Thursday, 26 July 1973
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Cooney: Lands available for letting by the Land Commission are normally offered in lots suitable to the requirements of the local smallholders. The general practice up to now has been to let the lands by auction so that all interested parties can have an opportunity of bidding for the lots in which they are interested. I have, however, asked the Land Commission to have another look at the system particularly in relation to the needs of small holders.
Mr. Callanan: Is the Minister aware that it is the policy of the Land Commission to let land by public auction, thereby enabling the well-to-do man to acquire such land? Is there not a  social side to the policy of the Land Commission?
Mr. Cooney: It is the policy of the Land Commission to set these lands by public auction. The reason behind that policy is to ensure that the best price is obtained. However, the policy is not a rigid one and varies from area to area, depending on the estate in question and on the amount of congestion in the area. In many cases estates are split into lots so as to suit smallholders. I am aware personally, that in many areas local smallholders have got together and have taken entire lots of land at a price satisfactory to them, notwithstanding the policy of the Land Commission.
Mr. Leonard: In my constituency it is the inclination of the Land Commission to set lands as a whole and these sometimes comprise as much as 100 acres. It is very rarely that lands are divided into smaller lots. In most cases there is no co-operation with smallholders——
Mr. Leonard: Would the Minister consider this matter seriously so that smallholders might be given the opportunity of taking land offered at auction, and ensure that the Land Commission would decide who should be best entitled to any such land?
Dr. Gibbons: Would the Minister suggest to the Land Commission that in some ways the staff would decide who should be best entitled to those lands and recommend that the lands be let at an economic price? Eventually, the Land Commission must decide on the person to whom land is to be allotted.
Mr. Enright: Can the Minister say whether the Land Commission would be prepared to change the policy which has existed in large measure up to now, that is, the setting of land to the highest bidder so that in future people who, in the ordinary circumstances, would be disqualified by the Land Commission from purchasing land would be prohibited also from obtaining land on the 11-months' system?
Mr. Cooney: Regarding the situation in Monaghan, I would be surprised if it should differ from that which obtains anywhere else in the country and that there would not be co-operation on the part of the Land Commission staff in dealing with any situation which would require a divergence from the official policy. If the Deputy has knowledge of any particular lands which he believes are being set in bulk but which should be set in lots, I have no doubt that the Minister will be sympathetic towards any such case.
Mr. Leonard: I had one case in mind but the estate concerned had been allotted in the meantime. In that case the amount of land concerned was 114 acres and there was a delay in the transfer of the deeds. There was considerable frustration amongst the farmers——
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