Tuesday, 11 July 1939
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Counihan: I want to raise the question of a subsidy on fat cattle. If an opportunity is not given to me to raise it now, it will be too late when we meet again after the recess to make any provision for stall fed cattle. I have already given notice to the Minister of my intention to raise this.
Mr. Counihan: On the section, some time last autumn the Seanad passed a resolution recommending the Minister for Agriculture to pay a subsidy on the export of fat cattle during certain months of the year. I do not know what became of the resolution or whether it was ignored. At all events, nothing was done, and the general  belief is that it is the Minister for Finance and his Department that turned down the question of a subsidy on fat cattle. If there is anything going to be done for the next season's stall feeding, I want to point out to the Minister that it should be done now, in order to give farmers an opportunity to make provision for stall-feeding cattle. I pointed out last autumn that, unless there was a subsidy paid for stall-feeding cattle, we would not have sufficient fat cattle in the spring and early summer to supply our own requirements. That fact has been proved since, as during the months which I mentioned—April and May—fat cattle have been exported from Belfast and the Six Counties and sold in the Dublin market, because we were not stall feeding sufficient cattle of a certain class to meet our own requirements.
Those cattle which were sent in to be sold on the Dublin market received a subsidy in the North of Ireland. They were then sent here, which shows that fat cattle are worth more in this country in those months than they are worth in the British markets. Sending cattle from the North of Ireland to Dublin looks like taking coals to Newcastle, but, if the miners in Newcastle were to go on strike, coal could be quite as valuable there as in any other part of the world.
There are several other matters which I do not want to go into now, but I would like to impress on the Minister, and through him on the Minister for Agriculture that, unless something is done in the way of encouraging the stall-feeding of cattle, it will be too late. Apart altogether from the question of tillage, which I do not want to discuss with the Minister for Finance, fat cattle will be as scarce in a short time as pigs and bacon, poultry and eggs, which the Minister is spending thousands now to try and increase in production. If something is not done at the present time, the Government will be spending, not thousands, but hundreds of thousands, to try to revive the stall-fed cattle trade.
Another matter which I will ask the  Minister and the Government to take into consideration is that we are not filling our quota. Perhaps in the near future, the British Government may be revising the quota and, on looking into the quota which we have now and finding that we have not been filling it, they may reduce it, and it may be cut down to the amount which we have been exporting during these lean years. Then the Government and the Minister for Agriculture will be trying to increase the provision.
These are the only remarks I have to make. I would ask the Minister, in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, that, if any decision is being made regarding a subsidy on fat cattle, that decision should be made now at the proper time in order to enable the farmers and stall feeders to make provision for it this winter.
Sir John Keane: Arising out of the debate on the cinema, it seemed to occur to nobody that there is an illict censorship on the cinema to-day. I hope the Minister may be able to give us some assurance that the forces of the State will be used to resist that censorship. As I am sure he is aware, owing to that illict censorship, we are unable to see the picture of the Royal tour. Whatever we may feel politically, every citizen has a right to see what he wishes. As the Minister probably knows, many citizens of this country feel very much and very deeply that deprivation. It is a deprivation which cuts very deeply into the whole social life of the country and although it may not be made vocal it does affect the satisfaction of a large number of people who are substantial citizens and substantial taxpayers.
Mr. O'Donovan: I would like to refer to the point made by Senator Counihan, because I supported his motion about the subsidy on fat cattle. It was passed by the Seanad, but I certainly am not impressed by the argument he has used now. Very little cattle came over the Border for sale in the Dublin market and I think that the Senator will agree that the number of such cattle was negligible as people were not inclined to take the risk with  a consignment of cattle. I have known of cattle sold in the Dublin market being taken to Cork, and those cattle practically came all the way up from the County Cork. It affects the whole argument about bad prices for fat cattle to say they can be imported into the Dublin market from the North of Ireland where the subsidy is paid.
Mr. O'Donovan: It is a bad argument to try to impress the Minister that he should give a subsidy on our own fat cattle. I favoured that subsidy when it was to try to produce a finished product here that could not be improved upon, so that we would produce and finish them and use our own materials and foodstuffs. I am still in favour of the subsidy, but I think the Senator made a bad argument by saying that one could get a better price——
Mr. O'Donovan: For any months. If 5/- to 7/- is the bounty, it is a bad argument for the subsidy of our own cattle to say we can give a better price to those from the North after bringing them across the Border. If one tries to argue that our own cattle are scarce, the prices must have improved to such a satisfactory extent that prices here are as good as on the other side. I favoured the motion for the subsidy on fat cattle at the time and intended it to enable us to produce the finished product.
Mr. MacEntee: In regard to Senator Counihan's point, that I should ask the Minister for Agriculture, if he decides to grant this subsidy for fat cattle, to make known his intention in  good time, I am certainly prepared to convey that request to the Minister for Agriculture; but I am certainly not prepared to convey to him any request for increased expenditure— after the sort of ordeal which I have gone through in the past few days. I am aware that, taking the Seanad as a whole, they probably would favour reduced expenditure.
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