Tourist Traffic Bill, 1972: Second Stage.

Wednesday, 22 November 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 263 No. 12

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Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. B. Lenihan): Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

[2353] The purpose of the Bill is to raise the statutory limits on the aggregate amounts of money which may be paid to Bord Fáilte for the giving of grants for holiday accommodation and the development of resorts under the major resort development scheme.

The major resort development scheme was inaugurated under the Tourist Traffic Act, 1959, which provided for the payment to Bord Fáilte of sums not exceeding in the aggregate £1 million for the giving of grants for the development of major tourist resorts. Under the scheme the board provide grants to enable such essential work as basic site development, the provision of facilities such as toilets, shelters, car parks, promenades, parks and other recreational activities to be undertaken in places designated for development by the board. One of the conditions of the scheme is that there must be a minimum local contribution of 20 per cent towards the cost of the development works.

Initially 12 centres and four areas were designated for development but subsequently one resort area and two resorts were added to the programme. The scheme, which aimed at developing resort amenities on the basis of joint action by the board and local interests involved the selection of areas for development and the formation of acceptable proposals. The scheme necessitated negotiations with many interests and the planning and execution of substantial programmes of capital works involving financial commitments spread over several years. These features and the level of funds which could be made available for this work tended to prolong the carrying out of the various development plans and brought the costs of the scheme well beyond the costs first visualised. In some cases adaptation of planned works to changing patterns and tastes was also a factor.

By the Tourist Traffic Act, 1966 the financial provision for the resort scheme was increased from the initial £1 million to £3.25 million. It was intended to allocate £0.75 million of this sum for the initiation of a second major resort scheme but this did not prove possible because of escalation in costs [2354] and changes in development commitments under the first scheme.

The total amount issued to Bord Fáilte for resort development at the 31st March, 1972, amounted to £3,202,717 and this left a balance of only £47,283 under the limit prescribed for the fund. A new statutory limit of £4 million is necessary to enable Bord Fáilte to meet their total outstanding commitments in relation to works already commissioned. The disbursement of the additional £0.75 million over the next few years will bring the first major resort development scheme to a conclusion.

Before the resort scheme was introduced, public and private investment in the amenity and recreation infrastructure was minimal. The scheme stimulated the provision of worthwhile tourist facilities in the places designated i.e. Galway/Salthill, Killarney, Bray, Dún Laoghaire, Tramore, Skerries, Kilkee, Youghal, Ballybunion, Lahinch, Arklow, Lisdoonvarna, Westport and Greystones as well as in the resort area of West Cork, County Donegal, Achill Island, the Dingle Peninsula and the River Shannon and Lakes.

The grants scheme for the development of holiday accommodation was also introduced under the Tourist Traffic Act, 1959. Provision was made in that Act for giving £500,000 to Bord Fáilte for that purpose. As a result of the provision of these funds, Bord Fáilte operated a scheme of grants with the approval of the Ministers for Transport and Power and Finance. As the tourist industry developed and accommodation needs expanded, the scheme was appraised and adapted, including the improvement in 1967 of the scale of incentives. The Tourist Traffic Acts 1963, 1966, 1968 and 1970 permitted a series of increases in the aggregate amounts provided for accommodation development which brought the initial provision from £500,000 to £11 million. The total amount issued to Bord Fáilte for accommodation development grants to 31st March, 1972, was £9.23 million, which leaves a balance of £1.77 million before the statutory limit of £11 million is exhausted.

[2355] As I have explained to the House on a number of occasions, Bord Fáilte have not been taking on new grant commitments in respect of hotel and guest house development since mid-1969. In the meantime, the moneys voted for holiday accommodation grants have been used by the board to reduce the backlog of grants due to developers and a considerable reduction on outstanding commitments has been effected. Since mid-1969 the board has paid £5.63 million in reduction of the backlog. No developer at present is being held up because of shortage of grant funds and this has been the situation since 1971. Outstanding commitments now relate only to projects on which payments have not yet matured. These commitments will be cleared over the next few years but this necessitates an increase in the statutory limit on funds for the development of holiday accommodation. The Bill proposes to increase the statutory limit from £11 million to £13 million to enable Bord Fáilte to meet outstanding commitments.

Expenditure to date by Bord Fáilte amounting to almost £10 million on accommodation grants has generated a total investment of over £60 million on hotels, and guesthouses, caravan and camping sites and holiday cottages. The number of bedrooms in hotels and guesthouses has increased from 17,800 in 1960 to 28,885 in 1972 and the existing volume of accommodation is considered to be adequate for the industry's needs for the years immediately ahead.

Since the introduction of the major resort development and accommodation development schemes 13 years ago, increasing material prosperity has stimulated new consumer demands in all fields of activity including holiday making. For example, distance limits on holiday travel have practically ceased to exist even for people of quite moderate means. In addition to general change, changes in detail which have had a pronounced effect on Irish tourism include:

(a) Serious damage to our markets in Britain and Northern Ireland attributable to events in Northern Ireland.

[2356] (b) The increasing proportion of Continental visitors and the need to cater for this new type of customer.

(c) The ending of our “island” status with the introduction of vehicle ferry services.

(d) The greater wish for holiday mobility and the consequent popularty of the independent touring holiday.

(e) The recession in coach tour business.

(f) The increasing popularity of do-it-yourself holidays whether camping, caravanning or in purposebuilt rented accommodation, and

(g) The demand for more varied entertainment.

In view of these influential factors and with the discharge of all outstanding commitments in relation to major resorts and accommodation development in sight, I consider it both opportune and desirable that a comprehensive review of progress to date should be carried out with a view to developing, if necessary, a completely fresh approach to accommodation and resort infrastructural needs for the future. Bord Fáilte are at present carrying out this study and in the course of it they are taking account of their own experience and of a number of studies and consultancy research reports on physical planning, accommodation development and tourists' needs.

The provisions of this Bill will enable Bord Fáilte to complete major resort and accommodation development projects. The limits of £4 million for resort development and £13 million for accommodation development proposed in the Bill do not include any funds for new schemes. By the time the limits included in the Bill have been reached, Bord Fáilte will have come to firm conclusions on the direction which further development should take. Proposals for continuing assistance in some form for accommodation and resort development are likely to emerge from the board's studies. The implementation of any such proposals will, of course, need further legislation and Deputies [2357] will get an opportunity to debate in full any proposals for further financial provision for accommodation and resort development.

I consider it appropriate at this stage to say something about the present tourism situation. Deputies are aware of the difficulties confronting the industry since 1969 when the unrest in Northern Ireland became aggravated. Tourism revenue in that year was £98.7 million and represented an increase of £5.7 million on the 1968 figure. Tourism revenue fell in 1970 to £96 million and rose in 1971 to £100.8 million. On the basis of constant 1970 prices the 1971 figure represents a fall of close on 4 per cent on the 1970 figure. Bord Fáilte have forecast a revenue of £87.9 million for 1972.

These figures were only achieved through the massive amount of development, promotional and marketing work undertaken by all the interests concerned. Full credit is due to Bord Fáilte, the regional tourism organisations and all other interests in the industry for their performance over the past few years in very difficult conditions.

Unfortunately, there are yet no strong indications of a very early return to stable conditions in Northern Ireland. Bord Fáilte are, however, optimistic about a resumption of tourism growth and they have set a target of an increase of £6.9 million for 1973 to bring tourism revenue exclusive of carrier receipts in that year to £69.2 million at constant 1972 prices. The board are undertaking an ambitious promotional programme for 1973. Their programme involves advertising in Britain, North America and the Continent. New marketing literature for their overseas market is being prepared. Promotional work in the new Continental market areas is being extended. The board is guaranteeing the quality of a programme of holidays offered in Britain and they have appointed public relations consultants for that market area. The board are trying to increase significantly, in cooperation with carriers and other sectors, the number of travel writers, radio and television units and travel agents [2358] to sample the holidays to be offered to tourists here in 1973. The convention bureau is endeavouring to increase the number of conferences and incentive travel visits.

Every possible effort is being made to improve the Irish tourist product and the flow of visitors to Ireland. I hope that it will not be long before the industry again enjoys the growth trends of the early 1960's. The industry is sound and I am convinced that it will emerge much stronger from the difficulties it had to face in the past few years.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank the very many Irish people who spent their holidays at home in Ireland in 1972. Bord Fáilte estimate that tourism revenue from this source in 1972 will be about £18.7 million. On this basis, the “Discover Ireland” programme was a success and it is the board's intention to develop strongly this section of the tourist industry.

The Bill will facilitate the provision of important tourism facilities and I, therefore, confidently recommend it to the House.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I just want to ask a simple question. The Minister said that Bord Fáilte forecast a revenue of £87.9 million for 1972. I take it this is at 1972 prices. It is of some significance from the point of view of the figures he was reading out just before that.

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

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I wanted to be sure. It is a considerable reduction.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Of course, it is.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  That is all I wanted to be sure about.

Mr. O'Donnell:  Looking at this Bill against the background of the present difficulties in the tourist industry, the various adverse factors which exist and the immediate long-term needs of the industry, I regard the Bill, with all due respect, as a huge joke. Two years ago, in July of 1970, we had another tourist Bill. This Bill relates specifically to the provision of extra [2359] financial accommodation for resort and accommodation development. I strongly object to the Bill and I am most disappointed that the Minister did not avail himself of this opportunity to take into account all the other very serious factors and the need for legislative measures to enable the tourist industry to overcome its present difficulties and meet the new challenges. The major problem confronting the Irish tourist industry is the generation of the additional tourist traffic necessary to utilise existing facilities.

While technically there may be a need for the two main provisions in the Bill, I submit that there is need for other, far more important measures also. After all the discussions that have taken place in the last two years, after all the surveys that have been commissioned by Bord Fáilte, I cannot understand why it has not been found possible to introduce a comprehensive Tourist Traffic Bill which would gear the industry to meet the new challenges.

Normally I would give the Minister all Stages of a Bill of this kind. I cannot on this occasion do so. I must fault the Bill and the flimsy introductory statement and the short review of the tourist industry. The Minister listed seven or eight problems facing the industry, one of which is the serious damage to our markets in Britain and Northern Ireland attributable to events in Northern Ireland. There are many other factors of which the Minister is well aware which have adversely affected the tourist industry. The Minister made no mention whatever of one factor which is recognised by those engaged in the industry and has been mentioned by Bord Fáilte as being a major factor, that is, the question of transport charges particularly between Britain and Europe and this country. There has been no reference by the Minister to the insidious inflationary spiral which has occurred over the last year or two and which has had a big impact on the competitiveness of Irish holidays in foreign markets.

I regret to say that I am reluctant [2360] to approve of any financial measure for Bord Fáilte because Bord Fáilte has lost a good deal of confidence. It has lost the confidence of the people directly involved in the industry. Unless there is a major shake up and drastic changes I cannot see how we could be justified in giving Bord Fáilte additional financial facilities particularly having regard to the series of major blunders that have been made by this body that is responsible for tourism, even over the past month. How can we have confidence in an Irish tourist board which, at the end of the 1972 season issues its report for 1971? How can we have confidence in and provide extra financial facilities for a board which issued a restaurant guide recently at a total cost of £3,000 which, following public outcry, had to be withdrawn and consigned to the wastepaper basket? How can we have confidence in a board which poured £10,000 down the drain for an abortive survey by Messrs. Hill, American consultants? Bord Fáilte could ill afford that expenditure because they were on a very stringent budget, particularly for publicity purposes. This £10,000 was expended on what the Minister said was a preliminary report into the feasibility of setting up a national tourist agency.

These are some of the blunders that have been made by the tourist board. I do not know to what extent the Minister is responsible or to what degree he is to be blamed for this situation. After all the trials and difficulties the Irish tourist industry has experienced since 1969, Bord Fáilte should not make blunders of this kind. There have been other examples. I do not want to go into detail and to name names but I could do so if I wanted to.

Despite all the difficulties of marketing and so forth the board have left several important sales posts in Britain and North America vacant for the past 12 months. One or two have been vacant for two years. Despite all the talk about attracting our exiles in Britain there is no ethnic or travel officer attached to Bord Fáilte and there has not been for the past six months. How can we have confidence [2361] in an organisation which is guilty of these blunders? How can we be expected to vote additional money for it or to give it the financial facilities sought in the Bill?

I have had much contact with Bord Fáilte in the past six or seven years. I like to give credit where credit is due. I find myself in the invidious position of having to say what I have said. I have to be critical of performance on the part of this State-sponsored body. The Minister must accept responsibility because in the final analysis he is the person responsible for the welfare of the Irish tourist industry. This industry employs 160,000 persons and is a very important part of our economy.

When the Minister is replying to the debate I hope he will elaborate and give us something more than the sketchy review that he has given us. I do not know why the mistakes were made. Have we any guarantee that similar mistakes will not be made in future and that public money will not be poured down the drain in futile exercises?

There is illustrated by this Bill another aspect of the work and thinking of Bord Fáilte. The Minister said that Bord Fáilte has ceased to give grants for new hotels in the last couple of years but we have to meet a bill for a colossal backlog of grants and other financial facilities made available. I cannot understand how this backlog accumulated or why Bord Fáilte entered into financial commitments with certain people. Obviously, the board exceeded its annual allocation for accommodation. Obviously, the board gave grants to persons without having the necessary funds.

The worst aspect of the whole thing is that Bord Fáilte gave grants for the development of hotel accommodation and continued to do so when it was obvious that we had too many hotels. They continued to give grants or enter into commitments to pay grants for hotels of a type of which we have too many and for which the demand was definitely easing off. Surely it should have been possible for Bord Fáilte with all the expertise at its command to make a proper assessment of market [2362] demand and trends and to have seen long before entering into many of these commitments that the demand for the more luxurious type of hotels was limited.

We now find that there is a backlog of grants to be paid and commitments to be met and at the same time half the country's hotels are idle and a considerable number of them are up for sale including many for which substantial grants were paid by the Irish people. When I look at the annual report which came out last week and which relates to 1971 and should have been out four or five months ago, I see the list of people and projects in respect of which grants were paid. I did a brief analysis of this and I find that accommodation grants are listed under different categories: hotels, guest houses, caravan parks, student accommodation, holiday camps, holiday villages and An Óige youth hostels. I find that of the £2.8 million allocated to accommodation, over £2 million went to hotels. In fact, my estimation is that £2.3 million was paid out in hotel grants and that the other half million was divided among guest houses, caravan parks, youth hostels, holiday camps and so on. This £500,000 includes £126,000 in respect of the renta-cottage scheme. I should like the Minister to explain how it came about that Bord Fáilte continued to approve for grants a huge number of new hotel developments when it should have been obvious to them that we had too many of this type of hotel.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The Deputy is talking of something that took place over three and a half years ago. I want to put his remarks in context. He is talking about agreements entered into over three-and-a-half years ago. What the Deputy is reading from the current report relates to commitments entered into prior to 1969.

Mr. O'Donnell:  I have here the Bord Fáilte income and expenditure account for the year ended 31st March, 1972 and I see “Accommodation, £2.8 million”.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I am only putting the Deputy right. This relates to commitments [2363] entered into prior to June, 1969.

Mr. O'Donnell:  I said at the outset that Bord Fáilte had ceased giving new grants in 1969 but I do not think what the Minister has said totally invalidates the argument I am making because the downward trend in Irish tourist traffic began in 1966. In a public statement issued by a top official of Bord Fáilte, a copy of which I got recently, this was openly admitted. It is not all attributable to the troubles in the North. Even then, it should have been obvious that we were heading for saturation point in regard to hotels. I believe too many hotels were built and that Bord Fáilte made a mistake in sanctioning grants for so many of them.

One hears another criticism very often and from the limited investigation I have personally carried out I am inclined to agree with it. It is that not merely did Bord Fáilte approve grants for new hotels where hotels were not needed but they gave grants to people who had no previous, practical experience of the industry. Too many speculators, get-rich-quick merchants and fly-by-night men got hotel grants. Signs on, when difficulties arose and adverse factors began to operate these were the people who ran. Those who owned family hotels and had a long family connection with the industry, people who had invested their lives and their family's interests in hotels stood their ground. The others deserted: many of them got out before the going became really bad.

Not only were grants given to people without training or experience in the industry, people who were merely speculators but, because of their lack of any real interest other than financial in those hotels, standards of service and so on were not maintained. Their entry into the industry affected standards adversely and in many cases they gave a bad name to the Irish hotel industry which reflected on the tourist industry generally.

We now have too many hotels of the wrong type. There is serious under-utilisation of existing hotel [2364] accommodation on the one hand and a shortage of other types of accommodation for which there is a growing demand on the other hand. I have a list of what I regard as the correct order of priority to be observed in any future spending for accommodation development. I think that is very relevant to the present Bill. First, priority should be given to the small family hotel under owner supervision. Because of the proprietor's supervision or because of the family's involvement in the hotel, prices are kept under reasonable control. There will be a growing demand for this type of hotel and, consequently, all available resources should be diverted to this kind of accommodation. This will encourage owners to modernise their premises and to extend their accommodation.

Bord Fáilte must not only consider a project from the point of view of location but they must consider the person's suitability to manage this kind of hotel. The IDA consider not only the project itself; the credibility, suitability and capacity of the industrialist is examined.

I would give priority also to guest-house and farmhouse accommodation. This year a remarkable feature of the tourist season has been the tremendous demand for this kind of accommodation, and this has been very noticeable in the better known tourist areas. In addition, there is a growing demand for facilities for caravan parks and more money will have to be given to help in this regard. Additional help will be needed to improve camping facilities also.

A total of £34,000 has been paid to An Oige youth hostels. Mention has been made of hostels in Donegal, Cork, Mayo, Kerry and Clare. The Minister is aware of a project in Limerick. He has met a deputation in connection with this matter and has been in correspondence with them but we are disappointed that it was not possible to increase the grant given in this instance. The people in this case have been given a 50 per cent grant because the area is not in the western development area. A strong case was put to the Minister for additional funds for [2365] this kind of accommodation in Limerick.

The role of youth hostels and the contribution of An Oige to tourism is not appreciated fully. In assessing the accommodation needs in the future in the tourist industry it is important that notice be taken of An Oige and of its potential for generating additional tourist traffic. Although the young people who travel from country to country under the auspices of the International Youth Hostel Organisation may not have much money to spend as most of them are students, they are the potential tourists of the future. Despite all the adverse factors of the last few years, these young people have flocked to this country and the number availing of An Oige facilities has risen considerably.

I do not wish to be parochial in a debate of this kind but I have an obligation to my constituents. I would ask the Minister to re-examine the case of the An Oige hostel at Limerick. In this area a tremendous voluntary organisation have raised a considerable amount of money. A grant of 50 per cent may appear generous but as all the work is done on a voluntary basis the balance required is prohibitive. Perhaps the Minister might find within the resources of Bord Fáilte, of the Shannon Development Company or the regional tourism organisation a few extra thousand pounds. This would make it much easier to set up the hostel.

The Irish tourist industry is at the crossroads. It can remain in the doldrums or it can go forward and grasp the new opportunities opening up in foreign markets, particularly in Europe. There are tremendous and exciting possibilities for us in the European market. At the moment when prospects are looking brighter for Irish tourism in foreign markets than at any time since 1966, it is regrettable that the industry at home and the organisations responsible for administration are in a state of chaos and confusion. Public confidence in organisations such as Bord Fáilte has been undermined. The tourist industry can overcome present difficulties and move forward to grasp the new opportunities [2366] but changes are necessary. This kind of Bill is a waste of time because it will not effect any change in the whole approach to tourism development or marketing.

Certain basic measures must be taken by the Government and by the Minister. In the course of his speech the Minister said Bord Fáilte were having a close look at the situation and he referred to this matter at Question Time also. He stated new proposals were about to be made by Bord Fáilte. The Minister today at Question Time said, though not in so many words, that Bord Fáilte are examining themselves. The Minister said on the 23rd July, 1970— volume 248, column 1987, of the Official Report—that the same thing was happening. He said then:

I asked Bord Fáilte and the deputation from the Irish Hotels Federation, after very long discussions I had with each body, to prepare for me complete appraisal in depth of where they see the future of the tourist industry for next year and over the next five years. Each body has promised to have its report to me before the middle of September.

I do not know whether any report has ever been issued. Now we find that Bord Fáilte are again about to issue a report. I believe that the time has now come when something more than internal reports commissioned by Bord Fáilte is needed. The public never sees them except when we hear about abortive ones like the Hill survey which cost £10,000. What is necessary now is a comprehensive examination of the entire industry, a comprehensive examination of Bord Fáilte and their performance, a comprehensive examination of the other State-sponsored bodies which are involved in tourism such as Aer Lingus, B & I, CIE and the Shannon Development Company. It is vitally important that Bord Fáilte should be restructured and reorganised and the lines of communication with and the relationship between Bord Fáilte and the other State-sponsored bodies and the private sector of the industry rationalised, reorganised and transformed into a new dynamic national effort. The Minister has a [2367] precedent for achieving this, to which I referred briefly at Question Time. I hope the Government will not come into the Dáil again with the type of effort contained in this Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy appreciates that this is a limited type of Bill.

Mr. O'Donnell:  I appreciate that but the Minister dealt with the present situation in the Irish tourist industry so I presume I will be allowed to comment on it. Perhaps I have commented at greater length than the Minister did but the Minister threw in the ball and if the Minister was out of order I am entitled to be out of order also.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair thinks that we should stick to the general principles of the Bill on Second Reading.

Mr. O'Donnell:  The Minister said:

I consider it appropriate at this stage to say something about the present tourism situation.

He went on to review the situation, the difficulties, the steps that have been taken and so forth.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  If I brought in a two paragraph speech the Deputy would have something else to say.

Mr. O'Donnell:  The Minister said more than I realised. I was just concluding. The time has now come when there will have to be a major reform, not internal surveys. I am thinking in terms of the Fletcher Commission which the Minister set up to examine the ESB. I personally called for that and the Minister agreed to it. The report was a very interesting document because it came down very heavily in favour of the ESB. It did a lot of good in informing public opinion on the exact role of the ESB. I am asking the Minister to set up immediately a commission of four, five or six people who have practical experience in the industry. I have no objection to one or two experts from abroad. They should be given the task of examining the tourist industry, assessing the performance [2368] and functions of Bord Fáilte and the other State-sponsored bodies. They should issue a report to the Minister as quickly as possible and based on that a new development plan for tourism should be formulated by the Government. I believe that any other type of examination will not have the confidence of the public. I certainly will not have confidence in it.

I call on the Minister then, before he takes any other step, to set up an independent inquiry into the whole tourist industry particularly in relation to the performance of Bord Fáilte and into the very great problem area of the relationship between Bord Fáilte and the other State-sponsored bodies, particularly those in the transport sector, so that we will avoid a situation such as happened in the past year when CIE pulled out of Britain when they should not have done so and when air fares across channel were going up continuously. While it may be in the commercial interests of Aer Lingus to increase fares it is having an adverse effect on the tourist industry. The Minister, before he moves to a higher office, would be doing a valuable job for the tourist industry if he set up this commission of inquiry and then let the Government proceed to formulate a realistic, dynamic development plan which would enable this major industry to overcome its present difficulties and to grasp the new opportunities which now present themselves.

Mr. Kavanagh: Information on Liam Kavanagh  Zoom on Liam Kavanagh  The Minister has come in once again with a Bill which simply asks for an increase in the allocation to one of the State-sponsored companies. In doing so he presents us with the results of the trading of that company, without giving us an opportunity of going into detail with the people involved in the running of this company, as to how they performed their functions and how these requirements came about. I am simply saying that over the years we in this party, as well as Deputies in the Fine Gael Party, have been asking for some method whereby parties in Dáil Éireann could examine the accounts of semi-State bodies, perhaps by a committee system such as we have in the Committee of Public [2369] Accounts. In that way certain of the remarks that we make, perhaps in error at times, need not be made and certain of the criticisms made in this House could be avoided, but we have not got the information to hand to do the job the way we would like to do it.

Those of us who have read the Minister's statement must accept that there is justification for voting more money so that Bord Fáilte can do the job they are hoping to do. The request comes under two headings: resort development and an increase in holiday accommodation grants. If we refer to the Bord Fáilte annual report in the index, we find that in the area covering the major resort programme details are given of expenditure on resort development since 1958. The total listed there comes to £2,957,600, almost £3 million. The Minister is now looking for an allocation of £4 million to cover the extra expenditure required.

The Minister told us:

A new statutory limit of £4 million is necessary to enable Bord Fáilte to meet its total outstanding commitments in relation to works already commissioned. The disbursement of the additional £0.75 million over the next few years will bring the first major resort development scheme to a conclusion.

When we refer to the annual report which has just been published belatedly, we find that details of work in progress by the board amount to just under £¼ million. It is only fair that either Bord Fáilte or the Minister should give details of the additional money, where it is to be spent and what work it is to be spent on. The Minister is looking for £1 million over and above what has already been spent and details of what it is to be spent on are listed on page 37 of the annual report.

Taking into consideration the complete resort programme since 1958, a sum of £3 million for that type of operation is very small. One of the problems facing us is that our investment in resort development has been far too small. It has been piecemeal in its disbursement. [2370] As the Minister suggests, completely new thinking on the expenditure of money on resort development is needed right now. Looking at the expenditure over the years, we find that a lot of money has been spent on new golf clubhouses in places like Ballybunion, Bundoran, Greencastle and Salthill. There must be over a dozen items of expenditure on that type of recreation. There are over 250 golf courses in Ireland. I am not given any indication in the annual report, or in the Minister's statement, why such places are picked out to have money spent on them while, at the same time, the expenditure of money on swimming pools would seem to me to be far better. It would facilitate far more people in the tourist business to have swimming pools not only in seaside resorts, where rivers and the sea are becoming increasingly polluted, but also in many inland towns and near some of the waterways which are used by cruising yachts and other craft. That type of investment has not been followed through. I cannot understand why money should be spent on a golf course in one town and not in another.

I was at a conference in Galway last year and about 50 of us went on an outing to the golf course in Salthill. We were told that we could not get the course for an afternoon in a certain week in June. In this area quite a sizeable amount of public money was spent from the resort development budget and yet a conference, spending quite a large amount of money in one of our major tourist areas, could not avail of facilities on which public money was spent. If money is being spent out of the public purse the Minister or Bord Fáilte should see that the tourist development board is represented on the committee and that the people who want to use the facilities are catered for. In some areas this facility is given. Every facility was given to the same conference this year in Waterford and Tramore. Golfing and swimming facilities were provided by the local tourist development authority.

As I said, the details of resort development are given from 1958 and in the next couple of pages of the annual report details of accommodation [2371] grants are given for only one year. If the board felt it necessary to list their achievements and expenditure on resort development grants, they should also have given us details of grants to hotels from the same date in 1958. That would help us to appreciate the work being done by the board. One of our criticisms is that the information we have is not sufficient. I have a certain interest in tourism, coming from a tourist area, and I should like to know the full extent of the investment by Bord Fáilte not only in my constituency and county but in other counties, so that I could compare one area with another.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  What is there in regard to accommodation grants is there because of Deputy Murphy and myself.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Because of Deputy Murphy.

Mr. Kavanagh: Information on Liam Kavanagh  Zoom on Liam Kavanagh  Deputy Murphy will be talking to the Minister shortly. Perhaps the Minister could have put pressure on them to give us the full story. Something like £11 million is involved. When we see the amount of money that has been expended by Bord Fáilte —and we are now voting them more— it is only right that we should make some reference to the fact that the charges in many of the hotels which receive this money bear no relation to the charges in other hotels. Surely if we are trying to attract people from outside the country to our hotels, and also locally, there should be some relationship between the prices charged in all our grade A hotels.

I have seen the programmes for the Christmas period and I suppose it is hoped to attract people away from the chore of preparing Christmas meals and to give more free time to everybody in the family. Some of these very attractive programmes are more economical in the private hotels than in the semi-State hotels such as those in the Great Southern group.

We find that in Killarney and Galway prices are about 20 to 33? per cent dearer than those in a comparable hotel near the city of Dublin, a hotel [2372] such as the Opperman as compared with the Great Southern in Killarney. I cannot understand why a person should pay £48 for his Christmas holiday in Killarney and £36 in the Opperman. I think that both hotels must be of a reasonably level standard of operation and I believe that this is the type of thing that, perhaps, is discouraging people from availing of the many offers which could be more attractive if they were reasonably priced.

We have belatedly discovered that there are people in Ireland who do go on holidays and if there is one thing which the Northern Ireland situation brought about, it was the realisation by the people in Bord Fáilte that Irish people do go on holidays and the fact that they found they had to turn their attention to the Irish market proved how lucrative a market it really is. The Minister in his concluding remarks pointed out that £18 million was spent by local tourists in the hotels of Ireland. Up to a couple of years ago, this type of tourist was frankly discouraged from going to the major resort hotels in Ireland and it is very strange that in a time of very high inflation, hotel costs could be reduced drastically in the last year to attract people to them because of the few visitors coming particularly from Great Britain and to a lesser extent, from America and attractive holidays offered to Irish people.

This discovery as the name suggests in “Discover Ireland” has been made by Bord Fáilte more than by the people themselves. The Irish tourist was quite willing to spend his money here at home but very attractive offers made by the travel agents here were taking many people away from this country who would otherwise have gone to resorts a matter of a hundred miles from their own doorsteps, but I believe the very artificially high charges around 1969 and 1968 simply discouraged people from taking that type of holiday and I am glad to see that they are now realising that there is money to be made in this way and that the Irish pound is as good in their pockets as the pound of anybody else.

The Minister listed a number of [2373] problems that seem to be besetting the industry and I should like to comment on one or two. He does not admit that they are problems. He says: In addition to general change, changes in detail which have had a pronounced effect on Irish tourism include:

(a) Serious damage to our markets in Britain and Northern Ireland attributable to events in Northern Ireland.

Of course, we must admit this as anybody would have to admit that the Northern problem has been a serious setback for the industry, and, indeed, we should all hope that for itself alone the Northern Ireland problem would clear up and anybody in the holiday industry will certainly for his own future hope that there is a settling of this grievous problem.

Nevertheless, back in 1969 there were clouds on the horizon for the Irish tourist industry. Cost inflation was having a disincentive effect on the tourist. More attractive packages elsewhere in other markets, particularly Spain and France, were taking away the traditional English customer and I believe that at that stage the tourist board should have been taking action, but it would be wrong to blame on the Northern troubles the complete decline in the tourist industry which has occurred. I believe that the clouds were on the horizon in 1969, and if we do not have this new look at the industry which the Minister has now promised, these clouds will get larger particularly because of the cost inflation occurring in the country and the fact that we now find hotels making a new claim for increases in prices, which is certainly going to drive more people who were beginning to think of holidays at home to look to the travel agents for a foreign holiday and certainly make it less attractive for the foreigner in future to come to this country.

The Minister mentioned the ending of our “island” status with the introduction of the vehicle ferry services. I should have thought that this was an advantage rather than a disadvantage to our tourist industry and, perhaps, the Minister may consider that [2374] too when he listed it, because he has not said that these are disincentive effects on the tourist industry but listed them as details affecting the industry. This is one field that should be catered for in greater degree as conditions return to normal in this country. The type of holiday now has completely changed. The person from abroad particularly does not take the usual fortnight's holiday in one place. He wants to see as much of the countryside as he can and, therefore, people, particularly from Britain, are bringing their cars with them. This creates its own problem because we have always put ourselves forward as a country where there are practically empty roads with lots of room for holiday traffic and anybody will agree that now even without tourists the roads are being much more used. There is a big increase particularly in heavy lorry traffic which makes driving much more strenuous and, therefore, creates a greater need for the type of stopping places, roadhouses, which are becoming increasingly popular in Britain to cater for this type of tourist if we are to encourage them to come.

There is, of course, the complete recession which took place in the coach tour business and I believe this could be improved if we availed of the opportunity to promote the Shannon area, and Shannon Airport particularly, as an area for charter flights. I do not think enough was done on this. We have the problem of Shannon Airport at the moment still with us and the American problem of over-flying Shannon and if some opportunity were taken to establish Shannon at this time as an airport for charter flights, it would help not only in resolving to some extent the problem of Shannon but also give an impetus to the coach tour business.

People on the Continent are becoming aware of Ireland as a holiday centre and one of the most popular holidays on the Continent is the camping holiday. I do not believe we know much about this at the moment but I believe that if we are serious about bringing people from the Continent of Europe, we will have to develop this end of our tourist business. This is [2375] one of the advantages that should accrue from EEC membership. There has been an increase in the number of tourists coming from the Continent and this is an area which gives scope for expansion in so far as the industry is concerned so we should do everything possible to encourage this trend. I understand that it is intended to devote extra expenditure in this direction.

We are being asked to vote this extra money to Bord Fáilte but there is one matter on which I should like to comment and that is in respect of a brochure issued by the board and which has been mentioned here already. I refer to the guide Where to Eat in Ireland. When we learned from Press reports of the production of this booklet we considered the idea to be an excellent one but having heard that it was recalled at very short notice, it it only fair that we should be told the full story. We hear rumours to the effect that certain persons intended taking legal action against the board. I do not know what was the situation but there is a need for a guide of that type. At least it is of assistance to people visiting the country to know where they can have a decent meal. The guide has been replaced by a flimsy document entitled Restaurants. Since public money was spent on the production of the original document why could Bord Fáilte not have spoken up and said they believed that the guide was a good one and that they intended leaving it on the market? Why was it recalled? The Minister should be able to give us some answer to that. If he cannot do so he should ask the board what was the reason. The public are very much aware of money spent on such items and those people living in small tourist areas who are doing their best to promote their areas must be embittered at the thought of £3,000 being spent on a document which was withdrawn at very short notice.

Questions were asked in the House recently regarding the expenditure of £10,000 by Bord Fáilte on a report on travel facilities in other countries. If the Comptroller and Auditor General [2376] considered it necessary to indicate in his report that the board had no right to spend that money it is our business here to raise the matter with the Minister so as to ascertain the facts. Were CIE either unwilling or unable to pay that bill? If we have a public company that run up bills abroad and who are then unable to meet them, surely they are creating a very bad impression of us. There should not have been this type of wrangling regarding the payment of a bill to a company if that company provided a service. On the other hand, if the company did not provide the service required of them, why pay them anything at all?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick  (Dublin Central): I intend to be brief. I understand that the additional moneys we are being asked to vote now are for projects which were commissioned in 1969. Considering the matter in that light, we are under an obligation to honour these commitments but we must have regard to the fact that this money was estimated against a different background to what is the position today. No section of industry has gone through greater difficulties than has the tourist industry. Although there may be other factors which contributed to this, we must accept that the major factor has been the Northern situation.

Anyone who has travelled throughout the country both this year and last year, especially the south and west of Ireland and who has spoken to hoteliers, will be aware that these people blame the Northern situation for their problems. Of course, inflation plays a part in the difficulty but that was by no means the main factor.

Looking through the list of grants that have been paid to various hotels throughout the country, I agree with Deputy O'Donnell that we have gone too far in respect of the grants paid to hotels of a certain type. We should direct our attention and our finances to the medium-sized hotels because the tourists who avail of these hotels are those we endeavour to bring into the country. We are aiming at bringing more British and European tourists here and we should ensure [2377] that medium-sized hotel accommodation is available for them.

It was interesting to note the grants that were paid to some Dublin hotels. Although the estimates referred to 1969, I can see that a substantial amount of money has been paid in grants to leading hotels in Dublin and to some new hotels that have opened within the past 12 or 18 months. However, grants have been made available to hotels in Dublin which have since closed down and have been sold for office blocks and other development.

Mr. O'Donnell:  Hear, hear.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick  (Dublin Central): This is a ludicrous situation and steps should be taken to ensure that it is discontinued. From the list we see that about £200,000 has been given by way of grants to large hotels in Dublin. Some of these hotels occupy prominent parts of the city centre and should be well able to pay their own way. We should ensure that in future grants given to any such hotels are small. When I see a hotel such as Jury's closing while two new ones are opening in the area, there is something wrong with the system that we are permitting. There are hotels throughout the country that are of a very luxurious type and from now on we should endeavour to ensure that there will not be any more of these hotels opening.

We should concentrate on staffing existing hotels. The staffing of our hotels, especially the middle-grade ones, is not of a sufficiently high standard. Top-class hotels, because of the exorbitant prices they charge, are in a position to recruit top-class staff but this is not so in respect of the middle-class hotel. We should concentrate on the best ways to train hotel managers for the task of recruiting suitable staff. There is always difficulty in this respect where trade is seasonal especially in regard to retaining good permanent staff. Where there is not all-year-round trade staff have to be dismissed for four or five months of the year and this does not lend itself to good staffing. We must encourage our hoteliers to extend the season as much as possible. [2378] They should endeavour to extend it into the winter season, when there is hunting, fishing, golfing and shooting. The special rate week-ends offered by hotels in many parts of the country are proving very successful. Invariably the hotels that prove the greatest attraction are those with indoor swimming pools, sauna baths, an adjoining golf course and fishing. We should try to encourage this kind of winter hotel. If that were done the staffing situation would improve because the staff would be guaranteed all the year round employment. More money must be channelled into CERT. It is no use building hotels if they cannot be properly staffed. It is in the medium sized hotels we are falling down from the point of view of good service. Hoteliers should be encouraged to send their staffs to be trained in the winter season, even if the employees have to be paid during that training period.

We have always had keen competition especially from the Continent. We are at a disadvantage in this respect because the standard of wages and conditions generally in Continental hotels are very, very low. The staffs work very long hours for quite small wages. I know that prices are increasing by at least 10 per cent per year on the Continent and, from that point of view, we will eventually find ourselves in a more advantageous competitive position. At the moment we are at a disadvantage.

We should also try to encourage more farmhouse accommodation. Any money given for this purpose will be money well spent. Seminars should be held to encourage more farmers to take in tourists. Those who have availed of these holidays have enjoyed them immensely. Very often this is the first real experience these people have of living in the country. We should encourage this kind of holiday.

We should also encourage our hoteliers to employ some staff who can speak a Continental language. This is very essential now that we are entering the Common Market. When one is abroad one appreciates the advantage it is to find some member of the staff who can converse with one in one's own language.

[2379] We must keep up the pressure from the point of view of publicity. We know the resilience of the organisation. Over the past 12 months Bord Fáilte are to be congratulated on their publicity campaign in Britain, Scotland and elsewhere. The situation was very difficult but the results were excellent. We should not be too critical when times are bad. Times will not always be bad. When we get back on an even keel tourism will be one of our most important industries. Were it not for the tragic situation in Northern Ireland over the past two years I am convinced we would have attained the projections forecast three years ago. We were gearing ourselves along the right lines and getting a good reputation aboard. We have amenities that are not available in other countries. I believe the good times will return and, when they do, we must press ahead with all the amenities we can offer. I wish the Minister every success. He has a very difficult year ahead, but he must not get depressed.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I am sure he will not get depressed.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  There are a few points I should like to make. As far as accommodation is concerned we have, I believe, reached saturation point and I would prefer to see grants made available in future for the development of amenities in the different tourist centres. The first complaint made by tourists, especially those from the Continent, is that there are no amenities when the weather is bad. Bord Fáilte should draw up now a three-year or a five-year plan to develop amenities in the different localities. In European holiday resorts one finds casinos, late night drinking and other forms of entertainment. These are things this country has made no effort to provide so far. If people want to spend their money in that way, we should have no objection. It should be possible for Bord Fáilte to issue a licence with special conditions attaching to it in respect of premises where such gambling would take place. As [2380] the Minister knows, the type of entertainment that I am advocating is available on the Continent. We should knock down the protective wall we have erected around ourselves. We must face reality. If there were proper supervision, the type of entertainment I have in mind would not interfere with the life of the community.

I agree with Deputies who have said that it is not desirable to provide 400-and 300-bedroom hotels. Visitors whom I met this year who stayed in family type hotels were very satisfied because in these hotels they did not get the impression that they were merely a number staying in a certain room.

There is wide variation in the prices of meals. There could be a difference of £10 in respect of a dinner for four persons. There are complaints about overcharging. The Bord Fáilte brochure should indicate the charges for meals at various hotels. The Minister did not mention the regional boards.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  No. They are not relevant to the Bill.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  The regional boards in some areas have outlived their usefulness. Any tourist board should incorporate in its constitution that membership will be for a limited period only. It is undesirable that the membership should remain the same for years. I would exclude the manager of the region from these remarks. If there were an annual change of personnel, new ideas would be brought into play and there would be fresh enthusiasm. There is a monopoly. I was a member of the Ivernia Regional Board for 12 months. I attended the annual general meeting of the board. I was sitting pretty because I did not have to be re-elected at that meeting, as I was chairman of the county council. Electors came in with their pockets full of votes. There should be direct elections and voting by proxy should not be allowed. The Minister should endeavour to get new blood into these boards.

The 10 per cent service charge as a separate item in a hotel bill should be abolished. The charge should be included [2381] in the cost of a meal. Is the service charge going back to the staff? I have very grave misgivings about it. In the case of seasonal hotels the staff would not be there all the year round. Do Bord Fáilte distribute the money represented by the 10 per cent service charge to hotel workers as a Christmas box? Where does the money go? Perhaps the Minister would say if there is any supervision over the distribution of this money.

There should be a Minister for Tourism. I asked the Taoiseach three or four weeks ago if it was the intention to appoint a Minister for Tourism. The reply was in the negative. Tourism, which is the second largest industry, should be treated as such by the Taoiseach. I hope that in the near future tourism will cease to be regarded as the Cinderella as far as Government policy is concerned. Too much money has been sunk into it in grants and loans and the State should be taking proper interest in protecting that investment. Bord Fáilte are being severely criticised throughout the country. Admittedly, we have a situation at present which is not helping Bord Fáilte but they should have seen that there was no point in plugging the English market and should have gone to the Continent to sell their wares, so to speak.

Amenities, in my opinion, are very important now. If the Minister has any influence with the Minister for Justice he should have a chat with him in regard to Sunday drinking hours. It is ridiculous in this age that on Sunday evenings bars must close at 10 o'clock unless people are staying in a hotel. The ordinary guesthouse, unless it is a sort of sheebeen, cannot provide drinking amenities and in rural areas where amenities are limited tourists will make a habit of being in the bar on Sunday evenings because they meet more local people there then than at any other time. I am not in the public house business and I have no vested interest in it but the Minister should step in to ensure that tourists would not be turned out at 10 o'clock on Sunday evenings from bars while it is still bright and they [2382] have nowhere else to go and have money in their pockets to spend. I do not know how it could be arranged if you wished to give tourists special concessions.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  A single man might not like it if a tourist was let in and he was left outside.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  We would go to Tralee; we would be tourists in Tralee.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  This Bill proposes to provide Bord Fáilte with additional funds by substituting £3,250,000 for £2 million and to increase the £13 million for development of holiday accommodation. This is what the citizens are asked to do and when it is done and the cheque signed, do we hear any more about it? I have been addressing myself to this question for a long time. Our activities should not cease with the passing of the money; we should know how it is expended and if it has been utilised to the best advantage. I am not satisfied that happens with money allocated to Bord Fáilte.

The Minister referred a while ago to hotel grants. Although pride is a deadly sin, and the punishment for it is very severe, I feel rather proud——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Deputy Burke will forgive you all your sins if you have a firm purpose of amendment.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  However, after long and painstaking agitating I did secure publication of holiday accommodation grants.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The first time the Deputy asked me to do it, I did it for him.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  No, there was major opposition to it. It was accepted that shady things were happening and I had given as much publicity as I could to that view because it was reasonable to assume that it was justified. First, if everything was above board why should the disbursement of public funds not be publicised?

[2383]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I gave it to the Deputy.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  If people want public moneys to help them develop their business or their countryside they cannot get it on a secret basis. The people who provide the money must know where it is going and what happens to it. The Minister must do a little more. He must publish the hotel grants in the same way as he has published the development grants from 1948, or whenever this holiday accommodation grant scheme began, and tell us all about it.

One of the main reasons why I wanted such information was because of the number of applicants who were turned down. Naturally, they complained, saying that the man up the road or in the next street or town got so much and they asked how was it they could get nothing. There was no use in them coming to Deputies because they could not help; the information was a State secret and there was no way of finding out what was happening. However, that system has been changed and it would be no harm if the change had retrospective effect. We like retrospection when changes are brought about. Possibly, the Minister could move back some years.

We all like hotels springing up in areas where they are required. We like to see modern buildings with all facilities but we also like to know how much private money goes into a particular job and how much public money. We like to know if there is any foundation for the frequent assertions that, by means of inflated costs or costs stated in excess of the actual amounts, grants higher than are warranted are paid. The allegation is that some people have received grants in excess of the amount warranted having regard to the nature of the work and the cost. Formerly it was difficult to say if these assertions were correct but now the amounts paid will be published and we may be in a position to assess the merits of any allegations that may be made.

I regard these allegations as very serious and I accept that possibly they may be difficult to substantiate but it is [2384] no harm to mention this matter here. This is the debating Chamber of the nation and if a Member has doubts, even though he may not have positive proof, it is in the interest of the State that he should indicate his doubts. In this way the people who control the money, who have the power and who have information at their disposal—in this case it is the Minister and the board—will have an opportunity to refute any allegation. I should be very pleased if the Minister were able to say that such allegations were not well-founded.

The provision of grants for hotels has been mentioned. This raises the question regarding the criterion used by the board when considering applications. If the person who is building an hotel intends to charge exceptionally high rates that would be beyond the reach of ordinary people, it might be asked whether such an hotel should get help from public funds. Is the case made that these highly-priced hotels are essential if we wish to attract foreign tourists? Having regard to the charges set out in the tourist guide book for the limited number of such hotels here, I think they should look after their own modernisation programmes.

If a man builds a house whose floor area is in excess of 116 square metres he will not get a grant or rates remission because it is considered that he should be in a position to pay for the house himself and to pay the full rates. I realise it is difficult to make a comparison but I think some reasonable limits should be imposed on hotels where a considerable amount of public money has been spent in alteration or reconstruction work. Some people may say competition imposes limits. During the months of July and August and during race fixtures and other events, proprietors of some of these hotels are not prepared to charge less than the maximum amount set out in the tourist guide book. People who are unable to get accommodation are forced to pay these high charges.

I do not think that applications for grants for resort development are determined on their merits. Some underhand methods are being adopted by the [2385] board in the disbursement of funds for this kind of work. I represent south-west Cork, an area that has a most extensive coastline and which enjoys amenities few other areas possess. With the exception of south-west Kerry, I do not think any other area can compare with south-west Cork. There are many resorts from Kinsale to the Kenmare river as well as some inland areas that are looking to Bord Fáilte for help in development work. I do not think any other area has a better claim for Bord Fáilte grants.

We are told that a sum of £2 million has been made available in recent years for this development work. It might be asked what areas benefited? How did south-west Cork or any other area in Cork fare? In order to get that information, on 13th July, 1972 I asked the Minister for Transport and Power to state in respect of each area the amount of grants allocated by Bord Fáilte for development works during 1970-71, 1971-72, 1972-73. The Minister had not got information for 1972-73 but he gave details for 1970-71 and 1971-72.

Cork got £6,600 for 1971-72. That was for south-west Cork, south-east Cork and Cork county. That was a drop from the previous year when the figure was about £40,000. This year the figure is £4,000 for Cork county. Despite the decline in the value of money that's what we got. This booklet gives some enlightening information. I do not know, I am not sufficiently conversant with the county, what particular amenities County Roscommon can offer. What outstanding facility has it got? Is the outstanding facility that it is represented in the Dáil by the Minister for Transport and Power? Have we reached the stage where you can feed your own area with grants out of proportion to its justifiable share and possibly by so doing feed yourself with votes in order to hold your place in public life? Roscommon is a relatively small inland county. Did it get £6,600 like Cork last year? No. It got £119,000 odd or almost eighteen times the amount allocated to County Cork. I am picking out Roscommon because [2386] it is the highest on the list. What special development works took place there in 1971-72 to justify that expenditure? Someone may say that there was something special in that particular year, that it was not the type of expenditure generally given to the county, but let us go back to 1970-71. In that year they got £61,000. I do not know what the figure for 1972-73 is but it is reasonable to assume that it is up in the six figures. Is it fair that Kinsale, Courtmacsherry, Clonakilty and the coast from Youghal to the Kenmare River, plus the whole territory of Cork county—one-seventh or one-eighth of this country—get £4,000 this year?

I tried to get a sub-committee of the Dáil to inquire into the activities of boards such as this. I am making charges here that shady arrangements have been made so far as the disbursement of grants is concerned. It is a well-known fact that that obtains so far as IDA grants are concerned. I am sure nobody would dispute that. Certainly in Cork nobody would, because he would be laughed at. Anybody with any common sense knows how IDA grants are disbursed and they know how the applications of people of the wrong political affiliations are dealt with. There is no need for the Parliamentary Secretary to look. If he wants names I will give them. The names are on the IDA book and the circumstances are well known in Cork.

How did Galway compare? They did very well in relation to Cork. They got £108,596. For the year 1970-71 they got £104,359. Clare is doing reasonably well too. They got £37,000 and £43,000 and I understand that a special grant was allocated, possibly over a few years, of £200,000 for the development of Lahinch golf course. If that is incorrect, the Minister can say so when replying.

Why do we pass this money here? What advantage to County Cork is the passing of this £4 million or whatever the figure is? Is it to get back £6,000? It would be just as well for the county council if this was struck out altogether. Cork was always prepared to pay a local contribution. Where is [2387] this resort development money going? Is it all going out in salaries?

I have a great deal of sympathy for poor Leitrim. It is close to Roscommon. They got £1,800 in 1970-71 and a £5 note in 1971-72. Possibly Leitrim, like Cork, would say that if this was abolished, if this board's functions were withdrawn and handed over to a local authority, not only would more be done but much more money would be available to do the job because the big salaries and the big incidental expenses would be saved.

We all know the type of amenity works that are necessary at seaside resorts, not only for tourists but for our own local people—public parks, proper sanitary services and public toilets. Another feature which is most commendable and most popular is a children's playground. In the few areas in West Cork where children's playgrounds have been provided, not with any help from Dublin but out of local revenue, they are exceptionally popular. It is very nice to see the children congregating at such centres and enjoying themselves and keeping out of harm's way.

If we were getting the money we should be getting I would be advocating more money for these amenities. We would be quite satisfied to contribute towards them. We know the money does not come from heaven. Naturally, I would be advocating much more money for south-west Cork. Last week at a meeting of the county council it was decided, possibly as a forlorn hope, to send a deputation to Bord Fáilte, and to the Minister if necessary, to inquire into what is happening to our share of the grants. Repetition is not allowed here, but the Minister was absent on some urgent business for a few minutes and, during his absence, I quoted——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I hope the Deputy will not repeat the speech he made in the Minister's absence.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  No. There is no repetition so far as I am concerned. I will emphasise the point in case the Minister does not hear about it. I was looking [2388] at the tally sheet for 1970-71 and 1971-72.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Roscommon did well.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  You look after your own child first.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  They did well. I think they put too much holy water on that baby. There will be more votes for the Minister if it is known in Roscommon what a very capable Deputy they have representing them, and all the grants he is providing for them. On a more serious line, this type of allocation for Roscommon is not justified, and could not be justified if the board were doing their business impartially. This is making a sham of public boards administering public affairs. There is no justification for the Minister scooping the pool, or the jackpot, and bringing it to his own county.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Before the Deputy closes that book does he see Laois-Offaly any place in it?

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Laois got £1 a day, £365.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  What did Offaly get?

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Offaly got £400 odd last year, and this year they got less than £200. Laois-Offaly are not doing so well. Offaly would get third prize at the lower end. That is how this money is being disbursed, the money which the taxpayer finds it so difficult to provide. Side by side with how it is being disbursed, we have to take this chart. Incidentally, what are the two F's for?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Fianna Fáil. What else?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Now you have the whole secret.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  This is the structure on pages 2 and 3 of this book. It takes this much space to show the personnel and the senior executives managing this board. I wonder are they doing a good job? Could any private company working on its own initiative and enterprise have such an elaborate board and an [2389] elaborate personnel all with jobs with high-sounding names. I wonder should I list them? Of course, they have big salaries, and big perks I am sure. I count 27 senior staff, and in the Dublin region there are almost 40 listed here. Is it to pay them that we are passing this money tonight? That is the question. If you turn to another page you find that their salaries are hidden away. This is supposed to be the balance sheet but you cannot find their salaries. When we give this £2 million extra for holiday accommodation development it will be quite lawful for it to go to salaries and expenses instead of holiday development.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  This is total nonsense.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  It is not total nonsense. Can the Minister tell me where is the separate statement on salaries and wages?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Would the Deputy read the sections of the Bill before the House.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I have read the sections of the Bill before the House. They are hidden away under headings like salaries, superannuation, travelling, consultation, research, planning, light and heat. There is an element of salary in the different headings. Under the main heading there is almost £1 million. I do not know how the country stands it.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Would the Deputy refer to the two-section Bill before the House? It does not bear any relationship to the report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy should now come to the Bill.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I have been on the Bill all the time. I do not like saying unpleasant things but I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that we are not getting the return for the type of expenditure which this House asks the citizens of the country to provide towards the work of Bord Fáilte. I am satisfied that they are not doing a good job, particularly so far as resort development is concerned, except in the special areas where special [2390] influence applies. I ask the Minister to tell us what are the 1972-73 allocations and where the money is going to be expended so far as resort development is concerned.

I am far from being an economist and I am not so good at statistics, but how in the world do the board arrive at the conclusion that we earned £100.8 million from tourism last year? How is that made up? How do they arrive at that kind of figure? That, of course, is for last year; the figures for this year would not be out yet. How much of that £100 million are Bord Fáilte responsible for? How many of our visitors are brought into the country as a result of their efforts and how many fewer visitors would come into the country if Bord Fáilte never existed?

A sizeable percentage of people who come to Ireland for holidays are people of Irish descent and in view of the huge population we have in the neighbouring island, not only of Irish descent but Irish-born people—more than one million of them—it is reasonable to assume that there is going to be a big influx of people from Britain, irrespective of the kind of state agency we have to bring them over. The same applies in the United States and Canada. We have a huge population there of Irish extraction and I believe that most of these people would come here in any case, irrespective of whether such an agency existed or not. I have reason to believe that private enterprise and private initiative on the part of some people here in the tourist trade have brought far better results than those achieved by Bord Fáilte and that people who travelled to the Continent particularly found customers much more easily and at much less cost than Bord Fáilte found them.

It is not too often that we have an opportunity of discussing this board and, as I say, it is tremendously embarrassing and difficult to have to say unpleasant things about any body or agency, public or private. It is much easier to stand up here and throw bouquets at a body who would be doing their work effectively and efficiently but circumstances and facts compel us to criticise this board [2391] severely and circumstances and facts, such as the facts in this Dáil Report, compel us to criticise the Minister and his Department severely because the information given on 13th July of this year should leave no doubt in anybody's mind that Bord Fáilte funds are not disbursed on any kind of impartial basis and that the same tactics apply as apply in other fields of public activity.

It may be said that the senior personnel of the board are not responsible and there could be justification for believing that because the Minister may be exerting an evil influence on the activities of this board as evidenced by this report. The board may be threatened that they must toe the line and do what they are told and their senior executives may be threatened that unless they respond to the crack of the whip, promotion will not come their way. That may be happening. We see what is happening with another body. I am all for having boards accountable to this House but we have seen what is happening to the RTE Authority today because they do something which the Government and Fianna Fáil do not like. What happens is that they must either capitulate or be sacked. I wonder if that happens and am I blaming this board wrongly. I would hate to think I was and I would be very sorry for it. Is the influence of a person such as our new Commissioner in Brussels——

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The Deputy has that wrong too.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  It is not the £200,000 at all, so.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  What is the Deputy talking about?

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I am talking about this Press report that £200,000 of public money was given to Lahinch for development works, namely, the provision of a golf course.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Total nonsense.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  The Minister has civil servants and other people to advise him and——

[2392]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Not true. I will reply to the Deputy later.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  ——to tell him whether such assertions are correct or otherwise.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Not true.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Some say that the Minister has a peculiar personality and that by virtue of his particular personality it is very hard to ask him to hold out his hand and slap him. I have tried to give him a few slaps and——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  You are not slapping the right portion of his anatomy. Put him across your knee as you and I had to take it.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I hope they have been reasonably severe. I hope also that when the Minister and the board meet the deputation from west Cork we will have a better response than we have enjoyed during the past three or four years and that the allocation for Cork will be increased from £4,000.

I have in my possession a booklet which was handed to me only about an hour ago. It is entitled “Where to Eat in Ireland”. Can the Minister tell us who compiled this document and who paid for it? Was it compiled by Bord Fáilte with the aid of public funds? Is it true that it cost some thousands of pounds to produce and that the business establishments listed did not pay for the advertising afforded them in the publication? The person who gave me the booklet assured me that it was produced at a cost of more than £3,000 plus the expenses of a group of people who travelled throughout the country and that it listed 100 establishments to which were given free publicity. I understand that as a result of the protests from those establishments that were not listed, the book was withdrawn immediately. I should like to have these matters cleared up by the Minister.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The Deputy will hear all about it from me.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  It will be no problem.

[2393]Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  If what I have heard is true, on what basis were the 100 establishments selected for this preferential treatment while other well-known establishments were omitted? Did the other establishments get an opportunity of being included? Were they notified that the booklet was being compiled? I hope the Minister will be able to tell us that the booklet was not compiled at public expense.

The tourist industry is of immense importance to our economy but we have no statistics to tell us the number of people employed in the industry although it is estimated that the figure is in the region of 160,000. The money we vote is for the development of the industry but that is also the reason why we are so anxious to ensure that these moneys are utilised to the best possible advantage. In many instances at present public money is not being employed gainfully. As a result of this our inflationary trend is higher than that of any other country in Europe. There is an increase in the Book of Estimates of about £80 million. That is a sizeable sum for a small country with a population of less than that of an average city elsewhere. That trend cannot continue. The Government generally are acting in a very lackadaisical manner in so far as the gainful expenditure of public moneys are concerned. It is sad and embarrassing to find public moneys being expended wantonly today in so many fields of activity. There is an obligation on the Government to crack the whip in so far as their own Departments and public bodies are concerned. A man engaged in private enterprise must be very wary lest he finds himself in the bankruptcy court. Of course, the difference between the Government and the private enterprise person is that the Government try to overcome their lapses by levying more taxation. We are now paying VAT on all commodities. The reason for this is to overcome the bungling that has been going on in so many fields of Government activity.

I hold the Government mainly responsible, too, for the changes that have occurred in Irish life and traditions. I say that in a general way but [2394] I refer in particular to Bord Fáilte. I charge them with being guilty of this offence also. Having regard to the fact that I got into the winners' enclosure in so far as the publicity of the holiday development money is concerned——

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  With co-operation and that co-operation will continue in the future.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I thank the Minister. Of course, I wish to be in the winners' enclosure again. So far as public bodies are concerned we should have a committee of the House to enquire into them. A small committee meeting periodically with senior personnel of public bodies would be able to discuss many matters of mutual and national importance in so far as the activities of the boards are concerned.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  There is a lot in what the Deputy is saying.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Instead of having long-drawn out debates here on these bodies these small committee should be set up to cover the groundwork. Deputies on this side of the House have no one to provide them with the requisite information. Any research that has to be done they have to do themselves. They are not in a position to get the kind of information they would like to have. A much better understanding would exist as a result of these committees being set up and that better understanding would result in an all-round advantageous effect. We would know what had happened and what was happening and we could give advice. We come from the four corners of Ireland. We are representatives of the public. In return, the boards could tell us their programmes, let us discuss them, the costings and future developments. Great good would result. I put this to the Minister for his consideration.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It is very constructive.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Of course it is and the Minister is a very constructive man. He is moving into high places. Good luck to him.

[2395]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  There is nothing in the Bill about that.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  I know there is nothing in the Bill about that. The Minister gives the preferences to his own friends. He is approachable, but I do not know if there is much more to him than that. He gave us assurances in south-west Cork but he failed to fulfil them.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Such as?

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Such as making much more money available and getting Bord Fáilte to do better than they did in the last four years — £6,000 last year and £4,000 this year for west Cork, the most scenic part of the country, with its lakes, its islands and its scenery.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The exact figure is £172,800 under major resort schemes.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  Since the Minister took office we have got nothing at all. This year it is £4,000 and last year it was £6,000. That kind of money is not enough.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I am talking about the total expenditure.

Mr. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy  Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy  We will not put up with it.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  This Bill perturbs me. It asks for a large sum of money for Bord Fáilte. My constituents in Laois-Offaly pay their share of taxes so that money of this kind can be voted to Bord Fáilte and spent by that body. My constituents have derived practically no benefit whatsoever from the operations of Bord Fáilte.

We are living in a time of change and it is time the Government took a long and serious look at the work of Bord Fáilte. Indeed, I think Bord Fáilte should be abolished. It is not giving the return it should to the community. The administrative costs must be quite astonishing and the staff quite alarming in dimension. I do not believe Bord Fáilte ever encouraged a single tourist to this country. There were tourists coming here before ever Bord Fáilte were established and, when Bord Fáilte are forgotten, there will still be tourists coming here.

[2396] The Minister should take a very serious look at the structure of the tourist industry. He expressed alarm today at the fact that the returns from the tourist industry had not been as satisfactory as one would like. He gave certain reasons for the decline in the number of tourists coming here. He said there was serious damage to our markets in Britain and Northern Ireland attributable to events in Northern Ireland. It may be that people hesitated to come here because of the unfortunate activities in the North. Might I ask what Bord Fáilte did to make it clear to these people that the activities in the North in no way affected the prospect of a peaceful and pleasant holiday in the Republic? If people failed to come here because of the unfavourable climate in the North of Ireland then the blame is to be laid on Bord Fáilte because they failed to make it clear that what was happening in the North in no way impinged on the prevailing peaceful climate in the Republic. Were it not for the publicity undertaken by Irish travel agents abroad very little indeed would be known about the facilities here if it were left to Bord Fáilte. I have seen some of the advertisements. So has the Minister and other Members of this House. I have seen them in Britain and in France. I did not see them in Denmark. The United States and Canada are extensive countries and I doubt if there has been any very extensive advertising to attract North Americans and Canadians to spend their holidays here.

The Minister may make the case that the difficulties in the North have been responsible for the decline in the tourist trade. I would put the decline down to the way in which tourists have been rooked, not by all hoteliers but by some of them. They have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. People who are rooked never allow themselves to be rooked a second time. Tourists will not be attracted unless they get good value for money. If the tourist gets good value for money he will be one of the best advertisements we would could have because he will spread the good news.

The Minister did not really touch on [2397] the real causes for the decline in the tourist trade. The Irish hotels are pricing themselves out of the market. No one has any control over our weather. Young and old now are following the sun and that means that our own people are holidaying outside the country. We cannot complete with the attractions other countries have to offer. Our holiday season is restricted. Our hoteliers know that and their ambition is to make as much as they possibly can in the shortest possible time. That is not the way to run a tourist industry. What efforts are made to attract anglers here for coarse fishing? Only the surface has been scratched. Hoteliers like to see the angling tourist because he is out fishing all day. A great deal could be done to encourage more anglers to avail of the outstanding facilities we have here for coarse fishing. Some French anglers are aware of the facilities we have to offer. More publicity should be given to this aspect by Bord Fáilte.

Have there been any talks between the federation of hotels, Bord Fáilte and the Minister in relation to prices and charges? There were 1,200 complaints to Bord Fáilte last year and, when 1,200 complaints were made, we can take it that there were 1,200 complaints that the tourists did not think it worth their while to make. Instead they made up their minds not to come back here again. Tourists should be encouraged not only to return to this country but to bring others with them. We should provide them with all the bargains it is possible to place at their disposal. It is regrettable when tourists come here from France or Britain or any European country, or from Canada or the United States, that we should put our hands deep into their pockets and their wallets in order to get all that we possibly can get from them. Tourists want an enjoyable holiday and are prepared to pay for it. They are lavish spenders when they are on holiday but they do not like to be exploited.

Tourists are disgusted when they find that souvenirs that they have purchased on the understanding that they were Irish-made have, in fact, been made in Japan. Souvenirs most [2398] popular with tourists are objects representing historical monuments such as the Round Tower of Clonmacnoise. The tourist is shocked to find “Made in Japan” stamped on these objects.

The Minister referred to the increase in the proportion of Continental visitors and the need to cater for this new type of customer. Is the Minister really satisfied that there is an increase in the proportion of Continental visitors coming here?

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

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I am very pleased to hear it.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  A 24 per cent increase from Germany.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  What is the percentage of increase on — 24 per cent on what?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It is a low volume, of course.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  The extra half dozen?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  No, it is not that.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  If these people are to be encouraged to come here and if they are coming, there are many other odds and ends of the tourist trade that need tidying up. Tourists are anxious to contact their friends abroad and they have complained about what they describe as the worst telephone service here that they have ever experienced. We have tourist complaints regarding lack of facilities in our airports, particularly Dublin Airport. If tourists complain of lack of facilities at Dublin Airport these complaints should be seriously noted and acted upon because the airports are expected to provide facilities and services for such people. We can, perhaps, deal with Dublin Airport on a more appropriate occasion.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  They spent a lot of money on it recently, to advantage.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  In regard to the purpose for which this money is required, facilities and amenities, little or none of this money seems to come our way. Thanks to The Irish Times—the only paper which published the [2399] information on 17/11/72 — we see where Bord Fáilte accommodation grants went. A total of £2,800,341 was accounted for in respect of the financial year ended 31st March last. My constituency got approximately £2,000 out of that total. I call the Minister's attention to the fact that we are in what is known as the lake-land tourist area but I have yet to see any concentration of tourist activity in that area. I cannot understand why, out of over £2 million, only £2,000 comes to the Countries Laois and Offaly. Has there been any request to Bord Fáilte for financial assistance in regard to the development of the Shannon?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Deputy M. P. Murphy was complaining that the Shannon was top of the league.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Which part of it? Athlone and Roscommon.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  He referred to the fact that £360 came to one part of the county and less to another. I want to ask the Minister if he is aware that bus loads of continental tourists arrive occassionally at Clonmacnoise. On one Sunday afternoon this year while I was there a busload of American visitors arrived, brought there by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society for a lecture on the various stones, the Round Tower and the Seven Churches of Clonmacnoise. Bord Fáilte had not even provided a penny piece for toilet facilities at Clonmacnoise and the only toilet that could be made available for the American and continental visitors was the dry toilet of a national school some distance away where they had to queue up and go in one by one. This was the first occasion on which some of them had the experience of using a dry toilet.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Did the boys go in on one side and the girls on the other as we did in the national school long ago?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  This does not seem to arise relevantly on the Tourist Traffic Bill which does not open a debate on all aspects of tourism. The [2400] Deputy must relate his remarks to what is contained in the Bill.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  This money is to be devoted to site development, the provision of facilities such as toilets, shelters, car parks, promenades and parks. I would not have raised the lack of toilet facilities at Clonmacnoise if the matter had not been mentioned in the Minister's speech when he almost invited comment regarding toilet facilities. One of the greatest tourist attractions in Ireland, in my opinion, is Clonmacnoise in its historical setting by the River Shannon and one would expect that when there is such a tourist attraction in the heart of the country, not too far from the Minister's constituency because the parish of Moore is right across the Shannon——

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The parish of Moore, proud and poor.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Have Bord Fáilte any plans to provide at least a proper information building at Clonmacnoise? An ordinary, small caravan is available there and there is a most courteous lady in the caravan who endeavours to give information to inquirers but there is a long queue outside waiting to get admission. There are no facilities at Clonmacnoise such as a rest room, a restaurant which could provide even a cup of coffee, or a bookstall to give information in connection with the Shannon and Clonmacnoise, the facilities available at Banagher and Shannonbridge which might be of interest to tourists.

Clanmacnoise appears to be entirely forgotten. I raised this matter on every possible occasion in order to have Clonmacnoise even suitably signposted in the various towns surrounding Shannonbridge. Any tourists who came to Clonmacnoise went away convinced that there was real history, beautiful scenery, peace and everything for which one could wish at Clonmacnoise.

I am expected to vote enormous amounts of money which will be allocated to areas around the coastline but in my own area where there is a tourist attraction and where there is one of the most historic places in [2401] western Europe not a penny piece has been spent by Bord Fáilte.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  That is not true.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  There was a slip provided at Banagher. I should have said that a penny piece was provided for Clonmacnoise and Banagher but in comparison with what is spent in areas around our coast nothing has been spent on the development of tourism in the Midlands.

What liaison exists between Bord Fáilte and the regional tourism boards who receive enormous amounts of money to which local authorities are expected to contribute? I am not satisfied Bord Fáilte have done their part in providing suitable road and car park facilities, they have not provided picnic tables and other amenities. They have done very little for the district near the Slievebloom Mountains, for the area from Kinnitty to Mountrath, from Clonaslee to Killinure. In this area there are some of the finest forestry lands in the country.

I would ask the Minister to examine the work of Bord Fáilte. In my opinion they have not spend the money where it should be spent and they have not spent it wisely. Money has not been spent to build up tourist activity in an area where it is non-existent. It would be worthwhile for the tourist organisations to consult with the management of Butlin's Holiday Camp in County Meath. This holiday camp provides everything that is essential for a holiday: there are playgrounds for children, there is a theatre, a cinema, a casino, dining facilities and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Frequently I have wondered why some of the know-alls in Bord Fáilte do not discuss the question of organisation with the management of Butlin's. They could be taught a lot about organisation and about the provision of facilities that would attract tourists. I should like to pay tribute to the contribution of Butlin's Holiday Camp to tourism here. The people in the camp are courteous and the food is of high quality. Many Scottish, Welsh or English tourists would not have come to Ireland were it not for the existence of this holiday camp.

[2402]Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  They must have treated the Deputy well.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I like to go to the camp but I have not been there for a long time. I have always been impressed by their organisation and the facilities that are available there.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish  Zoom on Brendan Corish  And they make a profit.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Bord Fáilte receive very considerable State funds but they cannot provide the facilities that a private concern provides. Another matter I should like to comment on is the price of drink; it does not encourage tourists to come here and I would ask the Minister to arrange that a special rate should be given for tourists. This would give our tourism a considerable boost.

I should like the Minister to state why Bord Fáilte have not co-operated to a greater extent with CIE in the development of our canals. Does the Minister intend coming to this House at a later stage to get money to develop the canals?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  We will have legislation on that matter shortly.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I am pleased to hear that. I recall on one occasion the Minister said the Grand Canal would not be closed and he hoped there would be a link from Dublin to the Shannon at Athlone and Banagher. If boating activities could be carried on on the Grand Canal and if there were suitable facilities between Dublin, Tullamore and Banagher this would be of considerable benefit to the midlands. So far as possible we should provide those facilities, thus encouraging tourists who are interested in boating to come here.

At all our tourist centres there seems to be a lack of children's playgrounds. Why, I do not know. Perhaps the Minister would take note of this. Bord Fáilte should seriously consider providing, in conjunction with local development associations or local tourist associations, suitable facilities for children, particularly indoor facilities, because we do get inclement weather from time to time.

[2403] Bad parking facilities prevent the enjoyment of a holiday. I was at a function in Salthill on Sunday night last and I found the parking facilities there to be most satisfactory. I have always found parking facilities in Tramore bad. They have become impossible and because of this people hesitate to go there despite the hospitality, kindliness and courtesy of the hoteliers and the people of Tramore who are always glad to see a visitor.

It would be well worthwhile carrying out a survey of all our tourist resorts with a view to finding out their requirements. There is a lack of picnic tables. I do not know whether local authorities have the right to erect those or not. The hoteliers naturally do not like to see the picnic holiday-maker but many people, particularly those with families, like to eat out on holiday because the hotels have priced them out. Quite often people do not stay in the one place on holiday but tour from one place to another. Picnic tables should be provided near lakes, mountain views and other attractive scenery and there should also be toilet facilities available.

Bord Fáilte have fallen far short of expectations. They have been in existence for a long time. They have spent a fabulous amount of money and we expected a much greater return from them. Our travel agents are a very important section of people in the tourist business. The private travel agents have done more to publicise our facilities and attract people to Ireland than Bord Fáilte have done.

I should like to refer to “Where to Eat in Ireland”. This calls for a serious explanation from the Minister. Certain people had their names enshrined in that notorious booklet. It was withdrawn, I understand, on the Minister's instruction. Is there a great lack of liaison between the Minister and Bord Fáilte? Before a publication such as this went to press, does the Minister not think Bord Fáilte should have said: “We will send the Minister a draft and see what he has to say about it”? It is quite wrong to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on the publication of a biased booklet in relation [2404] to tourism. Such a booklet could have a serious effect on the business of somebody who was not mentioned. I want the Minister to take a serious view of this. Were Bord Fáilte channelling business to a selected number of people for sinister reasons? We find that they went to the trouble of spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on publishing this book which the Minister withdrew as soon as he saw it. I should like to hear from the Minister who was responsible for getting out this publication. Has he inquired into its origin? Is he satisfied that the intentions behind its publication were good? Was it published through ignorance or was there another reason why this was ready for mass circulation to the detriment of some very decent people who have contributed generously to the tourist trade but who, for some reason or other, did not get mention in it? I pay tribute to the Minister for stopping this publication. I am sure if he had been consulted in time he would have offered some helpful advice. There should be somebody on the board of Bord Fáilte closely associated with all their activities, who would be a direct link between the board and the Minister and his Department and keep him in touch with the overall activity, the allocation of hotel grants, the development of sites, the plans for tourist activity in any particular area and all publications. Publications can be damning and they can be a great help but one of this kind could have proved disastrous for many people who have made a generous contribution to the tourist trade. I hope we shall hear from the Minister what steps he has taken to see that conduct of this kind will not be repeated or tolerated because it is something that never should have happened and something which is worthy of note.

Does the Minister get a report from Bord Fáilte in relation to expenditure on various schemes and works? I am not going to mention the names of hotels, because I do not think it would be right or fair to do so, but I see here that a grant of £195,000 was given to a particular hotel. Has the Minister any way of finding out [2405] how that money was spent and what it was spent on? It is a fabulous sum of money.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  If the Deputy will give me the facts, I will get the information for him.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I merely want to be satisfied that the Minister knows how moneys voted by this House for this purpose are spent and for what purpose and that he is satisfied with the vouched expenses before him. I am sure that they are vouched by architects or engineers or the engineering section of Bord Fáilte— whoever is responsible. There seem to be some fabulous amounts going, as I say, well over the £100,000 figure and very close to the £200,000 figure.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  These are all fully audited and reported back to me and there is then a further check by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Does the Minister think he has got value for this money? This is the point I am raising —whether this type of expenditure, particularly at a time when there is a falling off in hotels, is warranted.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  This all relates, as I said in my introductory speech, to commitments entered into before June, 1969.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  And all this kind of work is now stopped?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Yes, since June, 1969.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  A very wise decision and I agree fully with the Minister in that regard. The taxpayer does not like to see his money being ploughed in in millions unless he can see some return for it. Those engaged in the tourist industry have had a very lean time in recent times and efforts should be made now to build up so that what they have lost — and they have lost; I do not mind the Minister saying that last year or the year before was good because if you talk to these people who depend completely on the tourist business, you will find that [2406] they have a different picture — can be recouped.

I do not know what steps the Minister has taken or what steps Bord Fáilte are taking. I do not know if they are capable of taking any steps because I view their work with a certain amount of suspicion. Why I am suspicious I cannot say, but maybe it is because I see no evidence in my constituency of their existence at all. This may be one of the reasons. Their investment may not be channelled in the right direction in order to bring the greatest amount of benefits to the people who require it during the summer months and who have only a very short period in which to make sufficient income out of three months to enable them to exist for 12 months. Is it not true to say that a person must provide for himself and his family for 12 months and that the tourist season is only two or three months?

I have often wondered in what way we can take more practical steps to bring about what I call a revival of the tourist trade. We are in competition with Spain and France. The amount of money the British Government is putting into holiday resorts and the manner in which the lake-land of Cumberland is being developed is fantastic and I do not know how we are to compete with that. I do not think we have the ability to compete with it. More particularly, if there are to be greater facilities provided at cheaper rates, we cannot compete. Today we were discussing air services and charges and these, in my opinion, will be a hindrance again to tourists coming into this country.

It might be no harm for Bord Fáilte to take serious note of any complaints that have come in in relation to the section of the tourist industry known as hire car services who have given dud cars to tourists, with the result that numerous complaints have been made. This is not fair. The people who operate hire car services for tourists should provide the best possible type of car for the tourist and not something out of which perhaps the bottom falls when the tourist has travelled 50 or 60 miles. [2407] There have been complaints about this and I do not know whether Bord Fáilte have investigated them, but if complaints of that kind have been made they should be followed up. Incidents of this kind get a bad name for the country when our job is to preserve our good name. If we have lost it for the time being, we must get it back again, but I believe that we are going to have some job in redeeming ourselves in relation to prices and charges and in respect of speed, efficiency and good service.

I hope that the moneys which this Bill asks for Bord Fáilte for the provision of all facilities, in the nature of proms, toilet facilities, shelters and other amenities which are needed, will be considered as an investment which will bring reasonably good financial returns to those who depend on the tourist industry for their livelihood. I wish it well and I trust that the Minister or his successor will have a very serious look at the whole structure of Bord Fáilte because it is about time we had a new approach to tourism and we should make that approach on bases other than the steps Bord Fáilte have been taking because I really believe that there is room for much improvement in relation to the entire activities of the board. They seem to have devoted all their energies to certain people and in certain directions and have neglected to a high degree other sections which are vitally important to the tourist industry. We must remember that our good name is at stake when visitors come to this country and we should do everything to safeguard and protect it from being tarnished in any way when those people leave the country.

I love to see the Americans and the Canadians coming here. I think they are good spenders and I would like to see full facilities being made available for them because there is a great relationship between this country and America and this country and Canada. Let us try to get more Americans over here. They are welcome and we want to see them coming here.

I hope that when Senator Humphrey comes here within the next few days he will be impressed by what he sees and [2408] by what we can offer to all Americans. We want more dollars and more dollar spenders here. Bord Fáilte have not played their part in getting more Americans and more Canadians to come here. When they start spending they leave Europeans in the shade. When we try to get Europeans to come here we are casting a sprat to catch a salmon. Let us get the salmon straightaway, the Canadians and the Americans. We may not have every facility available for them but let us get down to long-term planning. Let us concentrate on the United States and Canada.

In relation to the Continent let us concentrate a little more on the French fishermen who come here to fish our lakes. The French fisherman has been a great asset to the Midlands. He is very welcome and he is extremely popular. We cannot guarantee him good catches but he is an outstanding sportsman. In Banagher and Birr they love to see him coming to fish. We should do more to attract more people of that kind. Let us concentrate on the big game and get in the Americans and the Canadians. Let us give a good impression. Let us provide the facilities. Let us not rook them when they come here. It will pay us to treat them well and to give them the best possible bargains. When they go home they tell their friends about their holiday and they increase the numbers coming in the following year.

I hope Deputy Murphy was not foolish in presuming that this is the last occasion on which we will have the Minister here as Minister for Transport and Power. If he leaves that Department he will be missed even if only by those engaged in the tourist business in Roscommon. Before he goes I would ask him to alert Bord Fáilte to the problems about Clonmacnoise in my constituency. I have spoken about this often enough and nothing has been done. I will keep raising it in this House until Clonmacnoise is recognised as the most historic tourist attraction in western Europe.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The Deputy will be hearing from me about Clonmacnoise inside a fortnight.

[2409]Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Thank you. That means he will not be going for a fortnight anyway.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Before going into detail about Bord Fáilte I want to look back and see what they have done in the past. They have been the subject of grave criticism here by every speaker so far and, while some of it was deserved, they have a very difficult job to do. It is very hard to assess their work. Their whole exercise is complicated.

I am surprised and horrified at the manner in which they have treated my city Limerick. In 1970-71 we got £7,006 from Bord Fáilte. In 1971-72 we got the fantastic, unbelievable figure of £21. Where did that £21 go? To what advantage or use was it put? We are the second lowest in the league — Leitrim, £5, Limerick, £21, Carlow, £28 and the Minister's own constituency, £119.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  That benefits Leitrim too. That is Carrick-on-Shannon.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  I do not care where it is. Limerick city got 21 miserable, paltry, hungry pound notes. What was that £21 put to? Who looked for it? To what advantage was it put? Was it given as a donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Society?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Or the confraternity.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Or was it given to the confraternity? They could do with it. The St. Vincent de Paul Society could do with it. The social service unit could do with it. A city the size and magnitude, and with the growing development, of Limerick, the third largest city in the Republic, is thrown a miserable, paltry, hungry £21. I should like to know who got it. I should like to throw it back from whence it came, with acknowledgments in language familiar to the Minister and many of us, particularly from our political opponents.

I cannot understand this. We are a city with a population between 65,000 and 68,000 people. We have 20 or 30 grade A hotels. We have [2410] all kinds of attractions such as banquet halls and assembly halls. If we organised a flag day in the city we would get at least £221 within a couple of hours. I do not know where this £21 came from. I will have to know, and I want to know. I must be told. There are areas which have held their own or got an increase: Westmeath, Waterford, Clare, Donegal, Kildare, Louth. Roscommon has doubled its figure and so has Tipperary. Limerick has dropped from £7,000 to £21.

Are Bord Fáilte serious when they offer us the paltry sum of £21? Who do they think they are? This is typical of the approach by Bord Fáilte in all their transactions. I wish I knew where this £21 went. I would collect that much in three minutes outside the chapel gate on a Sunday. Two people would give it to me. Some of us collected practically £2,000 recently to put on an international boxing show in Limerick.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  It was a contribution towards the Deputy's losing punters.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  That would not take them far. We put on a show in Limerick last Tuesday week. The Parliamentary Secretary was at it. We brought over an American amateur boxing team and we went to the trouble of organising a show. We put on an excellent show with ballads and dinners, et cetera. Everybody had a good night. We inexperienced laymen put this on the boards last Tuesday night week. If I had known about this figure of £21 from Bord Fáilte, I would have brought those gentlemen down and given them a lesson in how to organise and how to bring in people. Already we have organised the visit to Limerick next year of an amateur boxing team from Russia. Is this not organisation? It is the type of work that Bord Fáilte should be doing. There is nothing in it for us. Our only aim is the advancement of our city.

I note that in respect of the allocations of money for 1971-72, the Minister christened his own child first, as he did in respect of the £119,000 he got. In this instance he has allotted to himself the sum of £20,000 for [2411] a caravan park at Boyle. He headed the poll because of the £119,000. There is not a penny being given to Limerick.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  I wonder how we manage to live at all in Dublin?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  If the Deputy wishes to come to Lough Key, I shall treat him to a good cruising holiday.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Lough Derg will do for me. I mean Lough Derg on the Shannon although I have been to the other Lough Derg also in the past and if I remain in this House much longer I shall have to make another pilgrimage there. Not very long ago the Minister received, at my request, a deputation on behalf of An Oige. These young people in An Oige had already organised functions which realised between £6,000 and £7,000 for the purpose of providing a hostel in Limerick. I had taken them to the city manager who agreed on what was a perfect site on the banks of the Shannon. The Minister referred the matter to Bord Fáilte but they informed us that the full grant could not be paid because of the proposed location of the hostel. I might add that at the particular point at which it was proposed to build the hostel, a person could cross the river without rolling up the legs of his trousers and not be wet. One could not drown a pinkeen at that point in the river at any time in the summer but because the site was not on the other bank, 30 or 40 yards on the Clare side, we did not qualify for the full grant. The site chosen was only about a mile from the city so that it would have been ideal also from the point of view of travel and other facilities.

I notice that Bord Fáilte were generous enough in the payment of grants towards An Oige hostels. In Donegal they contributed £6,000, £5,000 and £6,000 respectively. There was a grant of £6,000 for a hostel in Clare, £7,000 for one in Kerry, £2,000 for one in Cork and there was a grant also in respect of a hostel in Mayo. Yet although we are in the heart of the tourist industry we did not qualify for a grant.

[2412] The Minister wrote to us saying he regretted that Bord Fáilte would not agree to the payment of a grant in that particular area but, of course, the Minister knew that the board were wrong but he has not done anything about it. I thought that, perhaps, the situation could be handled in a diplomatic way and that by making further representations we would be facilitated. These representations have not been successful and I do not know whether the appeal I am making here now is too late for any action to be taken but if the Minister can do anything in this matter, I ask him to do so. If we are to act in a rigid and inhuman way in dealing with such matters, we might as well not be here at all. There is no need for such severity.

We must complain about this sort of treatment. Public representatives know the wishes of their people because they are in constant contact with them. A great injustice has been done to the members of An Oige in so far as this hostel is concerned.

I turn now to another document which I notice has been censored and put to one side. Before it saw the light of day this publication should have been edited. I do not know who is responsible for it. Nobody had the courage to put his name to it. I do not know who issued it. The printer had the kindness to put his name to it. —Printcraft Limited, Dublin. Who put all this rigmarole and rubbish, thrash of the first dimension, into this booklet of 33 pages? The hospitality available in the great city and county of Limerick are beyond anything available in the 32 counties of this one-State republic.

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

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Nothing could surpass Limerick for hospitality and good food. In this booklet we find two hotels in Limerick city. One is the Dunraven Arms Hotel, in Adare, which is 12 miles from the city of Limerick, a first-class hotel, well managed, good food. The Minister stayed there during the by-election.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  In good quarters.

[2413]Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  I had the pleasure of having an outing or two there with the Minister during that campaign. The second is the Merryman, 5 Glentworth Street. It is an offshoot of a hotel in Limerick. Where have all the others gone? Were those who found one hotel in Adare and one in Glentworth Street blind or were they like the poor pilot who comes to ground when the navigation gear goes out of place so that they could not find another hotel in the city of Limerick?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Not even an eating house.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  We can all laugh at a joke. I have a sense of humour; I wish others had. It is all very well to laugh but who paid for this publication?

I do not think Roscommon is mentioned at all. The lodging house that used to be near the Shannon long ago was not mentioned. It is no wonder you would withdraw this publication. It is no wonder that it would be guillotined and pole-axed.

While we may laugh at what I have said, we laugh because the publication is so ridiculous and stupid from a board who seem to be divided down along the line. It is like the history of Brain Boru. Coming down from the top five or six you find the fellows at the bottom who are supposed to be doing something and who are doing nothing at all. It is like a family tree. They are well paid. I am not objecting to that if they do their job but they are not doing their job. I have proved it here and will prove it before I conclude my speech.

I want to pay a deserved tribute to our travel agents who, through their own initiative and organisational ability, have organised tours, at their own expense and at their own risk. [2414] These men have done a much better job than Bord Fáilte, as at present constituted, will ever do. These travel agents from Dublin, Cork, Limerick and elsewhere organise package tours with hotel, self-drive car and everything included. Despite what Deputy Flanagan has said about the self-drive car, Deputies have seen the TV advertisements for the last three weeks for 750 cars of last summer season, cars of one year's service only. On the TV last night the number was down to 200. Dan Ryan of Limerick had sold 550 of these cars. They were all 1971 cars. The hire-drive cars that I know of in the city of Limerick are all brand new cars, the cars of the year. They are all 1971 cars that have been sold by Dan Ryan & Company. The travel agents sell off the cars after one season's service.

The travel agents who organise package tours should be subsidised and encouraged to go more often to bring in the tourists that Bord Fáilte have failed to attract. I would ask the Minister to give special consideration to these people. They undertake grave risks. The self-drive car business is as risky as bookmaking: one or two crashes and the agent is in trouble. After paying a £10 deposit the hirer may take the car to the Border or to Dublin or may leave the car at the airport and the agent has to look for the car and he might find it in a ditch or over a wall. It is the travel agents in this business who should get our consideration, not the people sitting in plush offices reading statistics and trying to present a picture that has no reality.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 23rd November, 1972.


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