Tuesday, 13 May 1975
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The provision of service for the gentleman in question involves the erection of half a mile of a new pole route. Attention to the application was not possible because of the heavy volume of urgent engineering work on hands in the general area of which the Deputy is aware. The number of deferred abnormal line work orders in County Galway is approximately 600. Arrears are being overtaken as fast as possible and it is the intention, as far as practicable, to resume clearance of abnormal line work orders in the latter part of this year. It is expected that this case, which is not greatly in excess of the normal limits, will be dealt with by the end of the year.
Mr. Molloy: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he has received a request from Galway County Council regarding the provision of a public telephone kiosk at Doonreaghan, Cashel, Connemara, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: There has been no communication with the local authority but a kiosk could be provided there under guarantee. I am prepared to convey that information to the local authority if the Deputy wishes.
Mr. Lalor: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will indicate the number and location of sub-post offices in County Laois at which call offices have not, so far, been replaced by kiosks; the number and location of offices outside which kiosks will be provided in 1975; and if he will arrange for the provision of such kiosks at Ballaghmore and Kilbricken, County Laois, in the near future.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Call offices in three sub-post offices in County Laois, viz: Ballaghmore, Kilbricken and Oldtown, have not been replaced by kiosks. The use made of the call office telephones is not sufficient to justify provision of kiosks at any of these places in 1975.
Mr. Lalor: Is the Minister aware that one of the reasons telephones in call office stations are not sufficiently used is the lack of privacy? Has the Minister not experience of the fact that where telephone kiosks are erected outside the post office there is a sizeable increase in their usage?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I have no data as to such a sizeable increase but I will make an inquiry as to whether, in fact—I have also heard this claim made—if a kiosk is provided because of the privacy the use goes up. I will have some figures for that and I will provide them to the Deputy if he puts down a general question on that matter.
Mr. Molloy: Would the Minister not consider the use of a telephone kiosk outside a post office would be greater than those in post offices in view of the fact that the post office is not open for public use for 24 hours of the day while a kiosk would be? Does he agree that the public are denied access to the telephone kiosk when it is in the post office?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I should like to put on record the creditable receipts of these call offices for the year ending 31st March: Ballaghmore, £22.19p: Kilbricken, £38.74p and Oldtown, £28.19p. It is clear that those figures would not warrant erecting a kiosk.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: As the House is aware, there is a question of demand and this means that kiosks are provided first in areas where there is demand for that service and only later in areas where there is very little demand. Of course, the same consideration applies to them—of which the House is now well aware— of provision under local authority guarantee and that possibility might be considered by those interested.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: No. It is not for me to indicate what local authorities should or should not do. I am merely indicating that the possibility exists. My Department has to maintain certain priorities and they are the same priorities as have always been maintained, at least for many years.
Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Does the Minister acknowledge the social needs of many areas which have not a sub-post office? Is it the policy of his Department that if there is no post office in a village, even if it is a big one, no kiosk will be erected in spite of the obvious needs of the community? Are the priorities in the Minister's Department financial ones, some of them not soundly based? Are the social needs of our communities being completely disregarded by the Minister?
Mr. C. Murphy: Will the Minister state if it is the policy of his Department to add to the burden of the ratepayers in having county councils provide telephone kiosks at the expense of ratepayers when the emphasis should be on abolishing rates?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I am in some difficulty when argumentative general questions are put as supplementaries to quite precise questions. I am not attempting to tell the Ceann Comhairle his job but I am saying I do not propose to answer that type of question.
 Arrangements are already in train to provide a telephone kiosk at Dermot Hurley estate to cater for the combined Dermot Hurley and Raheen Park areas. It is hoped to have the kiosk in service within the next month or so.
Mr. Hegarty: I should like to compliment the Minister on the speed with which the telephone kiosk was provided at the Dermot Hurley estate as a result of representations received by him. I should like to ask him if he would reconsider the decision with regard to the Raheen Park-Sarsfield Terrace area which is a considerable distance from the Dermot Hurley estate?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: It is my Department's opinion that the provision of more than one kiosk would not be justified in the Dermot Hurley estate-Raheen Park area at present. However, if the use of that kiosk is such as to warrant it, my Department will be prepared to consider an additional kiosk.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The location is to be in the Knockinamore vicinity. It will be erected in about four months provided there is no undue delay in obtaining a suitable site and approval of the local authority.
Mr. Molloy: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will comply with the wishes of the local community at Moycullen, County Galway by arranging for the erection of the new telephone kiosk on the site adjacent to the Garda barracks there.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Twenty-one kiosks have been provided under guarantee. As the information regarding locations is in the form of a tabular statement I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate it with the Official Report.
Co. Carlow: Ballinabranna, Bilboa, Kilbride, Palatine and Rathanna/ Killedmond. Co. Cork: East Hill, Cobh. Co. Kerry: Feoghanagh. Co. Kildare: Johnstown, Kilkea and St. Mary's Park, Leixlip. Co. Laois: Ballyadams, Killeshin, Killesmeestia, Knockaroo, Raheen and Spink. Co. Offaly: Roscomroe. Co. Waterford: Ferrybank, Waterford and Strand Street, Tramore. Co. Wicklow: Askinagap and Fassaroe Park, Bray.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The 21 kiosks were provided in many parts of the country. Under the heading of local authorities guaranteeing the kiosks, I see mentioned Carlow County Council, Cobh UDC, Offaly County Council, Waterford Corporation and Waterford County Council, Wicklow  County Council, Bray UDC, Kerry County Council, Kildare County Council and Laois County Council. Agreements have been signed with local authorities for the provision of kiosks under guarantee at a further 24 locations. The local authorities concerned include Carlow, Donegal, Laois, Tipperary (South Riding), Westmeath and Wicklow County Councils. Deputies will realise that the kiosks have been provided throughout the country. The guarantee system has expanded significantly since January, 1974. Eleven guaranteed kiosks have been provided since then as compared with ten in the period 1953 to the end of 1973.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Service will be provided by temporary means within  the next month. Provision of the line in the normal way involves extensive construction work which cannot be undertaken for a considerable time because of arrears of other work.
Mr. Callanan: I am glad to hear that service will be provided within the next month because the person concerned received a letter from the Department stating it would take 12 months. I take it that the time mentioned by the Minister is correct?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: To provide a service in the normal way, which involves approximately two miles of line work, would mean that the person would be very low down on the priority list. However, an arrangement was worked out whereby he could share a line—he has agreed to this— and he has been quoted terms for the shared line. If the terms are acceptable, service will be provided within about two weeks.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: It is expected that telephone service will be provided before the end of this year for about 300 of the 700 waiting applicants in the estates in the Greenhills and Templeogue areas referred to by the Deputy. It is hoped to meet the balance of the orders during 1976.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: It is expected that service will be provided before the end of this year for about 170 of the 350 waiting applicants in the Firhouse/Knocklyon areas. It is hoped to meet the balance of the orders during 1976.
Mr. MacSharry: The Minister has stated that a telephone will not be provided until next year because additional equipment is required in the exchange. Arising from that reply, I am asking the Minister how long it will take for the provision of the additional equipment.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Because of heavy arrears of construction work in the engineering district concerned, it is unlikely that service for the applicant in question will be provided before October next.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: This is a reason which is and has been, unfortunately, rather normal. Provision of service for the gentleman concerned involves the erection of one-and-three-quarter miles of line work, including one mile of new aerial cable and a quarter mile of new pole route. This is abnormal line work, which is defined as line work exceeding a quarter mile of new pole route and  wire, or its equivalent, from the nearest common pole or cable route to provide service for one applicant. Under present circumstances, which have been prevailing also for some considerable time, other cases which may be dealt with, with less expensive works, take priority.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister will appreciate that there are a number of questions here and there is no record on the question as to which case is being referred to because the name and address is not published.
Mr. Molloy: Is the Minister aware that this applicant employs quite a big number of persons? I understood that his Department was giving priority where the applicant was a substantial employer. The firm in question provides very essential industrial service and gives good employment. It would be a pity if they had to wait that long for installation.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Deputy Molloy, among other Deputies, did make representations to my Department in March and April of this year on behalf of this applicant. He was informed on the 28th April last that the usefulness of a telephone for the firm was fully recognised but that, in view of the extensive construction work which its provision would involve, and the heavy volume of urgent engineering work to which the Department was  committed, it was not possible at that stage to give a reliable forecast as to when that order could be attended to. In the representations the Deputy referred to the large number of men employed and stated that it was essential to the viability of the industry that the gentleman named be in constant contact with customers and employees.
He mentioned also other specific factors which could identify the firm, which I shall not mention here. The firm has telephone service at their office in Athenry and in their depot at Clarenbridge, Galway. There is also a telephone in the residence at Kiltulla of one of the directors. The three telephone numbers are shown together in the telephone directory under the entry for the firm in question, the residence especially indicated in the directory, presumably for incoming calls for the firm when the office and/or depot is closed. Service up to 10 p.m. is available at Kiltulla. In these circumstances, the Department did not consider that extreme hardship would arise by reason of the delay in this case.
Mr. Molloy: Irregular hours are worked due to the nature of the business. It is necessary to be on call for 24 hours of the day. Often very important emergency work is involved. Could I ask the Minister if, in view of this, he would reconsider the decision because the transfer of residence will cause very great difficulty in ensuring the efficient operation of this industry?
Mr. Calleary: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (a) the number of applications received for telephones from the beginning of 1974 to date, (b) the number of outstanding applications and (c) the average length of time taken to install each telephone.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: (a) Approximately 48,000; (b) Approximately 42,000 of which 8,300 are having attention; (c) The average waiting time to date of applications at present on the waiting list is approximately 12 months.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Yes, I think I can. I am glad the Deputy asked the question. The only way of tackling this backlog, as long as the demand continues to rise, is, of course, by stepping up the number of connections. The number of connections made in 1971 to 1972 was 45,000; the number made in 1973 to 1974 was 61,000, which is an increase of 35 per cent. In addition to the increase in connections, there has been a slight diminution in the rising rate of demand with the result that, for the first time, in the first quarter of this year, installations slightly exceed new applications.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The figure for installations for the first quarter of 1975 is 9,000, while the figure for demand in the same quarter is 8,000. Nine thousand represents a higher rate of installation than in 1974.
Mr. Molloy: It is the policy of the Minister's Department to give priority to the installation of telephones where the applicant is from an urban area against an applicant from a rural area? Has this policy been operated in his Department since the commencement of this year and is this reflected in the figures the Minister has quoted which show that applications are being dealt with in the urban areas at the expense of the rural areas where more expense and work is involved?
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: The connections, say, in 1974, in the 01 area that is Dublin, were 13,000 and, in the provinces, 18,000 more. For 1975, first quarter, it was 4,000 in the 01 area and, in the provinces, 5,000. Therefore, I do not agree with the Deputy that there is any favouritism for the urban area over the rural one.
|Ireland||12.75 as at 1st January 1975|
|(12.0 as at 1st January, 1974)|
|Germany (F.R.)||28.73||As at 1st January, 1974|
|Italy||22.86||(Latest available information).|
Mr. Cronin: asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will make a statement on recent reports in the news media to the effect that what appeared to be a policy of non-co-operation was pursued at the London link for telephone calls between Dublin and continental countries on the occasion of the conference of the EEC heads of Government in Dublin; and if he considers that the inability to make telephone calls within a reasonable time reported by visiting journalists tends to damage the reputation abroad of this country and its public institutions including that of his Department.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I am not aware of the reports referred to by the Deputy. Far from any complaint of the kind in question being received by my Department, the visiting journalists commented most favourably on the facilities and quality of telephone service provided at the conference.
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