Thursday, 22 July 1971
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Blaney: asked the Minister for Finance why the improvement to Portaleen pier, Glengad, County Donegal, which was approved by the Government and publicly announced in May, 1969 has not been proceeded with.
Mr. Lemass: The scheme of improvement referred to by the Deputy was refused sanction by my predecessor as uneconomic. I received a deputation of fishermen from Glengad last March and discussed the problems connected with improving this pier. I informed them that I regarded the major scheme earlier proposed as uneconomic and that I could not sanction it. I told the deputation that I would be prepared to consider a less expensive scheme. Since then, a revised scheme has been prepared and I have sanctioned it.
Mr. Blaney: I wanted to know from the Minister as to whether or not the decision to reject a scheme some considerable time ago, in Deputy Haughey's time, is now being given as a reason by the present Minister for his rejection of a scheme which was not, in my estimation, there for him to say yea or nay to because the Government had already approved of it subsequent to Deputy Haughey turning it down. This is the Glengad scheme that is going on since Tibb's Eve and this is the only scheme that is capable of being done or that it is possible or useful to do and anything else that is now being sanctioned is purely a waste of money and will not serve the fishermen of Glengad. I and others associated with me have been many, many years trying to find the solution. We did get it and we got the money and we got the sanction of the Government  for it and the present Minister, if you like, in his wisdom and knowledge, which seems to be superior to all others, has now knocked it and has substituted some footling job which will do no good on the exposed coast of Glengad and North Inishowen. I want the people to know why this has been knocked, particularly this scheme which is part of the five year programme.
Mr. Lemass: I should like to give some of the supplementary information that I have on this, Sir. On 2nd March, 1971, the Minister met a delegation of fishermen from Glengad and, while accepting the expenditure of £100,000 was not possible, they put forward an alternative scheme of an extension of 60 feet with a small turn at the lead, and the Minister agreed to get an estimate prepared by the Office of Public Works. The Fishery Division, in a minute of 20th July, said the existing pier should be extended by 70 feet without any turn or elbow suggested by the fishermen's delegation. The total cost of this proposal is £25,000. The Exchequer contribution will be £18,750, which is 75 per cent, and the cost is an estimated £4,000 less than that suggested by the fishermen themselves. The revised scheme has been sanctioned.
Mr. Blaney: Might I again ask, even at this late stage, that there should not be proceeded with a useless, wasteful expenditure of money extending a pier straight out into the ocean where the worst winds and worst seas come from, with no turn on it which the fishermen have asked for? Furthermore, the fishermen, as I understand it, at that delegation when they talked to the Minister, only came to these terms of any minor improvements being done after the Minister, on being asked, had indicated that there was not a hope of the basin scheme which is the only scheme worth doing—that there was not a hope of it being done—and only then and not until then was there any suggestion that anything else would be accepted. I am saying here again that what is now proposed and is now sanctioned is absolutely a total waste of money and that there is no  solution in what is now proposed to be done and that for the difference of £50,000 this running sore on that coast could be cured and was being cured and had been agreed by the Government and was jettisoned by the Minister for Finance. This, surely, is not playing the game with the people?
Mr. Lemass: In 1962, the Office of Public Works recommended that a bend or an elbow should not be provided because it would not provide adequate shelter and would induce a false feeling of security which would encourage the fishermen to tie up the boats to the new extension instead of removing them by crane into the boatyard at the end of each fishing trip.
Mr. Blaney: I am sorry to impose on the House but it was after many years of deliberation, both by the Fishery Division and by the marine section of the Office of Public Works, that it was finally agreed that the basin job at £72,000 was capable of being done, that it would be useful to do, that it was the only thing to do. That was agreed to and approved by the Government and announced by me and now is being rejected and a pier straight out into the wilds of the sea is now being made without an elbow because it would give a false sense of security. I totally agree that it would. But what is now being provided is one that does not give any sense of security at all and, in fact, gives no security— straight out—you can take it or leave it. If there is a sea, you do not come there. This is the whole purpose of the basin that was agreed to.
Mr. Harte: In view of the fact that this to some degree resulted in two Fianna Fáil Deputies being elected in that constituency, one of them being Deputy Blaney and the other the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Cunningham, has the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Cunningham, been consulted in the changes of these plans?
Mr. Harte: In the interests of the fishermen of Glengad—and there are a few Fine Gael fishermen in Glengad— do I get this undertaking from the Parliamentary Secretary that the fishermen of Glengad will not be used as a weapon to again stab the former Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in the back? In other words, for the Fianna Fáil Party to get their own back on Deputy Blaney, the fishermen of Glengad are going to pay the price?
Mr. Harte: Has Deputy Cunningham been consulted and has he taken an interest in it? Deputy Blaney has taken an interest in it. I have taken an interest in it. Has Deputy Cunningham taken an interest in it?
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