Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. J. Mitchell: asked the Taoiseach if he will give details of the respective responsibilities of (a) the Minister for Tourism and Transport, (b) the Minister for the Marine, (c) the Minister for the Environment in shipping and port matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: Precise details of the responsibilities of the Ministers in question are defined by statute subject to any relevant transfer of functions Orders which have been deposited in the Dáil Library. In this connection, I would refer the Deputy to the written reply I made to Deputy Avril Doyle on 1 April 1987 listing relevant transfer of functions Orders.
Mr. J. Mitchell: Will the Taoiseach not agree that the various documents to which he refers serve to obfuscate the changes that are made in this connection? Will he not agree that it is difficult to justify the splitting up of the shipping function between at least two Departments? I would like him to elaborate on precisely what shipping function the Department of Tourism and Transport now have. Despite all the papers to which the Taoiseach has referred it is far from clear.
The Taoiseach: Basically the Department of the Marine. The Department of the Marine at the moment have an operation in progress to take the oil off the wrecked ship which is really the main problem still remaining. The Department of the Environment, through the county council, have responsibility for keeping the beaches cleaned up when the oil comes ashore. Therefore, it is between those two Departments but the primary responsibility is with the Department of the Marine.
The Taoiseach: The Department of  Tourism and Transport have responsibility for sea ferries and in so far as these sea ferries carry freight it would come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Tourism and Transport. In so far as it is other types of shipping it would be under the Department of the Marine. You have to draw the line somewhere.
Mr. J. Mitchell: Will the Taoiseach be prepared to review this distribution of functions after, say, the passage of some months if it is not working out and if, as I suspect, it causes great difficulties for the shipping industry because of the dispersal between the Departments of policy in that respect?
The Taoiseach: Certainly I will be prepared to review it but the Deputy knows full well there is always some overlapping in functions between different Departments and the line must be drawn somewhere. Perhaps it would have been more complete to transfer sea ferries entirely to the Department of the Marine along with other shipping, but as against that the sea ferries have a very important contribution to make to the tourist industry. Therefore, on balance it was decided to leave ferries with the Department of Tourism and Transport, but it can be looked at again.
Mr. J. Mitchell: Will the Taoiseach not agree that shipping in general is an intrinsic part of transport? Perhaps he will be honest enough to admit that this Department of the Marine incorporating shipping was a rash promise made in the euphoria of the advent of the general election. In view of his U-turn on health, the SEA and the Anglo-Irish Agreement, will he not agree this will be a U-turn——
The Taoiseach: I want to assure Deputy Mitchell that, on the contrary, I have for a long period of years been interested in establishing a Department of the Marine and I have the support of many Deputies in this House for that concept. It has always seemed to me absurd that an island nation like ours would not have a Department solely responsible for the development of our maritime resources.
Mr. J. Mitchell: Arising from the Taoiseach's reply, the whole point of this question is to highlight the fact that there is not one Department but two or three Departments looking after shipping matters.
Mr. Cullen: I ask the Taoiseach to try to ensure that these areas of conflict are cleared up. I had a question in asking the volume of freight traffic from the Republic using Northern Ireland ports in 1985-86 and this question has been refused after a long——
Mr. Cullen: Can the Taoiseach ensure that the demarcation lines which seem to be there between the Department of the Marine and the Department of Tourism and Transport are clear so that questions  would not be refused on a basis which seems unclear?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Is the Taoiseach aware of the package of tax incentives which was announced by the previous Minister for Communications in January? Is it the intention of the Government to incorporate these incentives, in so far as they relate to shipping, in the Finance Bill?
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