Wednesday, 26 November 1980
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): It transpired during the course of the debate on this section on the last occasion that it is proposed to operate the Bill through a map referred to in the definition section and other sections. It also transpired that the map had not been circulated with the Bill, that it was tucked away in the Valuation Office or the Ordnance Survey Office but was not available to Members. I pointed out that the Bill without the map was meaningless. The Minister then produced a map which was available to him but not to any other Member. I thanked the Minister for that gesture but pointed out that the map should be circulated to each Member. The Minister told me that he had no intention of circulating the map to each Member but would give the map to those he considered interested in the Bill. Apparently, he had decided that only Members representing the constituency of Wexford had any interest in the Bill and, consequently, a right to a copy of the map. He picked me out for VIP treatment and sent me a copy of the map. He also sent a copy to his three colleagues in the Wexford constituency.
I should like to record in a serious way my view that this is no way to treat this  House. The Minister of State, or any Minister, in charge of a Bill does not have a right to decide who is or is not interested in a Bill. The Minister must take it that every Member is interested in what is taking place in the House. If Members are not they are guilty of a dereliction of their duty. I am moving that Committee Stage be adjourned until such time as the map is circulated to all Members. I ask the Chair to rule accordingly. Without the map the Bill is meaningless and unintelligible. Members cannot consider it in a sensible, reasonable or rational way without the map.
Mr. Corish: Is there any precedent for a reference to a map in a Bill and the map not being given to Members of Parliament? There is a reference to the map in this Bill, but those who have not got the map do not know what is involved.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): The Chair is the costodian and guardian of procedure in this House. If Members of the House are to be deprived of this map today, how do we know that next week or the week after we will not be taking the Second Stage of a Bill without the Bill having been circulated? How do we know that on another day the Committee Stage of an 80 or 90 section Bill will not be taken without Deputies having the Bill before them? If I point out to the Chair on the Second Stage of a Bill that Members of the House have not got the Bill, the Chair is bound to  take note of that and protect Members of the House. This is no joke. In all seriousness, without the map this Bill is meaningless.
There is the reference to the map. With the best will in the world I could not discuss this Bill without that map. If all Members of the House got the Bill without the map, they might as well have torn it up and thrown it into the waste paper basket.
Mr. Corish: We are not suggesting the Chair has responsibility for it. Perhaps he has some responsibility for it, but surely the Minister of State could enlighten us. As Deputy Fitzpatrick said, without the map the Bill is meaningless. Deputies do not know what is involved. They do not know what parts of the land are involved. I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the map. I forget how I got it.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair cannot rule on a matter of this kind. The identity of the map is mentioned in section  1. It is up to the Minister whether copies are to be provided. It is not a matter for the Chair.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair has no responsibility for what the Minister says so long as it is relevant to the matter before the House. Deputy Corish is in possession. Perhaps we could dispose of the map issue first.
The specific areas which An Foras are to be allowed to dispose of have been finally determined and marked on the map referred to in section 1 of the Bill and this map has been deposited in the Ordnance Survey Office since 22 September last.
Mr. Allen: Deputy Corish asked was there any precedent for maps of this sort. The Curragh of Kildare Bill, 1961, was the most relevant one. A memo, together with maps, was issued to all the Whips of the political parties.
Mr. Corish: I should like to have more information about the parts of Johnstown Castle which have the various colours on the map. In respect of which of these is there to be an outright purchase, and which are to be leased? I presume that the houses in Redmondstown which are somewhat in disrepair will be sold by private treaty or by auction. I think the Minister said they will be sold by auction. I presume the ones marked in red and described as “access required by county council” will be given over completely to the county council. Getting back to the green part of the map and the Redmondstown houses, could the Minister say what  he means by “for posible future disposal”? Why not “for future disposal”? Paragraph (b) refers to such part or parts of the estate as may be leased from time to time to the State. Does that apply to some of the estate now mentioned, or to future plots?
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): I did not want to interrupt Deputy Corish but, arising out of what the Minister has said about the map, it is true that one or two copies were sent to each Whip. That is no way to treat the House. I want this dealt with in the interest of the proper conduct of the business of this House. I want a ruling on it and I want the Chair to refer this matter to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): I would ask the Chair to formally refer this case to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges so as to ensure that abuses do not creep in here and that members are treated properly.
Mr. Allen: To clarify the position, 13.75 acres will go to Wexford County Council for housing and road widening and that will be sold, 4.75 acres will go to the meteorological office and that will possibly be leased in years to come.
Mr. Allen: Yes, because the Department of Transport have looked for a site for future use. That is why it was embodied in the Bill at this stage. The eight acres can be either sold or leased to St. Martin's football club, whichever they wish.
Mr. D'Arcy: On section 2 of the Bill I am giving notice that I intend to move an amendment on Report Stage. I handed in the amendment to the Bills Office but it has not yet been circulated. However, as far as I am concerned I have signed it and sent it in, so I will be moving an amendment on Report Stage.
Mr. D'Arcy: In relation to the map it has made things very clear and the Minister must accept that it was a mistake that we did not get the map in the first instance. As Deputy Fitzpatrick stated, the Bill is nothing without the map.
In relation to the football pitch for the St. Martin's Club the Minister has stated that it is a matter between An Foras Talúntais and the St. Martin's Football Club. Having a certain amount of experience in dealing with facilities such as football pitches I feel it is only right that we should recommend to An Foras Talúntais that they sell this to St. Martin's because for development purposes it is essential that the club have proper ownership. What will the Minister recommend here? This is marked on the map as a portion for St. Martin's Club but how it will be disposed of is not specified.
Mr. D'Arcy: That is not sufficient for us. I want it on the Official Report that the Minister is prepared to recommend the sale of this portion of land to the St. Martin's Football Club rather than the leasing of it.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): Deputy D'Arcy has made the House aware that he intends to introduce an amendment to section 2 on Report Stage. That amendment is necessary on Report Stage because the map we have been talking about was not available on Committee Stage. I do not have to tell the Chair that on a Committee Stage amendment more latitude is given than on a Report Stage amendment.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): Yes, but there is a procedure for recommitting a section on Report Stage so that Members may enjoy the same privileges in regard to the amendment on Report Stage as they would have had, had it been possible to move the amendment on Committee Stage. Will the Minister agree to recommitting the section?
Mr. D'Arcy: During the Second Stage speech the Minister stated that the object of the Bill was a simple one, to permit An Foras Talúntais to sell or lease certain  portions of the Johnstown Castle Estate in Wexford and generally to lease to the State parts of the estate from time to time if required, and that this was not possible at present because of the existing legal position. The only areas are those areas marked on the map, as far as this portion of the speech is concerned. Is that right?
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): As I understand it, section 2(a) applies the 1959 Act and parts of the 1958 Act to the parts of the estate defined on the map but it also applies to sections mentioned in section 2 to such part or parts of the estate as may be leased from time to time to the State, so what the Minister says, that it only applies to the parts mentioned and coloured on the map, is not correct. It also applies or it is proposed to apply the other Acts to such parts of the estate as may be leased from time to time to the State. Will the Minister agree that that is so?
Mr. Allen: By way of explanation, the inclusion in section 2 of a general power in future to make a lease to the State — for example, in the case of a request for a site like that for the meteorological office referred to earlier — is to avoid the need for similar legislation at a later date. At the same time the power is sufficiently narrow to ensure that there is no danger of the wholesale erosion of the estate as a single entity. Such a development would, of course, be at variance with the spirit of the donation and acceptance of the lands as a free gift to the nation.
Mr. Corish: Everybody in Johnstown Castle would be very pleased if it was the stated intention of An Foras Talúntais and the Minister that much of it would be sold or leased to the State. Section 2(b) says that it shall apply to such part or parts of the estate as may be leased from time to time to the State. It means therefore that the Bill is giving permission to An Foras Talúntais to lease parts of the site to the State.
Mr. Corish: If a small part is to be disposed of to a county council or private individual new legislation would be needed. In other words, if it is sold to the State, no legislation; leased to anyone  else, a new Bill. Is that not a cumbersome way of doing it?
Mr. Allen: Unfortunately the donors still have a say. They have made it very plain they do not want any more of the estate disposed of. There has been a lot of road widening and some was used for housing. They do not want any further erosion of the estate.
Mr. Allen: It enabled the Agriculture Institute to lease the portion I have already mentioned for a meteorological office and which the Department do not at present require. It was written into the Bill on this occasion so that it would be available to them when they wanted it.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): I understand that the effect of section 2(a) was to enable An Foras Talúntais to sell parts of the estate that are marked in various colours on this map. Is that so?
 That puts those parts in the same position as the parts coloured green on the map. Notwithstanding what the Minister said, the entire estate can be sold because they may lease parts to the State and the State, having taken a lease, could decide to sell.
Mr. Allen: It states that subsection (3) of section 14 of The Agriculture (An Foras Talúntais) Act, 1958, shall not apply in respect of the estate. The other section does not apply specifically to Johnstown Castle.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): Notwithstanding the provisions of section 9 of the Act of 1959 — that is the section which says the Act shall not apply to Johnstown Castle — section 14(3) of the Agriculture (An Foras Talúntais) Act, 1958, shall apply to the parts coloured on the map and to the parts that may be leased to the State from time to time. There is machinery there to sell the whole estate lock, stock and barrel if An Foras Talúntais and the State between them want to do so. All they would have to do is lease in two or three lots the entire estate to the State and then the  1958 Act would apply and they could sell it off if they did not want it.
Mr. Allen: I am satisfied that paragraph (b) of section 2 is specific and that section 9 of the Johnstown Castle Agricultural (Amendment) Act, 1959, spells it out that the 1958 Act does not apply to Johnstown Castle.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): The effect of section 4 is to free the Johnstown Castle estate from the restrictions on usure as set out in the Act of 1959, or, more correctly to free the portion mentioned on the map and any portion leased to the State. In effect it is a machinery for freeing the entire estate. There is sufficient machinery in section 4 to release the entire estate from the usures imposed on it in the 1959 Act.
(1) No further demolition of Johnstown Castle or exterior structural alterations thereof shall be undertaken and no alteration to the crenellated entrances to the Estate shall be made,  unless, with the passage of time, it should be found necessary to undertake such demolition or alternations because the maintenance of the structures would be no longer practicable, in which case, no such demolition or alterations shall be made until Maurice Victor Lakin shall have been notified of the proposal to do so and has been afforded an opportunity of making representations.
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