Friday, 13 June 1975
Dáil Eireann Debate
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1975, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for expenditure in respect of public buildings; for the maintenance of certain parks and public works; for the execution and maintenance of drainage and other engineering works; for the expenditure arising from damage to the property of External Governments; and for payment of a grant-in-aid.
Mrs. Burke: The main problem in relation to this Estimate in my constituency is drainage. Considerable lip-service has been given to this matter over many years but little or nothing has been done to alleviate the problem.
We heard of cost-benefit analysis and so on from the previous Parliamentary Secretary. It is most unfair to expect farmers in Roscommon to pay rates on land under water for at least five months of the year. Last September, during the unusual flooding, I visited an area in south Roscommon. I was appalled to see hay the farmers thought they had saved drifting away on the Shannon and, at the same time, see pleasure boats cruising upstream. We have our priorities all wrong. I do not object to cruisers but the Office of Public Works, together with the ESB and the Department of Transport and Power—those bodies responsible for maintaining the level of the river  to facilitate tourists—should safeguard the farmers land in these areas. There should be greater co-ordination between them to ensure that sluice gates are open at the proper times in order to prevent a build-up of water which worsens the flooding.
When the economic situation permits, I hope money will be made available to drain not alone the Shannon but other tributaries also, such as the Lung which also affects farmers' land. The Parliamentary Secretary, being from the west, knows how valuable is every acre of land to the farmers in the area. Being a practical man, I am sure he will ensure that funds will be made available for drainage as soon as possible. I do not expect him to do so within a year or two because this problem has been neglected by his predecessors for at least 50 years. The people affected have been very patient but patience can wear out, particularly when people are subjected to such hardship.
Many national schools need to be replaced, to get away from the 19th-century buildings. Our Garda force are doing an excellent job and, with regard to barracks, they deserve the best. I would appeal to the Office of Public Works to expedite demolition of such old buildings and replace them by modern ones, with modern amenities. It seems a pity that a lot of our ancient monuments and ring forts are being lost to the nation through agricultural development. They should be carefully preserved by the Monuments Branch of the Office of Public Works.
Mr. Hussey: I should like to join the previous speaker in extending congratulations to the Minister. I think it is the first time I spoke on this Estimate since his appointment. Indeed, I join with the previous speaker also in hoping that, within the next few years, we shall be congratulating him on the drainage of the Shannon, which constitutes a major problem in the west. My main  grievance speaking on this Estimate is that drainage seems to be the Cinderella of the Office of Public Works. Over the last ten years we discover that the sum of £17 million has been provided for drainage, which is merely a drop in the ocean. Not nearly sufficient money is provided for this very important work. We know drainage is very important, particularly now that agricultural land has become so valuable. I realise the difficulty of the Parliamentary Secretary trying to get money from the Minister for Finance. In that context, I think a Minister should be in charge of this Office, it being such an important one. Perhaps next year the Taoiseach would consider promoting the Parliamentary Secretary. If he did so, I am sure he would be able to get much more money for this important work. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary would agree that he could spend the sum of £17 million in Galway and Mayo, perhaps even in Mayo alone, where there are still important works to be completed, when I am sure the people of Galway would benefit also.
In my part of the constituency, the drainage it is hoped to carry out is tied up with the Suck and the Shannon. We get the same stereotype replies from the Office of Public Works whenever we make representations on drainage in the northern part of County Galway. There is an area extending from Glenamaddy, back into Creggs, Ballinamore Bridge right into the Suck. I refer to the Shivin and Killine Rivers. It is an area with a large number of small farmers dependent solely on the land for their source of income. Most of the year that land is completely flooded. When we make representations on their behalf we are told this river cannot be drained until such time as the Suck is done, and the Suck is tied up with the Shannon. I cannot understand why the Office of Public Works could not clear the main river; even if the silt was taken up from the river, cutting off the branches of trees that have fallen into it to give the watercourse a clear run. I do not think that would involve any  great expenditure. There is no need to enter into the question of cost-benefit analysis or anything like that because everybody living along the banks of those rivers realises the importance of an acre of land and on draining the water off it. Most of the farmers in that area feel that if the main watercourse was cleared it would ease the situation, it would abolish flooding and, in turn, they could organise schemes under the land project. They have applied to undertake a major scheme in that area but again the question of cost-benefit analysis arises. I am informed by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and his Department that it is doubtful that that scheme will be done unless a grant is made available by him. I know it is not the Parliamentary Secretary's field but I mention it merely in passing. It is an area of contention; if you like, it is a depressed area and one about which we should be very concerned. A lot of time is spent on this question of cost-benefit analysis. I do not know who was the genius who introduced this into the Office of Public Works. I know it was not the Parliamentary Secretary. Far too much time is wasted on it. Schemes are held up for years until such time as the results of these cost-benefit analyses are made known and then a decision is taken as to whether a scheme is justified. All of the major rivers to be cleaned, particularly in the west—I have mentioned the Shivin, the Killine, the Suck; the Dunkellin is another—have been held up for the same reason.
Anybody who knows the farmers in that area will realise that any money spent on drainage there is money well spent. The Board of Works, without any cost-benefit analysis, could proceed with the drainage of these rivers, clear the main course and then ensure that every farmer would reclaim his own parcel of land. He could get grants for that from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries under the land project scheme. At a time when farmers are crying out for extra land in order to qualify as development farmers we should not have acres and acres of land in the west of Ireland  still waterlogged. Particularly when travelling by train you can see the difference in the land when you cross the Shannon; you see the rushes and furze. There seems no hope of doing anything with it unless the main water courses are cleared. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to devote a major part of his time to this problem. He comes from the area concerned and he knows the problem and I am sure he is sympathetic. It is important to introduce a little common sense into these matters. The officials, perhaps, are doing the best they can but one should not always be said and led by them because the man on the spot who has been born and reared in the area realises the importance of land. Much of the time spent on the cost-benefit analysis is badly spent because there is no need for it.
As regards schools, more co-operation is needed between the Office of Public Works and the Department of Education. We still have a large number of dilapidated schools. The Department of Education should inform the Board of Works well in advance about where they intend to build schools in the next five years or ten years and state the type of school whether comprehensive, whether large or small. There should be more co-operation in this field between these two bodies. The old schools should be demolished as soon as possible because they are not fit to have children and teachers confined in them for long periods. I hope that in the next few years we shall be rid of many such schools.
Mr. Calleary: Probably no Department has such a wide range of activities as the Office of Public Works. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke of a great variety of projects ranging from very large harbour works to maintenance of parks and gardens. The skills and talents of officials and members of the Board of  Works are probably much wider than in any other Department. Where we have had major drainage schemes the effect that those drafted into the area have had on the life of the area is tremendous in many cases. Ballina has been left some very good legacies by the officials, engineers and tradesmen who came to the area for the Moy drainage scheme. I believe that applies to any drainage area. One of the first chairmen of the association for the mentally handicapped in Ballina was an Office of Public Works engineer. Others, by their interest in community work, left very tangible results of their stay in the Ballina area.
The Parliamentary Secretary is a new broom and I would ask him to examine the function of the Board of Works, analyse it and see if its talents and expertise are being properly directed and used. It is time to see if wastage of effort can be eliminated, time to redefine—or, perhaps, define —the role of the Board of Works. I note that the Parliamentary Secretary said at the end of his speech that the Office of Public Works would be responsible for the expenditure of approximately £35 million this year. Yet, its own Estimate is only slightly more than half that. If you take into account the fact that its engineers, its officers, its architects and experts are involved in a good deal of design and planning in other Departments one can see the tremendous stress there is on it. Quite bluntly, much of the design work done for other Departments is abortive. One has only to go back on the number of projects which it receives from, say, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and see the toing and froing that goes on between the Department and the Office of Public Works about the types of piers and slips that are to be designed to realise how much very precious time and talent is wasted. It is only when the various Departments have finally decided on what they want done that a specific brief should be given to the Office of Public Works. This would put an end to the practice of some Departments of using the  Office of Public Works as a whipping boy. When one makes representations about delay in regard to work on schools or piers the Office of Public Works is cited as the cause of the delay.
I have a number of specific cases in mind, notably a new school for Swinford and the erection of a pier for fishermen at Kilcummin. The blame for the delay in regard to these projects is being laid at the door of the Office of Public Works although to my knowledge the office is not to blame.
It has happened all too often that schemes have been rejected as being too costly and smaller schemes have been substituted. As a result of representations and pressure being brought to bear, additions are made to the smaller schemes and the final cost is greater than the estimated cost of the original scheme and the finished product is less suitable.
I know the Parliamentary Secretary's hands are tied but I would ask him to consult the Departments and to arrange that a scheme submitted by, say, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would be carried out in sections over a number of years. I specifically refer to Killala. The cost of the scheme there was roughly £28,000. It has escalated to £128,000. If we in Killala had known that money was available at that time we would have looked for something completely different. We would have asked that the pier be extended 600 to 700 yards out as far as Inch. That would have obviated the necessity for dredging and would have provided, admittedly inside a bar, 30 ft of water at any stage of the tide, which would be much better than the situation which now obtains.
If I may be parochial for a few moments and ask the Parliamentary Secretary's indulgence, I would refer again to Kilcummin. I have suggested already that the Office of Public Works has been blamed for the delay. In March, 1973, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were represented at a meeting held in Kilcummin. The fishermen were objecting to  a proposal which had been prepared by the Office of Public Works on the instructions of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The proposal was for the provision of a slip and some ancillary works. The fishermen quite rightly said that they wanted a pier, not a slip. The pier would allow them to land at any stage of the tide. At present the fishermen have to wait out until such time as the tide is suitable, in a bay in which over 20 persons have been drowned in the last number of years, a bay that is subject to sudden swells.
The Parliamentary Secretary was good enough to come to meet the fishermen there. Now the fishermen are asking what is the position. Three to four weeks ago with some of the representatives I met the Parliamentary Secretary here. At that stage we were awaiting a report from the Office of Public Works. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, who knows the location and is fully aware of the facts, to expedite the report.
Mr. Calleary: I thank the Parliamentary Secretary. The Parliamentary Secretary mentioned coast erosion in that area. I realise his difficulty in regard to this scheme. It was for that reason that I asked Mayo County Council to do part of the scheme. The Parliamentary Secretary has been on  the site with me and knows the problems. There are six or seven houses threatened by the sea. He knows that the seawater coming in the back door has met water that is coming in the front door in at least one or two of these houses. The Parliamentary Secretary also knows that in certain conditions of tide and wind this will always happen.
I welcome the provision in regard to the work at Enniscrone. I hope the work will begin as soon a possible because Enniscrone is a second home for many people from Ballina. All of us are concerned about the erosion that is taking place there.
Sometime ago I mentioned Killala pier. I have been approached by fishermen there with a view to having maintenance work carried out in the channel. I understand that the pier has not yet been taken over by Mayo County Council. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to arrange to have the mud that is beginning to accumulate in portion of the channel removed.
Mr. Calleary: In the channel from Killala to Inch. I would also ask him, in his dual capacity as Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Office of Public Works and as a member of Mayo County Council to expedite discussion between his officials and the county engineer in relation to the work that remains to be done at Killala.
There are a number of people who were employed for a long time by the Office of Public Works on the Moy drainage who are awaiting gratuities. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to endeavour to ensure that these gratuities can be paid as soon as possible. I shall give him specific names, if he wishes.
I would ask him, also, to treat sympathetically claims that are coming in late. Admittedly, these are arriving after the statutory date but they are being made in good faith because the people concerned were not aware of there being a closing date. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary has dealt  with some of these claims and I trust he will act similarly in respect of others.
I am glad to notice that work has commenced on the Garda station at Kilkelly. A few weeks ago the Parliamentary Secretary was approached about a site for a Garda station at Kiltimagh. Also, I have been in correspondence with him on this matter. There is an urgency involved here because the building occupied presently by the Garda is the property of the Western Health Board but was formerly the property of Mayo County Council. It was a small cottage hospital and it is needed now as a welfare home. It will be used in this capacity as soon as the Garda have been provided with adequate and up-to-date accommodation. A number of sites have been inspected by the Office of Public Works but there has been no decision so far. It the Parliamentary Secretary wishes I can let him have details of sites that could be considered but I expect that the Kiltimagh community council have been in touch with him already in this regard.
Mr. Calleary: For some time past, and going back to the time before the Parliamentary Secretary took office, there has been considerable agitation in Ballina in relation to silt which has been deposited between the upper bridge and the Bunree bridge as a result of the Moy drainage scheme. Regardless of what officials of the Department may say I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that these silt deposits have resulted from the drainage operations. They were not there before this work was carried out. I am referring to an area of approximately 500 yards on both banks of the river and extending down to the quay village.
Mr. Calleary: The effect of this situation is that places which the Moy fisheries used for dragging cannot now be walked on. The Office of Public Works have denied responsibility for this but there are photographs  available to prove what I am saying. I have written to the Parliamentary Secretary in this regard, as have Ballina Chamber of Commerce. Some time ago there was considerable flooding in Ballina after a prolonged period of rain. During the course of the Moy drainage operations the Office of Public Works constructed an overflow but at certain times this is not adequate to carry the water. I am not saying it is responsible for the flooding. The Parliamentary Secretary was good enough to ring the man in charge of the maintenance work on the Moy drainage but I would ask him to pursue the question of taking some remedial action in this case.
I mentioned earlier that very often the Office of Public Works are blamed by the various parties for causing delays. In this regard I understand that the Department of Education are awaiting designs in respect of a boys' national school at Swinford. A site has been bought and prepared but a new plan is required. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will endeavour to have the matter expedited.
Most Deputies from the west refer to arterial drainage. In this regard we might tidy up the Arterial Drainage Act so as to enable it to comply with present day standards. This might avoid some of the very long delays that occur.
Much has been said regarding cost/ benefit analysis. Unfortunately, I was not here during Deputy Mrs. Burke's contribution but I was listening to Deputy Hussey and I would have to agree with the points he made. If we were to have a reappraisal of main  drainage and if we were to do less than has been done in respect of major jobs in the past, much of the flooding that is the bane of farmers in the west could be alleviated. I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary has commented on the Corrib-Mask region and I hope that the cost/ benefit analysis in this case will be ready shortly. I hope, too, that work will commence on the scheme in the near future. It is very disheartening for farmers to have half their acreage under water. When the water recedes the farmers manure the land and it is very discouraging when a flash flood literally washes it away. Because of improper drainage hundreds of pounds are thrown away.
The Lung River is also causing concern. About a year-and-a-half ago I attended a meeting in Ballaghaderreen and an opinion was expressed that something less than a major job would meet the situation. A survey should be carried out with that in mind—not the usual survey for the arterial drainage works but one that would take into account some of the areas that are causing the flooding. The local farmers and the Lung Drainage Committee could show an inspector the sections that are causing most of the flooding.
There has been considerable debate in the Ballina area with regard to the abstraction of water from Loughs Conn and Cullin. The level of the lake was set by the Moy drainage scheme and, while I am satisfied that any water taken for Asahy and other areas by Mayo County Council will not materially affect the level of the lake, I would ask the Office of Public Works to request the resident engineer on the Moy drainage scheme to ensure that the level remains as it is now. This should be done in co-operation with the local authority. I know the Parliamentary Secretary can do nothing about the fine weather we have had and that it is inevitable that a certain amount of water will evaporate but perhaps he would ensure that the Office of Public Works have periodic consultations with the local authority on this matter.
Some time ago the Parliamentary  Secretary told me that although plans had been prepared for reconstruction work at Creevagh national school he could not go ahead because he had not consent from the Department of Education. The parents in the area have asked that the school remains open and I understand the Minister is considering changing his mind. It that happens and if the school remains open I would ask that the necessary repairs be carried out as a matter of urgency.
In common with Deputy Hussey and others I am glad to see that work will continue to be carried out on the preservation of national monuments. We owe it to the people who will come after us to ensure that the best examples of the work carried out by our craftsmen remain in good condition. I do not know if the following matter comes within the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Secretary but if it does I would ask him to consider seriously placing preservation orders on the “digs” at Ballyglass, Ballycastle, and at Kilbride, Ballyconlon. The sites have yielded a considerable amount of data.
I am glad to see that the Ballyhaunis exchange is to be improved and I hope that the money provided for this year will be spent as quickly as possible. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to ensure that the Office of Public Works co-operate fully with the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards so that their expertise can be used to help solve some of the problems the Office of Public Works have to meet. I make this comment from personal experience. I refer to the water pollution problem at Behy national school. Apparently the Office of Public Works were unable to advise the manager on the steps to be taken. I know there was some reason because they were waiting to get work done in relation to water pollution at a Garda station in the midlands and some place in Wales was involved in this matter. The Institute for Industrial Research and Standards can give us the benefit of their expertise and if a problem similar to the one at Behy recurs the local architect should refer it specifically to the institute.
Mr. Calleary: One of my family had an unhappy experience as a result of what happened at Behy. Frankly there could have been an outbreak of typhoid because of the length of time the matter was allowed to hang fire.
Some time ago a proposal was made by the Killala Development Association to put two floors in the Round Tower in Killala. That matter was dropped but it may come before the Parliamentary Secretary again and I would ask him to give it sympathetic consideration. The tower is in a good state of preservation.
I am glad to see that the Department of Lands have finally moved to Castlebar. On behalf of the people of Mayo, I should like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his work in this respect and also the former Minister for Lands, Mr. Moran, for the part he played. We are lucky in having two people committed to decentralisation. It is interesting to note in a report out this morning that the opinion is that more decentralisation can do almost as much for an area as the establishment of new factories.
Mr. Calleary: The present Administration might continue the start made by the previous Government. I am glad the Board of Works have decided to put in a treatment sewerage plant in Muckross Castle. It is most important to preserve our clean waters and I hope this lead will be followed by other Government Departments. I also hope this is only a beginning and that this policy will be extended to many other areas. This type of treatment can be expensive but it would probably be a great deal more expensive in the future if we had to correct the pollution that will occur if such plants are not installed.
A number of speakers commented on the facilities, or lack of them, here in Leinster House. The Parliamentary Secretary said the problem is not easy of solution. The central heating appears to have some kind of devil in it. It always seems to be too hot and  one is inclined to take off one's coat for the sake of comfort, but that should not be really necessary. It is not the answer. Perhaps during the Summer Recess, if we have any, and the way things are going, the prospect does not look too bright——
Mr. Calleary: ——some overhaul of the central heating system could be carried out and an effort made to ensure proper control. I am glad there is provision for improving facilities for the Garda. Areas where the Garda are occupying very poor buildings should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. They should have the conditions a trade union would normally insist on for its members.
The policy of creating national parks is continuing. People now have more leisure and therefore more time for recreation. The Government lost a real opportunity in not acquiring Fota for the people of Cork and citizens generally. I can say this without being accused of self-interest. The amount required for its acquisition would have been pretty big but an opportunity like that will not present itself again. I am remote from the area and I cannot now be accused of being parochial. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would consider extending this policy of creating public parks to areas like Galway and Sligo. There are many fine places in the vicinity of both which could be acquired by the State for the benefit of the local people and, indeed, of the country as a whole.
There has been a good deal of controversy over the proposed concert hall. I think it is unwise to site it in Earlsfort Terrace. Quite a number of experts believe conversion will not be suitable. The money being spent on conversion would be better spent on the erection of a proper hall.
I hope, to use the Parliamentary Secretary's words, the Government do intend to do all they can to promote employment. Unemployment is one of our major ills. The schemes set out  under this Estimate could help to alleviate unemployment.
Finally, I should like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his courtesy and co-operation and to thank, through him, the officials of the Office of Public Works for their courtesy and help. A great deal of good work is being done.
Mr. Noonan: I should like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his very efficient handling of his office and for the courtesy he invariably extends to Deputies, deputations and the public generally at all times. If the example he sets were followed by some of his colleagues in Government that would make for far happier relations. I should also like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his very detailed knowledge of the working of the Office of Public Works and for his detailed knowledge of the countryside. Last Wednesday I was a member of a deputation to him and it was most encouraging to hear him talk about areas in County Limerick, areas the deputation were involved in and realise the knowledge he had of their problems. I take it he has made an in-depth study of the work of his Department.
There are however certain aspects of this Estimate on which I must take issue. One must approach it in the light of the Government thinking on inflation and what they have done about it. They tell us often enough that increases in the cost of living and unemployment are caused to a large extent by outside influences. Government Ministers tell us that 40 per cent of our problems are caused by outside influences. Therefore I must look at this Estimate in the light of those claims. This Estimate affects a large area where the Government can influence unemployment but one is shocked to see the irresponsibility displayed in the setting of priorities.
I am the very last person who would criticise expenditure on historical buildings, library facilities and work of a general restoration nature, but in a time of crisis such as we have at the moment we must have our  priorities right. We all agree that money is scarce. We also agree that, where we can have an influence on the causes of our present troubles, we must watch where every penny is spent. It must be spent where the greatest financial return can be gained and also where the money spent can benefit the people.
It is astonishing the amount of money which is spent on projects which are not of the greatest importance. In the Parliamentary Secretary's speech we notice items such as the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park, item 37, restoration of the picture gallery wing of Kilkenny Castle; item 39, proposals for a golf course at Island-bridge in the Phoenix Park extension; items 50 to 58, new works on certain national monuments; item 50, the visitors centre at Dunmore Cave, County Kilkenny; item 52, an unusual project jointly sponsored by Bord Fáilte and the Office of Public Works, where it is proposed to provide at Cahir Castle an exhibition centre devoted to the cultural and physical heritage of our people; item 53, the visitors' centre at the Rock of Cashel and item 58, the restoration of the casino at Marino.
I have no doubt that from a cultural standpoint these are all laudable projects, but when we are experiencing such great difficulties can they possibly be called projects of the highest priority? The attitude of the Government in regard to their priorities in this Vote shows a great sense of irresponsibility. It can only be called fiscal lunacy.
There are two things which strike me very forcibly in this Estimate. I have the honour to represent an area made up of new building developments and farming country. I see very little for the people I represent. I am not talking of the Limerick area alone, although I have a few things to say to the Parliamentary Secretary so far as that area is concerned, but I am talking generally about such areas throughout the country.
Early on in the Parliamentary Secretary's Estimate speech we come  across the idea of having amenities to provide recreation and pleasure for the limited few, or the in-group. In my dual capacity as a county councillor and a Dáil Deputy, in my own area I come across the problem of providing amenities for people in newly built-up areas. For years we have decried the bad planning which has led to slums being created. Very little thought was given to the provision of recreational facilities. The idea was to get as many buildings into as small an area as possible. No consideration was given to the finer things of life. There was no planning to meet recreational problems in the free time which has now become available with shorter working hours. The Office of Public Works should involve themselves more deeply in providing facilities in housing schemes.
People who apply for planning permission must leave at least 10 per cent of the ground as an open space. There are many ways of getting around that. Nobody can be ordered to give land for larger recreational spaces. No provision is made for playing pitches and running tracks. These areas are far too large for the local authorities to develop them. The Office of Public Works should interest themselves more deeply in this type of basic amenity. Naturally I do not put this forward as a profit-making exercise but the benefit which would accrue if people could live happier and more contented lives is immeasurable. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider these ideas and these suggestions very carefully.
I am very interested in the provision of a Garda station in Limerick city. Limerick city is not in my constituency but many of the gardaí who are working in the present building in Limerick live in my constituency and therefore they are my electors. The gardaí in our area are expected to work without complaint in very bad buildings. They are not in a position to strike. Their sense of duty prevents them from taking industrial action and, therefore, it is easy for the Government to forget them.
 On page 12 of this document, on items 69 and 70, in the third paragraph I see that work on the new divisional headquarters in Limerick city is well under way and considerable progress is expected this year. The building, which is on the site of the former St. Munchin's College, will accommodate over 120 personnel. That is virtually all we hear about our Garda station in Limerick. Let me give the House some of the background to this. The Garda in Limerick have worked and lived in a building which might be described as second-class stable accommodation. They have complained.
Mr. Noonan: Fianna Fáil, when in Government, planned to build a new divisional headquarters with all possible speed. But, as in so many other situations pertaining to this Government, all we have got from them is promises. It is true the land is now acquired for a divisional headquarters and that the work is going ahead, but at what speed I would ask?
Mr. Noonan: I have always spoken the truth and will continue to speak the truth, as Deputy Coughlan well knows. I do not think it is fair that these gardaí, many of whom are constituents of mine, should have such  sizeable working problems as they have at present. I have inspected the building which they occupy in William Street and it is unfit for its present use. They should not have to work in such cramped and dirty conditions. The Parliamentary Secretary does not give us a reasonable forecast as to the date for the completion of this building. I would ask him to consider the question of the completion of the new Garda divisional headquarters in Limerick city.
Mr. Noonan: It does not matter what the pressure was. The ball was placed. That is sufficient. In view of this grossly unjust situation I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give us an accurate forecast of the completion date for this building and  an indication of what priority he places on its completion.
I am well aware that that is not the only area where the gardaí work in bad conditions, but it is certainly the area where the largest number of gardaí suffer in one building. There are other places in Limerick where, by and large, there has been no great improvement in Garda stations. I would refer the Parliamentary Secretary to the conditions in the Garda station in Kilmallock, and to the Garda station in Bruff which, although it is not in my constituency, is in my home parish. Giving credit where credit is due, I want to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary for the very fine job he did in regard to the building of the Garda station at Croom.
Mr. Noonan: I should like to refer to another area that again is very close to my home and which is treated with only a passing mention in the allocations of money provided for arterial drainage. The allocation here is very low. Here is an area where an investment for farmers in the drainage of agricultural land would unquestionably  show an enormous profit both to the people and to the country. This is a country famous for rich agricultural land but we fail to use it to its full potential. One of the necessary works which must precede the use of this land is drainage in all its forms, but particularly arterial drainage. I wish to quote what the Parliamentary Secretary says in relation to Items 83 to 107:
On the subject of arterial drainage, I am glad the Maigue drainage scheme is under way and I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to give the necessary finance so that the scheme can be continued and completed in the shortest possible time. I have already indicated that the benefits from this scheme will be enormous in so far as realisation of the full potential of agricultural land is concerned.
Under subhead G.1, £70,000 is being provided for hydrometric studies which precede arterial drainage. That amount at today's spending value on such works is very low. Under subhead G.2, the allocation for drainage works in progress is £1,720 million, an increase of more than 25 per cent on the previous year. That looks dramatic in terms of money until one remembers that because of Government mismanagement general costs have risen by that percentage. Therefore, instead of progressing in relation to arterial drainage, we have taken a step backwards. We have to juxtapose this very necessary and urgent work with the very laudable provision of money for cultural works.
Under subhead G.3, we learn that the cost of drainage maintenance is recoverable from county councils and is brought to credit as an appropriation-in-aid. This has been a bone of contention not only in the Limerick County Council but in county councils throughout the country. It will cost the Limerick County Council 45p in  the £ to maintain drainage schemes in their area, and on top of that, county council engineering staffs have not the slightest say in how this money for maintenance is to be spent.
I appreciate that it is not proper on an Estimate to suggest amendments to the Act, but I suggest this money should be provided by the Exchequer rather than from local funds. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary, therefore, to consider such an amendment, with others I have mentioned, to the 1945 Arterial Drainage Act if and when he brings in an amending Bill. County councils are already working under extreme stress without having to provide large sums for work which should be regarded as a national priority, a national need. Drainage maintenance is essential for our agricultural economy and it should be financed nationally. I am sorry to say that the Office of Public Works have been displaying a rather flippant attitude to their responsibilities. They have been neglecting priorities and have been rather inflexible in their approach to drainage problems throughout the country.
The Parliamentary Secretary received a deputation from my area on Wednesday and a case was made to him in regard to problems in Foynes, Abbeyfeale and other areas in west Limerick. We tried to get a way around the Act in order to solve the severe problems suffered by the people in those areas. It was pointed out to us that there is no national or county source to which these people could apply for redress. It is a matter in respect of which the Office of Public Works should provide short-term solutions. They should go into such areas and do maintenance jobs which to them might seem minor but which are major issues as far as the local people are concerned. If the Parliamentary Secretary is considering amending the 1945 Act this is another matter he should think about.
Although Limerick city is not in my area it is my nearest shopping centre. If any Government Departments or State-sponsored bodies are considering decentralisation, Limerick  city is the ideal spot. We have the space, office accommodation, sporting, educational and other facilities. We are adjacent to a major airport. Limerick city will give these Departments a ceád míle fáilte. Everybody knows that Dublin is top heavy. The Government should spread their offices, facilities and people all over the country. A start was made in the west and, perhaps, the next place will be Limerick.
Mr. Lemass: As Deputies are no doubt aware, I have been ill and my doctor gave me permission to come here today to make my contribution to this Estimate. It the Parliamentary Secretary will forgive the green eye of the little yellow god I will make my contribution.
Unfortunately, as this is a limited debate, the nice things I will be saying about the Parliamentary Secretary will be the first to suffer. My notes were made in a hurry and if I seem to be hopping backwards and forwards, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will bear with me. He has been in office long enough to know that the standard of living is very important, but the standards by which we live are far more important. The Office of Public Works makes a very important contribution to this concept.
When I see things like national parks being used for purposes for which they were not intended I not unnaturally worry. The Phoenix Park is owned by the State. It is not a possession of the Dublin Corporation, yet it provides a major road link from Islandbridge to Castleknock and from Islandbridge to Cabra Gate. If the Park authorities decided to close these roads to through traffic, the corporation's lack of proper road planning would be very seriously exposed. Indeed, the misplanning of the roadways by the Dublin Corporation is further exposed by their decision to interfere with the first national golf course on land that cannot be economically developed as football pitches because of the steep gradients. If the corporation encroach on this land,  they should provide at least for the expense of a footbridge across the Liffey so that the Office of Public Works land on the north side could be incorporated into the proposed golf course. The reason why that land was not incorporated in the plans which were in operation when the Parliamentary Secretary took office was that the cost of the footbridge would have been very high and we found we could manage without it, even though it shortened the course.
There is also a system in Germany which may be able to shore up this proposed motorway from Sarsfield Road to Lucan without encroaching upon as much land as is now planned. The Parliamentary Secretary should appeal to the Minister for Local Government because the corporation have not compulsory purchase rights over any State-owned property without the consent of the Minister for Local Government. I understand the Minister has given that consent, probably without consultation with the Parliamentary Secretary. It is a shame to see such parks as the Phoenix Park being used as major highways when they were intended as places of recreation for visitors and the people of our city.
I was also concerned when I heard that the Parliamentary Secretary would succumb to pressure by the Muckross House Committee. I was in Killarney not too long ago and I heard a rumour that a form of commercialisation will be allowed there which I, when in office, resisted. I hope the rumour is not correct. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply will assure me that it was false. I went to look at the Blue Pool and a magnificent job has been done restoring it. It is a delight to see the clear water and the nature trail gave tremendous pleasure. That work had been agreed to by the previous Administration but it had been carried out by the present Administration. The thinning out of the trees at the car parks behind the Muckross Hotel is very helpful, although I think a few more might have been taken down. Although this has nothing to do with the Parliamentary Secretary, the view  has been greatly improved since the Europa Hotel decided to paint the roofs of their chalets green. They no longer stick out like a sore thumb.
As this was Office of Public Works land, the planting of trees was allowed only at a time when it was necessary to get people back to work. In our urgency we can be accused of bad planning because we allowed commercial trees to be planted in our nature spots. I was very pleased with the work that had been done in Killarney. The waterfall at Torc to which the Parliamentary Secretary refers in his brief will fit in very well. The water is supplied by gravity. It was very well concealed by the builder, who has taken a very personal interest in it to ensure that this construction will be a tribute to his good taste. I am sure it will be, although it was not finished when I was there. If it is to be finished as I saw it, there is no doubt that this builder will be sought after by people who have permission to build in any of the amenity areas around there. You can get planning permission in a very few places, but the odd one comes up from time to time.
I am concerned about the Kenmare estate. The Parliamentary Secretary did not refer to it. This land was taken over about two and a half years ago and there is a building on it. I should like to know how it is being incorporated in the national park. What are the proposals for the house? Could it be developed as a holiday residence for the President or the Taoiseach, or a residence for foreign statesmen visiting here? Could it be developed as a national museum as distinct from the folk museum we have in Muckross House? It would be a pity if this very valuable land which was acquired at a reasonable price, according to going values, should be allowed to lie there and not be properly developed.
When I read the Parliamentary Secretary's statement it struck me that I could have made the very same speech three years ago. This indicates to me that very little has been done. This may not be the fault of the Parliamentary Secretary. I imagine it would be difficult to work under the Minister for Finance since I doubt that he would  understand the problems of park development. In times of economic strain the Office of Public Works are the first to be cut financially. The 25 per cent referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary just meets inflation. Even if it does meet inflation, there should be more evidence of activity. There is very little in the Parliamentary Secretary's statement that is new or was not sanctioned by the previous Administration.
We tried an experiment towards the end of my term of office. We had complaints about the conditions of the Garda barracks and stations throughout the country. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary is still hearing those complaints. There were so many substandard Garda buildings that nobody was satisfied with the progress the Office of Public Works were making in replacing them. The Commissioners came up with the idea of consulting with the various system builders. We ordered six or eight identical system-built barracks simultaneously and we saved money and got them up quickly. I have heard of complaints from the general public about this type of structure, but I have heard no complaints from the Garda authorities or from the gardaí themselves. They all seem very pleased with this new accommodation. I wonder would the Parliamentary Secretary consider providing more of these system-built stations, because they save money and speed up matters?
The proposed new building in the Dublin metropolitan area seems to be taking a very long time to get under way. I should like to see work started on that site pretty soon. In the Dublin metropolitan area, in Dublin Castle and other places, the Garda have serious grievances about the accommodation available to them. As I said, there may have been some complaints about the system-built barracks by the public but there were no complaints from the Garda. In this case there are complaints by the public and by the Garda. This discontent about the accommodation would be minimised if the actual physical work were seen to have started on the site. I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary to speed up this work to the best of his ability.
 I assume that the code which was introduced for the disabled will apply to these new buildings. I should like to know how it has been working out. The intention was that every once in a while the code would be examined and amended if necessary. I should like to know if the Parliamentary Secretary or the Commissioners have been in touch with the Wheelchair Association, or other voluntary bodies of that nature, to find out where and how this code might be improved. The Parliamentary Secretary could do this on his own. He does not have to come before the House in relation to it. He should consult the appropriate bodies to see if they are satisfied with how the code is working. If they are anxious for improvements or changes, he should have them examined and make them where he finds them desirable. This matter was neglected for a long time. Whether the code is suitable and whether more physical work should be carried out in providing ramps or special toilets in existing public buildings should be examined.
It is nice to know that the 57 acres at Tara are in the possession of the State. I realise the Parliamentary Secretary and the Commissioners have a very difficult problem here. Even the little notices which were put up to identify where the great hall was, and where this that or the other was, had been knocked down and destroyed by vandals the last time I was there. There may be some way in which this type of vandalism can be prevented.
I realise that no development can take place to improve or reconstruct some of the former buildings until an archaeological survey has been carried out. That place will have to be surveyed over a long number of years. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary could tell me what plans he has for such a survey. I assume there will be one. When this survey gets under way, I would be happy were it done in sections, so that, at no time, would the entire 57 acres be closed to the general public. I know many of the archaeologists would like to fence it all in and have it to themselves for  the next 15 or 20 years, but that would be a selfish attitude. Were the survey carried out in stages there might be a lot to be learned about our heritage. Probably a lot of very valuable artifacts would be found and, as in Newgrange, we might discover that 6,000 years ago man did not hunt for food but for pleasure. We found that he ate grain, no sugar, and, therefore, had no cavities in his teeth; that he had pigs, goats, cattle and sheep. All of that was discovered by the survey carried out there and which, as far as I am aware, is still in progress.
I do not think an explanation has been advanced yet—if it has I should like to know—as to why at a certain time on a certain day the sun shines in on the main urn. Apparently, there is some reason for that but the last time I made inquiries there was still a lot of speculation about it and different theories being advanced.
Mr. Kenny: I am certain the Deputy does not expect the Office of Public Works to elucidate that problem which has puzzled every archaeological expert not alone here but in the world. They can only guess; I have my theory but I shall not disclose it.
Mr. Lemass: They could not come up with an answer for me when I was there and I have been curious about it ever since. I formed a theory also, but I am not an expert. It is encouraging to note that the work on Newgrange is progressing. I do not know whether they have yet figured out the pattern of the outer stones. But all the stones are there and no doubt, in this computerised age, they will be able to ascertain whether they were as in Asia or in zig-zags, as in other parts of Europe. All of these stones must be counted, measured and put back exactly as they were 6,000 years ago. I do not envy these people but they are dedicated and I am quite sure they will figure it out to everybody's satisfaction.
One matter which has concerned me for a considerable time is the future of Beggars' Bush barracks. It was decided that a memorial concert hall would  be built there. Then there was rethinking with regard to expenditure, money shortage and so on and it was felt the expenditure of money on this project while people needed housing and so on was not justified. As we now know, the development never took place. This must be one of the most valuable sites in the city of Dublin. There is one office block constructed on it, which would not have interfered with the prospective concert hall. The neglect of this site for so many years is close on sacrilege. It is reasonable to argue that, with the rate of inflation of land, it is holding its value but we have no guarantee that land will continue to inflate at the same rate as the economy when people will have less money to spend. Perhaps the Office of Public Works might sell Beggars' Bush to Dublin Corporation for a mixed development—housing, perhaps a swimming pool and some shops. Perhaps they could use it for the construction of Government offices, although it seems somewhat too far out and valuable for that purpose. Or perhaps they could sell it commercially at a profit and devote the funds to some other useful purpose within the Office of Public Works. If the Parliamentary Secretary could give me any idea of what he intends doing about the Beggars' Bush site, I should be most appreciative because it is time some decisions were taken in regard thereto. I doubt very much if I would find fault with whatever might be done with it but I do find fault with its being left idle.
Another matter of concern to me is that, before I left that office, except for the crossing of a few “t's” and the dotting a few “i's”, there was a Bill prepared by the Minister for Transport and Power to take charge of the Grand Canal. The only matter not finalised was that the Office of Public Works did not want the Royal Canal, the corporation did. I think a little of the Royal Canal was thought to be useful, a link somewhere down the country. That Bill was almost ready for introduction in this House at that time. Indeed, it would have been introduced before the change of Government but for the fact that we were  endeavouring to satisfy the National Trust and other such people, indeed endeavouring to get agreement about it within the House here as well as with the voluntary bodies. But it seems merely to be collecting dust ever since. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would agitate with the Minister for Transport and Power to resurrect that Bill, remove the dust and finalise it. Indeed, some of the canal preservation people are losing confidence in the Office of Public Works. They have started to think that perhaps they would get a better deal from CIE than from the Office of Public Works because if they take that long to introduce a Bill, God knows how long it would take them to clean up the canal. If the Bill is to be allowed die a natural death, that should be said and we should know exactly where we stand.
There is another Act administered by the Office of Public Works which caused me great concern when it was my responsibility. I am sure it causes concern to the Parliamentary Secretary. I am sure the boys in Merrion Street are as happy as Larry because that Bill is on the Statute Book. I speak of the Coast Protection Act which I imagine is the most cumbersome legislation we will ever have had before this House. This very cumbersome Bill is discouraging to the local authority, in the first instance. Even if one makes a proposal to the Parliamentary Secretary, his office is so short-staffed of engineers experienced in this type of work that it takes months and sometimes years before the engineers go down to investigate the local authority proposal and decide what sort of priority it should be given. In the meantime, the coast is being eroded; houses are falling into the sea; I believe there is danger of half a village in Kerry going into the sea in the next few years. Golf courses are being eaten away; they get smaller every year in Bundoran and there are, I think, three holes off the golf course in Donegal. Unless we protect it, this is land we cannot retrieve. Therefore, I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary to have this Bill redrafted and  brought before the House so that work on coast protection can be carried out with reasonable speed and without too much of the red tape required under present provisions.
I am sorry that, in effect, a programme which had been started by Fianna Fáil is being utilised to reduce the amount of arterial drainage being done. The purpose of introducing a cost-benefit survey, which was my scheme, was not to help the Department of Finance hold up schemes. It was introduced because I felt that the way the Office of Public Works presented schemes to the Government long before my time was giving a false picture of the value of land drainage and that, in fact, arterial drainage was making a much greater contribution to the economy than it was credited with. I wanted to be able to produce facts and figures to the Minister for Finance. Twice I said to him that there was not enough money for arterial drainage. I once reached a stage when I nearly had to lay of some hundreds of men. Fortunately, I got a Supplementary Estimate that year. The new hydraulic diggers were working so much faster than the old drag lines that we were making greater progress. We still had to build bridges behind us and the money was being used up much more quickly.
I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to look at this matter again and see if he could do what I was trying to do—demonstrate to the Government that they are getting a better return on the capital invested in arterial drainage than it is credited with.
Mr. Lemass: No, the Office of Public Works, with the consent of the Minister for Finance. I put up the idea. The analysis is being used now for the opposite purpose to that for which it was intended, to show that the State could justifiably invest more money in arterial drainage.
We have heard a good deal about the Fota estate. What is done is done  but it is a great pity the arboretum was not taken over by the Department of Lands and the house taken over by the Office of Public Works especially when there are many valuable pictures at present on loan to Crawford's School of Art which could be returned to Fota. In addition, collections from the Natural History Museum could be displayed there. I am talking of pieces that are stored away because there is no space in which to exhibit them in the existing building.
As regards the Museum, the Parliamentary Secretary should do as the Office of Public Works are doing in regard to the art gallery in Kilkenny. Where there are local efforts, local or regional museums, these could be regarded as extensions of the National Museum. This avoids legislation. This is how the Kilkenny gallery will be given its pictures. Museum pieces now in storage could be sent on loan to these local museums and in this way the State could become involved with the local community and the local community could become involved with the history of the nation. The Parliamentary Secretary should examine the possibilities of proceeding in this way in the future. These museum pieces could be displayed for so many months in one centre and then brought to another location so that the greatest number of people possible with an interest in our Museum—and a great number are interested—could benefit from the State collection. The Parliamentary Secretary might see if this is a feasible proposition.
I do not know how the Kilkenny Castle art gallery is progressing. There was much delay at the beginning in getting suitable artists. I believe it is going ahead. I hope the Butler Society there are also proceeding with the work of raising money locally to restore portion of the castle.
I know this is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice, but many old buildings are used as courthouses. I do not know if the Parliamentary Secretary has to get sanction from the Department of Justice to carry out even temporary repairs but, judging from the comments of some judges down the country, these buildings are not proper  places for the dispensation of justice. If the Parliamentary Secretary has power——
Mr. Kenny: No, it is the responsibility of the local authority. But if the judges complain to the Minister for Justice he can order repairs to be carried out and the money will be refunded by the local authority.
Mr. Lemass: This was mentioned earlier in the debate and that is how I came to mention it. Reference was also made to the pond in Leinster Lawn. This is part of a series of things for which I was responsible.
Mr. Lemass: I decided we should put ornamental gold fish into the pond. That was fine until we found the birds were catching the fish. We had to put a net over the pond to keep out the birds and this does not look well. I understand that in pools of this kind in private houses the fish are protected by putting rock formations under water. If the fish are being attacked they take refuge among the rocks and instinctively protect themselves. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would see if something like that could be done to enable us to maintain the decorative fish and at the same time remove the net and allow the ducks in the mating season to swim on the pond with a little more comfort.
I do not think there is sufficient provision for the preservation of national monuments. Good work has been done. It is dishonest to say that works that were completed before this administration took over are part of the contribution of the Office of Public Works to the European Heritage  Year. There are films in the Parliamentary Secretary's Office which show me opening Cahir Castle.
Mr. Lemass: There is a photographic staff in the office. The Parliamentary Secretary should ask for a showing of films depicting him—the Parliamentary Secretary—performing official functions. Works are published in Oibre as our contribution to the European Heritage Year. This is all right, I suppose, for export but it will not fool anybody here. This work had been done before the year was even declared.
In regard to harbour work started by my predecessor and carried out during my term of office it seems to me that except where projects were under way there has been a general pull-back and slowing down of development. I am talking about harbours that had been approved and sanctioned by the previous Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries and Finance. I would need a map. I am talking about the synchrolift in Killybegs. The metal poles were delivered before the Parliamentary Secretary took office and he was not in office many months when they were taken away. In reply to a question recently I was told that it is coming. Live horse and you will get grass. A very good programme was started. It should have been expanded rather than slowed down. Deputy Ray Burke has been waiting for nine months for a pile drive tester machine to come from Galway. I have heard him complain about it.
Mr. Lemass: I said I would need a map to help me recall the places. There was a large cold storage shed on the pier that was to be used for fish. It is now full of intervention beef. When I complained about it I was told that the storage shed is privately owned and  that the owner can let it as he likes. The fishermen have no cold storage are now and one is badly needed.
There is a serious problem of archaeological surveys. I do not accept that there is not a sufficient number of qualified persons available. The number of students of archaeology has more than trebled in the last eight to ten years. The Archaeological Survey has been without a director for three years and despite representations from various organisations, including the Irish Association of Professional Archaeologists, the Office of Public Works have refused point blank to appoint one. The level of staffing of the survey ensures its total inadequacy for the task that confronts it. The three counties that are completed up to 1200 A.D. are what we call the wee counties. I should like an explanation as to why more positions are not filled in the Archaeological Survey having regard to the numbers qualifying in this subject, especially from University College, Cork. How is it that there are not enough staff for this  job? Is it that sanction given for the employment of extra personnel by the previous administration has been withdrawn? Is it caught up in the general rule that no new jobs are to be created in the Civil Service? If it is, it is a very silly policy because the survey cannot adequately be carried out by the staff now available to the Office of Public Works.
The stamping branch has moved from Dublin Castle. I made suggestions to the Parliamentary Secretary last year, and probably the year before that, regarding the possible development of this basement area of Dublin Castle, if it can be done without bringing down St. Patrick's Hall. I suggested that rooms should be named for men on both sides, Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, Cathal Brugha and Arthur Griffith, a room where letters and other mementoes associated with these people could be placed on public exhibition, perhaps, in glass-top cases so as to prevent pilfering. Such a room would prove a tremendous attraction to people visiting the Castle, our own people in the first instance and, secondly, tourists. If the Parliamentary Secretary will not consider this suggestion, perhaps he will let me know what are his plans for the vacated space.
I understood that all the snags in relation to the canal at Belturbet had been resolved a couple of years ago and I should like to hear whether this work is to be proceeded with. I understand that that part of the canal which is on the Six-County side of the Border is navigable. The restoration of the Belturbet section of the canal would make a contribution to North-South relations.
Regarding the provision of reading matter in the waiting rooms at Leinster House I understand that when such material was provided in the past, visitors took it away with them. Perhaps publications such as Oibre could be provided there.
Mr. Lemass: Perhaps some system could be devised such as one which is in use in Austria whereby newspapers are placed at the end of a long stick and cannot be removed as the stick is locked up. Very often a Deputy may be attending a committee meeting or may be in some part of the building where he cannot be found readily by an usher so that visitors might have to wait a considerable time, and it must be very boring to have to sit in the waiting room with nothing to read.
Mr. Lemass: I often wonder how this Parliament worked before the new extension was provided, because even now we have totally inadequate space. Perhaps during the summer recess it would be possible to construct the proposed bridge from the new block to Government buildings where a floor could be made available for the use of Parliamentarians. Since at least one room would need to be closed during such operations the best time to do the work would be during the recess, and we would gladly suffer any short-term inconvenience in order that the necessary accommodation be made available.
I understand that the Kildare Street Club has been purchased for the National Library. Is it intended to move the entire library to the club premises and, if so, will the library have adequate space there? Will they occupy the whole building? If so, perhaps, instead of building the bridge to which I have referred, the library area could be incorporated with this building for use by staff or members of the House. Perhaps, too, when the new College of Art is built —in whatever century that may be— the existing buildings can be incorporated with Leinster House. I trust the Parliamentary Secretary will let me have answers to these questions.
The previous Government had proposals to expand their existing property. I understood that about £500,000 per year was to be made available for this purpose in the  initial stage. Discussions were conducted with Dublin Corporation, who were prepared to offer some of their sites to the Office of Public Works for the purpose of providing office accommodation for Government staffs. I wonder whether this work is to go ahead and, if so, if there is a promise of the continuing provision of capital money for the purpose of building Government properties.
The introduction of all-purpose ships to Dún Laoghaire will destroy the amenities and the character of the harbour. This decision was taken by the previous administration but if the Parliamentary Secretary refers to the files he will find that it was taken against my advice. While there were arguments for this development, the amenity value of the harbour should be of paramount importance.
I agree with the previous speaker in suggesting that we should provide more playing pitches, running tracks and such facilities wherever possible. This is an area in which the Office of Public Works could be engaged usefully.
Apart from those projects on which construction work has begun it appears that the following operations have been left in abeyance since the change of Government: the provision of golf courses, the restoration of Kilmainham Hospital, the development of new fish-landing places and the extension of existing ones, Phoenix Park development, Scoil Éanna, new works on coast erosion and on arterial drainage, the provision of septic tanks at Muckross House, the taking-over of the Grand Canal, the development of the basement of Dublin Castle, the building of schools and Garda stations and the replacement of obsolete machinery such as the old trag lines with hydraulic machines. Has there been any consultation regarding the protection of the environment and national park development? Work seems to have slowed down on such projects as the  architectural survey, the extension of the existing fish landing survey, the custom building at Station Road, Monaghan, the Kilkenny Castle Art Gallery and the restoration programme for the casino in Marino which was sanctioned during the period Deputy Haughey was Minister for Finance. There are also improvements required at nearly all of the Irish embassies purchased prior to 1972. If the Parliamentary Secretary would deal with these matters the House would be grateful to him.
Mr. McDonald: I should like to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary and the Commissioners of Public Works on the progress made in the last year. Listening to some of the contributions here might make one think nothing had been done. The fact is that a tremendous amount of work has been done and I admire the success of the present administration with regard to the new projects they have undertaken.
In particular I should like to compliment the Parlimentary Secretary and the Commissioners for the magnificent work they carried out at Dublin Castle for the summit conference of EEC heads of State and for the many ministerial and other meetings held there in the past five and a half months. The facilities provided were much appreciated. They were contrasted favourably with the facilities available at the Paris and to a lesser extent the Copenhagen meetings. Because of the organisation it was possible for the heads of State to achieve more in the relaxed atmosphere where everything seemed to run smoothly.
While I am sincere in paying that tribute, the Houses of the Oireachtas are not up to European standards and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see what can be done to improve the facilities here as a matter of urgency. There is a definite need for more office space. It is difficult for Deputies to concentrate on research work or on correspondence and I support fully the case made by Deputy Fitzpatrick. This House has been sitting for 12 hours on many days and  the facilities are totally inadequate. The Parliamentary Secretary will have to ensure that the conditions are such that Members will be enabled to carry out their duties.
I regret having to comment on the poor facilities and standards in this House, especially in the cloakroom and toilets. It is embarrassing to bring our European parliamentary colleagues into this House. We cannot avoid doing this when they are over here because we enjoy the hospitality of the various EEC national Parliaments when we have meetings in their capitals. It is not that the facilities are so bad but the maintenance leaves a lot to be desired. The Parliamentary Secretary must ensure that there is adequate staff here. It cannot be beyond the capability of the Office of Public Works to provide clean towels every day. The conditions obtaining here are not good enough for the seventies. We are trying to get over the concept of the Irishman living with the pigs and it is not good enough to find this state of affairs in our Parliament. To say the least, it makes a very bad impression on people who enjoy a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene. I would ask the Office of Public Works to increase the number of staff and to pay more attention at all times to matters of detail.
I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to treat as a matter of urgency the request he received from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs for the re-adaptation and furnishing of the former Irish Worsted Mills premises at Portlaoise. The Department are anxious to decentralise their contracts sections and it appears that only a few thousand pounds worth of work and furnishings needs to be done to allow this to take place. These premises have an area of more than 60,000 square feet and I was glad the Department took them over to extend their services. Communications are extremely important and I thought that by handing over the premises quickly to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs it would be possible to proceed with improving the communications system in the midlands. Progress is held up because it is not possible for the Office of Public Works to change a few  windows, to put in a new floor covering and to furnish the premises. The work could be done in stages and perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary might ask that the first stage be done now. It would mean that there would be at least ten or 15 good jobs——
Mr. McDonald: The post office acquired this premises for a new headquarters. They want to furnish the office block so that ten or 15 personnel might be moved from Hawkins House, which is costing the Parliamentary Secretary's Department approximately £3 per square foot each year. The Department of Posts and Telegraphs want to move these people into the vacant premises in Portlaoise. It will be necessary to carry out some decoration, to put down floor covering and to furnish the place before they can commence work.
There has been a lot of comment about European Architectural Heritage Year. I admire the work the Department have carried out and the projects they have undertaken to commemorate the occasion. This is something very useful and something that must be admired. There are many things about which we should endeavour to do something. The Office of Public Works should be training architects in conservation and preservation. We should be aware of our responsibility as guardians for the future, as it were, and public authorities should be given some kind of leadership to impress on them the need for preservation and conservation. Not sufficient thought is paid to the dangers that threaten historical monuments and buildings. I do not know whether it is realised that chemical pollution and traffic vibration can play havoc with ancient historical buildings. We lag behind what has been done in other countries in preservation and conservation. In the 1950s and the early 1960s there was quite an industrial revival and great progress was made and we were inclined to overlook monstrosities which did not fit in with our architectural heritage or, indeed, with our temperament.  More thought should be given to this aspect.
The Parliamentary Secretary should have some liaison with URCCE, a European organisation with responsibility for the conservation of historical sites, buildings and monuments. It is important that we should have a part in this in the European context. In European cities there are a great many ancient churches, many of them founded by Irish monks. There was a definite influence exercised by these monastic settlements. Not only can we learn from these people who have the resources to employ experts and undertake studies in depth but they have something to learn from us in tracing back the Celtic influences of the past in their architecture.
In most European countries there is a comprehensive classification of historic buildings, sites and monuments. This goes right through to mills, farmhouses, police barracks, country houses, town houses, railway stations and so on. The best has been taken out of each era. In my county there is a lovely little Church of Ireland in Coolbanagher which was designed by Gandon. A couple of years ago it was restored inside to its original state. It provides an interesting study for students of architecture because this is a little gem compared with the huge edifices elsewhere which made Gandon famous. These things should be preserved for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
Amsterdam is a fantastic city. Some organisations, such as An Taisce, the Georgian Society and others put pressure on some time ago to prevent the disintegration of period pieces here. In Amsterdam they have gone into what might be called slum areas and offered the tenants the tenancies of the houses, having reconstructed them. The tenants are asked to pay an increased rent and I believe this has been agreed to in most cases. That kind of approach might have provided a solution to the problem we had some time ago in Parnell Square where very fine architecture was being systematically destroyed. The Amsterdam experiment is one the  Parliamentary Secretary could gainfully examine. Where people are not able to pay for the expertise required to restore these historic houses from the point of view of architecture, there should be some agency to assist them. I have in mind what was the home of not just one but three patriots, who left their mark not only on Irish history but on the history of the world, with special reference to Australia. I am referring to James Fintan Lalor, his father and his brother, Peter, who contributed much to the development of Australia. It was quite embarrassing last year when an Australian Minister came over here to mark the birthplace of Peter to find that his birthplace, quite a small period house, was in ruins. It could have been saved and made habitable for an expenditure of something like £10,000 or £11,000 a few years ago.
There must be categories of things worthy of preservation. I know the State cannot possibly preserve and pay for everything. But there must be aids, even if it were only the State taking a lease on such privately owned buildings—perhaps a rate-free interest or some inducement to enhance them, whether they be buildings, sites or monuments. The Office of Public Works should assist such owners in their enhancement, ensuring that they be passed on to future generations.
I accept that there is a problem integrating modern architecture into historical, ancient buildings while, at the same time, maintaining the original framework. There is a lot in that respect we should endeavour to do because as each year passes, these buildings deteriorate. Two or three years ago we had the example of a Tudor-style house at the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains—a building which our friend, Cromwell, was reputed to have stayed in, quite a small farmhouse in need of repair but it had the original beams and distinctive style of that time—where the only funds available to that farmer were the normal reconstruction grants. It is not possible to expect such a person to  carry out such restoration work as an individual.
Of course, the ultimate authority in monument preservation is public opinion. It paves the way for legislation. No Bills for the defence of monuments can be passed and no funds voted for the carrying out of such work unless there be, in the backgrounds of the minds of people, a certain force of intelligent belief in the need for an agency of this kind. Here, as on the continent, public opinion is the final arbiter in all these questions. If we can get our people interested in their heritage, then it should be possible to have it placed high on our order of priorities. But the increase in this force of intelligent belief in these matters over the past decade has led to an increase in activities in conservation of our towns and countryside, while tending to obscure the fact that many of us have voted against the erosion of our architectural heritage for a much longer period.
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if it is possible to extend the scope of his powers, with regard to historic and ancient monuments, to encompass a wider sphere of buildings and structures. For example, are our laws at present sufficient in relation to the preservation of buildings deserving of being regarded as works of art; which types of monuments are worthy of preservation and what dangers threaten such monuments and buildings? What is the relationship between modern towns and ancient monuments; in other words how are ancient buildings and monuments integrated into people's lives in towns and the countryside at large? The most important question is how the upkeep of buildings regarded as works of art is financed. I should like to know also what plans have the board of the Old Hospital in Kilmainham in mind for that building? That was not clear from the Parliamentary Secretary's speech. That is a building not equalled anywhere in Europe and something of which we should be proud. A section of it should be maintained as a museum, as an example to future generations and another more modern use incorporated at the same time. If  the Parliamentary Secretary has any plans for that building. I should be glad to hear of them.
Finally, on a local matter of interest to me: there is, near Portlaoise, the Rock of Dunamaise which was, for many years, the seat or stronghold of the O'Moore Clan. This is a pre-Reformation structure and has a very proud history. It is suffering the ravages of vandalism and, to a lesser extent, of wear and tear. Perhaps the Board of Works would initiate negotiations with its owner to see if it could be taken over for preservation and perhaps a certain amount of reconstruction.
I should like to wish the Board of Works continuous success. In the next year I hope we shall see some further improvements carried out, with perhaps more emphasis being placed on some smaller details.
Mr. Browne: I shall be only four or five minutes and then, I hope, we can let in the Parliamentary Secretary. It has been a long, but useful debate. In reference to the debate of last Friday, one of our political correspondents said it was not a sparkling debate. But when one speaks about drainage, school buildings, harbours, ancient monuments, public buildings and a hundred and one different things covered in this Estimate, certainly one will not get a sparkling debate. But the debate on this Estimate is of immense interest to the people of the country as a whole. The unfortunate thing is that the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of the Office of Public Works never has, and probably never will have, sufficient funds to carry out all of the works he should like. As he and his predecessors have said, they are merely agents of the various Departments of Government and can only spend the money provided for them and carry out the works they are asked to carry out by the various Departments.
Deputy McDonald referred to the shortcomings of this Parliament building. He, from his travels all over Europe, is conversant with and used to the magnificent parliament buildings to be found in a lot of European countries,  parliament buildings much older yet at the same time more modern than are ours. We have an accommodation problem here. Many of the matters mentioned by Deputy McDonald and others are minor ones which can be rectified.
The question of accommodation for visitors to the House should be attended to. This is not a major problem. Reading material should also be made available for these visitors. The Official Report of the debates of both Houses of the Oireachtas would be heavy reading material for visitors. A difficulty arises when visitors are anxious to contact Deputies and Senators—it is possible this is not a matter for the Parliamentary Secretary but for the Ceann Comhairle. When a visitor arrives at the House a message is given to an usher who must travel up and down staircases in an effort to locate the Deputy or Senator sought. I pity those ushers having to go to such trouble to contact a Member. It should be possible to provide some method of communication for locating Deputies and Senators. The job of the usher is tough and exacting enough without having to roam around the corridors of the House seeking Members. The Parliamentary Secretary should see if it is possible to have a call system or a board in operation on each floor.
The lack of accommodation for the 68 Deputies and 15 Senators of the Fianna Fáil Party in the new building was, as a result of a protest by our party to the Ceann Comhairle, considered at a meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary and his officials by Members of the party prior to the summer recess in 1974. We are working in overcrowded conditions and finding it difficult to carry out our duties to our constituents. During those discussions we were informed that consideration would be given to the provision of a ramp between the new wing of Leinster House and Government Buildings so that Fianna Fáil could avail of extra accommodation in Government Buildings. I was under the impression that after the recess this ramp would be available  and we would have the extra accommodation but nothing has been done.
While this House is not a souvenir shop it would be a good idea if a booklet, outlining the history of the House and of this Parliament, was available for visitors at a reasonable price. The booklet could include some pictorial illustrations of the House. School children like to bring home a souvenir after a visit to the House. The only booklet available is that produced following the visit of the late President J.F. Kennedy of America which contained his speech to a joint session of the Houses of the Oireachtas. That booklet costs 7½p and when one has to purchase it for upwards of 100 school children on a number of occasions during a session it runs into a lot of money.
I should like to know what the up-to-date position with regard to the drainage schemes in my constituency is. Year after year deputations go to meetings of the Wexford County Council to complain about flooding caused by the Sow River. We have to tell these farmers that the river is near the end of the list of rivers to be drained. It is possible that when we are all dead and gone a monument will be erected to the Parliamentary Secretary in that area for having carried out the drainage work on the Sow River.
Mr. Browne: It is unfortunate that very little money is made available for drainage work. The Parliamentary Secretary should ask the Government to provide more money for these schemes. An immense amount of arable land is flooded periodically—in some cases five times a year—by the Sow River.
The Office of Public Works carried out extensive development at Kilmore Quay but a good deal of additional maintenance work needs to be carried out there. I should like to know if the Office of Public Works have any proposals or if they have carried out  any surveys on Duncannon and Ballyhack harbours, two of the most important fishing ports in the south-east.
I was disappointed with the miserable sum of money provided under the heading of “coast erosion”. It appears that there is no interest in that serious problem. Those who live in inland counties do not realise the extent of this problem. Wexford has a big problem of coastal erosion. When the Coast Erosion Bill was going through the Houses of the Oireachtas some 12 or 13 years ago it was said that it would never solve our coast erosion problem, that it should have been dealt with in a national way, as it should be dealt with now. It is an immense problem and we are only tinkering with it. It is only those of us in coastal counties who realise the immensity of the problem.
I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to urge the Minister and the Government—I have been doing this for some years now—to bring in some new and more up-to-date legislation and to provide sufficient funds for this purpose. I asked a parliamentary question some few weeks back about this matter and the Parliamentary Secretary told me he had about 68 or 70 applications on hand and that only 12 of them had been dealt with. I appreciate the difficulty of the problem and the type of experts and engineers who are required to deal with coast erosion. Possibly nobody realises that better than I do, having been fully involved with the late Dr. Jim Ryan and the late Deputy Allen in dealing with it in Rosslare Strand. I think the Parliamentary Secretary will admit that Rosslare Strand probably set a headline for dealing with coast erosion. However, unless more is provided and a greater interest is taken in the problem, the situation will deteriorate further.
I could go on for the full hour dealing with various other problems, ancient monuments, schools and so on. We have as many problems in Wexford as in any other constituency, but in view of the fact that all of these problems have been aired very well over the last two or three days on this Estimate, I shall leave it at that and  give the Parliamentary Secretary an opportunity of getting in to reply.
Mr. Lalor: I do not intend to delay the Parliamentary Secretary for any length of time. There are a couple of points to which I wish to refer, and I am taking this late opportunity of joining with my fellow Whip in making it clear that we are keeping the good wine till last.
Looking through the Parliamentary Secretary's speech this day fortnight, it struck me as a representative of a midland area, Laois-Offaly, as rather remarkable that I could not find that he was making any provision for spending a penny in Laois-Offaly. I appreciate the fact that coast erosion does not affect us as it does my colleague and that we do not have enough historical monuments that require attention. However, we have one historical monument; actually he has been in this House for the last 31 years. One would imagine he would have more influence with the Parliamentary Secretary in having something done for our constituents. There was never a year passed that he did not make a contribution on behalf of Clonmacnoise, but he does not seem to have succeeded in this year's Estimate when he could exert influence.
I want to speak on a subject—I do not know whether I shall be allowed or not—which at the moment does not come within the ambit of the Office of Public Works but of which the Office of Public Works hope to get control, that is the canal system. Deputy Seán Moore said here last week there was very little in the Minister's speech about canals. This is so, because there is nothing included with the exception of a provision under Shannon Navigation. I wish to quote from the Parliamentary Secretary's opening remarks at column 1407, Volume 281, of the Official Report of 30th May, 1975, where he said:
includes one item which I would like to mention. In response to representations from local and tourist  interests it is proposed to restore navigation on the old Lough Allen canal between the Shannon and Acres Lock near Drumshanbo.
That is the only reference to canals, and rightly so, but there has been over the years a feeling that the maintenance and control of canals should be transferred from CIE to the Office of Public Works, and even people who are interested in canal development and preservation seemed at that stage —and this would have been the latter years of my membership of the Cabinet—to be trying to get the Board of Works to take them over. That scene has all changed as far as I can find out. We have quite an amount of canal in Laois and there is a growing interest in canal development in our area. It is generally felt now that, as CIE have control over rail and road, they should still, despite the fact that those canal preservationists have, down through the years, been disappointed at what CIE have been able to provide for them, they would still be better off under CIE than under the Board of Works. I am not saying that in a derogatory way.
Mr. Kenny: It is not a toilet. We are providing in the Deputy's constituency a visitor centre so that when constituents visit Clonmacnoise they  will be properly looked after and guided in every sense.
There is another area not in my constituency but it is being developed as a tourist attraction with the assistance of the Robertstown Muintir na Tíre Group. I should like to put on record part of a speech given by the reverned clergyman who is recognised as being the kingpin of the Robertstown Muintir na Tíre Group when he opened the Grand Canal Festival at Vicarstown on 1st June. He said:
To turn to the subject of the control of the Canal system in general—many organisations concerned with navigation on the canals and the increasing potential of the canals in the context of tourism have become perturbed at the possible rumoured transfer of control from Córas Iompair Éireann of the Canal system to the Office of Public Works. I can say that Córas Iompair Éireann cannot be commended too highly for their efforts to maintain the waterway and their continued support of the Robertstown and other Canal Festivals. Their interests and the interests of bodies concerned with  the preservation of the canals as a viable part of our tourist industry coincide.
Córas Iompair Éireann is in a position to deal with tourism in a major way. It has in this State a monopoly of public transport by rail and road and it has the Grand Canal and through it access from Dublin to the Shannon waterway. The future of the Grand Canal has been and is a matter of controversy involving more bodies than just Córas Iompair Éireann. But it is generally agreed that it is a prime amenity for Dublin; it is still open as a waterway attracting numbers of pleasure craft when boating on the Shannon is becoming, given favourable tourist conditions generally in the country, an important source of tourist revenue.
Irish waters are a draw to British tourists escaping from their overcrowded Norfolk Broads. The Grand Canal and Barrow navigation are an ideal option for these people who wish to come in their own boats to Ireland with a view to subsequently travelling from sea to sea. Bord Fáilte is also to be commended for the expenditure it has incurred in bringing about improvements in Shannon water holidays. These days Córas Iompair Éireann coaches are often to be seen in Robertstown bringing parties to our banquets which are only possible due to the high degree of community spirit and co-operation which grew from the initial Canal Festivals. This spirit is nowhere so well exemplified as here at Vicarstown by Mrs. Corbett and her splendid committee.
To ensure that control of the Canal system remains with Córas Iompair Éireann, interested bodies and I myself have contacted Government sources urging on them the importance of maintaining the status quo. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Government for giving me the up-to-date information on this matter. I think it is not presuming too much to anticipate that  the Government will give an opportunity to all interested parties to make representations about this matter before a final decision is reached. We can only hope that the final outcome will be that the control of the Canal system will remain with Córas Iompair Éireann.
It is no harm to have that on record. As well, I should like to put on record a copy of a letter to the Minister for Transport and Power from the Vicarstown Canal Development Association on 15th May last. It is as follows:
The Barrow Easter Boat Rally was held this year at Vicarstown following our winning of the 1974 Barrow Award Scheme organised by South East Tourism. During the Rally a meeting was held at which boating interests from Carlow, Athy, Vicarstown, Rathangan and Robertstown were represented. The meeting expressed their gratitude to Córas Iompair Éireann for all the help given throughout the Barrow Region and in particular the efforts of Mr. Brendan Daly and Mr. John McNamera of the Engineering section were especially praised. The meeting also expressed the unanimous view that you, Mr. Minister be respectfully requested to defer for the present any decision about the transfer of the canal system from Córas Iompair Éireann to the Office of the Public Works until such time as the views of the various boating interests along the Barrow navigation be considered. Indeed representatives of all the centres mentioned in this letter would be willing to meet you at any time to discuss the matter further should you consider such a meeting useful.
I note from the Parliamentary Secretary's speech that a sum of £378,000 is required for works for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. I checked this out when I heard Deputy McDonald talk about the non-development  of the old Irish Worsted Mills in Portlaoise. I looked down the plans there were for the spending of the £378,000 and I could find no reference at all to any money having been spent on developing the old Irish Worsted Mills premises. I agree with Deputy McDonald that there is concern to feel that these premises are developed. However, I should like to dissociate myself from this statement that he wanted to see the Post Office take over that property. I have said publicly locally and here that I am against that because the Post Office had the opportunity of getting what we call a “green site” for development there. I should much prefer to see the old mills developed as a site for a new industry.
There was an amount of pressure from the Post Office to get the building taken over so that they could expedite telephone development in the area. Since the Department of Posts and Telegraphs took it over nothing has happened. As far back as 28th January last I wrote to an interested party, a member of the PO staff in Dublin, who was looking forward to being transferred to the planned new buildings in Portlaoise.
Deputy McDonald spoke about the possibility of 15 new jobs being created and the probability of Laois workers going back home from Dublin. The picture painted by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs when the building was taken over was of millions of new jobs if plans could be got going. It is like everything else they have been saying.
Mr. Lalor: This building is to provide for the creation of a new contract section—which I was given to understand last January was to be created almost overnight—a new manual exchange to provide from 20 boards to 50, a new large auto exchange and a training centre, which is the main reason why the Department of Posts and Telegraphs took over this building.
The Parliamentary Secretary has an outstanding staff at his disposal and I am sure he will be able to supply any information I require. I understand from the Post Office that plans have not been drawn up for final approval by the Office of Public Works for the spending of this money. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will clarify that in his reply. Now that the Irish Worsted Mills has become a lost cause, despite the rash promises of a few years ago——
I was disappointed with the Parliamentary Secretary's reference to arterial drainage. I cannot remember ever hearing such a short reference to arterial drainage on this Estimate before. He simply referred to the spending of £1.7 million on arterial drainage with no hope or prospect in any other direction. If there is any area in which the Office of Public Works could make up for their neglect of County Laois since the formation of the State, the ideal opportunity would be to take positive steps for the draining of the River Nore. Successive Parliamentary Secretaries have spent years  draining bogs in the West to provide employment.
Mr. Lalor: ——and second to improve the position. I doubt if there is any cost/benefit analysis being done in the Office of Public Works which can establish that the drainage of 100 acres in the West could be as productive as the drainage of ten acres in the midland areas.
Mr. Kenny: The land is not as good but to the people concerned one acre benefiting in the West is as good to the people of this nation as ten acres benefiting in Laois-Offaly. The people of the West work their land to full capacity, whereas the people in the midlands——
Mr. Lalor: We have the Barrow, the Nore, the Suir and the Slaney. If we get involved in what the Parliamentary Secretary is saying, we would raise a political crisis. I would be very grateful if he could have his officers look at the money spent in various towns through the years and he will find that County Laois is at the very bottom of the pit. Of course, I cannot blame the Parliamentary Secretary for that.
Mr. Lalor: One way of redeeming that would be to provide more money for arterial draining on the Barrow and the Nore. I know the Suir is high on the list. I am aware that there is a scarcity of money. Less than 12 months ago Deputy McDonald and I went on a deputation to the Parliamentary Secretary on behalf of the farmers in that area to try to get the co-operation of the Government,  through the Parliamentary Secretary, for European money for this purpose. We were told vaguely and unconvincingly——
Mr. Lalor: No, he was most unconvincing. His views, as expressed on that occasion, did not concur with the views expressed by his colleague, who represents this Parliament in Europe, on how money could be got from Europe. I got the impression that Deputy McDonald was nonplussed by the replies being given by the Parliamentary Secretary.
Mr. Lalor: I accompanied a very responsible and open-minded deputation from the midland area to the Parliamentary Secretary. They were seeking advice and information. We were aware that there was more shadow than substance about the whole thing, but we wanted to know how best the Government could help them. With respect to the Parliamentary Secretary, we came out knowing no more than we did when we went in. Some of those people, who had done a certain amount of research, were under the impression that they could get assistance. The Parliamentary Secretary now says that governments  seeking aid of this nature cannot be met. The group of farmers whose representatives accompanied us on that day were willing to spend money on the enlargement of the local improvements schemes. They got no help in that direction. I have had the experience of being a Parliamentary Secretary and a Minister and I appreciate that Parliamentary Secretaries and Ministers cannot be expected to know all the answers. When there is notice of a meeting usually some background work is done and they are provided with a backup service. Farmers in the midland areas are affected by flooding from the Nore and the Barrow. They would be willing to do this work if they could get a grant.
I could never understand why expenditure in respect of maintenance of drainage schemes should be recoverable from local authorities. The State bears 100 per cent of the cost of the work but the maintenance is a charge on the local authority. The State should bear the full cost of maintenance. Local authorities should not be forced to meet this charge particularly when they have no say in regard to the system of maintenance or any aspect of it. The time has come when the State should bear the full cost of maintenance of drainage schemes.
I do not go all of the way with Deputy O'Leary because I know money does not grow on trees. An active councillor on Laois County Council discovered that in Tipperary and Kilkenny, which are affected by flooding from the Nore and the Barrow, the county councils provided money for a number of years from the rates for cleaning up the basin and taking trees and other impediments out of the Suir. Subject to correction by Deputy McDonnell, we provided £3,000 this year.
Mr. Lalor: I have now discovered that Deputy O'Leary and I were talking about two different things. Deputy O'Leary was talking about a river which had been drained. The Parliamentary Secretary says the local authority are responsible for cleaning a river that has already been drained by the Office of Public Works.
Mr. Kenny: No. Before any arterial drainage scheme is carried out in certain local authority areas there are drainage areas for which the local authority are responsible. When the arterial drainage is carried out and when it is sealed signed and delivered, it cancels out such areas in that catchment, and the local authority are responsible only for the maintenance of the catchment area covered by the arterial drainage of that area.
Mr. Lalor: I am not aware of what happens in other areas and I have no practical experience of the Office of Public Works. We provided £3,000—a drop in the ocean—to be spent this year on taking fallen trees out of the Nore. We have not got to do this. The Parliamentary Secretary said there are areas where a certain amount of maintenance must be carried out. We provided this money because there are stumps of trees, fallen trees, and bushes in the basin of the Nore. They create flooding. In order to relieve some of the farmers in this area the council are spending this £3,000.
Mr. Lalor: About 1½p in the £. This is an initial effort this year. Now that they have got a taste of it, the farmers will be looking for more next year. Laois County Council are doing this and taking pressure off the Office of Public Works. Where local authorities provide money over and above what is statutorily required, could the Parliamentary Secretary not make a grant under some subhead? The ideal would be 50 per cent. It could be 25 per cent for openers and then we could come back next year and say: “If you give us 50 per cent we might provide enough out of the rates to do the job on the river and save the £30 million which will eventually have to be spent on the arterial drainage.” I am exaggerating, of course, but I am just throwing out this type of idea.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Kenny): I was delighted to be in a position to introduce this Supplementary Estimate and give Deputies an opportunity to discuss the various activities of the Office of Public Works. These activities are very involved and affect every village and town in the country. I want to express my appreciation for the dispassionate way in which the  Deputies discussed the matters pertaining to their constituencies and constituents. I also want to say a word of praise about the high standard of debate maintained by all Deputies. There was no rancour whatever displayed. Some very constructive suggestions and criticisms were expressed. I want to assure every Deputy who contributed to this debate that these suggestions and proposals will be very carefully analysed and will, if possible, money being available, be very carefully and favourably considered.
I was very glad to see my predecessor, Deputy Lemass, who, over the last two years, has given us some considerable entertainment and knowledge through his variegated system of questions. I was delighted to see him in the House today. If he had not come I would have expressed myself in the same way. I met him in the corridor and he said he had come from the hospital with a certain amount of inconvenience and hardship to himself and a certain amount of medical risk, to take part in the debate. That is an indication of what a Deputy will do on behalf of his constituents and what he will also do on behalf of the House. He came here to give us the benefit of his experience, knowledge and wisdom. The fact he was my predecessor in office gives him prior knowledge of the ramifications and the work of the Board of Works.
I now want to refer to the opinions, comments and criticism of Deputies. Deputies Fitzpatrick, Moore, J. Gibbons and F. O'Brien expressed criticism about the accommodation and facilities in this House. The heating in the House is a most complex matter. As far as possible, the temperatures are monitored in relation to outside conditions and the necessary adjustments are made, if at all possible. It has to be borne in mind, however, that people react differently to different temperatures and what suits some people definitely will not suit others. If the temperature goes down below a certain degree the authorities in the House are inundated with complaints and protests. It is impossible to suit everybody.
Accomodation in the House is  also a very complex matter. It is well known to the Deputies that with the front lawn in Merrion Square and the backyard in Kildare Street we are limited to a certain amount of space. It is very difficult to see what the answer will be. The architects and engineers are giving this matter deep thought but it is very hard to see what can be done. At best we can provide only stop-gap accomodation. We can build one more narrow building of five storeys but that would not provide very much accomodation.
It is not possible to get accommodation from the College of Science because they have a lease of that building. When they went there the place was specially adjusted and built for them with all their apparatus and every kind of machinery they must use. We cannot evict them. We must wait to get possession of that building until they have a similar complex built in some other location, possibly Belfield.
Mr. Kenny: We thought we could get some of it but we cannot. Deputy Tunney mentioned that the front of the Kildare Street side of the House needs a wash. That is his opinion but the stonework was cleaned some years ago and I am told it did not look so well for a certain period after, that after a clean up it does not look so well but after a few years the mellowness of this building returns and it looks much more elegant and charming. It harmonises with the buildings on each side of it. That is what I learned from my experts.
A number of Deputies made very good practical suggestions for improvement in the facilities and  arrangements for both visitors and members of the Oireachtas. In relation to every change we wish to make we must await sanction and permission from the authorities of Leinster House. If there are any alternations to be made they must first suggest them and we will carry them out. Deputy Fitzpatrick suggested there should be a leaflet on Leinster House for distribution to visiting children giving an account of how business is done in the House and the history of the building. For the benefit of Deputies who do not know there was in existence until recently a guide to Leinster House.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Dublin Central): This may be too big if you have a considerable number of children coming in. In the Bundestag and the Reichstag they have thousands of leaflets and you can take one away with you.
Mr. Kenny: That is a matter for the authorities of the House. If they had such leaflets they could be left there and visitors could take them if they wanted them. Deputies should be aware that when visitors come here, whether they are school children, adults, foreign or native they do not go home without certain impressions being made on their minds. We owe a debt of appreciation and gratitude to the staff, especially the Captain, who takes over when visitors come, especially school children. They are given full particulars about the history of the House, the Kennedy Flag, the Dáil, the Seanad and all the varied aspects of this place. He emphasises to them that this is their House, not the property of the Ministers, the Deputies or the staff; it is the property of the people of the nation and children are certainly included in that.
 I have here a file, most of which I have read, and it would surprise people to see the letters that have come not only from every county in Ireland but from almost every country in the world thanking the Captain and his staff for their wonderful courtesy, co-operation, competence and patience in showing visitors around this House and telling them everything about it. Last week I got one myself from a child who I suppose would be in fifth or sixth class saying: “On behalf of the pupils and adults who were on the educational tour in Dublin we wish to thank you every sincerely for the reception given to us in Dáil Éireann. We have read and heard about the Dáil many times, especially in our history and on television but we never really knew what it was like until we were brought through it last week”. This is the telling part of it— written in a copybook—“We all thought Dáil Éireann belonged to the TDs and Ministers but now that we have toured it we realise it is for everyone of us; it really belongs to our country and it is really our House”. That was instilled into the minds of the children by whoever guided them around, presumably the Captain.
Deputy Gibbons made a very good suggestion—a notice board in the hallway setting out the programme of business for the whole day. This is a matter for the authorities of the House in the first instance. The Office of Public Works will, of course, supply a suitable notice board. We must look into the fact——
Mr. Kenny: Certainly he has a very onerous task and so have his counterparts on that side of the House. If a programme for even one day could be drawn up and placed on the notice board, would we ever reach 10.30 p.m. at night without some drastic change  or rearrangement being made? We can try and we can supply the notice board at very short notice if required.
Mr. Kenny: That will depend on the temperaments of the various Deputies. Deputy Murphy referred to what he called “the depressing atmosphere” in the visitors' waiting room and suggested the provision of reading material and background music. For a young, immature Deputy this was an excellent suggestion but who will select the music and the reading material? We can supply all that is required but I suggest we cannot make the selection although we have some wonderful musicians on the staff of the Board of Works who are not tone deaf—like some Deputies. I offer sincerest congratulations and felicitations to the Captain and the staff who receive visitors through the good offices of the Superintendent.
Mr. Kenny: We shall do our best to help in every possible way. We had many suggestions about accomodation. Deputy Lemass and Deputy Moore expressed some apprehension about the proposal to build on the site of the former military barracks at Beggar's Bush. The Deputies who, I understand, represent the area, need have no fear. In the siting or planning  of the proposed building, which is the subject of consultation with the planning authority, there will be nothing detrimental to the overall development of the area. We are building a new office for the Geological Survey Branch on part of the site but it will in no way interfere with the overall harmonisation of the new complex when it is built.
Deputy Tunney, who is a very able Deputy, was concerned about the site of Marlborough House, Glasnevin, and what it would be used for. He said there was an imbalance as regards Government buildings between north and south Dublin. I want to assure him that, as I said in reply to a question by him, plans are well advanced for the erection on the site of a new building which will house the Meterological Service. That will add weight to his side of the river and should satisfy him. Deputy Moore asked what was intended to be done with the site at Morehampton Road purchased some years ago for a new National Library. This was the subject of a parliamentary question to the Minister for Education some time ago. In his reply the Minister indicated that the site was intended to be used for the erection of a new National College of Art and Design.
Deputy Lemass and Deputy McDonald wanted to find out what the area vacated by the Stamping Branch in Dublin Castle will be used for. It is intended to adapt it as an adjunct to the State Apartments and at a later time to have it open to the public.
Mr. Kenny: Deputies representing Dublin should speak about the apartments, the rooms, the furniture, the paintings, the ceilings, in the various places they visit. As ardent Deputies they visit very many places in their constituencies. That would do a world of good to the culture of the city and to the people.
I want to express the thanks of the Office of Public Works to the personnel concerned for the wonderful job they did there during the time the European Ministers were in Dublin over the last three or four years. Our craftsmen and technological experts can hold their own with their colleagues in any other European country.
Deputy Lemass and Deputy Seán Moore were curious as to the Kildare Street Club and asked whether the premises would house the whole of the National Library. That would not be possible. We have property up from the Kildare Street Club along the street into the back of the existing National Library and the Kildare Street Club and the existing National Library will be used to house as far as possible the books, maps and various other things that are now hidden in the basement, that never saw the light of day and could not up to this. We trust that within a certain space of time the books, maps, prints and such like will be on view to the public almost under one roof.
Deputy Ciaran Murphy asked if any Wicklow project was mentioned in the list of works under subhead E. Yes. The adaptation of premises in Bray for forestry offices is included in the list. He may not have seen it. The work is virtually completed and the offices will house a significant number of forestry staff at present in Merrion Street. This is decentralisation in effect. As the newspaper said this morning, even a small number of officials going to a new area is almost as good as a factory employing  the same number of persons in the area. I trust that as the years go by decentralisation to a greater extent will take place and correct the imbalance of east and west.
I have dealt with Deputy McDonald and the request by the Posts and Telegraphs telephonic section about the refurbishing of the old mill in Portlaoise. We have explained to Deputy Lalor where the money will come from. To the best of our ability the matter will be dealt with expeditiously.
Deputy Seán Moore suggested that part at least of the Beggars' Bush site should be made available for the erection of houses. He is in the area long enough to recollect that we have not acted ungenerously with regard to housing in that area. We have made available to Dublin Corporation three blocks of flats on the north side of the barracks as well as four large houses in Northumberland Road which the corporation have now converted into flats. In addition, we have leased to private concerns the former drill field on the east side of the barracks and an area along the southern boundary wall, on both of which sites about 60 dwelling houses are being built. Deputy Moore is under the impression that when this overall complex is completed it may interfere with the lighting or other amenities of the houses in the neighbourhood. No. We will take particular precautions in that respect.
Deputies Tom Fitzpatrick of Dublin, Fergus O'Brien, John Callanan and Ruairí Brugha—I may not have all the names here—asked certain specific questions. They were interested in the erection of new offices for Government staff and asked which is better, erection or leasing. As I have indicated previously, there cannot be the slightest doubt that a programme under which the State would erect its own buildings would be the most economic way of solving what is undoubtedly a very difficult problem. Of necessity, the programme will be a very long-term one. It will not interfere with other priorities. It will result in a very considerable saving to the Exchequer on rents for  speculative developments which are liable to be increased substantially at least every seven years.
As to the location of such new offices, I accept that as far as possible it would be desirable to have them kept away from the city centre but this, of course, might lead to complaints because if they were away from the city centre staff would have to travel distances and there might be the problems which arise from travelling in the morning when there is traffic chaos in Dublin.
Deputy Fitzpatrick of Dublin covered a very wide and varied field. He asked what use would be made of the offices vacated by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Those offices are in Merrion Street. They will be used for relief of congestion in other offices. It is a case of a progression. The offices in Kildare Place are now almost fully occupied by the personnel of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; the Attorney-General's Office will move into the offices vacated by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Their office will be occupied by personnel from elsewhere. We have not sorted the situation out yet.
Deputy Briscoe expressed much concern for our youth and in particular he asked about the Children's Court. I have never been to that court but I have read descriptions of the sordid surroundings and the gloomy atmosphere that prevail there. I am anxious as is the Deputy to have some renovations carried out at the court but the Deputy asked when will the new Children's Court be ready. It is not possible to answer that question at the moment because we encountered unexpected difficulties in relation to a site. These difficulties have yet to be resolved but we are doing all we can to expedite the matter. I shall continue to press the matter until such time as we get rid of the present buildings.
Deputy Brugha has a very probing mind. He asked a most peculiar question, that was, whether in regard to the erection of new office premises there is a saving in respect of the renting of premises. The simple  answer to that is “Yes”. The Deputy asked, too, whether, when new buildings are built, we dispose of the vacated ones. We dispose of them if they are not required for some other State purpose.
Mr. Kenny: Yes, except in rural areas where Garda stations or schools are vacated. We offer such buildings for sale by tender but in Dublin when a building is vacated it is reoccupied by personnel from elsewhere.
Mr. Kenny: There is congestion everywhere, including this building. I have been here since 1954 and although the accomodation has been extended considerably since then we are still short of space. There was the same number of Deputies in the past as there is now and I often wonder how they survived. Of course it is the trend in modern life that the younger people must have a different standard from those who went before them. It is remarkable that before we got this 29,000 sq. ft. extra space the same number of Deputies, bigger in physique and probably in mind, too, managed with the lesser accomodation.
Mr. Kenny: Deputy Cunningham wanted information in detail about the new office complex for Roinn na Gaeltachta at Furbo. Plans are in course of preparation for the erection of a new building on part of the Gaeltarra Éireann site at Furbo for some of the Roinn na Gaeltachta staff who are at present housed in Dublin as well as for staff of the Department who are housed locally. The total number of staff involved is about 40. It is hoped to have tenders invited within the next six months or so. The estimated cost involved is £180,000.
 Deputy Brugha asked also who decides on what is necessary in the matter of new office buildings. This is primarily a matter for the Department concerned. They draw up a brief of requirements. This brief is developed and an architect carries out the design work.
Deputy Raphael Burke urged that decentralisation of civil servants be promoted to a much greater degree. We have no function in the policy of decentralisation. This is a matter for the Department of Finance but if we get a request from Finance to meet their requirements in any part of the country we accede to their wishes and design a building to their requirements.
There seems to be some conflict between Deputies Fitzpatrick and O'Brien on the question of Cathal Brugha and Clancy Barracks. The former suggests that sites for new Government offices should be procured at either of those establishments while Deputy O'Brien says “hands off”. We have a number of buildings of this kind. We have more than we want so that we should at least be able to make some use of them.
Mr. Kenny: There are some barracks in which there is only a small complement of staff and these could be accommodated elsewhere. I do not think there is any threat of invasion which would entail their going from one barracks to another. Therefore, some of the sites could be taken over and converted into office blocks for Government Departments. This would result in a huge saving of office space accommodation. It would be a good idea to endeavour to come to some agreement with the Department of Defence in this regard because a policy of this kind would be well worth while although it would impose a greater burden on capital expenditure.
I turn now to what it the bugbear of every rural Deputy and of some  city Deputies, too—arterial drainage. My own opinion is that arterial drainage is the finest form of investment in which any Government can engage. It is far safer than investment in industry, for example. Because of the added benefit of the findings of cost/benefit analysis the Department of Finance cannot go wrong in investing in these projects. They have a built-in guarantee that the ratio of expenditure as against the benefit accuring to the people concerned will be of a certain order.
Another important aspect in this regard is that a farmer, once his lands have been drained, will, like the manager of a small factory, maintain his property very well because his livelihood depends on it. He has a personal interest in it. Any Government who do not invest heavily in arterial drainage are making a mistake, especially when one considers the price of agricultural products such as beef and milk.
In my introductory statement I said that the provision for arterial drainage construction work is in respect of the Maigue and the Boyne schemes. This is the largest work yet undertaken, the current estimate being £16 million. At present no other scheme has quite reached the work stage. The most advanced is the Corrib-Mask-Robe scheme on which a cost-benefit analysis is in progress. I said in my statement that a request has been made for the reintroduction of intermediate river schemes. These were discontinued because they were a brake on progress with the settled arterial drainage programme. I said that the provision for maintenance of completed schemes is adequate to help keep the national investment in them secure. I will be on the alert should the possibility of funds from the EEC become available but there does not seem to be any prospect at this juncture of getting any aid from the EEC.
Almost every rural Deputy spoke of the importance and the urgency of carrying out work on the major  catchments. I do not know if we can accede to their requests because we are hidebound to an extent by the Act of 1945. We can go to a certain point and no further. We may be able to bring in an amendment in order to make the regulations more flexible and thus facilitate some of the places mentioned by the Deputies. If it is possible we will do that.
Many rural Deputies, including Deputies Lalor, O'Leary, Gallagher, Callanan and Noonan, raised the question of the burden of the cost of maintenance of drainage schemes on county councils. The commisisoners are bound by the provisions of the Arterial Drainage act, 1945, which provides that maintenance is to be carried out by the commissioners but the cost must be met by the local authorities out of rates. We cannot get beyond that provision.
Deputy Joan Burke advocated that arterial drainage should get the benefit of a very high investment. She comes from Roscommon on the borders of Lough Ree and in the area of the Suck and the Shannon rivers— some of the best land in the country. The Deputy maintained it was unjust and unfair that people who live on the land must pay rates for land that is inundated by water for six months each year. If the rains come early in September most of that land will be covered until May. I can add to that the additional fact that when cattle are let out on that land they suffer all the diseases connected with sodden soil, such as fluke and other diseases. In my area we have a bacon and a beef factory and I know that hundreds of thousands of pounds are lost every year because of diseased livers. They have to be dumped or are converted into fertilisers. This is happening in other areas of the country also. There is no way out of the problem except draining the land.
Deputy Calleary mentioned the possibility of compensation for spoil. Arterial drainage works have been in progress since 1945. Farmers are shrewd people but some of them did not know that they were entitled to compensation for damage done by spoil on the banks of rivers. However,  it is necessary that applications be submitted within one year of the spoil being thrown onto the banks of the streams or rivers. The Deputy advocated that sympathetic consideration be given to farmers who neglected to send in applications. He also said that redundancy money should be paid to workers who have retired. The Office of Public Works are dealing with this matter as quickly as possible. However, there are many complex factors involved because day-by-day service must be made up and accounted for. I can assure the Deputy this will be expedited as much as possible. The Deputy also mentioned flooding on the Moy at Bunree, Ballina. This matter will be examined.
Deputy Lemass, who is not a rural Deputy, also contributed to the debate. I had occasion to ask him what Department established the cost-benefit survey. At the time the Minister for Finance was Deputy Haughey. The realistic answer is that the Department of Finance established the technique of recruiting skilled staff for cost-benefit analyses.
The Office of Public Works were then asked to suggest some estimates which might be suitable for analysis under this particular survey team. At this time arterial drainage was not thought much about by the Government and there was a definite guarantee that, if the findings of the analysis were not favourable, then out that catchment went. However, the Office of Public Works suggested that arterial drainage should be put under a cost-benefit survey to impress upon the Department of Finance that arterial drainage was a lucrative and remunerative investment. The Department of Finance favoured arterial drainage and the trying out of techniques and the Office of Public Works acquiesced and this resulted in the actual creation of the cost-benefit survey. There are those who thought this should not be undertaken, but it is a fact that before the introduction of this cost-benefit survey certain catchments were rejected because the expenditure was thought to be too great. Had an in-depth study been made from the point of view of the sociological aspect—the people involved,  families, farms, the construction of county council roads and the construction of buildings and so on— some catchments that were rejected would not have been rejected. Now the study is a very detailed one and, judging from my experience of numerous deputations on arterial drainage, I know that the cost-benefit analysis is undoubtedly a good thing, but it does lead to delay.
Mr. Kenny: No. Every factor in every catchment is now taken into consideration. Some factors were not taken into consideration before but now every factor is taken into consideration and the cost is then evaluated against the benefit accruing. There is a better chance now of getting a catchment included for arterial drainage than there was before 1945.
Deputy Lalor, Deputy John O'Leary, Deputy Noonan, Deputy Callanan, Deputy Finn and others, including a deputation I met yesterday, want maintenance done at State expense after the arterial drainage scheme is completed. Under the 1945 Act that cannot be done. Until the Act is amended the local authority is responsible for maintenance.
Mr. Kenny: I sincerely hope the Opposition will not delay it as long as they are delaying the proposed wealth tax. It seems unfair that someone living in Enniscorthy, Gorey, New Ross, or Wexford—a publican, a baker, a butcher and so on—must pay in rates for the maintenance of the Sow river. But that is the way the Act is framed and you just cannot get away from it.
Deputy Calleary mentioned the Asahi project being developed between Killala and Ballina. This industry will take 24 million gallons of water per day out of Lough Conn. He suggested there should be co-operation between  the local authority in Mayo and our hydrometric experts in the Office of Public Works. The idea is the water level in Lough Conn should be kept under the watchful eye of the Board of Works in conjunction with the observant eye of the county council engineers. That can be arranged.
Some may possibly think I am mentioning western representatives too often, but both Deputy Calleary and Deputy Finn referred to the River Lung. They want something done to the main channel. Once more we are hamstrung by the Act because we cannot do an arterial drainage scheme piecemeal. The entire catchment area must be surveyed.
Deputy Lalor mentioned the giving of £3,000 to Laois. That has nothing to do with arterial drainage. That is merely for the benefit of farmers; £3,000 could be given for roads, as it was in Mayo. We gave seven pence or eight pence in the £ because we did not get enough money.
Deputy Browne wanted to know the up-to-date position with regard to arterial drainage and, in particular, with regard to the Sow river. I have a list from 1945, when drainage started, up to the present showing what the position is and I will give him the details later.
Deputy Callanan and Deputy Hussey suggested the money being spent on arterial drainage is totally inadequate to do the work we should be doing. Everybody knows it is inadequate, but we have to live within our means. At the moment we have two major arterial drainage schemes in progress—the Boyne and the Maigue—and it is hoped to have a third in progress shortly and, after that, a fourth.
Deputy Hussey was concerned about the Suck river. The Suck is involved in the drainage of the Shannon and it cannot be done unless and until the Shannon is done because it would interfere with the level of the Shannon and therefore the Electricity Supply Board comes into the picture. One cannot be done without the other.
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