Tuesday, 9 December 1980
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Deasy: I agree fully with the proposal to increase the share capital of Irish Shipping Limited from £12 million to £22 million. This is a welcome move. Any help that can be given to Irish Shipping by way of additional funds should be given. As the main Opposition party in this House we welcome the proposal.
The operation of Irish Shipping is a credit to the senior personnel involved in the shipping line. It speaks for itself that this is the first time since 1959 that the company have come here looking for additional finance. I do not know of any other State-sponsored body with such a good record so far as providing revenue for their own equipment is concerned. It shows that Irish Shipping have been operating most efficiently. If they need £10 million to assist them in providing the bulk carrier, which I understand will cost £25 million, we should got out of our way to see that they get it. Their operations have been a credit to the entire work force.
They were faced with severe difficulties in the current year because of the blockade by French fishermen. This cost the company a considerable amount because of the extra travelling involved and because of the cancellation of sailings from Rosslare to Le Havre and other French ports. However, despite all these factors, which were due to circumstances outside their control, the company are operating in a very efficient manner and I am glad we are assisting them. Many of the other State-sponsored bodies are getting handouts year after year but this is the first time in more than 20 years that Irish Shipping have come to us for assistance. It is our duty to see that they get this £10 million.
We are glad that the building of the ship will be carried out in the State and will provide employment in the Verolme shipyard. We have no objection to the  passing of this section. It is what anybody would expect to do in the circumstances.
Mr. Deasy: We have no objection to the Bill. As I said on Committee Stage, we are glad to support it and any assistance we can give to Irish Shipping will be forthcoming from this side of the House. During the past ten or 15 years the tramping industry, as it is known in shipping, has had a very depressed time. There are few companies who have not suffered heavy losses and it is great credit to Irish Shipping that they have kept their head above water in such circumstances. At the moment there is a surplus of heavy cargo vessels, including oil tankers, and it is difficult to make the business pay because of this excess capacity. Irish Shipping have shown themselves to be extremely astute in the way they have kept the tramp cargo vessels in their fleet busy during this depressed period. It is the duty of this House to pay tribute to the directors, management and work force of Irish Shipping for that achievement. Because of over-capacity there is much cut-rate shipping. In fact, the Transport Commissioner of the EEC, Mr. Burke, has had reason to complain about this undercutting not only by EEC countries but also by the Soviet Union. They have been providing bulk carriers and tramp shipping at enormously reduced prices and this has made it more difficult for companies such as Irish Shipping to pay their way. In the circumstances they have done an extremely good job.
I fail to see why some other State companies cannot operate in as efficient a manner as Irish Shipping. They have had as difficult a time as anybody but yet they came out without any losses except in the  current year when the losses were in the region of £1 million. This was largely due to the blockade of the French ports. Obviously there is considerable expertise at the top of the company, they have good labour relations and have an able and willing work force. All credit is due to them for their performance not just in recent years but over 20 years and particularly when the competition has been so keen. They have performed to the credit of the country and without any cost to the taxpayer. On this one occasion when they have come back to us because of the very large amount of capital required, we should be in full agreement that the money be provided.
Mr. Begley: As Deputy Deasy has said, we are glad to accommodate the Minister with regard to this Bill. I am glad he has responded positively to the remarks I made, particularly about informing tourists about shipping timetables and so on. We are doing our best to satisfy tourists so far as accommodation and travel are concerned.
I hope Irish Shipping will never be caught in a situation similar to what occurred recently when a cargo of greyhounds was exported from Rosslare to England even though the greyhounds were supposed to go to Spain. I hope the Minister has some machinery available to ensure that if there is a cargo of greyhounds, whether kennelled or otherwise——
Mr. Begley: The point I am making is a fair one. We are discussing the company in general and the debate has been broad up to now. I ask that an official from the Department of Agriculture should examine the containers in which dogs are placed. There should not be too many dogs in each container and they should be muzzled so that they will not eat one another as they did not long ago. That gave a very bad name to the Irish greyhound industry. If the owners thought  their dogs would be savaged in that way they would not have sold them.
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