses one abroad is the courtesy of the police. Our own gardaí are certainly very courteous and they help to create a good impression. My experience is that, if one is favourably impressed, one always speaks highly of the particular country and one goes back again if the opportunity offers.

Aer Lingus has made tremendous strides. I cannot speak too highly of the management and staff. Aer Lingus has more than vindicated its establishment. It has extended its operations to many countries. The staffs in the offices abroad are excellent and, together with Bord Fáilte, they have succeeded in bringing a great many tourists here. They have also taken tourists out, but that is their business. They have created a good image abroad. Aer Lingus goes from strength to strength and the management and staff must be commended. I trust the Minister will succeed in resisting the demand for American planes to land at Dublin Airport. Shannon is available. There are a number of places in the United States into which our aircraft are not allowed to fly. Pressures will be brought to bear to compel us to allow American planes into Dublin Airport, but these must be resisted. When the jumbo jets go into operation I hope we will enter upon a new era of development and that we will be able to go on competing effectively with the best airlines in the world.

I have received a great many complaints from my constituents in Palmerstown about the insufficiency of power provided by the ESB in that area. When development started in the area the ESB should have taken steps at once to improve the load. The people are charged quite a high price for electricity and the least they should expect is a satisfactory supply. The same position obtained in Tallaght and Firhouse one Christmas day; the people in that area could not cook their Christmas dinners. Fortunately, the Tánaiste — he was then Minister for Transport and Power — had that situation remedied very quickly. I trust the present Minister will ensure that [174] my friends in Palmerstown will have no cause for complaint in the near future.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Did the Deputy not hear any complaints from Santry?

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I shall deal with Santry later. I have the honour to live in the Deputy's constituency. I have had a number of complaints from Santry. Obviously the ESB did not move fast enough in Palmerstown. There was a lack of foresight on the part of someone. These inconveniences should not occur. I heard Deputy Dowling talking last night in somewhat the same fashion about Ballyfermot.

When the present strike ends a very difficult situation will arise, I fear, for a great many people. Letters have been sent out by the ESB asking consumers to pay the same amount as they paid over a similar period last year. I believe that a great many people have not responded to this appeal and the bills they will receive will naturally be very big ones.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  They will be shocked.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  They will be literally shocked when they get their bills. I know the ESB will want their money, but it will be very hard for people if they have to meet these bills immediately. I would appeal to the Minister to intervene in order to ease the position for those who may not be able to meet the demands promptly.

Bord na Móna have been a spectacular success. The very first engineer in that scheme is now retired and not in too good health. We all wish him well. He told me that when he started one would need a boat to traverse the bog. On one occasion he and two other men had to be rescued. Bord na Móna have come a long way since then. Our semi-State bodies — the ESB, Bord na Móna and CIE — are doing very well indeed. CIE are doing an excellent job of modernisation, even in their workshops. Ten years ago conditions in Inchicore were not too good. Today conditions there are excellent. CIE have contributed a great deal to the tourist industry; they have organised tours and have sent representatives [175] abroad to bring tourists to this country and in this way have done a very good job.

A point I wish to mention, and one that has been referred to by other speakers, is the question of the pollution and poison from buses, lorries and cars. I recently read a statement by well-known scientists in England of what they were doing to try to eliminate so far as possible the gases that are polluting the air and causing many deaths. I believe that if other countries are doing this we should try to do the same. Of course, in the north of England air pollution is very bad due to the many factories located there. The smoke from these factories in the great industrial area of the north, especially in damp weather, is causing much harm. In the centre of London they have a figure of about 44 while in the north the figure would be in the region of 185 and over 245 in other areas. There should be some way of dealing with the problem especially in regard to large buses using diesel oil. On a fine day if you are driving behind one of these buses you will find it necessary to close all the windows. We have discussed this matter before and I am merely mentioning it now to the Minister to see if anything can be done to help solve this problem.

I was rather amazed to hear some Members say last night that we should write down the grants we are giving to everybody. If a person is entitled to a grant I think a Member of this House is entitled to make inquiries from the Minister as to whether this person has received a grant for, say, the building or reconstruction of an hotel or for amenity purposes. However, I do not think it would be in the national interest to read out here that, say, Deputy Cluskey or Deputy Burke had two hotels and that they got 100 per cent grants. This would not serve any purpose; I am not asking for secrecy but for ordinary common decency and I believe it is in the national interest that we should do it as we are doing——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  Would the Minister give this information on request?

[176]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Depending on the circumstances.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  What circumstances?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Many and varied.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  Member of the party?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Nothing like that.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I have kicked the ball into the field. I believe our semi-State bodies are doing a good job but we should not curtail them unnecessarily. My idea is if you get somebody to do a job, give him a free hand and if he fails get somebody else, but you should not cripple him by telling him how to do it. I believe the decisions that were made when the semi-State bodies were set up were wise decisions from an economic and national point of view and if they fail there is always another man to fill the job. It is the same for us here — if we fail the people will get somebody else.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It will never happen in our time.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  Great things have happened in our time.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I am sorry for delaying the House for so long but I wish to congratulate the Minister on his job and also his Departmental officers. I consider the Minister to be in charge of one of the most important Departments and if he can extend and improve the tourist industry he will be doing something worthwhile for the national economy and well-being of this country. We shall never be afraid of our balance of payments going wrong if we can double it by £100 million in the next 25 years in our tourist industry. If we can do this we will be doing very well.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  I should like to thank the Minister for the very prompt action in extending the ESB to the Kerry Gaeltacht. I tabled a Dáil question last November and I asked the Minister if he was aware that this area had been neglected for the past 12 months. To give him his due he said he would look into the matter and I want to place on record now that the extensions [177] are taking place and the money has been provided.

Like Deputy Burke, I am a little worried about the new ESB bills when they come out. Many people did not pay because as there was a trade dispute going on they did not want to interfere with it and that is the only reason for non-payment. I would ask the Minister that arrangements be made whereby the bills could be paid in instalments every fortnight or every month until the account is cleared.

In County Kerry we seem to have a lack of power in certain districts; it is so bad in some areas that the television goes blank, the kettle will not boil, heating goes off and so on. I do not know the reason; it is probably overloading along the line somewhere, but it is about time that the ESB put their house in order and pointed out to the people that this power will not be available at certain times because this is happening at the moment.

In connection with our tourist industry, I should like to pay tribute to Bord Fáilte. During the years even though we have cut them to pieces at times the tourist industry has certainly grown beyond all recognition and very much of the credit must go to Bord Fáilte. However, with the growth of the tourist industry it would seem that monopolies are being created now in the tourist industry and the regrettable feature is that they are being backed by State bodies.

Recently a friend of mine from New York saw a big advertisement board: “Fly to Ireland with Aer Lingus and stay with Ryans”. It must be remembered that down through the years the small hoteliers and guesthouse owners played their part in establishing the tourist industry and it is very wrong that a State body should come in behind a particular group and push these people out of business. I am also told — the Minister can correct me if I am wrong — that Bord Fáilte is spending three times as much money on tourist promotion in America than in Britain.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I will have it checked but I doubt it.

[178]Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  If that is so, they are wrong, because there are ten times as many British tourists as American tourists coming to this country. These are the ordinary working people from England or Wales and they spend twice as much money as these Yanks spend. I do not know whether the Minister has any say in this or not but if he has he should do something about extending the drinking hours for tourist resorts in the summer season.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I agree with the Deputy entirely.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  I met some English people wandering aimlessly around at half past eleven.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Surely there is no problem in the Dingle Peninsula.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  An extra half-hour would make all the difference. The public houses have to close at 10 o'clock on Sunday night. Any publican will tell you that they make more money on Sunday night than on any other night of the week and if they had an extra hour from 10 to 11 p.m. it would benefit not only the publicans but the tourists as well. The Minister in his wisdom might tell the guards to close their eyes or something like that. Anyway, I would ask him to look into that point.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I was there for a period when that was done.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  Bord Fáilte seem to have done a good job as far as bed accommodation is concerned and in the setting up of these regional bodies. However, they seem to be closing their eyes to the lack of amenities in the different tourist resorts. There should be more money ploughed into providing amenities than in providing bed accommodation because when the publichouses are closed there is nowhere to go. If it is a wet day and they cannot play golf there are no other recreational facilities. I would ask the Minister to consider the provision of indoor swimming pools and other amenities.

The only real criticism I have of Bord Fáilte, and I have had this for a [179] number of years, is their attitude towards the development of different parts of the country. If they see in the paper that some man is going to build a house in a certain place they write in and object to such development. Some of these objections are silly in the extreme, because Kerry County Council will not allow building unless it is properly sited and there is good planning involved. Recently a man gave notice that he wished to build a house on the side of a mountain 10 miles away from everybody, and there was an objection by Bord Fáilte. That type of thing is entirely wrong. If Bord Fáilte have an objection to make they should write down to the Kerry County Council and ask if the proposed development will interfere with the surrounding scenic areas. To act in the way they have done in the case I have mentioned is utterly ridiculous and is only bringing Bord Fáilte into contempt with the ordinary man and woman down in Kerry. I do not know whether it is that some of Bord Fáilte's architects have become arrogant and dictatorial and are not answerable to anybody. The point was made in the House here that some of these bodies should be answerable to Dáil Éireann instead of being completely independent and being able to harass the ordinary man and woman who wants to live in a particular area, whether it is in Kerry, Galway or anywhere else.

I am told there is a Bill coming up about the merchandise licence business. Could the Parliamentary Secretary say if it is intended to amend the law? Would it be possible for a man at the moment with a licence for ten miles to go outside that area?

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Not at the moment. The existing law has to be enforced while it is the law.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  How soon will this Bill come in?

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  I expect it will be introduced next month.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  One of the most significant features of this Estimate is that a Government Department involves [180] itself in so many areas of endeavour, while we have the Labour Party coming out with their shibboleths about socialism and their concept of socialism. Of course, their well-known tag is: Towards a more joyless society. Here we have a joyful society being created under Fianna Fáil. Here we have socialism in its reality, but it is a joyful socialism. It is not the bitter, doctrinaire, inflexible type of socialism being preached by the Labour Party or, as they now want to be known, the “Socialist party”. This, of course, is a question of semantics. To think of the leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Corish, in that role is one of the greatest political jokes of this decade. However, he is being pushed from behind and decent man that he is he will do his best to uphold the name of Irish socialism. Of course, their brethren in the Six Counties have abandoned them for the British Labour Party.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is travelling a bit far.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am dealing with the philosophical concept which motivates the thinking and running of this Department. It is a State Department and something must be motivating the thinking behind the involvement of a State Department in so many areas of our life. They must be motivated by some thinking — idealism, and so on. This is the reason that I point out that this is Fianna Fáil's contribution to a joyful socialist society, not bound by doctrinaire or dogmatic types of shibboleths such as we had from the abortive Labour Party conference over the last week-end.

Just to back up this point, may I say that the Department concerns itself with Córas Iompair Éireann, with its subsidiaries, Ostlanna Iompair Éireann and Aerlod Teoranta; the air companies, Aerlínte, Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta, the Shannon Free Airport Development Company in so far as promotion of tourism is involved; Irish Shipping; the British and Irish Steam Packet Company, Limited; Bord Fáilte Éireann, the ESB and Bord na Móna. However, the great thing is that under the relevant [181] statutes the State-sponsored bodies enjoy a wide degree of autonomy in their day-to-day administration. The Minister gives general directives in regard to policy. In other words, these people who are running their particular concerns on behalf of the people of Ireland are allowed their own initiative and this is a very good thing although I must say in some areas we may be losing money and maybe there are reasons for concern as to the ability of certain people to run one department or another on behalf of the State.

To come back to the question of the joyful socialism under Fianna Fáil, here again you have the Department of Transport and Power dealing with marine transport and navigation. It must be spelled out that if we are talking about nationalisation or people running State-sponsored bodies, and so on, we must tell the people exactly where the State is involving itself on their behalf and here we have, again, the Department of Transport and Power concerning itself with marine transport and navigation and under this heading comes marine safety, marine survey service, investigation of casualties, certificates of competency, welfare of seafarers, coast life-saving service, mercantile marine offices, seamen's compensation schemes, registration of ships, oil pollution of the sea and foreshore. If I at this stage of my short contribution may pay tribute to the Royal Naval Life Boat Institution, of which there happens to be a life-boat in the area I represent, they do a marvellous and heroic job under very difficult conditions and any support that we as a country can give them would be only in fair recognition of the heroic and courageous work they undertake in life-saving. I do not care whether their name or title is royal or republican; it is the work they do and the lives they save that are the important things.

On the question of oil pollution of the sea, it is very necessary that we should take a very strict hand in the control of this very serious problem. We saw what happened in the case of the Torrey Canyon. Let us hope it does not happen in this country and we [182] must ensure that it does not, by enforcing whatever international regulations there are. We may be a party to a number of conventions relating to oil pollution. Apart from any damage that might be done to the foreshore, wildlife is a very important feature of our national heritage and we must maintain the balance of nature. I would hope that the Minister would ensure that this question of oil pollution is kept under very close scrutiny by the officers of his Department.

The Department involves itself in civil aviation — air transport — and under this head there are airports, air traffic control service, aviation communication service, meteorological service, international relations, registration of aircraft, airworthiness of aircraft, licensing of air pilots and other flight personnels, licensing of aircraft maintenance engineers, investigation of aircraft accidents, aeronautical information, licensed aerodromes; under the heading of inland transport, the carriage of merchandise and passengers by road for reward, railway safety, international road and rail traffic conventions; under fuel and power, efficiency in the promotion of the greater use of native fuel — a very worthy objective indeed. The Department is also responsible for the administration of legislation in relation to town gas, harbours, the administration of harbours. and pilotage legislation.

So, when we hear from the Labour Party these socialist shibboleths about socialism and nationalisation, here you have a very typical example and a very good example of how much the State involves itself on behalf of the people in the running of the areas I have mentioned.

There have been a number of other points mentioned and there are a number of points I should like to mention, particularly in relation to the traffic problem in the city of Dublin. Nothing infuriates motorists more than to have to spend a half an hour, possibly an hour or, in one instance recently, 2½ hours, in the middle of the traffic in this city. It is, indeed, unfortunate that the situation is as it is but I believe that, first of all, we will have to modernise the whole internal road [183] structure of the city if we want to eliminate traffic holds-up. Until that situation comes about, traffic problems will continue.

We have at this point of time a poor road system. What sort of action can we take? One suggestion is that cars should be kept out of the middle of the city. Another suggestion is that buses should be kept out of the middle of the city. I do not know whether or not this is a real answer to the problem. The first answer would be to keep the rather gargantuan type bus out of the middle of the city, particularly at rush hours. That is no reflection on the men who crew these buses. They do a marvellous job. I do not know how they do not suffer from ulcers and heart attacks. To have to manage these buses is a tremendous task. There are complaints by motorists about their cutting in. If the motorist were himself in the position of a bus driver at peak time he would appreciate the very good job the bus driver does.

The answer to the city crush and rush problem and traffic congestion is a peripheral bus service; in other words, that buses would come so far and no further at peak traffic hours. Again, if we want to prevent gargantuan buses coming into the middle of the city, we could have a feeder service to provide transport for the people, perhaps, a vast fleet of mini-buses, which would operate from the perimeter to the centre of the city. That might be another answer to the problem at peak hours. One would have to take into consideration the question as to whether the mini-buses would have one-man crews or otherwise. I would imagine that the unions would not object to the suggestion that we should have a shuttle mini-bus service from perimeter points to the centre of the city with one-man crews. That would not affect existing staff. Indeed, it would increase, if anything, the number of people working on buses in the city. It is a suggestion, something that must be done.

The problem continues, and it is a disgraceful situation, there is no doubt about it, to see people coming into the [184] city at peak times. The public are being told something is being done about it but day in, day out, there are those vast traffic holdups. It is all very well to say something is being done about it. If it is, it is not very effective. The problem will be solved when we get the streets widened, but until then we must make a serious effort to do something to ease it. In the meantime, no tribute one could pay to the bus crews would be high enough — to the patience of these men. They are doing a very difficult job excellently.

I urge the Minister to get in touch with the ESB in connection with their wiring poles. He should try to get them to abandon their policy of overhead wiring in built-up areas in suburbia. What we want is underground wiring because there is nothing so anti-aesthetic or offensive as overhead wiring. If we want to achieve a well-maintained and ordered situation in suburban housing estates, the Minister should ask the ESB as a matter of top priority to have underground wiring in all new estates rather than these distoritions.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  We are doing that.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am very glad to hear it. As well, the Minister might change the official attitude — I am not speaking of him personally — in regard to television aerials, another eyesore. There should be a central television aerial in each housing estate to serve the entire estate instead of an aerial on every house. I am not sure about this, but I understand there is some bye-law or regulation to prevent the erection of a central aerial, but what a difference one central aerial in a housing estate would make instead of having 200 or 300 aerials, one to each house.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  We have done it in Ballymun.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I know, but I understand there is some regulation which prevents it being done generally here and in other cities.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  There is some such regulation.

[185]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It is not in my sphere at the moment but I will look into it.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Thank you very much. There is another problem in relation to traffic in this and other cities. We have heard about the prospect of constructing subways for pedestrains. Again, we have had promises without action. Still another problem in relation to traffic is caused by the exhaust fumes from CIE buses and lorries. The lorries would more appropriately come under the Department of Local Government but the Minister for Transport and Power should get the CIE people to examine the problem of exhaust fumes from buses. It is pretty tough on pedestrians and on following motorists, to say the least of it. Perhaps, the Minister will ask CIE to try to remedy the matter. In this year particularly, we are anxious that pollution should be prevented and we are concerned in this city because exhaust fumes from buses and lorries, and sometimes from cars, pollute our atmosphere. It is most important that we should prevent continuance of this serious problem.

There are regulations under the 1961 Road Traffic Act to deal with it. The Minister for Local Government introduced these regulations in relation to vehicular traffic in an effort to prevent pollution from exhaust fumes but to the best of my knowledge these regulations have not been enforced. It might not be any harm if the authorities enforced these regulations in respect of CIE buses. At least it would be a help because this matter must be brought under control. Perhaps the Minister will have it examined.

Aer Lingus and their associate companies were mentioned. They were dealt with at considerable length by the Minister in his excellent introductory statement. He gave them extensive coverage, and rightly so. Frankly, it does not concern me which party were concerned with what happened years ago in relation to our air companies. It is what is happening now and what will happen in the future that is of concern. We should examine our air companies now in the context [186] of what has been achieved during the years and what will be achieved in future years rather than examine them in a contentious fashion. We have a lot to be proud of in relation to our air companies. As of 31st March last, their fleet comprised 13 Viscounts, four BAC one-eleven jets, 3 Boeing 737 jets, 6 Boeing 320's and 2 Boeing 720's. Five more Boeing 737's are on order and when these have been received it is intended to phase out the Viscounts and to dispose of them as opportunity offers. Two Boeing 747's are on order for the transatlantic route in the summer of next year.

Aer Lingus deal with the European air lanes and we congratulate them on their record as one of the highest air carriers in Europe. Aerlínte look after the transatlantic route. This is the company that will deal with the jumbo jets. It says here: “To provide the capacity needed to meet traffic increases in the future the company have ordered two Boeing 747 aircraft.” These are known as the jumbo jets and they are due for delivery in January and March of 1971. This is another indication of the marvellous strides being made by the air company. No tribute can be too high to pay to the administrative staff, the pilots and crews. We must not forget those who crew these aircraft. Some people are chary about flying but when it comes to the Irish airline it has a record second to none. I am talking about the safety factor. We are very proud of this. Because of the magnificent training given to pilots, people can fly in absolute safety with the Irish airline company. We are justly proud on their behalf and congratulate them on this splendid record which is a reflection of their magnificent training. We must not forget the air hostesses who have a difficult job to do, and do it excellently.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The Deputy did not forget them.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  No, I would not do it on that account. I have flown from time to time myself. The intake of personnel in this sphere has increased by almost 100 per cent and that is a further indication of the growing strength of the company. Last year [187] we, as Dáil Deputies, went out to see how the air company operated at Collinstown. We were taken through the maintenance workshops and given a short flight before we questioned the administrative staff in regard to the general running of the company. It was a most informative and beneficial experience from our point of view. This is what we should do as Deputies, go out and find out for ourselves how these companies work and meet the people who operate them. I want to pay tribute to the maintenance workshops and the wonderful work done there by a group of people, obviously highly skilled. Again, the excellence of the work done there is reflected in the company's safety record. I have never seen anything as spotlessly clean as the workshops and the men themselves. With the type of conditions existing there one can easily visualise a productivity agreement forthcoming with the Aer Lingus group of unions.

I have a question addressed to the Minister for Transport and Power today in connection with the Ostlanna Éireann hotel in Dún Laoghaire. Without anticipating the answer I strongly urge the Minister for the sake of the Dublin area and possibly the Dún Laoghaire area, to do all he can to help provide this hotel which we badly need. In the first instance, planning permission was turned down after Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta had offered us the hotel about 18 months ago. Some obscurantists in Dún Laoghaire Corporation refused planning permission. That was one way of getting out of their responsibility. The planning application was sent to the Minister for Local Government who had no choice but to reject the application. From Dún Laoghaire's point of view it is a real tragedy that we did not get this hotel and I trust that the Minister in his reply today will hold out some hope that Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta will reactivate their application for planning permission for this hotel. I could almost certainly assure them that there would be no opposition to their coming to Dún Laoghaire this time. I ask them to give [188] us a second chance to show that the people of Dún Laoghaire and their public representatives are not as obscurantist as they appeared to be by refusing permission in the first instance.

The project was turned down for some vague reason and then became a political issue. We were accused of playing politics but if politics come into the matter of getting the hotel for Dún Laoghaire, let us have the politics. We must have this hotel. As a Deputy for the area, Dún Laoghaire is basically neglected from a tourism point of view. The sooner we get this type of endeavour into it to give it a lift from the point of view of local shopkeepers, tradesmen and workers, the better. Many people benefit by tourists coming to the area.

We have a marvellous car ferry terminal in Dún Laoghaire and we are grateful to the Government for it but the problem is that the people come straight off the car ferry and go right through Dún Laoghaire. This problem must be tackled: we want to hold the people in Dún Laoghaire for a night or two at least on their inward and outward journeys. I am particularly concerned about the hotel and I make a very sincere plea that it should come to Dún Laoghaire. I think those who rejected it in the first instance have seen the error of their ways and — all credit to them — are big enough to admit they made a mistake. They now realise it is necessary to have this hotel in Dún Laoghaire, among many other things which will be forthcoming in the future. We must have an attractive borough for which the basic foundations already exist from a tourist point of view. For some reason people are not being attracted to the extent to which they should be attracted there. We have a wonderful sea front and a progressive policy for its development. We have excellent boating, sailing and yachting facilities, and excellent walks. One of the first important lifts the borough must get in the future is the provision of this hotel as a matter of urgency.

In relation to the south side of Dublin city there is also the question of a public park and public amenities. I agree that land is at a premium and [189] that we must build houses before we provide big expanses of land for amenity purposes. Remember that in ten to 15 years time if we do not have a public park on the south side of the city we will be in very serious difficulty. With the coming of the computerisation age, more recreation and many of the things which we are led to believe make life easier, we will have more time on our hands. There is no question about this. Therefore, we must lay the groundwork now for built-up areas and Dublin is becoming a vast city and will become a very vast city in ten or 15 years time. I have a number of areas in mind for such a park and I will get in touch with the Minister about the matter. My colleague, Deputy Foley, tells me that it is a matter for the Department of Local Government but I believe the people come first and tourists come second. If you provide a service for the people it then becomes available to tourists and others who come to enjoy the country for a number of weeks. The important thing is to provide public amenities for our people, and I am speaking specifically in the context of Dublin but I am sure the same applies to other areas, and then we will have them for the tourists. That may sound a bit chauvinistic but it is my view and I make no apology for it.

In regard to labour relations within CIE it is not popular in this day to talk about labour relations but if one looks at the productivity agreement concluded with Aer Lingus surely it could be translated to suit other semi-State bodies. This brings me back to my old chestnut, the question of a Labour Court with teeth, with all the legal sanctions attached to it. When I say all the legal sanctions I mean a Labour Court with all the powers of a court of law: if agreements are broken the people will be fined, not jailed, because there is no point in putting people into jail. I would be totally against that and I would fight very strongly against the concept of putting workers, or, indeed, employers, into jail for breaking an industrial agreement. It is a concept that would not be acceptable to any Member here and rightly so. Until such time as we [190] get a Labour Court with the full backing of the law we will not have satisfactory labour relations to any great degree.

There is, of course, another problem within semi-State bodies and in the private sector and one of them is the question of personnel management. It is a tragedy that today we do not have properly trained personnel managements. If you have a good relationship between personnel and a properly trained personnel management and, say, the shop steward, this permeates right down to the shop floor. It is to our discredit that we have not brought into being a proper personnel training service. If we had, many strikes could be prevented rather than having them escalate into near nation-wide and economically damaging strikes.

The Minister also mentioned in the context of tourism the visits to Bunratty Castle and Knappoque and Dun Guaire. I have never been to Bunratty or Knappoque but I have been to Dun Guaire and we had an excellent night there. It was a tremendous evening and reflected something Irish to a group of Americans who would not have stuck me as being particularly appreciative. They did not know what was going on. That is fair enough. They were made welcome and made feel that what they were seeing was something basically and intrinsically Irish. They were given a rendition of Merryman's Cúirt an Mheán Oíche, in English, The Midnight Court, and they did not understand it. Quite frankly, may be some of our own people did not understand it either but it is basically Irish and it was well done. We must not lose our cultural identity and heritage for the pounds, shillings and pence of the tourists; we must not have the pig-in-the-parlour type of entertainment, the shillelagh swinging Irishman doing an act for the sake of the tourist. We must maintain our basic dignity and not lose the many areas of culture which we have. We must not pander to the detriment of that which we hold dear, namely, these heritages of ours which we must maintain.

As a Deputy from Kerry mentioned there is a real case for extending the opening hours for public houses during [191] the tourist season but certainly during June, July and August. That may not make me popular with the licensed vintners but that does not worry me. I imagine the height of the season would be in June, July and August. Many tourists particularly those in the cities are at a loose end at night time. I know our brethren in the country from time to time have been known to take a rather flexible attitude to the licensing laws during the tourist season. I am not one to encourage the breaking of the law but I am sure some of us have taken advantage——

Mr. S. Browne: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  They do not do anything like that in the country.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am not suggesting they do but if one is in the country one has no difficulty in maintaining a high standard of hospitality after closing hours—let me put it that way. I am not in any way reflecting on the sensitivity of Deputy Browne or my country cousins, but, on the contrary, I am welcoming their flexible attitude. I cannot, of course, encourage them to do this sort of thing but the Minister should have a look at the matter and, perhaps, he would give us some idea of what he thinks would be the right attitude in regard to licensing hours.

Mr. S. Browne: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  He is all with you.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I am sure he is. In regard to the tourist publications I think that they are marvellous, those published by CIE, Bord Fáilte, Aer Lingus and the ESB and I have no doubt that what we see in them is absolutely factual. In regard to the Devlin report I have an extract from a magazine called Hibernia and while I do not agree with all that is in it they do have an excellent summary of the report in the January issue. There is a very succinct and pithy summary of the principal recommendations of the Devlin report. In recommendation 7 (f) they state that the “Department of Transport and Power, having transferred its responsibilities for fuel and power to the Department of Industry and Commerce should be combined with the Department of [192] Transport and Communications”. That sounds eminently reasonable. The Department should be the Department of Transport and Communications since that is what the Minister deals with.

I should like to conclude by congratulating the Minister on his excellent report. The Minister's Department is not per se responsible for fishing, but he is responsible for the welfare of those who come here to fish. In 1967, we had 56,100 people who spent £2,244,000 here. In 1968 we had 58,800 people who spent £2,353,000. We had in 1967 30,900 people who spent £927,000 pursuing coarse fish. In 1968 that figure went up to 32,400 and they spent £972,000. We had 24,800 sea fishermen who spent £744,000. In 1968 they spent £810,000. It is to the credit of the Department that £26,510 was spent on facilities for coarse fishing in support of sea-angling festivals. As much support as possible should be given to these festivals. The figures are, I think, very revealing. It is significant that so many sportsmen should come here to indulge in their favourite recreation. That is why we should be very careful to preserve our fishing grounds and game preserves, particularly from the point of view of pollution. It is very important that pollution should be prevented. If fishing grounds and game lands are depopulated of stock these people will not come here. Pollution must be avoided at all costs.

I take this opportunity of thanking the Minister on behalf of the many people to whom he made himself available both in the Department of Education and in the Department of Transport and Power. I congratulate him on his appointment to the latter Department. He is doing a very good job and I look forward to him meeting many deputations in the future.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I propose to deal with tourism, the transport of cattle and Bord na Móna. I trust Members will excuse me if my speech is a little jumbled; I am working from rather disjointed notes.

With regard to tourism, Trim Urban Council had a deputation to the Board [193] of Works 12 months ago asking for the preservation and restoration of King John's Castle in Trim. Because of limited resources the Board of Works could do nothing. I realise the Board of Works does not come within the ambit of the Minister but he is primarily responsible for tourism. The castle could be a tremendous tourist attraction. It is a very fine example of its particular type. Its preservation and restoration would enhance the tourist potential of south Meath. I would ask him to urge the Board of Works to allocate the necessary funds to restore the castle. The castle could be developed into another Bunratty. That has been a very successful tourist attraction in Clare. Trim is close to Dublin Airport and a Bunratty-type venture there could be a big tourist amenity. The Minister should consider the possibility of developing it in this direction.

I was very glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach say that transport legislation will be introduced within the next month, or so, designed to liberalise the road haulage of cattle. This is very important. There has been excessive delay in this matter. The store cattle survey team set up by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries recommended such a liberalisation quite some time ago. Instead of acting on the report of that survey team, the Departments concerned set up yet another inter-Departmental committee, which has not published its report but has apparently recommended precisely the same thing as the store survey commission recommended.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It is being acted on now.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Why had there to be a second report making precisely the same recommendation on exactly the same data and for exactly the same reason?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I did not set it up, but the legislation will be introduced.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I am glad to hear that, but we could have had it a year ago. It is unfortunate that two survey teams should have to be set up to make the same recommendation, when the first recommendation could have been implemented [194] without any consequential delay.

With the development of containerisation special ships are now required to carry cattle across the Irish Sea. Hitherto, ships which were used for different types of cargo, could also be used for the transport of cattle. The trouble is that there are not enough ships available to carry store cattle across the Irish Sea and that the ones available are allowed to be run down. The reason is that the store cattle trade and their carriage across the Irish Sea fluctuates very widely; the shippers cannot rely from year to year on a guaranteed amount of store cattle to carry and therefore they do not see steady long-term prospects in investment in cattle ships. Consequently, they are letting their ships in this field run down. If new investment is to be directed into building ships to carry store cattle there must be some guaranteed future for store cattle shipments on which the shippers can base their investment in new ships.

This is an area into which the Government and the Minister must step because if this matter is left merely to the market the shipments will fluctuate, ships will be idle for some years and there will not be enough of them in other years. The Minister should consider the question of giving guarantees to the shippers that, if in any given year shipments do not come up to a certain level, the Minister will pay them some compensation. This will encourage them to put on the necessary facilities so that the ships will be available in the good years. I understand a recommendation was made by the store cattle study group on this question that the compensation should be related to the amount they carried in the year in question; in other words, the Government would guarantee that an amount of, say, 50,000 cattle would be carried every year and that if it was below that, they would step in and compensate. However, there is a danger that this might be considered a subsidy under international law and, therefore, out of the question. This might be the case. In the case of individual companies the Minister would [195] allocate to each of them a specific amount, dividing this figure of 50,000 into separate bits, and if they did not reach their individual quota they would be paid accordingly. This would be against competition because shippers would know from one year to the next that, whether they made an effort to get cattle shipments or not, they would in any event be paid. This would be against international law as well as being mad economically.

There is a way around this international law problem in that the amount of compensation could be related to the amount they actually carried in the year so that, even if there were fewer cattle going across, if they made an effort to get the best possible share of the market they would get more compensation. The total amount of compensation should be enough to bring up receipts for the shippers as a whole to the same amount as receipts would be if the minimum shipments were actually made. I am reliably informed that such a method would get around the difficulty in international law about subsidising cattle shipments. I am sorry I have not expressed this very clearly but I would be glad to supply the information to the Minister at a later date when I have it in a more coherent form.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I would be very interested in this if the Deputy has any data.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is in the store cattle study group report. I have dealt with the question of haulage of cattle within Ireland and the problem of getting them across the Irish Sea. Now we have to get them from the ports in Britain to the markets. I understand that British Rail are allowing the wagons for carrying Irish store cattle to run down and in particular they are allowing wagons used from Birkenhead to rundown and are supplying good wagons for use from Holyhead. The reason is that British Railways are bringing the cattle to Holyhead and are therefore, supplying good off-take railway facilities for the cattle carried on their own line. However, B and I [196] are carrying to Birkenhead and British Railways are not supplying good rail facilities there, the aim being to stifle B and I in favour of British Railways. As a result of Birkenhead not getting an adequate number of cattle it is contemplated that the cattle facilities in the port will be closed down completely and this will have disastrous results for the Irish store trade.

Another reason why it is contemplated to close down Birkenhead is that the ships are not adequate to carry the store cattle to Birkenhead and, as a result, the lairage facilities are not being used to full capacity and are no longer economic. The Minister must take urgent action to ensure that Birkenhead is not closed down because it would have very serious results for our store cattle trade. I suggest that he take top priority action to persuade British Railways to provide proper rail facilities from Birkenhead and that he introduces some form of guarantee with compensation if guarantee is not met, to the shippers so that they will develop their facilities and put more ships on to carry Irish store cattle to Birkenhead and other ports in Britain. I understand that talks are taking place between B and I and British Railways an these matters. Would the Minister be able to tell us something about this in his reply?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Yes.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I shall now move on to the question of Bord na Móna. They are a very large employer in the western part of my constituency. I think the whole area from Ballivor right down to Allenwood and Carbury would be much poorer than it is at the moment were it not for the activities of Bord na Móna. If I say anything critical of Bord na Móna I do so because I appreciate its value to this part of my constituency and because I should like to see its activities streamlined and improved so that it could give greater benefits than the benefits it undoubtedly is giving at the present time. I realise that in measuring the value of Bord na Móna to the community we must not look at it purely in economic terms. It has a great social value in that it preserves healthy [197] communities in areas which would otherwise be much more seriously depopulated. In going around that part of my constituency I have heard repeated tributes from people in places like Ballinabrackey, Carbury and Ballivor, to the contribution Bord na Móna have made to keeping community spirit alive, providing employment and preventing emigration from these areas. However, we must face the facts of the situation. It is undoubtedly true that the sales of turf by Bord na Móna to the ESB are not economically-based. I wish to quote here from Mr. J.L. Booth, Economic Research Institute, paper 34, who says:

Bord na Móna's revenue would have fallen by about 20 per cent if the price of turf for generating electricity were brought down to a level such as the ESB would on commercial grounds have chosen turf over imported fuels.

In other words, the consumers of electricity are effectively subsidising Bord na Móna through the fact that the ESB is buying turf where it would perhaps be cheaper for them to buy imported fuel. Not only is there a difference in regard to the price, which is in effect an economic subsidy to Bord na Móna, but there is also the fact that the ESB give preference to the use of turf over other forms of fuel, so they also use more turf than they would normally. The order in which they use these different sources of fuel for electricity generation is set out in table 9, paper 34, of the Economic Research Institute. I do not think there is any need for me to comment on that. The information is there. They use turf where it would be cheaper for them to use other methods.

It is perfectly desirable at the moment that they should be doing this. It is effectively a form of taxation through electricity consumption which is being used to keep Bord na Móna's production at its present high level. However, there are other problems which must be considered in relation to this: for instance, what will happen to this arrangement when we go into the EEC? Will we be allowed to continue to subsidise Bord na Móna in this way?

[198]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  There is no problem there.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I am glad to hear that. In regard to the regional policy of the EEC I wish to quote from paragraph 294 of the Government's White Paper:

The Commission is prepared to agree to aid intended to facilitate the development of certain activities or of certain economic regions.

This is possibly one way in which Bord na Móna activities may be justified, but there is this proviso:

—provided that where industry is concerned the aid is part of an operation to put the industry on a sound footing.

That proviso is there and it is possible we may not get around that regulation unless we can say the subsidy we are giving Bord na Móna is part of an operation to put the industry on a sound footing.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It is purely internal power consumption.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I should like to go on to the common energy policy of the EEC. There would be no point in having a common energy policy, as they do, if energy was purely an internal thing within each of the member countries. Paragraph 461 of the Government White Paper of the common energy policy says:

The main object is to ensure low energy prices in the Community.

This is in the Government's own White Paper. How will the application of that principle affect Bord na Móna?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  How we cost ourselves is a matter for ourselves.

Mr. O'Connor: Information on Timothy O'Connor  Zoom on Timothy O'Connor  We have the lowest prices in Europe.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  How we cost our power or fuel is a matter for ourselves.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Will that not be affected by the common energy policy? I shall quote one of the protocols laid down in paragraph 462 for the common energy policy: “Fair competition between various forms of energy”. That is one of the protocols laid down. [199] How do we reconcile our situation with that? Is there fair competition now between oil, coal and turf? Is there fair competition if the ESB is discriminating in favour of turf? How will that protocol affect us?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I am talking about internal consumption.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The common energy policy affects internal power, does it not?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  How each individual costs itself with regard to power is a matter for that country.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  What then is the point in having a common energy policy?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Central exporting.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I do not think that is the case at all. I hope the Minister is right, but I should be glad if he would look into it.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I will.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  If this policy is going to be applied stringently, it could have very serious results for employment in Bord na Móna. We must be preparing for it now and ensure that employment in Bord na Móna is maintained, if we go into the EEC. I am in favour of our entry, but now is the time to ensure that Bord na Móna are prepared and that employment in Bord na Móna is preserved in EEC conditions. I would ask the Minister to re-read the paragraph I have read. He may be able to get a completely different construction from it than I have got. Deputy O'Connor pointed out that we have the cheapest electricity prices in Europe.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  That is true.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I am glad to hear that. The Minister made a speech in Ballyduff on 4th September last in which he said:

We have relatively cheap electricity in this country. The rates of charge compare more than favourably with rates charged abroad. It is true that at present electricity generated from turf is dearer than from oil but the extra cost does not [200] represent an excessive percentage of the total.

This I readily accept, but he goes on to say:

As more and larger oil stations come to be built this percentage will be reduced progressively, assuming reasonable stability in turf prices.

How would this happen if we are going to build more oil stations? Surely the oil will be used in place of turf for electricity generation. How would the building of more oil station affect turf?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Because of the growing demand. We are going to have twice the demand by 1980 we have at the moment.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Minister thinks there will be reasonable stability in turf prices?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  With expanding demands it follows.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I would think that Bord na Móna should try to diversify its activities to prepare itself, in case there is any difficulty in conditions of free trade, to preserve employment, to keep the present staff going and also to ensure that there is a long-term future for those who go into Bord na Móna. If it has a future of only 20 or 30 years it is not an industry in which young people will be prepared to go because most of them will look forward to a longer working life than 20 years if they go in at the age of 20. If young people are to be encouraged to enter the Bord na Móna service we must ensure that it will have a longer future than 20 years. There are ways in which we can try to do this. Bord na Móna has done very good work in the field of machine technology. This should be expanded into production of machines not directly related to bogs. The board could go into allied fields and expand the technology department in which it has been so successful.

The Minister for Lands suggested the possibility that if the Department of Lands were closed down or transferred to Agriculture, forestry could be put in charge of a new State body. Turf [201] development and afforestation are carried out in remote areas and in some cases in areas close to each other. Instead of setting up a new State company to deal with forestry the question should be considered of making forestry a function of Bord na Móna. Turf development and afforestation involve land that is not the most fertile and which has physical deficiencies. There are certain common factors.

It is suggested that the bogs will be exhausted in 20 to 30 years. Efforts should now be made to ensure that there will be industries established in the localities to absorb those workers who will be disemployed. The Government should now plan ahead to develop allied industries, using the infrastructure that already exists. I hope the Minister will do something about this in consultation with his colleagues.

I should like to say something about the marketing of Bord na Móna products. I understand that there is some difficulty in drawing off machine turf for sale to private consumers. In one area in my constituency there is one big supplier, McHenrys, who seem to be getting all the privileges and the smaller private suppliers are in a rather bad position. I am informed that originally the idea was that McHenrys should come to draw away from the pithead at 6.30 a.m. and should be finished by 10 a.m., leaving the rest of the day for private suppliers. McHenrys are now coming at 9 or 10 a.m., leaving only about three hours in the day for private suppliers. There is one private supplier who would have a market for six loads, but for the fact that he is artificially restricted to three loads per day because there is not sufficient time left for him to draw the turf as McHenrys come at the wrong time and use up the best hours. They should be asked to come at about 6.30 a.m. in order to leave more time for others.

There should be greater flexibility in manpower policy at the pithead. Apparently there is a fixed number of workers allocated to loading trucks, and they remain throughout the day. I am informed that if they were prepared to put in a few extra men at rush hour the number of deliveries from the pithead could be doubled. I [202] understand that there may be some union difficulty in this regard but the Minister should do what he can to ensure greater flexibility so that private suppliers will get as much turf as they want. I understand there is some dissatisfaction, that people would like to take turf but cannot rely on regularity of supply and sometimes cannot get enough.

I have noticed that, since 1963, while sales of milled peat have increased two-and-a-half times, sales of briquettes have risen only slightly. I wonder why the briquette market has not expanded as fast as milled peat has?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The milled peat is guaranteed into the power station. It is automatic. The other is competitive.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Prior to 1963, I understood briquette sales were expanding but, since 1963, they have hardly expanded at all.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The domestic market is very competitive, as against the guarantee in the case of milled peat of expanding power.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Are there any special factors involved in the case of briquettes?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  No. Domestic fuel is highly competitive.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It was suggested on 16th July, 1968, in the Seanad, on the Turf Development Bill, that all distributors were not given adequate supplies of briquettes, that there was some kind of ring operating in the market for briquettes, that some distributors were getting them and others were not. I do not know what the Minister has done about that but would be anxious to know if this is still the case. I hope it is not.

In relation to the question of bog management, operations and efficiency on the bogs, it has been suggested to me by workers on bogs that there is an excessive number of supervisory staff, that the bogs could be managed and the workers could get on with the job with fewer supervisory staff. I do not know whether or not this is so. It was stated by Mr. Kelly, writing in Administration in 1959, about Bord [203] na Móna, that, as a general rule, in the production field, up to 30 operatives may be responsible to one supervisor; six to ten such supervisors may be responsible to one foreman. That is 30 operatives per supervisor. There is only one bog workshop on which I have information but I understand that there, instead of 30 as laid down by Mr. Kelly in 1959, there are 15 operatives per supervisor. This looks like a rather inefficient use of supervisory staff.

In this workshop there are 90 men employed, and to supervise them there is one manager, one engineer, one foreman, two assistant foremen and six chargehands. This gives a worker-supervisor ratio of one to 15 instead of the one to 30 laid down by Mr. Kelly. Perhaps this workshop for which I have figures is untypical. I had access to figures for only one workshop and it has been suggested to me that there is no necessity for the large number of supervisory staff. It has been said that some sort of bonus scheme should be employed so that if the workers did more work in one day they would get a bonus for it and this would be an incentive to work harder and therefore reduce the need for supervision. This suggestion came to me from a workman in this workshop.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  They have it.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is possible they have not got it in this workshop. Another difficulty was conveyed to me in the matter of mechanisation in Bord na Móna. They have introduced this fóidín machine for producing small sods in Derrygreenagh bog in County Westmeath which is supplying the milled peat station at Rhode. I understand the type of sod produced by this machine is too big for use in the Rhode station, with the result that a hammer mill will have to be erected to break up the sods into small particles for use in the station. Meanwhile the sods are lying in heaps, decomposing.

I seems to me there has been some mistake in this matter. Why was the fóidín machine rushed into Derry, [204] greenagh bog to produce a type of sod which could not be used in the Rhode station?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I do not know about the Rhode power station, but it is used in the other one.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  In the Portarlington station, perhaps. This is a machine turf station.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  My information is that there are ample outlets for them.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  My information from workers in the bog is that the machine has been producing a lot of stuff which they have not been able to use and which is lying there in heaps, smoking, decomposing.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I will inquire into it.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Another complaint is that the employment of the fóidín machine has caused a certain amount of disemployment. The figures given to me indicate that the use of the machine in a particular area of bog has meant that the labour force in that bog has been reduced from 60 workers to 30. I do not know whether the use of the machine is valid on economic grounds. I would be very chary about it. It would have to be justified very seriously because in the first place this machine was very expensive. It has been represented to me that it has caused disemployment and that a number of casual workers in the area who previously had been employed by Bord na Móna cannot now get work. One's concern is particularly great when one considers that the product of this machine is not usable in Rhode.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I will look into it, certainly, but I will be very surprised if that is the case.

Mr. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  This is my information, having spoken to workers in this area. However, I should like to move on to the question of labour relations. The Mulvey Report on labour relations in Bord na Móna, published in 1968, made four major recommendations to Bord na Móna. It suggested that a special personnel department should [205] be established with a departmental head who would have the same status as other departmental heads. It recommended that all departmental heads should be members of the board and that personnel staff should be more mobile, should move to a greater extent throughout the country and not be concentrated in Dublin, as they were at that time.

The report recommends that personnel staff should be brought in possessing wider backgrounds than obtained at that time. Bord na Móna, in their annual report, welcomed that report but they did not give any information as to whether its recommendations would be implemented. Such an announcement may have been made since, but I have not seen it. If the Mulvey Report were commissioned and its findings published, the information should be made public and we should have been told if the recommendations were being implemented.

In paragraph 144 of the Mulvey Report it is recommended that democratic procedures should be introduced into the running of Bord na Móna, that there should be workers' councils and so forth. The report stated that there is great interest among the workers in worker participation. This concerns was echoed in the Fine Gael policy statement on labour relations which recommended that State bodies should give a lead to the private sector by encouraging worker participation.

I can testify to this need. Talking to workers in Bord na Móna in my constituency, I discovered they are very interested not only in the question of their pay packets next week but in the wider issues of efficiency and mechanisation. On the basis of simply making more profits, it would be wise for Bord na Móna to give their workers, through their representatives, greater participation in the running of the undertaking. Such representatives would make valuable contributions if they were on the board. This is the indication I have got from talking to the workers. They have a great interest in and understanding of what is involved.

Another question which has been raised is the relations between Bord na Móna and local farmers. It was said [206] in the Seanad on 16th July, 1968, in regard to land compulsorily acquired by Bord na Móna from farmers, that farmers were kept waiting for payment five and six years in some cases. I have not got independent information on this matter and I should be interested if the Minister in his reply could let us know if anything has been done in this respect—if farmers are being paid more quickly than they were. Four or five years is much too long a period to have to wait for payment, particularly when the land has been acquired compulsorily.

There are one or two other matters I wish to refer to. I suggested that the annual reports of Bord na Móna and of other State bodies should be more informative. I should like to quote from the Fine Gael policy document:

The reports of many State bodies are informative and some are models of presentation. But in all too many cases these reports deal with the day-to-day affairs of these bodies and not with basic policies. Thus the reports of the ESB and Bord na Móna have never referred to the policy under which the ESB is required to purchase turf from Bord na Móna at something like £1 million above the true market price. Yet this is perhaps the most important single fact about the economics of these two bodies. We propose that State bodies' reports should in future deal with important policy matters, as well as with day-to-day affairs.

The Minister should ensure that this aspect of Fine Gael policy is put into effect.

I should like to quote from an article in the Irish Times of 12th September, 1969 written by a special correspondent on the subject of Bord na Móna's Annual Report:

The Board thanks the good weather of 1968 for its relatively favourable results and notes that its Poulton weather index was above average for the first time in at least nine years.

If the Board has concluded that the Poulton index is the right one to measure the effect of weather on turf-cutting, it must be able to [207] measure the approximate value to the Board of each year's variation in the index from the average.

This is a figure which the Government and the public should know; it would enable each year's results to be corrected to show the real underlying trend in the company's fortunes.

As things are, we have no proper means of knowing whether it is gradually becoming more economic, or less economic, or is holding its own.

I do not need to add anything to that. I hope that in future reports the suggestion of this correspondent will be acted upon.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Before congratulating the Minister on this Estimate I might say that even before the Devlin Report was published many of us felt that the Department of Transport and Power was carrying far too many duties for it to be really effective in each phase of its endeavours. We cannot anticipate Government action on the Devlin Report. My suggestions may be helpful. We could, perhaps, suggest changes. The Department of Transport and Power must look at the measure of its interference in the commercial life of the country. In Dublin there is a large public utility. This being the age of industrial democracy, this concern decided to appoint two of its workers as directors. A Bill had to be put through the House to allow them to do so. They had the full co-operation of the Department but I feel that in this age we should not have such State interference in a concern that is trying to modernise its whole outlook by promoting workers to its board of directors.

The Devlin Report may bring changes. Next year the Department of Transport and Power may be shorn of its responsibilities. At the moment it is dealing with over 12 vital public utilities. Two or three of these should perhaps be the concern of one Department only. As a member of the Fianna Fáil Party I advocate State enterprise where private enterprise is inadequate or unwilling to undertake the task in hand. I am not critical of several [208] nationalised industries but the time has come when we must take a much more serious view of the role of the State in industry and private enterprise. We can bring about the ideal economic situation wherein any worthwhile undertaking will not be sacrificed because it is not making a profit. The State will step in and put the resources of the country behind it to ensure more success like Aer Lingus, Bord na Móna, the Sugar Company and various other semi-State enterprises. We must look at the whole set-up between private enterprise and State enterprise in the public utility field. The Devlin Report may well help in this.

The Department of Transport and Power may contribute more, perhaps, to our adverse trade balance than any other Department. I am subject to correction on this. Imports of fuel are rising. We are moving away from our basic philosophy of Sinn Féin carried on by all parties up to the present day. As a source of primary energy, oil accounts for 50 per cent, turf 29 per cent, coal 22 per cent and hydro-electric schemes 7 per cent. Oil imports will continue to increase. Turf will have disappeared in 30 years time and coal in a shorter time. We are faced with a situation as regards electricity production of having oil-burning stations or reverting to the system in operation at the foundation of the ESB of using hydro schemes to build up the national grid. If we were to depend on fuel oil one could visualise the day when trouble would arise in the Middle East and there would be a shortage of oil. On the other hand, we could, like France, harness the tides. We have not attempted this yet. We have harnessed the rivers for our electric schemes. The ESB must examine the possibility of harnessing the tidal waters as a source of cheap fuel. Atomic energy may fill the gap in 40 years time but we would still have colossal imports of its components such as uranium. If we are to become more self-sufficient we should look at our sources of primary energy. We are an island country with a great potential around our coasts. The tides might be harnessed to give cheap electricity without the necessity for imports. Perhaps, it is unfair to the Department officials to ask them to [209] look at this. I have no evidence of their determination to provide a scheme on the west coast, or the east coast, whichever is the more suitable.

Several other utilities are under the care of the Department but are trivial compared with this great task. Oil is used in many industries, even in the production of electricity and gas. If we depend on imports we will be at the mercy of those countries that have oil supplies. Under this country there are 25 million tons of coal. This is an official figure. Our imports of coal at the moment are about 1¼ million tons so if we are to use our native resources we would have supplies of coal for 25 years. I know it is not as simple as that. Much of our coal is uneconomic and unsuitable but at the same time we must look at this and use those resources while they are there. This would at least cut down imports. While the importation of coal cannot be stopped completely, because other countries have better quality coal than we have, we must look at the two basic factors with regard to our fuel supplies that is, the harnessing of the tides for electricity and the full utilisation of our native coal supplies.

I know it is not the “with it” thing today to talk about solid fuel. People do not go for it nowadays. Housewives may not like solid fuel anymore. The point I want to make is that our imports are adding to our balance of trade difficulties and it would help if we used more of our native fuel resources. We should have another look at the mines, particularly in the west, to see if they can be used more, even if we have to subsidise them.

When most people think of the Department of Transport and Power they think of CIE. A Dublin journalist, Mr. Michael Viney, put it very well when in Administration, volume 16, No. 4, he said: “It is the fate of all State utilities to be seen as monolithic yet to be challenged in daily detail, to be taken for granted yet not to be understood.” I suppose there is no more misunderstood body than CIE. In this city we may all swear in the morning or evening when we are waiting for a bus which does not come [210] along. They say it is because of the traffic density, that there are too many cars on the road and that because people cannot get buses they buy cars. It is a vicious circle going on all the time — not enough buses, more cars and therefore buses not getting through. This is something we have got to face. As we become more affluent, more people will have cars, more people want to get to places quickly and CIE will be faced again and again with the problem of traffic density. One Deputy this morning said he was fed up with the traffic in Dublin and nothing was being done about it. Something is being done about it. If something had not been done Dublin would have been choked up with traffic long ago. The population of the city is growing. In the greater Dublin area there are now 800,000 people. Lots of them have not cars and they must depend on buses. I am not in here to defend CIE. I just want to be fair to them. If you take it that there are 800 buses and in CIE as a whole there are 4,000 people employed it may be too simple to say that that means five people per bus. It does not mean any such thing. It means somewhere in the organisation that five people are being employed to keep a bus on the road.

I mention that fact to let you see the difficulties we are up against. There is no possibility, and I would not favour it, of having the transport service go back to private enterprise. Mr. Frank Lemass, the manager, pointed out some time ago that should this happen private enterprise would simply go after the best routes and would not go on the uneconomic routes, so if you did not happen to live in a densely populated area you would not have a bus service. When people say “Back to private enterprise” they say this without thinking too much about it.

We should look at the problem of what to do with CIE as a semi-State company. There are many things we can do to help them. The first is to try and understand them, but CIE must also help themselves out in regard to Dublin traffic. They will have to have a fresh look at the possibility [211] of re-opening the suburban stations which they closed some time ago. I have been pressing this with CIE in my own constituency of South-East Dublin where they closed stations at Sandymount, Sydney Parade and other such places. I have pointed out to them that the population in that area has grown tremendously and people would use the trains if given the chance. I would appeal to CIE to have a fresh look at this, as otherwise the roads will become more crowded and it will become impossible to travel in the city. CIE can help by opening up the railways which they closed down not alone in the south-east area but in other areas.

I remember when Dublin Corporation, with all their faults, at one time discussed very seriously the possibility of opening up a rail junction from Liffey junction in Cabra whereby people could get transport from there right down to the docks. There must be many dockers living in that suburban area. Apart from the dockers, if you take into account that in the Dublin Port area there are 12,000 people employed you will see there is a great potential for CIE to give those people easy access to their employment, and help to reduce the great traffic density on the roads.

The State have not been ungenerous to CIE. Sometime ago we gave them a supplementary grant to help them carry on. I am all for this because they have got tremendous problems. The Minister has been pressed by every Deputy who spoke on the CIE pensions scheme some time ago. I do not want to go over all that again because we have all said our piece before, but it is something which pricks our conscience when we see the paltry sums those men are getting. I understand there is some move to improve this and I think the sooner the better.

I would make another plea to CIE with regard to their vast staff in this city. I know one section which are voluntarily providing recreational facilities for their staff. I would ask the board of CIE to give this sports section a good grant to help to provide for the recreation of their men because bus [212] drivers, conductors and train drivers have a very arduous job to do and as the working week is cut down they, like the rest of us, will have more time for leisure. CIE, which is being so heavily subsidised by the State, should show their gratitude by recognition of the fact that we do not subsidise them merely so that they can make a profit. We subsidise them also to provide an efficient service. There can be no efficient service if the well-being of the employees is not seen to. I would suggest to the board of CIE that they recognise the merits of those people and give them a grant towards recreational facilities. It may not be a great one. I would say £10,000 would go a long way.

There has been much talk in recent years about port development and particularly about the development of Dublin port. I believe the time has come when we must have a searching examination of the construction of the ports of the future. One basic factor must be recognised: ships are getting bigger. They are being built today of a size which would have been unthought of even ten years ago. You must have better facilities to cater for those larger vessels. I believe there is no port in the whole country more ideal for the purpose of taking the great bulk of trade than Dublin port.

You have to face the fact that we have few really modern ports in the country. Dublin at present takes 64 per cent of the total trade of the Republic. You may have seen figures which put Cork port and Dublin on almost the same level as regards tonnage. While the figures are correct as they stand, examination will show that if you take into account the Whitegate oil refinery figures for the transport of oil you get a different picture. Therefore, Dublin port must expand. I do not favour a colossal Dublin port but I believe a modern port here can be made to look as well as any Japanese port. Even the biggest of these have been made beautiful and provide fine examples of the genius, progress and capacity for hard work and planning of the Japanese people. They have come a long way from the old port concept of smoking chimneys, railway sidings and grassless wastes. Their ports are more like parklands. [213] They have given us a new concept of port planning and so have the Dutch people to a lesser extent. When we are planning our ports we should study Japanese and Dutch methods so that we can ensure our modern ports will be things of beauty as well as utility. There need be no clash between the two. We must be careful not to allow development without regard to natural beauty. We must not be so unrealistic as to think that the Dublin port of 20 or 30 years ago can hold its own in modern commerce unless we do as has been done in England, on the continent and in Japan and change our whole thinking about large ports and say that we want to develop so as to serve the people's needs in regard to imports and exports and also combine beauty with utility.

Our airports are quite nice. They have the advantage of having been established when we were more planning-conscious and more aware of architecture than were the early inhabitants of Dublin when they first set up a port here. Very soon the Minister will be getting a report from the Dublin Port and Docks Board on port development and, while I am no longer a member of that board, I hope this report will envisage a port both beautiful and useful.

Everybody now is worried about pollution in the rivers and in the air and rightly so. A few months ago when watching the Americans landing on the moon it struck me that the moon will now be polluted since the Americans left some instruments there and probably the next flight will leave more. Having polluted the world, we now proceed to pollute the moon. I suppose by nature and in our carelessness we pollute our surroundings. Let it be said, however, that most Members of the House did not wait until now to consider the problem of pollution. When the present Minister was responsible for Fisheries I was a member of a board of fishery conservators and I was in constant touch with him about pollution of rivers.

Dublin is probably unique in being the only city with a fish-bearing river running through its centre. The problem of pollution and fish life must [214] be carefully studied. I can remember the river Liffey being dirtier than it is now because at that time we had untreated sewage being discharged into it unchecked. At the same time the fish population was very large. This is one of the contradictions one encounters. Today, effluents more dangerous than untreated sewage are being discharged into the Liffey, such as oil and poisons. I once asked a Parliamentary Question as to whether the law was considered adequate to protect our rivers and I was told the answer was “yes” at the time. There was an occasion when a county Dublin firm accidentally discharged cyanide — I think — into the river, killing all fish life. The firm admitted its mistake but in law you had to prove that the effluent from the factory actually killed the fish you produced for inspection. That was almost impossible since the fish might have died from some other type of pollution. While some firms must be watched I think that, in general, firms do not want to pollute rivers and I think with co-operation from firms and the people generally we could end this danger.

In Dublin we also have the Dodder river which is a very pretty river but is being seriously polluted. The corporation are now halfway through the Dodder Valley drainage scheme which I think will save the Dodder from sewage pollution and incidentally allow us to build many more houses in the south-west suburbs. We shall not save the river unless the people themselves want to save it. It is depressing to view the Dodder today and see the amount of rubbish, including old iron, thrown into it, thus destroying the appearance of a lovely river. People talk about preserving Georgian buildings, which is only right if they can be preserved, and yet this beautiful river is being destroyed by people who have no respect for beauty or fish life, through plain carelessness. People protest against removing buildings of bricks and mortar — they are entitled to their views—but when at the same time you see the people ignoring the fact that a beautiful river is being destroyed one wonders if our values are right.

Pollution will become a tremendous [215] problem for the Government and the people. As population increases so will pollution and our scientists must try to provide a solution. The people, primarily, should be jealous of the natural amenities of the country and not allow them to be destroyed. Deputy Tully spoke yesterday about caravan camps and of what can happen without proper control of such camps in seaside areas. I do not know if many tourists go there but our people go there and, while some local authorities have done a good job in setting up these holiday camps, it is depressing to see the shanty towns which have been allowed grow up around our coasts. This is one thing the Minister must tackle.

Another matter for the Minister is the removal of the billboard alleys which one sees at the approaches to our cities. Dublin is probably worse than anywhere else and we see all kinds of advertisements put up. Under the last Planning Act permission is required to do this but unfortunately many were there before the Act and retained their rights to erect these monstrosities. It has been said that we must not sell our heritage for financial gain, that we must preserve our natural amenities. If we are going to have these horrible signs, we will destroy the image of Ireland as a fresh country with green fields, nice scenery, proper roads and, above all, with a people who value things of beauty.

Perhaps in some future Planning Act the Minister might recommend much more stringent action against people who violate the planning laws or violate the appearance of an area by putting up crude advertisements. With industrialisation going on apace on the continent, in Britain and here, people will yearn more and more for a quiet place in which to relax. I feel that we are not serious enough in our approach to the preservation of rural and urban amenities. The Minister would do a good job if he appealed to the various organisations to preserve our rivers and our scenery. Under the Planning Act the appropriate Minister has power to do this. However, this is an area in which the State dictating is not the full answer; the State must also [216] lead and they can lead the people to a sense of duty in this regard. If this is done there will be no trouble about maintaining and increasing our tourist trade. We will not attract tourists if they are going to find here what they may see any day in downtown New York, or in London—all these garish signs blazing all over the place. The continentals are much better in this regard than we are. Because of pressure on them through scarcity of land and huge populations they realise they have got to preserve and develop their land.

Many of our problems in the past were solved by emigration but today the younger people are turning their faces against this solution and are prepared to appreciate our natural treasures and will not allow them to be destroyed. The Minister might impress on the various agencies under his control that they will have to do much more, not just to increase the number of beds, which is desirable, but more to preserve our existing amenities so that we will not become a pale copy of the Anglo-American scene and so that we will maintain what is purely an Irish scene and attract tourists.

Mr. O'Connor: Information on Timothy O'Connor  Zoom on Timothy O'Connor  I want to congratulate the Minister on the progress he has made in the short time he has been in this Department and also for the plans he has in mind for the future. Deputy Andrews said he would like to see the name of the Department changed to the “Department of Transport and Communications” but I should like to see it extended to the “Department of Transport and Power and Development” because it is within the ambit of this Department to carry out the type of development we require, particularly in the west. Much lip-service has been paid to what can be done in the west. We have there many natural assets and amenities and an adequate labour force—we have plenty of everything but development. If the Department could co-ordinate the various agencies involved they would be doing a very good job of work for the western seaboard. All too often we find people, particularly smallholders and small farmers, who [217] want to get into the tourist trade being held up because of lack of water and power supplies. Each Department is working in its own insular way, carrying out its own schemes to the best of its ability, but a greater effort is needed than this if we are to save the west.

The saving of the west is definitely bound up with tourism. A halt to some extent is noticeable in the drain from these places because now the people have hope for the future but they are still frustrated because of the lack of those two facilities. All we want are the tourists but we have no place to put them because of this need. I believe that 500,000 extra tourists along the west would bring in an income of £15 million of which £3 million will represent labour or wages of one sort or another. To earn this we need 15,000 houses developed for tourism. The houses are not there but the people are prepared to develop and adjust their houses to the needs of tourism. The Department should consider fixed targets over a given period. This is a target which could be reached in five years or less. The Department should have the power to co-ordinate the efforts of other Departments and not have every Department working on its own to the detriment of the overall plan in the national economy.

Tourism plays a very major part, particularly in the south and west, and it is vitally important that we should develop the farmhouse type of holiday. I have met many people, with families, who are anxious to holiday in farmhouses provided they have the necessary amenities. They do not want luxury. They want the ordinary amenities. Not enough attention is given to this aspect of tourism by Bord Fáilte. They do not seem to be really alive to the vast potential there is in this development. In my part of the country we have a number of vast hotels and the stage has now been reached at which it is becoming increasingly difficult to staff them. In the farmhouse the family attend to the needs of the tourist. I would press the Minister to develop this aspect of tourism, with the co-operation of the Department of Local Government and the Electricity Supply Board. The latter comes within [218] the sphere of influence of the Minister.

Some Deputies have referred to the necessity for extending the licensing hours. This is absolutely essential. If the weather is good tourists will stay out of doors during the daylight hours and, just as they are coming in, the licensed premises close down. There should be an extension up to 1 a.m. during the summer months. Continentals and Americans are used to this type of concession. I was in a German city recently and I stayed in a licensed premises until three o'clock in the morning. I do not know when it closed, but it was open up to three o'clock. That is the kind of facility tourists look for here because they are used to it.

One speaker spoke about our entry into the Common Market and the effect this may have on Bord na Móna and the ESB. As I said earlier, I was in Germany recently. A German firm is coming into my home town and I went over with data about power and power prices. The industry is in the Ruhr Valley, which has the cheapest electricity in Europe because of the concentration of industry there. The German industrialist was pleasantly surprised to find that our ESB charges are below those in Germany. He could not understand how a country like ours could be able to sell electricity at a lower price than the very reasonable price he was paying in Germany. Naturally, this is a tremendous attraction.

Since 1932 we have aimed at developing our natural resources to the maximum extent. We still have vast areas of bog which could be utilised for the generation of electricity. It has been said that turf costs the ESB more than oil. That is true, but we must examine this in its correct context. In the overall picture turf is probably no dearer than imported oil. In the case of our agricultural produce, because of the subsidisation necessary to sell our agricultural produce on the outside market, it takes £2 worth of exports to pay for every £1 of imports. In that context, turf cannot be regarded as a more costly fuel than oil. Possibly, on straight economics, it can. How many of us in our homes get a contractor to do the job instead of doing it ourselves? We have the time and the [219] ability, and some of us have the energy, to do it ourselves but, even though the contractor costs more, in the end it works out cheaper to employ the contractor. It is from that point of view we must look at turf production. It is a natural asset and it behoves us to utilise all the material we have within our own confines. I remember being in Roscommon during a by-election and I saw vast areas of bog, beautiful bog, and I have often wished we had it down in Kerry. Most of our bogs are cut out except for the area around Cahirciveen. There are vast areas of bog in Galway and Mayo. These should be examined with a view to the possibility of developing more ESB turf-fired generating stations. These bogs would provide valuable employment. We will be using more and more electricity. Why import oil to generate this electricity when we have a natural resource which can be utilised for that purpose? It has possibilities. I realise that economists within the ESB will not listen to this; their main concern is to turn out the material at the very lowest rate but we do not have to go along with everything the economists give us in this field and it is worth examining.

I think one of the Deputies on the other side of the House mentioned that Bord na Móna should take over forestry. It might be worth looking into because they could in the lesser areas possibly still develop what used to be hand-won turf but which can now be cut with machines and could be used extensively in the retail trade. There are vast areas of bog in Cahirciveen which could be developed for the domestic market now that coal has reached £13 per ton and is likely to rise to £14. There is a market for good machine-won turf. The use of this fuel would reduce imports of coal. If afforestation were under the control of Bord na Móna, they could use outlying bog areas for this purpose and could do a good job of work. This suggestion is worthy of consideration in the national interest.

Reference has been made to pollution and its effects on fishing. Pollution is something that is worrying the whole world today. As a delegate [220] to the Council of Europe for the past two years I have been concerned with this problem. While in Europe the big worry is in connection with air pollution, our problem is the pollution of rivers. Much more positive action has to be taken to protect at least those rivers that are still free from pollution and to reduce the deadly danger to all types of fish life in badly polluted waters. Bord Fáilte could do much in this direction and in the development of the fishing potential. Sea fishing, in particular, is becoming very important to tourists, but not enough co-ordinated effort is made by Bord Fáilte to develop this very useful tourist attraction. It is left in a haphazard way to the people along the sea coast, or rather left to the tourists, to get fishermen to cater for tourists. I do not think that is right because the fisherman is mainly concerned with fishing when the fish are running. He will go out if there is no fishing but his boat is not always ideally suitable for taking out tourists and very often does not measure up to what the tourist requires. There is much scope for development in this direction. As an amenity, fishing is of the first importance.

The same applies to our rivers. All too often whole stretches are taken up by individuals who do not themselves fish and who will not allow anyone else to fish. Something should be done about this so that the benefit of natural assets may be secured for the nation. A system must be devised in the near future to open rivers to our own people and to tourists who are prepared to pay good money to fish on them.

Reference has been made to CIE. I must congratulate CIE on their passenger services, particularly in Kerry. They have brought them up to standard and have given a very fast service in the past 12 months. However, there is one very serious aspect of CIE now developing, in regard to charges for the transport of industrial goods. These charges have been increased considerably and seem to be increasing continuously and are now at a rate which most industrialists cannot afford. These charges increase production costs. Too many large CIE lorries are operating, particularly in Kerry, at what is [221] obviously an uneconomic figure. You will see them with limited loads, taking an entire day to get to, for instance, my own place in Killorglin and back. This kind of operation cannot pay. Using a big truck as a delivery vehicle from door to door cannot possibly be economic. This is something the Minister should look into. CIE should be made to operate as economically as possible. They should not impose charges that are far and above what they should be on the people who also have to subsidise them. We cannot afford this kind of development and some effort must be made to prevent it.

I have had experience of this development in the charges on some of the small industries in Killorglin, that have not got lorries of their own and that could get the goods that are taken by CIE delivered anywhere in the country for less than half what they are paying. This is a serious state of affairs that should be remedied. It is militating against the establishment of industry in areas where it is needed.

By and large, CIE are doing a good job of work in some ways. Their train services are excellent and are a credit to them but there is necessity for an overhaul of the system whereby every time their costs go up they impose increased charges on the people in general. We must see what can be done to streamline the organisation and to take them off those operations which, quite obviously, do not pay them and which represent a burden on the people who have to pay for them.

I should like to see the Department extended to embrace tourist development, with the Department of Local Government, responsible for the provision of amenity schemes, the ESB, and so on, working hand in hand in order to develop this farm guesthouse system which is the best way of bringing tourists particularly into the western areas. This has far greater potential than the development of hotels which are now finding difficulty in getting personnel. I realise I have repeated what I had said already when the Minister was not here. I am grateful to the Chair for bearing with me.

Mr. Foley: Information on Desmond Foley  Zoom on Desmond Foley  I compliment the Minister [222] for the workmanlike manner in which he introduced this Estimate. It is very complex but it is self-explanatory in many ways and a great deal of work has gone into its preparation.

The ESB seems to be bedevilled by strikes. Labour relations seem to have broken down completely. Obviously, what happens at the board meetings is never communicated to the workers. We as the Government party are responsible in some way for what has happened, and maybe in no small way. Maybe we do not own up to the responsibility. We should do something about it. If people are left without electricity, we are to blame. We have given a free hand in regard to negotiations within the ESB but this does not seem to work. Eventually, people will get bills for £40, £50 or £60 and if they do not pay they are liable to be summoned and brought to court. People naturally accept the fact that they have to pay the bills but the Minister should see to it that there is a lenient approach and that people will be given a longer period to pay.

On the question of the installation of electricity supply for smallholdings, I speak for a semi-rural area where there are many farmers and also people living in built-up areas. I am speaking for the farming areas in particular. Recently a man in Naul, County Dublin, who was starting up his own small business as a garage man wanted to use a heavy welder. The ESB told him single-phase electricity would be sufficient and they would give him this at a cost. He said it was no good to him, but he blacked out the whole village and people were complaining. In order not to have the people complaining he requested the ESB to give him three-phase electricity and he would wait until the ESB could give it to him. This was 11 months ago and he is still waiting for it. He has blacked out the village on three different occasions and he still has not got three-phase electricity.

Recently Dublin County Council said they were going to build a sewage disposal unit for which the ESB would have to erect an additional power station. The ESB immediately responded to that and we are expecting [223] it to be completed very shortly, maybe in another month's time. This man to whom I have been referring will now get his three-phase electricity when he has done irreparable damage to his own business and caused grave inconvenience to the village. This man's name is Padraic Rooney. I have been in constant touch with the ESB about this case.

The same problem applies in relation to three-phase electricity for people with glasshouses or who want to operate boilers for heating purposes in Loughshinny and Skerries. Wayleave is being sought from the ESB. If you seek wayleave and if there are poles, generally speaking, you will get it and, if not, you will move in and take over; you will get wayleave anyway. All these things should be pushed aside when the installation of a necessary supply is involved. I would ask the Minister to take cognisance of this matter. These are individual cases but there are other areas of County Dublin which are affected by the same thing.

In regard to low voltage, my colleague, Deputy Paddy Burke, has mentioned Palmerstown. We have been repeatedly in contact with the ESB in regard to this area where there are tremendous demands on the supply. When it comes to 6 o'clock in the evening you have to decide whether you want to watch the kettle boiling for ten minutes or watch television. You cannot have both. The same thing applies to Swords, Kinsealy and Malahide. Somebody has been dragging feet about this problem. Up to this somebody in the ESB had not got the initiative or foresight to see that demand for electricity was growing in County Dublin and that additional transformers would be required. I would request the Minister to ask the ESB to do something positive about this right now.

I mentioned the supply of electricity to glasshouses. I asked the Minister a Parliamentary Question before Christmas, if he would consider a reduced rate for these people and the Minister's reply was that it was not feasible. I would ask the Minister again if it is possible to do this. These people are using electricity at a time [224] of night when many other consumers are asleep and the consumption of electricity is at a very low ebb. They are using electricity for the heating of tomato houses or, it could be, flowers, but generally it is for horticulture. They are paying at a very high rate. These people have a strong case for reduced rates of charge for the electricity they use. They are using it at times when no one else is using it. There is an ample supply available. The cost of installing boilers and equipment is high but the cost of running them seems to deplete the profits completely. There are many complaints from the Rush area about the cost of running the boilers. Installation and running costs take a large slice of the profits. If the Minister does not believe a reduction of costs is feasible, I would be glad to hear his explanation. If the Minister can grant the reduction, perhaps, he would do so as soon as possible.

I have also had complaints from electrical contractors about the sales section of the ESB. An electrical contractor undertakes to do a specific job for a builder by installing certain electrical appliances in an estate. There is keen competition in this regard. I cannot complain about competition which is the life of trade. The contractors believe they are getting the job of installing appliances and supplying cookers to the houses but the ESB step in and say they will supply the cookers. Many electrical contractors have a grievance about this. They cut the costs of their contract, leaving themselves with a small profit. They hope to profit by the installation of electrical appliances but the ESB can naturally install them cheaper. I do not wish the ESB to be prevented from selling electrical appliances. They started selling electricity first and there is no reason why they should not sell the appliances, but they should apply discrimination before moving in on particular jobs. The contractors feel that the ESB compete against them and that this is unfair because the ESB are a semi-State body and have been subsidised by the State and by the taxpayer.

I compliment the tourist board on the work they are doing. The research they have done is to the country's [225] advantage and reflects credit on all concerned. Some of our hotels are drifting away from catering for families. They cater for individuals but have ignored the fact that people are now beginning to bring their families on holidays with them. Hoteliers should cater for the complete family, from the child in the pram to the grown-up. Pressure should be brought to bear on them to cater for families. Farm holidays and cottage holidays are offered to these people but the hoteliers should cater for the families who wish to utilise the hotels.

There has been much criticism of the slowness in paying reconstruction grants. Many people have approached me regarding this problem. The slowness of the tourist board in paying grants hinders the tourist industry because people do not gear themselves properly for their visitors. They are depending on the money given in the grant to provide proper facilities for the coming season. Pressure should be brought to bear on the tourist board to pay the grants sanctioned for this year and for previous years. People on the register this year have not been paid grants for last year. Like Deputy Andrews, I believe our own people come first in every way.

The tourist board have been catering for various types of sport such as fishing and shooting. I should like to ask the Minister, with the co-operation of the Minister for Lands, to look after our own people as regards shooting. Only one-quarter of the money which has been collected on licences has been expended on game in this country. More could be done to attract tourists by having plenty of game. Our game birds could be plentiful if they were properly managed and if help came from the tourist board. It is being left to the gun clubs who have a limited amount of time and resources to look after the game in their own areas. Game preserves will have to be better minded by the tourist board themselves. The tourist board must take a hand in this work. Local people interested in preservation have looked after game for years. They would continue to give help if shooting was limited. There is much indiscriminate shooting by tourists. The French [226] people in particular use the country as a shooting range. Cork Airport figures show that large numbers of French people come primarily for shooting holidays. There is also indiscriminate shooting of hen pheasants.

Deputy Begley referred to another criticism of the tourist board which I have heard. There have been cases of building plans for a bungalow or a guesthouse being turned down by the tourist board because such buildings would spoil the scenic view Places like Glencullen and places on the west coast have been mentioned in this regard. The local authorities and the Department of Local Government look after this matter. We have An Taisce and other groups whose interest in regard to scenic view is limited but expands rapidly when they come in touch with the press. The tourist board should not interfere in this. The suggestion should be made as to what could be done, rather than objections to what is done. During a by-election in Kerry I heard of objections being made by the tourist board to the building of a house at a distance from but overlooking a lake. Kerry, Galway and much of the west depend largely on tourism. The tourist board there have a large influence on the local authorities. The tourist board should look after their own affairs, leaving the Minister for Local Government to look after planning permission.

The B and I are another body which are only getting on their feet. The time will come when they will be able to expand. They have a great potential for expansion and have the ability. Trade is there but it is a very competitive market. Shipping is something over which we have very little control. The market is there and the B and I are equipped to deal with it.

I had a representation recently from a firm in Dublin who carried out some work for the B and I. It was a matter of collecting a container in Portlaoise and bringing it to the B and I. For this job of work the lorry left Dublin, went to Portlaoise, collected the container, hoisted it on, of course, came to the B and I and left it there. The lorry left Dublin at 6.20 a.m. and was back in Dublin at 7.10 p.m. For this whole [227] day's work the B and I paid £12. Just imagine paying £12 for leaving Dublin, going to Portlaoise with a big truck, coming back, paying overtime, tax, social welfare contributions, fuel and all the rest which has to be paid. The bill presented was £24 but the B and I said they could get it done for £12 and that was all they were paying.

It is grossly unfair for a semi-State body to carry on in such a way. To think that anybody could travel to Portlaoise, collect a container and bring it back to Dublin for £12 in this day and age is ridiculous. The man's wages alone were £3 5s. There is no way in which this can be done for this amount. I do not care who works it out. I realise the possibilities in this, the scope and the competitiveness, and I say it cannot be done for £12 or anything like it. Therefore, I think the B and I were very restrictive in paying only £12 for this journey. I should like the Minister to take this matter up with them.

The danger involved in this is that you will get what we commonly call hackers. A hacker will do this. He will get his lorry to go to Portlaoise, take the container and be back again with no bother. He will pay no overtime and he will pay no social welfare contributions for the man on the lorry. You will find that man is not getting his cards stamped. You are encouraging this by allowing such low rates by a semi-State body. I would ask the Minister personally to investigate this deplorable case. I do not want this to happen to this firm again. It may not, because people soon get fed up with such treatment. The B and I could run themselves into a rut. CIE did it and I would not like to see it happen in the case of the B and I who are a company who have to pay, which CIE are not. We console ourselves for the fact that CIE will never pay, on the basis that they are a public utility. I would like to see the B and I behaving in a more flathúlach manner than victimising individuals who are trying to make a living in the haulage business.

I would like to comment on the road transport section of CIE. I compliment [228] the Minister on throwing open the cattle business. It is high time, because pressure has been brought to bear on him and on us too by the unlicensed hauliers. It might have been serious if this step had been deferred. I am delighted for the cattle men that this step is being taken but I would say that the Minister must do something more positive from the merchandise point of view.

The Minister made the following announcement in his statement:

The Bill will also permit each holder of an “existing carrier” licence to carry all classes of merchandise throughout the State with the number of vehicles he had plated under his licence on a retrospective date, probably 1st January, 1969, to be established in the enactment. I mention this date because it has been erroneously suggested that hauliers might gain some advantage by increasing the number of lorries they have in operation between now and the enactment of the legislation.

This means, if I interpret it properly, that the Minister will state that from a date, 1st January, 1969, if you had only three lorries on a five lorry licence you can have only three lorries on that licence for ever and a day afterwards. That is wrong. If a person bought a licence after 1st January, 1969—we will say he bought it in February—from, say, Luke Belton and that licence was purchased at a certain figure but when Luke Belton had the licence he utilised only half its capacity, used it for only three lorries whereas it was a licence capable of facilitating five lorries, this man will be victimised because he can now use only three lorries on a licence which he bought and which is operating at the moment as a five lorry licence. If the Minister goes back to January 1969, the licensee can operate as and from the enactment only as a three lorry licensee.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  We will have a saving clause. We will have the Bill out within a month and it will cover precisely that point.

[229]Mr. Foley: Information on Desmond Foley  Zoom on Desmond Foley  I am delighted at that because grave concern has been expressed by many people about this. I know the Minister understands this because he is a person of great imagination. I shall be more than delighted if the Minister brings in something like this.

I would like to make a few comments about this 077 squadron which is going around pulling up people for illegal haulage.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  There will be no need for them after this Bill comes in.

Mr. Foley: Information on Desmond Foley  Zoom on Desmond Foley  We are going to throw the thing open to the cattle men when we bring in this Bill but yet they are being hounded by those individuals. I realise that the law says that as and from a certain date this must be done but we are still working on the old law. The powers could be restricted. Men have purchased new lorries and are saying to themselves: “When the Bill comes in, we will be on the bandwagon; we will be flying all over the country. Is it not great?” However, they find themselves restricted. The cattle fellows are rather peeved about it. They are delighted that the restriction is being lifted but the 077 squads are causing them a lot of trouble. I used to blame Deputy Childers for this and I would hate to blame the present Minister, Mr. Brian Lenihan, because I feel he will think carefully about it. I know it is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice but I would ask the Minister for Transport and Power to give this matter his consideration.

Dublin Airport has come in for a considerable amount of criticism. I live very close to the airport and I want to compliment every member of the staff working there, from Mr. Dargan and Mr. Dempsey to the doorman, for the courtesy they extend to everyone who has occasion to go there. Dublin Airport is a monument to Fianna Fáil. When the Government took over, the airport had a large deficit. I do not have to remind people of all that has happened since. I am prepared to forget all that happened in the past. Progress has been made, thanks to the initiative and directives of the Department of Transport and Power.

[230] Criticism has been expressed because a building which cost £100,000 had to be knocked down before it was ever occupied. Deputy Donegan said that this is progress, but I think it was very bad planning on the part of those concerned. The figure of £100,000 in the world of aviation is only a drop in the ocean but that drop in the ocean could have been a big bubble if we had been careful enough. If we do not say much about it, this sort of thing could well happen again. I would hate to see it happen again because it would put a slur on the progress being made. The workers are rather peeved about it because whenever they ask for concessions there is great deliberation but there appears to be no deliberation about knocking down a £100,000 building.

The curtains and seat backs on the planes have been criticised. I understand the material is made in England. I do not see the necessity for buying material made in England when we have such marvellous tweeds here and I would like the matter investigated. It is terrible that a semi-State body should go abroad to buy something which can be bought here.

Dublin Airport Authority is trying to acquire land for the extension of runways. Various meetings have been called and there has been a march about it but they must acquire this land for future development. When the people, whose land it is sought to acquire, are approached they are not going to be completely amiable, they are not going to submit to the Minister's request, or his officials—whoever is concerned—straightaway. Everyone is a bargainer nowadays; we all want to get the best deal for ourselves. The Department should go about acquiring the land in a positive way. A suggestion has been made that we should shift the airport to Dunboyne instead of acquiring this extra land around the airport, but I think Dublin Airport is just right where it is.

I understand certain houses are involved. A number of people in Collinstown Cottages have been living in the fumes of air pollution for several years. The fumes come in the doors and windows of these cottages. There is a [231] move afoot for these people to be rehoused in Ballymun Avenue or Santry Avenue but the people want the same concessions there. There are 12 cottages at Collinstown and six cost 2s 6d a week and the other six cost 2s 10d. I would ask the Minister to be as lenient as possible in granting concessions to these people. They do not mind moving: they say progress has to be made; they are quite prepared to go to Santry Avenue but they want it to happen soon. They have been told for the last nine years that they will be shifted but they are still there. Last year, I asked the local authority to give them water and they said: “Oh, you could not give them water, it would be a waste of money because they will be shifted next year.” That same story was told nine years ago. We want to know when they will be shifted and when the runway will be extended. Otherwise we want proper facilities provided for these people where they are. Someone will have to take the responsibility for them. The airport are putting them out and the Department of Transport and Power, with the assistance of the Department of Local Government and Dublin County Council, will have to take immediate steps to help these people who are living in the fumes and pollution of the airport.

Cork Airport suffers from certain defects. I believe it was built in the wrong place because there has been a lot of criticism of the airport in so far as it seems to be covered with fog at certain times of the year when most other airports are clear. I would like the Minister to consider the fact that there are a lot of cancellations of flights from the airport because of fog. Of course, he can do nothing about the fog.

With regard to our harbours, pollution of our rivers and so on, I realise that the Minister for Transport and Power has the responsibility of looking after the harbours around the country and he has designated this responsibility to the harbour boards. The Minister has admitted that it will be necessary for him to give a grant of about £320,000 to these harbour boards and [232] he has also admitted that they should be keeping themselves.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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