Tuesday, 3 July 1984
Seanad Eireann Debate
Minister for Justice (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The object of this Bill is to enable part of the funds of suitors vested in the Accountant of the Courts of Justice to be withdrawn and applied for the various purposes indicated in sections 3 and 4 of the Bill.
The funds of suitors are the cash and securities belonging to suitors and other persons which have been transferred to or paid into or deposited with the High Court. They consist of moneys or investments transferred or paid into or deposited in court either under the provisions of one or other of a number of statutes (for example the Auctioneers and House Agents Act, 1947), or under Rules of Court (for example Order 22 which provides for the lodgment of a sum of money  in satisfaction of a claim before or at the time of the delivery of the defence in certain types of action), or under some judgment or order of the court made in an administration suit or in some other form of proceeding, or in the form of dividends or interest on court investments or bank deposits.
In the ordinary way these funds may be used only for the benefit of those entitled to them. However, a small proportion of the funds is represented by unclaimed balances and dividends which have been accumulating over a long period — some as long as two centuries. These are known as dormant funds and may be defined more precisely as balances in accounts in the funds of suitors which have not been active for 15 years or more. I should explain that these funds are essentially a phenomenon of the past and that funds do not become dormant in recent times to any significant extent. The funds of suitors are under the control of the High Court and subject to that control are managed by, and stand in the name of, the Accountant of the Courts of Justice.
The total liability of the accountant in respect of all funds of suitors on 30 September 1983 — the latest date for which there are published figures — was just over £98,621,000. Assets held by the accountant, consisting of cash and securities, amounted to £97,343,000 on that date. The difference between the amount of liabilities and assets on hands on 30 September 1983 — £1,278,000 — represents the aggregate of the moneys which have been withdrawn from the funds of suitors over the past 200 years under the authority of various Acts of the Parliament of Ireland, the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Oireachtas. All these Acts indemnified suitors for any loss which they might sustain by reason of the withdrawals, and these indemnities are backed by the Central Fund.
Moneys withdrawn from the funds of suitors under Acts passed before the establishment of the Oireachtas were applied for such purposes as building and improving the Courts of Justice and enlarging the Law Library. Coming up to modern times, withdrawals from the  funds were authorised by the Oireachtas in 1959, 1963 and in 1966 as follows:
The Funds of Suitors Act, 1959, enabled a total of £323,000 to be withdrawn for three purposes, namely, to provide assistance towards the rebuilding of the Abbey Theatre, to finance repair and renovation of the buildings of the Society of King's Inns and to provide for the creation of a fund for the maintenance of the society's library.
The money to be withdrawn under the Bill will be channelled through the current cash account which is maintained by the accountant of the High Court in the Bank of Ireland to meet all his cash liabilities to suitors on foot of both dormant and live accounts. As in the case of previous withdrawals, the Bill affords a complete indeminity to suitors protecting them from any possible loss resulting from the withdrawal of funds under the provisions of this Bill. I should add that nothing that is proposed in the Bill will affect the rights or the ability of suitors to make claim to any of the dormant funds that it is proposed to withdraw.
Before I turn to the objects for which the money would be used, I feel I should make it clear that certain provisions in the Bill are intended to honour commitments given by previous administrations. These are the provisions in relation to the funding of work needed for the repair and renovation of the King's Inns building, and the provision of funds for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. In particular the commitment regarding the King's Inns work was given expression to in the  Funds of Suitors Bill, 1981, which passed all stages in Seanad Éireann on 8 October 1981, before it lapsed on the dissolution of the last Dáil.
The Taoiseach already announced on 27 February the decision to allocate £600,000 for capital projects in the arts field from the funds that are to be withdrawn under the provisions of the Bill. During the proceedings on the Bill in the Dáil, the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, in whose area of responsibility the matter comes, indicated that a sum of £100,000 from this amount has been designated towards the cost of repair and renovation of the premises of the Royal Irish Academy of Music at Westland Row. He said the remaining £500,000 will be used to help fund capital projects for a capital programme for the arts proposed by the Arts Council and that the actual management of the additional funds will be delegated to the Arts Council. He said as reported at columns 1311 and 1312 of the Official Report for 20 June 1984, that an amount of work has still to be done before a detailed announcement can be made about the allocation of the available funds.
As I have mentioned, the proposal to provide funds needed for repair and renovation work on the King's Inns building is not new. The work involved is considered to be essential for the preservation of the building. The King's Inns building was the last work in Dublin of James Gandon, the architect who designed the Custom House, the Four Courts, the Military Infirmary and the Westmoreland Street facade of the Bank of Ireland. The south wing of the building together with the joint section under the cupola is owned by the State and is occupied by the Registry of Deeds. Altogether the State owns and occupies about two-thirds of the composite King's Inns building. There is no physical separation between the property owned by the State and the property owned by the Society of King's Inns.
There is unanimity amongst those best qualified to judge, that the building which houses the King's Inns and Registry of Deeds is a minor classic and one of the finest buildings of its kind in Dublin. The  part of it which is not owned by the State is listed as a building to be preserved, under the Dublin City Development Plan, 1980. It is a building of national significance and importance and must feature prominently in the architectural heritage of the nation. The part of the building which constitutes the King's Inns is used by the Society of King's Inns for the purpose of education and training barristers. Perhaps I should clarify that the society's library in Henrietta Street is not part of the building and is not involved in the present proposals.
Architectural examination of the King's Inns building in 1980, and of the adjoining Registry of Deeds building, revealed that the external stonework of both buildings is in a state of serious decay. The deterioration in the stonework arises from the age of the material, from atmospheric pollution and from the poor quality of the granite which was used in the building. The state of the stonework gives rise to a danger of falling masonry, and hoardings have been erected in places to protect the public from injury. Full repairs to the external stonework of the buildings were estimated in 1981 to cost £1,310,000.
The Government have accepted that the Society of King's Inns are not in a position to provide the funds needed to carry out the essential and substantial repair work needed to preserve the building which they occupy. Ordinary maintenance is, of course, another matter and I am informed that the society spent about £150,000 on maintenance and repair work on the building between 1970 and 1980. Accordingly, the Government decided it was necessary to provide, from public sources, the funds needed to preserve an artefact of exceptional historic and aesthetic interest which, on any standards, must rank in the forefront of the architectural heritage of the nation. Moreover, it is clear that further delays in carrying out the work that is needed would have the effect, at least, of making more expensive and extensive the work that would ultimately have to be done. It would place the future preservation of  this particularly fine building at serious risk.
The work which will be financed under the Bill will be executed entirely under the control of the Office of Public Works. Accordingly no money will be paid to the Society of King's Inns under the Bill. The work involved consists mainly of replacing, refacing or repointing the granite stonework of the buildings and repairing the boundary walls, gates and railings surrounding them. The remainder is internal work which the Office of Public Works regard as essential for the preservation of both the King's Inns and Registry of Deeds buildings. It consists of rewiring and work needed to prevent the development of fungal infestation.
As I indicated earlier, the King's Inns benefited from the funds of suitors before in 1959. Under the Funds of Suitors Act, 1959 a total of £70,000 was paid to the trustees of the society. Of this, £25,000 was for the creation of an investment fund, and the application of the income thereof for the maintenance of the King's Inns Library, which is not involved in the current renovation project. The balance of £45,000 went to defray the cost of expenditure incurred in undertaking work of renovation and repair to the King's Inns building which is the subject of the present Bill. It has proved inadequate to finance renovation work carried out since 1959 but was never intended to cater for works of the kind now found to be necessary.
The provision of £300,000 for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is intended to help to defray part of the cost involved in the extension of their Cultúrlann at Monkstown, County Dublin, which was completed in 1983. The Minister for the Gaeltacht will be responsible for putting this provision of the Bill into effect. His Department already administer an annual grant payable to Comhaltas.
The provision of £100,000 for the Minister for Labour is to provide additional funding for the community, youth, recreational and employment programme, which is administered by the Department of Labour. That programme provides for the payment of capital grant assistance towards the provision of community recreational  facilities on a nationwide scale. This is achieved by providing financial incentives to various local interest groups which include local authorities, voluntary community organisations, youth groups and vocational education committees. The position is that a number of community centres have found themselves in financial difficulties and the sum of £100,000 will be applied to these undertakings by way of an additional injection of cash to assist them in their fund-raising activities. The precise allocation of the funds has already been given by the Minister of State at the Department of Education during the Second Stage of the Bill in the Dáil, as reported at column 1312 of the Official Report for 20 June 1984.
I estimate that the balance of the funds available after the above payments have been made will be about £1.19 million. This residue would be spent in building a new Children's Court for the District Court in Dublin currently estimated to cost about £750,000 and, to the extent that funds remain after that, on other projects in the courts area for which the State has responsibility, and for civil legal aid.
In November 1981 the Children's Court was forced to evacuate its premises in Dublin Castle at very short notice because they were considered to be in a dangerous condition. The Dublin Castle accommodation was long regarded as deficient and unsatisfactory and more than ten years ago plans were prepared for improving the accommodation by internal rearrangement and the construction of an annex to the back of the building. These plans had to be abandoned, however. Following the evacuation from its former premises in Dublin Castle in 1981, the Dublin Children's Court has been located, temporarily, in the District Court, Morgan Place, which is quite unsuitable for the purpose. It does not provide adequate waiting facilities and is causing serious disruption for other courts in the location. It has meant the loss of one courtroom and justice's room to the District Court, which has adversely affected the disposal of other court business.
Extensive efforts by the OPW to find  suitable accommodation on the market for the Children's Court failed and subsequent plans for the construction of a purpose-built children's court at a site owned by the State at Smithfield, Dublin, have had to be shelved due to lack of funds.
In these circumstances I am particularly pleased to be able to have the funds needed to carry out this important development made available under the provisions of this Bill. The plans for the new Children's Court are being drawn up at present in the light of the provisions in this Bill. They will provide generous waiting and consultation facilities, with conference and duty rooms for probation and welfare officers, so that all who are concerned with the welfare of children appearing before the courts will be adequately facilitated. The plans will include separate waiting areas for gardaí, witnesses and for members of the public. There will be two courtrooms and justices' rooms. In addition to two consultation and two welfare officers' rooms, a retiring room for solicitors will be provided.
As to the question of what other court projects might be financed from the remaining funds, I think that until such time as the priority item, that is the building of the new Children's Court, has been completed, and the final cost of that project is known, it would be unrealistic to speculate on what other projects might be included, though perhaps I should mention that under the law at present local authorities, and not the State, have responsibility for providing and maintaining court accommodation outside Dublin. It follows that court projects outside Dublin could not be financed under the provisions in this Bill, under present arrangements.
Perhaps I should emphasise one feature of this Bill which differs from previous Funds of Suitors legislation. The present Bill will authorise the disposal of all but a nominal amount of 1 per cent of the capital assets in the dormant accounts of the funds of suitors — and not merely the cash in these funds, to which previous withdrawals were confined. In practical terms this may involve retaining only about £28,000 of the value of the investments  contained in these accounts. This residue is necessary to enable any successful future claim on the dormant funds to be valued accurately. However, the amount does not affect the ability of the Accountant of the High Court to meet any such future claim because of the inclusion in the Bill of the usual indemnity provision in favour of suitors. Incidentally the incidence of such claims is rare. I understand that claims totalling about £1,400 were paid out of dormant funds in the last decade.
The consent of the Chief Justice has been obtained to the withdrawal of the moneys which the Government propose to use for the purposes indicated in this Bill, as this involves the withdrawal of moneys which come, at present, within the sole jurisdiction of the courts.
Section 2 of the Bill is the provision which enables the Accountant of the High Court to realise the existing investments in the dormant accounts subject to the retention of stock to the value of 1 per cent of these investments for the purpose that I have mentioned already.
Section 3 is the provision which enables cash in the funds of suitors to be devoted to the various purposes that I have mentioned. As in the case of previous withdrawals from the funds of suitors, section 5 affords a complete indemnity to suitors against any loss they might otherwise sustain as a result of the enactment of the proposed legislation.
Section 4 is provision to extend, temporarily, the powers of the Commissioners of Public Works, to carry out work on the King's Inns, which is not a public building. Under existing legislation the Commissioners of Public Works are empowered to undertake work only in relation to public buildings and the extended powers which the Bill confers relate exclusively to work on the King's Inns and will expire, at the latest, after five years. The provision also restricts the amount which the commissioners may expend on this work to the amount of £600,000 provided under section 3 of this Bill.
The release of funds from the courts accounts is not equivalent to authorising  the spending of the taxpayers' money, but it seems to me to call for the same level of responsibility and I am satisfied that each one of the proposals to which this money will be devoted is most deserving of immediate assistance and that it is necessary that the dormant funds of suitors should be used in the ways proposed in this Bill. Were it not for the availability of these funds at the present time I have little doubt that demands on the Exchequer for finance to meet the cost of the various proposals that will be financed through the withdrawal of these funds would be even greater.
Mr. E. Ryan: This is a Bill which we can all support with enthusiasm in the sense that a number of very worthy causes will be helped by the provisions of the Bill. On the other hand, no taxes have to be provided to pay for these donations and consequently it is one of these rare occasions when we do not have to think about how the money will be provided or who will pay the State for providing these funds. All the people, institutions and so on, which will receive money under this Bill are ones which are deserving of assistance.
I should like to say a few words in relation to the support of the King's Inns because it has been criticised in another place and the suggestion was made that these funds are being given to a private body and that this is not a proper way to dispose of the money. The Minister, in his opening speech, set out the case for giving this money very adequately indeed. He pointed out, first of all, the use to which the money will be put and he stressed the aesthetic importance of the building. It is one of the finest buildings in Dublin designed by one of our most outstanding architects. It would be a tragedy if it was allowed to deteriorate, which is what would happen if these funds are not provided.
The suggestion that this is a private building is, on examination, very far from the truth. In fact, 60 per cent of the building is already used by the State. The part which is under the control of the  benchers is used for students of whom there are approximately 500 at present. No subsidy is paid by the State for the education of these students. They are subsidised by the benchers and by the practising Bar to the extent of £40,000 a year. The part which the Benchers own is used for the public good in that it is used for legal education. To that extent, they are merely trustees of the building. In addition, that part of the building is now regularly used by the High Court because of the inadequacy of the number of courts. It has been used regularly over the past year or two as a court and consequently in this instance also it is being put to public use.
The case that has been made by the Minister is one which deserves our support and from many points of view it would be very sad if the £600,000 was not forthcoming. It would affect the various activities which I mentioned and it would lead eventually to the deterioration of one of the finest buildings in Dublin.
All the groups to which these funds are devoted are worthy ones. A very strong case has been made that the amount of money provided for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is inadequate and that some further funds should be made available to them. The Minister has said that not all of the available funds are at present earmarked and, consequently, it should be possible to give something more to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann who would put it to good use. I support this plea which I know will be made by a number of my colleagues, and an amendment will be put down to this effect.
Mr. Durcan: I fully support the principle underlying this Bill. It is wise and proper that the State should make available for public purposes funds which are, in effect, dormant funds held by the accountant of the High Court. It is also right and proper that a Bill of this nature should contain an indemnity of the type contained in section 5.
In supporting the principle underlying the Bill, the Minister could look further than the funds held by the accountant of  the High Court. It would be no harm if his Department initiated an examination of all funds held by other courts. Information which has been made available to me would suggest that the various county registrars throughout the country also hold funds which can be termed dormant funds. Some of the District Court offices may also hold similar funds. It would be wise if these funds were examined to determine their extent and if they were sufficient, as I believe they would be, perhaps further legislation could be introduced to make these available for public purposes.
These funds are held in various counties throughout the country and could be made available for public purposes within the Twenty-six Counties. They tend to be deployed in the large centres of population. Under previous legislation, funds of this nature were used in Dublin and in Cork. There should be a regional examination to see where these funds could be put to better use. Perhaps there are also funds held by the public trustee established under the Land Acts and these are also funds which could be looked at for use in this way.
The State should initiate communication with the financial institutions, in particular with the older banking institutions, to see if they hold any dormant deposit accounts. I believe they do and perhaps some arrangements could be made with the older banking institutions to have these funds made available for State purposes. Legislation which would make them available would also contain the kind of indemnity or guarantee which is contained in this Bill.
I will turn to the specific provisions of the Bill and to the purposes for which money is being made available. The £600,000 that is being made available for artistic and cultural purposes must be welcomed. I do not know very much about the Royal Irish Academy of Music but I have had the experience, as many have had, of being caught in traffic jams in Westland Row when leaving the city. The academy is the building on the right and if you look up at the first floor you will see magnificent plasterwork ceilings, and if this is  going to help to preserve a building which contains such work certainly I support the giving of that £100,000.
I would make a plea to the Minister that, as far as possible, the remaining £500,000 which is to be expended by the Arts Council, be used regionally and not concentrated in the capital city. There are many regional projects which could benefit from funds of this nature. I shall mention two; one which affects my own county, Mayo, and one which affects the adjoining county. Firstly, I had the experience some years ago of bringing the then Minister of State at the Department of Education to visit the Marquis of Sligo to discuss the future of his collection of documents and papers going back over 300 years and to see if any State assistance could be made available to allow these documents to be preserved and made available to the public. Nothing came of that visit. I would hope, if funds are made available under this provision to the Arts Council, that perhaps such a project could be funded to allow documentation of this nature, which has national, historical significance, to be made available to the public.
Secondly, I would refer to the quantity of documents and materials available in Clonalis House, the future of which was discussed in this House when the Finance Bill was being debated here. That is another project to which the Arts Council could well direct their attention. My concern is that, in expending this remaining £500,000, recognition should be given to projects existing within the regions. I also think that the Arts Council should make funds available to individuals who embark on works of preservation. It is quite amazing that we introduce legislation, particularly in the financial area, which gives certain exemptions to people who open and maintain houses of national architectural significance or gardens of interest, and at the same time we introduce other legislation which inhibits the doing of this.
I refer, of course, to the residential property tax and the situation whereby people who have actually restored buildings which are worthy of restoration now  find that they are eligible to pay a tax of this nature. I refer to one particular instance, that is the restoration by a Mayoman. Mr. Michael Egan of Castlebar of Redwood Castle in north Tipperary. The castle was a virtual ruin, considerable funds were expended on it and when the project was completed and the restoration work available for all to see, Mr. Egan found he was faced with a residential property tax. To prevent the payment of this tax it is necessary to open this building to the public. This is something to which the owner does not object, but it is something which can be an inconvenience, bearing in mind that the restoration was carried out entirely from private funds and is something which is to the benefit of the public at large.
With regard to the next provision of the Bill which makes £600,000 available for restoration work on the King's Inns, I welcome this as far as it recognises the architectural importance of the King's Inns building. I think the Minister said it was Gandon's last Irish work. It is interesting to reflect on the fact that building at the King's Inns commenced in the year 1800. In 1808 the Honourable Benchers dispensed with the services of Mr. Gandon. I think they had some financial dispute and there was also a complaint about the sluggish way in which work was progressing. It was another ten years before the building was completed. I do not know if the sluggishness in completing the work was on the part of the Benchers or of the architect.
The building certainly requires restoration. The point made by Senator Ryan is a valid one. This is a building which is used by the State for the purposes of sittings of the High Court and it is also within this building that the Registry of Deeds is situate. It is only proper that State offices and buildings used for State purposes should be maintained in a proper state and condition, particularly a building such as this which is of architectural significance.
The point should be made that it is unfair that a body like the Bar, who inhabit a building such as this for their own educational and other purposes, appear to have contributed very little  financially to the restoration of this building. Their attitude has to be compared with the attitude of the solicitors' profession who some years ago purchased. The King's Hospital building and restored that building entirely from their own resources. Every solicitor in Ireland contributed to the restoration of this building and I believe the cost of purchase and restoration work ran into something in the region of £1,500,000. That was a number of years ago and in the eighties that cost would be considerably more. It is unfortunate and sad that it has not been indicated publicly that the members of the Bar in Ireland have contributed a fair proportion of funds to the restoration of this building which they have used for a considerable number of years. I say that when we have here a body who do not appear to be controlled by the State in any way.
We in this House recently debated the Dentists' Bill; the Nurses' Bill was recently introduced in the other House and I think it is perhaps time we had a Barristers' Bill to control the operation of the Bar. We control other professions. We provide for committees to determine the general discipline of other professions. We provide legislatively for the fitness to practise of other professional people. We provide legislatively for complaints procedures and we increasingly place an emphasis on lay participation within these procedures. In so far as the Bar are concerned, a body who so far as their operation is concerned are substantially funded by the State, legislation should also be introduced as a matter of urgency. Whether it be right or wrong, there is an amount of public unease so far as the Bar is concerned and I say that as a member of the solicitors' profession.
The Minister in this Bill has shown once again his willingness to listen to the public and in so far as he has increased the funding to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann I think everybody welcomes that. An increase from £200,000 as envisaged by the previous administration to £300,000 is provided for in this Bill and the Minister must be complimented, not merely for allowing the increase but for his open approach to allowing this Bill to be amended in that way. Historically, Bills of this nature made funds available for capital purposes in relation to the administration of justice, court buildings and the like. We have seen a development from that to funds being made available for artistic and cultural purposes. The Minister has allowed this Bill to develop further my making £100,000 available for use in the youth employment area, and that is something which I commend. I commend not merely the availability of that money for that purpose, but also the gradual development and the widening of the scope of Bills of this nature.
I come to the final issue mentioned in the Bill, the expenditure of the balance of funds to be used in the area of the courts. This is a provision that I wholeheartedly welcome. The buildings within which the business of our courts is conducted are in an appalling condition compared with like buildings in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain generally. Particularly so far as the Dublin Children's Court is concerned, I welcome the availability of funds and I hope the project envisaged gets under way at the earliest possible date.
The time has come for the role of local authorities in maintaining courtrooms to be examined. Whereas no Minister wishes to take on projects which would require additional funding, the present situation in which courts are supposed to be maintained by local authorities is unsatisfactory. Local authorities do not have moneys for that purpose. Courtrooms  are not maintained, and litigants who have to attend in badly heated, dilapidated, grubby courtrooms cannot develop any sense of appreciation for the administration of justice. I refer in particular to rural courtrooms. I hope some of the residue available from this Bill will be used to restore and improve some of the appalling courthouses in rural Ireland. I can list a half dozen, if not more, in County Mayo where people who are involved in criminal cases, civil cases, family cases and children's cases are all bunched together. This can be quite intimidating for those who are not fully aware of the situation.
I support this Bill. The Minister has provided as well as possible for the various needs which could be met by legislation of this nature. I hope we will see in the near future a move to regularise the type of legislation we have to cater for the funding of artistic and cultural matters. There appears to be no specific legislation which allows such matters to be funded. The haphazard approach we have at the moment is very damaging.
Mrs. McGuinness: I join with other Senators in welcoming this Bill and in supporting its various sections. It seems to be a sensible arrangement that these funds should be made available for State purposes. It is clearly not in the interest of the public at large that funds should be allowed to lie dormant where they are of no use to anybody and, so long as the litigants are protected by the indemnity included in the Bill against any loss that might arise from future claims on these funds, it seems a very practical way of making use of the funds available. I join with Senator Durcan in suggesting that perhaps we should look at other court funds besides the court funds covered in this and previous Funds of Suitors Bills.
A certain amount of controversy has arisen in another place, and among the public, about the use of some of the funds of suitors in this Bill for the preservation of the King's Inns building. The point has been made that there are many voluntary organisations and many good causes which are in great need of  funds, and could they not have been given funds rather than the benchers of the King's Inns who represent a rich and privileged class? While I very much appreciate the kind of points that are being made by these people, and I sympathise very much with the needs of the various organisations they represent, in a sense they are missing the point in this Bill in that the fact that their claims are good and urgent does not necessarily mean that the claims of the various bodies named in the Bill by the Minister are not also good.
The fact that we need current money to run various social welfare organisations and so on does not mean that we do not also need capital money to preserve our environment and to preserve the city of Dublin in particular. This has been far too neglected in the past. Indeed, the preservation of buildings in this city has been allowed to go by default and far too many of our distinguished buildings have been allowed to crumble away, or have been swept away by developers. Any move towards preserving a historic architectural monument — indeed, two because the Royal Irish Academy of Music is also an extremely distinguished building — should be welcomed. I had hoped that this kind of attitude had changed with the times because the very nadir of the attitude to historic buildings in this city was reached when a large section of Fitzwilliam Street was swept away and replaced by the — I hesitate to describe them — unattractive offices of the Electricity Supply Board. This resulted in the destruction of one of the longest vistas or streetscapes of this kind in Europe. At that time many people simply sneered at those who wished to preserve the Georgian architecture of Dublin.
The tide began to turn with the occupation by young people of buildings like the buildings in Hume Street and the Bord na Móna offices in Pembroke Street when they were threatened. These people actually succeeded in making people understand that it was necessary to preserve these buildings. I was very happy to note that Bord na Móna appreciated the point that was being made and  were willing to move out of that building to allow it to be preserved, thus showing a change in the attitude of State bodies on this matter.
Private persons have gone to tremendous lengths and expense to preserve our city buildings. One of the best examples perhaps is the group of people in North Great George's Street who have carried out tremendous works of restoration and improvement to Georgian buildings. We have still far too much destruction. We still have, for instance, the terrible situation on the Quays all the way along from O'Connell Bridge to the Four Courts and beyond. We have decay, destruction, general dilapidation. Where buildings are being replaced they are being replaced by buildings that are aesthetically unattractive and structurally unsound. One has only to think of a building on the corner of St. Stephen's Green which was ushered in as a great triumph of modern architecture, a system prefabricated building, which is now falling to pieces to such an extent that it has to be entirely surrounded by scaffolding to protect the public. The owners or lessees are suing the builders because of the state it is in. The prophets of prefabrication and the prophets of the new admirable architecture are finding that their houses are built on sand in a way which our older building were not.
When we are giving money in this Bill for the preservation of such buildings as the King's Inns and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, it is a worthwhile investment in our environment. To denigrate this idea simply because the King's Inns is in part — and, mind you, only in minor part — the property of the benchers seems to be foolish particularly as the benchers and the practising members of the Bar have, in fact, expended very large sums of money out of their own private funds towards the preservation of this building and the subsidisation of the education that goes on there.
As Senator Ryan said, the building is used as a courtroom. It is used as the Registry of Deeds, and so on. It is not simply a private building. One might add that the green space on the Constitution Hill side is an open park in an area where  there are very few open parks. It is greatly used by the public for recreation in fine weather and as a short cut through from the Bolton Street area to the Constitution Hill and Phibsborough area.
When we are talking about the allocation of the funds of suitors and other funds of this kind for the preservation of buildings, we might also remember that in our cities and towns throughout Ireland there are some extremely interesting churches and religious buildings from the architectural point of view. These are left entirely to the funds of the various churches concerned to preserve and have cost an enormous amount in recent years, which has been raised privately. It would be true to say that in virtually no city in Europe are such buildings of architectural splendour and public use left to provide completely out of their funds for their own preservation and maintenance, particularly as they are used as a tourist attraction in our city. We see busloads of tourists going to visit them. The work projected in the Bill is well worthy of support. Works might be considered with regard to other churches and cathedrals which are really in very bad need of maintenance work and have very little funds available to them.
To pass on to one or two of the other items which are included in the Bill, first of all there is no question that the replacement of the Children's Court is a matter of extreme urgency and I do not think anyone could possibly complain about that. For many years public complaints were made about the state of the Children's Court in Dublin Castle and it has been acknowledged by the Minister. The Minister is well aware and shows in his speech how extremely inadequate were the facilities in the Castle court. Since the vacation of the Castle court the Children's Court has been held in Morgan Place which is almost equally unsuitable. The kind of complaint that Senator Durcan was making about court buildings throughout the country, the lack of waiting facilities, the general crowding together of all sorts of cases and so on, applies in Morgan Place Children's Court just as it does in other courts. When we  are dealing with children before the law, above all we need to separate them from other types of court cases and it is more than desirable that funds should be provided for this.
The Minister referred to extensive efforts of the Office of Public Works to find suitable accommodation for the Children's Court. It is proposed under this Bill that it is to be the court built on the site owned by the State at Smithfield or is some other court being provided? I do not think it is absolutely clear from the Minister's speech what exactly is proposed. I understand that the probation service now also have offices in Smithfield and this would be particularly convenient because they would be involved in many of the children's cases. Certainly the children's court needs the kind of facilities which are set out in the Minister's speech.
There is one other legal reference in the Bill to which I should like to draw attention, namely, the Minister's suggestion that there might be other projects in the courts area for which the State has responsibility and for civil legal aid. This, I hope, is something that is in the Minister's mind because the present civil legal aid scheme is very much reduced by lack of funds. The situation that applies at present is that there are far too few civil legal aid law centres for the demand, that there are not enough of them in different parts of the country. People involved in a family law case in Cork can consult the legal aid centre in Cork, but if the wife consults the centre in Cork, the husband must consult the centre in Waterford in order to run the case. There is a great lack of facilities for civil legal aid.
There is also a complex and difficult means test system applied which could very well be liberalised if more money was available. One gets anomalies, such as the fact that where a wife is given civil legal aid in order to apply for maintenance against her husband, when she gets the maintenance she is then denied civil legal aid for any later aspect of her case, for instance, the custody of her children. As she now has got the  maintenance it has brought her above the civil legal aid level, although it is by no means enough to pay for a private solicitor and private attention in the courts. I ask the Minister to look carefully at this area that he has mentioned in his speech. It is more than difficult for the less well-off litigant: time after time the law centres have to be closed to new appointments and new clients because there are simply not sufficient solicitors or premises available due to lack of money.
The other items that are included in the Bill are extremely worthy of support. With regard to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, there has been a great deal of discussion whether the money being made available is sufficient. Perhaps the Minister could look at this again to see whether more money might be made available. Certainly the use of money for both the various Arts Council projects and for facilities for recreation and for the employment of youth are more than desirable.
I have great pleasure in supporting the Minister's Bill. He is making very good use of the funds available and I hope that more funds of a similar nature will become available for these sorts of projects which are not normally easy to deal with in ordinary current expenditure.
Mrs. Robinson: This Bill is an enormous bonus and gives an injection of funds into our hard-pressed country. As the Minister made clear in his speech, the amount involved is close to £3 million — in excess of £2.8 million. It is understandable, therefore, that a Bill with the rather strange obscure title of the Funds of Suitors Bill would receive a great deal of public attention and that it would be a matter of deep concern how the money is to be allocated and spent.
The Minister said at the end of his speech introducing the Bill that, of course, this fund and the money available is different from the money that has to be raised from the taxpayer. It is the release of dormant funds which have accumulated over the years and Senator Ryan also referred to this. Happily the taxpayer does not have to pay. There is no doubt at all when it comes to the stage  of a decision being taken to release these funds because they are dormant and because there is provision for indemnity in the unlikely event of a claim being made — they are public money, they are money that is being made available for public purposes — we have the same degree of responsibility. We must give the same concern to ensure that the purposes for which this money is allocated are purposes that are appropriate to and proper in the kind of society in which we live.
Although I welcome the fact that these funds are being released and will be diverted to various purposes, and although in large measure I welcome the purposes for which these funds are being spent. I have and take grave exception to one heading of allocation — I am sure the Minister is aware of which heading I am referring to. It is the allocation of the sum of £600,000 to the refurbishment of the King's Inns building. I will be spelling out at some length why I take exception to it and why I think it does not fit in with the general responsibility on us in allocating public moneys in Ireland in 1984. I say this as a practising member of the Bar who is well aware that this approach and this attitude will be very much criticised and is a very sensitive issue with my colleagues. I do not anticipate that any of my colleagues in this House will join with me but I intend to state at some length why it appears to me to be both inappropriate and socially wrong to make that allocation in Ireland in 1984. If we look at the society around us we can see the kind of incidents and the kind of general social reaction we are getting from this kind of earmarking of funds which could be met from other sources. Before coming back to that I would like, however, to turn to the other purposes for which the funds are being allocated because in relation to them it will be clear what the overriding considerations are and what I maintain they should be.
The first provision for expenditure is a sum not more than £600,000 which may be applied for such purposes in relation to culture and the arts within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951, as the Taoiseach may determine, and in his speech in this  House the Minister has given us some indication of how that sum of £600,000 will be spent. He referred to the fact that the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach has already indicated that a sum of £100,000 has been designated towards the cost of repair and renovation of the premises of the Royal Irish Academy of Music at Westland Row. I join with Senator McGuinness in feeling that this is an allocation of money to the refurbishment of a very fine building and of a society which is very open to the public generally, which serves the cultural interests of music and which is an enrichment of the country. I invite the Minister when replying to this debate to be more forthcoming on the other £500,000. I would like to know precisely how the money will be allocated to the Arts Council. The Minister refers to the fact that it will help to fund capital projects for a capital programme for the arts. Perhaps the Minister could give some indication of what is envisaged here because I think it is a matter of very considerable interest.
I now want to turn to the third item — skipping the King's Inns, which I will come back to — the allocation of not more than £300,000 for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. That amount has been increased by about £100,000 since this Bill was tabled and that seems to be a reasonable sum in response to the representations that have been made. It may be that some other Senator will feel that the work being carried out, particularly the commitments entered into by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, require that a large amount of money should be spent but I think it is an appropriate allocation.
Coming to D, I see a stark contrast to the second item. The allocation for the King's Inns building, is very difficult to understand because, under the fourth heading, we see that not more than £100,000 may, on the application of the Minister for Labour, be applied in or towards the defrayal of the cost of the community, youth and recreational and employment programmes administered by the Minister for Labour. That sum of £100,000, a sort of bonus that did not have to be raised by taxation, is quite a  large amount of money and a very welcome amount of money; but in contrast to the funds being allocated elsewhere it becomes a very modest apportionment for a young, growing country, for a country which has huge housing estates, such as those that surround the city of Dublin, without the basic amenities.
As Senator Durcan mentioned in his speech, we had an emergency debate last Thursday in this House on the situation in Tallaght arising from the response there to the travelling community and the general tension in the Tallaght area. Prior to moving that motion, I spent the greater part of the evening, certainly approximately four hours, going round the Tallaght area and talking to residents in various estates who know the area very well. I was struck by the stark lack of facilities there. When you think of the youth, of the families and of the number of very young children under the age of 14 years in that general area, it is a terrible indictment of us that they do not have proper facilities. There are no play facilities, youth centre facilities or general sporting facilities to provide the kind of infrastructure in a community of that sort. Tallaght is — I was going to say a good example — a bad example of an area which has not received sufficient social facilities and attention in this regard; but it is by no means unique. The same situation obtains in the Minister's city of Limerick and in all the various urban areas. Every Member of this House knows that very well. We have a very real demand, an urgent demand of a social nature, to provide, more quickly perhaps than our budgetary provisions will allow, these facilities for young people, for sport, for places to meet and for the general support for employment opportunities. This is the most urgent priority in the allocation of bonus funds such as those dealt with in this Bill. Yet in stark contrast to the allocation for the King's Inns, a relatively modest amount is being diverted for this purpose. I must say that I regret that.
I come now to the second part of the allocation where the balance is to be applied. The balance, as the Minister has  indicated in his speech, is in the region of £1.19 million. It again is a very sizable sum. There are three separate categories for the allocation of this balance. The first has already received general approval in this House, and I share that strong endorsement of it. It is for the cost of the provision of courtrooms and ancillary accommodation services for the purposes of the Children's Court in the Dublin Metropolitan district. Certainly the Children's Court is an urgent priority because its present location in the District Court in Morgan Place is entirely unsatisfactory. There have never been the kind of facilities necessary for a genuine Children's Court and it, therefore, must be a very high priority. I welcome the fact that it has been made a specific category and not just included in a general provision in relation to courthouses where it might have got lost in that allocation. I concur with Senator McGuinness in placing very strong emphasis on the urgency of making this provision and I hope the building will be completed in the very near future. As the Minister has said, the site has been allocated and planning can presumably now get under way for a very well thought out and appropriate facility to house the Children's Court.
Secondly, there is a category allowing for the provision, extension, repair and maintenance of other building in relation to the courts and I join with Senators who welcome this. Many courthouses around the country are in a very bad state of repair and seriously deteriorating. It is also true that some are very fine buildings, such as the Tralee courthouse and others which are in the category of some of the finest buildings in the country. Even from an architectural and aesthetic point of view, they are important and central buildings in towns around Ireland. But, even at the human level, they lack basic facilities. Some of them are not even waterproof and many of them have not got proper heating and wiring and there is complete absence of privacy with regard to consulting and waiting rooms. A great deal could be done to improve the physical surroundings of the buildings in which justice is  administered on behalf of the people of Ireland.
The third category, which is of crucial importance to the provision of legal services, is the one that I am least happy about because it is so vague. Therefore, I hope that the Minister in his reply will be prepared to give as full an indication to the House as he can of precisely how he envisages spending this money. I refer to the provision for civil legal aid. I endorse everything that Senator McGuinness has said on this. I believe that the civil legal aid scheme that operates at the moment is most inadequate. Certainly in the Dublin law centres there is an unacceptable waiting list. There is a waiting list of anything from six weeks to two months for anybody who wishes to make an appointment. There is provision for an emergency taking on of cases for somebody who needs an urgent barring order or relief to keep them alive until the fuller court hearing. By and large, there is an unacceptable delay. FLAC have monitored the extent of this delay, have regularly contacted the Department of Justice and the Minister about it and have made representations on the matter.
The spread of law centres around the country is still inadequate and uneven. Their capacity has been greatly diminished by the bar on recruitment to the public service. This is something I would ask the Minister to examine and to look at very sympathetically. The bar on recruitment has particularly hit the law centres because when solicitors in the law centre decide, after being there for two or three years or more, to move out to private practice, if they cannot be replaced the law centre is dreadfully hampered and is unable to carry out its task. I know this has been a concern of the legal aid board and it is a matter that has hampered the capacity of the law centres.
Even if the law centres were working flat out and in a way which appeared to meet to a much more satisfactory standard the demand for free legal aid, I still believe there are problems in relation to them and that we need to provide a different kind of access to legal aid and advice. The law centres in Dublin — and  this is true in other areas — are located in centre city areas. The Dublin centres are all located near each other in the centre city. They are not out in Finglas, Tallaght or Blanchardstown where the broad need for access to legal advice is. They are not community law centres which have an understanding of and an expertise in relation to the problems in that community. They are simply professional centres for giving professional advice to clients from wherever they come, if they can get an appointment within a reasonable time to get that legal advice.
I believe the demand has been very well recognised and is justified for other types of neighbourhood law centres. The Coolock Community Law Centre is the established example of this type of provision of legal services. It is a sad reflection on the extent to which we are concerned about genuine information on access to and availability of legal services. The Coolock centre has been limping along from year to year and has never had security of funding. Funding has come from different Departments. If it does not come from the Department of Justice in a particular year the Department of Health try to fund it. When Fianna Fáil are in office it comes down to a plea from Deputy Haughey, who is Taoiseach when Fianna Fáil are in office, because it is in his general constituency area. There is a complete lack of any security and structure of funding, a genuine commitment to what Coolock is about.
There is now a proposal on which a great deal of work has been done and the planning is at an advanced stage for the establishment of a community law centre in Tallaght. This would be under the auspices of FLAC, the organisation which started the Coolock Community Law Centre approximately a decade ago. The Tallaght proposal is along similar lines. It would provide much greater access to legal advice and services to the very large community in Tallaght which is one of our larger cities, except that it does not have urban status.
The difference that would make would be very significant for those most in need  of legal advice, because one of the problems in trying to ascertain needs in this area is that a very considerable number of people do not know that legal advice would be of help to them, so they are not aware that they need legal advice. You have to be at a certain stage to be aware that it will be helpful to you to have advice. We also have very little perception, it would appear, of the preventive role of law, of the extent to which law can actually be helpful as opposed to coming in too late in family law — those of us on the committee on marital breakdown have been told in no uncertain terms how inadequate the provision of legal services is in the area of family law and marriage breakdown. One of the most constant themes of every group who have come and made representations to the committee on marital breakdown has been a very strong criticism of the provision of legal services in the whole area of family law and marriage breakdown.
We need to look very seriously at how we are going to provide this. I believe we can make a good start on it, among other reforms, by ensuring that there is the provision of neighbourhood law centres, in the sense of community law centres, as well as the professional law centres established under the legal aid scheme.
I would invite the Minister in replying on this point to explain to the House to what extent the balance of moneys coming under this heading will be allocated to the existing Government legal aid scheme and the existing law centres, and to what extent it is proposed to allocate to the proposed Tallaght community law centre and to the provision of security of funding for Coolock Law Centre. It would be helpful in his reply if he could give some indication of the proportions in which the balance of £1.19 million will be subdivided between the three categories, the Children's Court, the general refurbishment of court buildings around the country and the provision of civil legal aid.
I come back to the point on which I remain critical and unconvinced in relation to this Bill, that is, the allocation of £600,000 to the King's Inns. I have left it  to the end because I felt it would be appropriate to look at the other allocations and to get a sense of what the purposes were. We can see in all the other allocations the extent to which they fulfil important purposes which have a very high public content, whether it is cultural content, or because of the need to provide better facilities, particularly in the legal area, in the shape of courthouses, the Children's Court, legal services, whether it is the cultural services of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and there is genuinely a very strong and discernible public interest.
Now we come to the allocation of £600,000 for the King's Inns building. The Minister has made it clear, and this is not in dispute, that this money is not being handed over to the benchers of the King's Inns, that it has been allocated to the Commissioners of Public Works to carry out the repair and refurbishment work on the King's Inns building in Henrietta Street. Unless there was a statutory authorisation, the Commissioners of Public Works could not carry out that work. They are not entitled to carry out work on private parts of buildings without statutory authorisation. It is also true that the part of the King's Inns building which is occupied by the benchers and used for the purposes of the honourable Society of King's Inns for the education of barristers, for the dining of members of the Bar, etc., is linked to, and in one wing of, the building which houses the Registry of Deeds. Two-thirds of the composite King's Inns building is owned by the State and is in public use. All that is accepted, and undoubtedly there is a very urgent need for physical repair. There has been very serious erosion of the stonework, and there would continue to be some danger from falling masonry if precautions had not been taken in that regard.
All that having been said, I am still not satisfied that the Government should have accepted, if they did accept as the Minister says in his speech, that the Society of King's Inns is not in a position to provide the funds needed to carry out the essential and substantial repair work needed to preserve the building which it  occupies. On what basis are the Government satisfied that the King's Inns is not in a position to provide either all of the £600,000 or a substantial whack of it? To what extent has this been put publicly to the practising members of the Bar? I have not heard about it. There are between 400 and 500 practising barristers and a levy of £100 on each would give two-thirds of the amount. Has anybody suggested this? Have the Government asked the Society of the Benchers of the King's Inns whether a levy of £1,000 should be imposed on practising members of the Bar, £100 a year over ten years or £500 a year for two years? It would be a total of £1,000. How have the Government formed the view that they are satisfied that a branch of a profession can make no contribution to the refurbishment of the King's Inns?
I am in no doubt — and I share totally the Minister's affirmation — that the King's Inns building is a very important public building, a very important example of the architecture of James Gandon. The author of the biography of Gandon which is about to be published is a close personal friend and therefore I know all about Gandon and about the importance of his buildings, of his architecture throughout Ireland, and I support entirely the idea that we must ensure that this building will be properly refurbished and safeguarded for the nation as part of the core of our national heritage. I need no convincing on that.
The point is: why have the Government been so easily satisfied, if they are satisfied, that the profession of barristers is not in a position to make a contribution towards the refurbishment of the Inns? The Minister said, and it is true, that the King's Inns has been spending sums on maintenance and repair work on the building. He put a figure on it: “I am informed that the society spent about £150,000 on maintenance and repair work on the building between 1970 and 1980”. There are costs, obviously, involved in keeping a building of this kind. There are substantial fees coming in from the approximate 500 students at the Bar who are no longer being educated in the first two years in the universities.
 Those who have not a university entrance to the King's Inns are being educated entirely in the Inns. There is a fair source of revenue there to the Society of the King's Inns. However, I have complained already that the costs for students are too high and I would not want to be understood in any way as suggesting they might have to bear any higher costs.
However, I wonder why it is that the Government would be so easily satisfied, as they proclaimed themselves to be, that branch of a profession which by the standards of any country and by Irish standards have to be regarded as a wealthy profession — there are some barristers who earn a great deal more than others but there are some young barristers in particular who are anything but well off — and it may well be that if the Bar were to decide on how the money would be raised by way of a levy on its members it could provide a much more equitable way to do it than simply levying equal sums from all practising members. It would be much fairer to introduce some gradation into it, some way to ensure that the top earners would pay more towards the cost of refurbishing the King's Inns. But why has this not been done, in particular when we see that it was done by the solicitors in relation to Blackhall Place? A much larger sum was raised by the solicitors. Of course they are a much more numerous profession and it is understandable that a larger sum could be raised from a larger pool of the members of that profession.
Nevertheless, the solicitors, in order to have very comparable facilities at Blackhall Place for the education of students of the Incorporated Law Society, for the housing of meetings of the society and for allied purposes, raised the money. The money was paid in successive years by solicitors firms around the country. Though there was a great deal of resentment, there was much pride and interest in the fact that the solicitors' branch of the profession were able to do this.
But it is proposed in this Bill simply to allocate a very large sum without even asking for a £300,000 and ask the barristers to come up with the other £300,000? Is it  suggested that the Bar would refuse to do that and be responsible for the gradual crumbling of a historic building in our capital city, if the bluff of the barristers was called on this? Surely, at the end of the day the profession would have to look to itself to make the necessary contribution. Therefore, unless the Government can come up with some earth-shaking reasons why the Government are satisfied, I cannot understand not why the building itself is being restored — that is obviously important — but why the entire cost of its renovation will mean an allocation from the funds of suitors to the Board of Works.
I will return to what I said earlier. What would £600,000, or even £300,000, mean to some large working class communities in the greater Dublin area or in the surrounds of any of our major cities? What would it mean by way of providing the urgently required social amenities? I do not agree with Senator McGuinness that because the facilities are badly needed elsewhere on the ground this in itself is a criticism of the allocation made through this Bill — in other words, just because community facilities are needed in certain areas this is a ground for criticising the allocation to the King's Inns. The point is that the allocation of this money means an allocation to a private body which uses the King's Inns building for its own private professional purposes. It is used for the education of barristers, for the dining of barristers, for meetings of the benchers or the education committee or whoever else is meeting there. It is not open to the public. It is not an amenity which in broad measure will serve the public in that way. It is an example of the establishment being able to have money allocated to it in a way which I believe heightens social tensions in Ireland today.
It is not irrelevant that next week the Minister for Justice will be coming before this House with another Bill, the Criminal Justice Bill, and I have no doubt he will say some serious things in relation to it and why it has become necessary to give very far-reaching additional powers  to the Garda for the enforcement of law and order. To my mind it is the sheer inequity of measures such as this, its unfairness, and its lack of any social relevant base, that does more to perpetuate the kind of divisions in our society, the envies, the feelings of repression, of being cut out of the possibility of participating in and being involved in society. How can we expect the increasing number of young people who are unemployed, who have no centres, nowhere to go, no sports facilities, no equipment if they have a bare room in which to play if it is raining, to comply with our standards of law and order? Would we not be far better if we got our own priorities right and used this method to ensure the acceptance of the values and the norms which we hold dear because we are the establishment but which, by measures such as this, which are unacceptable and unjustifiable, we are in danger of further polarising and widening the gap between the two nations that we see emerging here — the establishment that has a job and all the benefits that in particular the professions have with their capacity to ensure that establishment decisions of this nature are made, and the other side, the unemployed, those living in housing estates without proper amenities, those who are oppressed at the moment with an accumulation of problems.
Therefore I ask the Minister to consider, even at the tail end of the parliamentary year, the possibility of looking again at the Funds of Suitors Bill and not bury it during the summer and come back in the autumn with a more equitable division. At the moment I do not believe we have got the best division of this bonus, this injectment of funds, into our public life.
Séamus de Brún: An chéad rud atá le rá agam faoin mBille seo gur thóg sé tamall fada é a thabhairt ós comhair an Oireachtais. Is fada anois ó rinne Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann fiosrú faoi Chistí Agróirí i dtosach le fáil amach an bhféadfaí airgead a chur ar fáil astu nuair a bhí cultúrlann á beartú an chéad uair. Ach is fearr go deireanach ná go brách.  Fáiltím roimh an mBille. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil airgead a bhí díomhaoin sna cistí seo le fada á chur in úsáid sa deireadh. Ach tá díoma orm faoin roinnt mhíchothrom atá á déanamh ar an airgead faoin mBille seo. Tá díomá, cur i gcás, go bhfuil £600,000 á chur ar fáil do Aras King's Inns agus nach bhfuil ach £300,000 a chur ar fáil do eagraíocht naisiúnta mar Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Beidh tuilleadh le rá agam, agus dar ndóigh beidh tuilleadh le rá ag cuid mhaith Seanadóirí eile, faoin cheist seo ar ball.
I heartily welcome the Bill. I also wish to thank the Minister for introducing it at long last thereby making the moneys lying dormant in the funds of suitors available to the State, and to the Oireachtas, to be used for various appropriate purposes. It is not my intention to deal with the general provisions of the Bill. I shall confine my contribution to the facets in which I have by nature, and by long commitment, a special interest. In this regard I welcome the Minister's proposals to allocate £600,000 to culture and the arts within the meaning of the 1959 Act, as the Taoiseach may determine. The allocation of £300,000 to Ceoltas Ceoiltóirí Éireann is even much more welcome. I appreciate that this is an increase of £50,000 on the £250,000 which was in the previous version of the Bill. This increase is indeed very welcome. But surely the Minister and every Member of the House must be aware that the proposed allocation of £300,000 from the funds of suitors to Comhaltas in present circumstances is totally inadequate and equally inequitable.
It also manifests a failure to recognise and even partially appreciate the great achievements of the organisation in its objectives to preserve and restore all the elements of our national heritage: our language, music, song and dance. That heritage belongs to the nation. It is a common cause. I appeal, therefore, that this question be kept free of all political overtones. Rather let us show by example that we are in total agreement on these basic national objectives.
From reading the record of the debate on the Bill in the other House, Senators  will be aware that my party moved an amendment requesting an allocation of £500,000 under the Bill for Comhaltas. Regrettably, the Minister did not accept the amendment and it was defeated on a vote. I shall now endeavour to outline as briefly as possible the reasons why Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is fully entitled to an allocation of at least this amount. I wish to inform the House now that I shall be tabling an amendment later to this effect.
First of all, the organisation is a voluntary one and is primarily concerned with the preservation and promotion of our national culture. It is generally recognised that the propagation of cultural pursuits will always require generous State subvention. That is the position in most countries. From very early beginnings Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann has grown and developed to be the premier cultural organisation here. This phenomenal success is now a matter of record. It is also due to very basic reasons. From its very foundation Comhaltas was rooted in a true spirit of idealism and love for everything that is characteristically Irish and flourished accordingly to become the great national movement it now is. In this success story Irish traditional music has been restored from the very lowly position it held decades ago to its now rightful place among the arts in Ireland.
Today Comhaltas has 400 branches throughout the 32 counties, 60 of them being located in the Six Counties. It is obvious, therefore, that they will play a very important part in creating bonds of friendship and reconciliation between the different sections of that very divided community. There are 40 branches in Britain, 25 in North America and branches also in France, Germany, Australia and Luxembourg. Comhaltas is, therefore, not only a vibrant, expanding national movement but also an international movement of no mean status. The organisation also conducts 600 classes, many of which are organised with the co-operation and assistance of vocational education committees. To supplement the needs and proficiency of these classes two diploma courses for traditional music teachers are held annually in  Cultúrlann na hÉireann. The purpose of the courses is to establish standards in the teaching of Irish traditional music. Examinations are held at the end of the courses and those who attain the required standards are presented with a diploma, Teastas i dTeagasc Ceolta Tíre. The course is planned and conducted by Micheál Ó hEidhinn, Music Inspector with the Department of Education. Forty-five fleadhanna ceoil, or festivals, are organised each year throughout the country. It is estimated that at least 750,000 attend Comhaltas Ceoltóirí functions annually.
A summer entertainment scheme popularly known as seisiún is very successfully operated throughout the country. The scheme comprises 400 performances at 45 centres. Initially organised in co-operation with Bord Fáilte, seisiún is currently conducted in conjunction with the Arts Council. Details of the scheme, together with a full calendar of other annual events, are available in a very attractive and informative Comhaltas booklet, Ireland in Musical Mood. I have a copy of a booklet with me. It is a very useful and well produced booklet and a valuable informative source to anyone who is interested in the culture of our country.
Four concert tours are organised annually. Each year since 1972 groups of 24 or 25 first-class artists — musicians, singers and dancers — have toured the US and Britain. These tours are very well organised and co-ordinated through the national co-ordinators and the branches in the respective countries. Highly successful concerts are given in a wide variety of venues. It must be remembered that all these artists are carefully chosen and are worthy ambassadors of our country. Nor must it be forgotten that invariably they are obliged to take their annual holidays in order to participate in these very demanding tours. The national, social and cultural importance of the tours cannot be over-emphasised. Their obvious potential for the promotion of tourism is simply immense.
An annual national tour is also organised whereby 20 concert performances  are given at carefully selected venues. Care is always taken that a fair proportion of these concerts are held at venues in the Six Counties, again with a view to promoting contact, friendship and convivial association between the people in the Six Counties and our people in the Republic. Agus ní déantar dearmad ar an nGaeltacht san iarracht seo ach an oiread. Cuirtear grúpa Gaeilgeóirí le chéile d'fhonn turas Gaeltachta a chur ar fáil do na ceantair Ghealtachta ar fad. Tugtar cuairt orthu go léir agus reachtáiltear ceolchoirmeacha iontu a bhíonn ar aon dul leo siúd a bhíonn ar aon turas eile — sa bhaile nó i gcéin.
Ach caithfidh mé filleadh arís ar chúram an Chomhaltais don Ghaeilge féin mar is dóigh liom go bhfuil sé seo an-tábhachtach ar fad. Ag comhdháil na bliana 1983 fograíodh plean an Comhaltais don Ghaeilge mar leanas:
(h) Comchainteanna a thosnú le dreamanna eile d'fhonn mor-fhéile (ar  nós an Tóstail) a bhunú ina mbeadh eagrais na hÉireann páirteach le beart náisiúnta, spreagúil a chur i gcrích ar son na Gaeilge. Do bheadh sé i gceist go mbeadh dhá léibhéal sa bhféile seo, is é sin áitiúil agus náisiúnta.
Is cúis áthais dom a rá gur tógadh céim amhaín sa phlean seo anuraidh nuair a reachtáileadh an chéad chúrsa do threoraithe i gCultúrlann na hÉireann. Bhí freastal maith ar an gcúrsa agus is féidir a rá freisin go raibh toradh maith air. Beidh cúrsa eile dá shórt á rachtáil i Mí Lúnasa seo chugainn agus tá súil againn go ndeanfar freastal níos fearr ar an gceann seo; agus go rachaidh an iarracht chun tairbhe don Ghaeilge i gcraobhacha an Chomhaltais amach anseo. Agus ní amháin go rachaidh sé chun tairbhe do chraobhacha an Chomhaltais ach go rachaidh sé chun tairbhe do phobal na tíre chomh maith agus do ghluaiseacht na teanga ar fad.
The foregoing is only a summary of the activities and achievements of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. I would submit, however, that it is an extensive and successful work programme of great national importance. The question, therefore, must now be posed: can the work of this great national movement be measured or evaluated in the context of State grants or financial allocations from whatever source they may derive? Can its value to the well-being and quality of life of this nation be measured in terms of £50,000 or £500,000? I am quite certain that there can be only one answer to these questions. I am equally convinced that the vast majority of the people strongly support Comhaltas in the stand being taken to achieve equity and justice for our native culture. There is ample proof of this to be found in the great volume of support which is coming from public bodies throughout the country. I am sure the Minister will take note of this support and reappraise the situation before making a final decision in regard to the allocation to Comhaltas. I do not think that is too much to ask and I sincerely hope that the Minister will accede to my request.
I should now like to refer to the financial  problems of the organisation. There can be no doubt but that a financial crisis exists. This situation was brought about by two main factors: (a) the inadequacy, first of all, of the annual organisation grant from Roinn na Gaeltachta which was reduced in 1982 from £125,000 to £110,000 and has been kept at that level since; (b) the non-payment of a capital grant of £200,000 promised to the organisation in 1981. In regard to (a) it simply means that because of inflation and the devaluation of money the State grant to Comhaltas in recent years has decreased by 50 per cent in real terms. The combined effect of this and the non-payment of the capital grant already referred to resulted in an insufficient cash flow for the building of the Cultúrlann or folk theatre. Thus in the spring of 1982 contracts previously agreed had to be renegotiated, thereby pushing up the total cost to double that of the original estimate. This, of course, is not new. It is common practice that the ultimate cost of most building greatly exceeds that which was originally projected. This applies even to building programmes under the direct control of the State. The sad, factual position is now that Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is in debt to the extent of £750,000. If more generous aid is not forthcoming or a miracle occurs the operation of this great national movement must come to a close and I am afraid that Cultúrlann na hÉireann must be closed down. This would be a national tragedy and I believe would not be the wish of any Member of this House.
In discussing the merits or demerits of Cultúrlann na hÉireann, or the folk theatre, which has caused much of the financial indebtedness, we are speaking in somewhat of a vacuum. Many Members of the Oireachtas have never visited Cultúrlann na hÉireann and are not aware of the scope and importance of their activities. I very much wish to invite all those who have not yet visited An Cultúrlann to do so at their earliest convenience, where I have no doubt they will be made welcome. Whether we gain the additional amount we are seeking here they will be made very welcome and will see for themselves the extent and the  great work — much of it voluntarily performed — in that institution. They will realise also more fully its importance and possibly become frequent visitors.
Money is needed for the reasons that I have already given. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann deserve at least £500,000 of an allocation from the Funds of Suitors. The money is there, and its allocation will not in any way affect the taxpayer. From the Minister's remarks it is obvious that a fund will remain after these proposed allocations in the Bill before us. For that reason, and for sincere national, idealistic reasons, I would seriously ask the Minister to reconsider this position and to be more generous in his final allocation to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Before concluding there are a few other matters to which I would like to refer. First, the Minister has already said that, in the current year, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will receive £473,700 from the State — that is quite true. He itemised that sum: £110,000 from Roinn na Gaeltachta, £59,700 from the Arts Council and £4,000 from the Cultural Relation Committee. I should like to put one of these allocations at least in proper perspective, that is the one emanating from the Arts Council. Not a penny of that £59,700 will accrue directly to the funds of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. It is merely an allocation from the Arts Council to service the seasonal scheme to which I have already referred and which operates throughout the country during the summer season in hotels and oiche ceóil. The money just passes through the hands of Comhaltas. We never use it other than to pay the expenses of the artistes who give the performances in the various hotels and centres throughout the country. It is not factually correct to say that, in the current year, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann will be receiving £473,700 from the State, because the £59,700 will be passing through our hands to pay the expenses of the artistes and other management and administrative expenses that accumulate in such a vast undertaking.
Another matter to which I would like  to refer now is the interest accruing on the loan we received from the ICC on foot of the promise that £200,000 would be forthcoming to us in 1982. That interest has been questioned. I want to confirm that on 27 June 1984 the interest due on that loan was £82,000 — that is certified information — costing £142.53 each day. That is a staggering figure very difficult for any voluntary organisation undertaking national work to uphold. Surely consideration must be given to such a situation.
There are many more things I would wish to say but I do not wish to detain the House. I shall have something further to say on Committee Stage. I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the position of our organisation in order to ascertain if he can, by any means, transfer a greater portion of the residue of the fund that will still remain and give Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann the allocation we seek in our amendment, that is £500,000 and not £300,000. We believe we deserve such an allocation. We are hopeful that the Minister will accede to our appeal here this evening.
Mr. O'Leary: A Leas-Chathaoirleach, you might help me in this regard — not referring to the last speaker or to any other — would it be in order for me to say that the attitude adopted by a Member was hypocritical? Is that permissible? I would like to know whether it is, before I proceed. You may want to consider that point. I do not want to make an accusation and have to withdraw is subsequently. I would much prefer to find out first whether I may do it. I am very careful. I never overstep the bounds of what is correct.
Mr. O'Leary: A venial sin is all right. Thank you very much. I would like to welcome the Funds of Suitors Bill as passed by the other House and now before us for our consideration. It contains many worthwhile provisions which I will deal with one by one. It also confronts the House with the necessity of making difficult choices with regard to the spending of money which apparently is available and now is not in the normal sense public money. I am reminded by the type of discussion which we are having here today, and which was held in the other House, that it is a good job that we in the Houses of the Oireachtas do not individually draw up a budget. The balancing of the conflicting claims of the various organisations covered by the Funds of Suitors Bill presents a very difficult exercise to the Members of this House and of the other House. Of course, that is as it should be.
I am not noted for my admission of lack of understanding of matters — I normally hide that if I do not understand them — but one thing I have never been able to reconcile is how society puts conflicting demands into various categories, how it establishes its priorities and how it decides to allocate money to one cause or the other. Strictly speaking, objectively we should ensure that those who need money most should always have first call on our money. For example, in respect of the money available here somebody could say in an emotional speech that all the money should be given to poor people, and who am I to object to money like this being given to the poor? Yet every day in the Houses of the Oireachtas we make decisions to allocate money to various worthy organisations, whether it be Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, The Honorable Society of King's Inns, the OPW or the Arts, and the balancing of these various interests is a fairly difficult matter which calls for great judgment indeed. The exercise of judgment in these matters is what gives  rise to the kind of social tension that Senator Robinson referred to earlier. As soon as one is confronted with the fact that money is available, various equally deserving calls on those moneys come to light.
This Funds of Suitors Bill cannot be considered in isolation. It must be considered as part of a legislative process which started in the Seanad on 8 October 1981. On that date the Funds of Suitors Bill, 1981, was introduced. It was one of the early days that I was privileged to be a Member of this House and one of the occasions I had the opportunity of addressing the House. The Funds of Suitors Bill presented to us then was a much more limited type of Funds of Suitors Bill than the one now before us. I should point out for the information of the House that the Funds of Suitors Bill — the Minister referred to this in his speech — as considered on 8 October 1981 was never passed by the other House of the Oireachtas. Various events intervened, including the dissolution of the Houses of the Oireachtas and the calling of a general election. As a result of that the allocation of money which was proposed in the Funds of Suitors Bill, 1981, was never made. What we have before us is an expansion of that allocation and the development of the point of view which was ably expressed on that occasion by the then Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy Spring, now Tánaiste. On that occasion he introduced a much more limited Funds of Suitors Bill which contained only one provision, that a sum of £500,000 — not £600,000 — would be made available to the OPW so that work could be carried out on the building owned and occupied by the Honorable Society of King's Inns at Henrietta Street. That process was never completed by the Houses of the Oireachtas. Therefore, what is before us two years later is the substitution for that £500,000 of a sum of £600,000 which, the House will agree, represents the then value of that £500,000 in today's terms. There is no real increase in that sum.
Also included in the present Bill are five other very deserving uses. There is a sum of £600,000 for use under the Arts  Act, 1951; a sum of £300,000 towards Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, to which I will refer later; a sum of £100,000 for the community youth recreation and employment programme; a sum suggested by the Minister to be in the order of £750,000 towards the provision of a children's court; and an uncertain sum in respect of the maintenance and repair of other courthouses and buildings of that kind within the authority of the Minister for Justice. Finally, there is an undetermined amount towards the cost of provision of free legal aid services. Each of these excellent additional items of allocation reflects the balanced and rounded approach of the Government and this Minister in particular towards the use of money like this which becomes available. However, fundamentally the same £500,000 adjusted for inflation remains.
Therefore, in order to see why people adopt a particular approach, we should go back and examine the record of this House at that time. The then Minister of State made a speech which no doubt had been provided for him by the Department of Justice and it was word for word the same speech as had been used in 1959. Deputy Spring and I had a considerable laugh afterwards in examining the record and seeing that the speech he had been provided with was word for word the one that had been used more than 20 years previously. Because of the expanded allocation on this occasion I am glad to tell the Minister that he has varied his speech somewhat, but substantial chunks of the speech bear a striking resemblance to the 1959 version.
Mr. O'Leary: I spoke immediately after that and my speech is reported in the Official Report of the Seanad, column 83 of Volume 96. Senator McGuinness spoke and her speech is recorded at column 85. Senator Robinson spoke and the report of her speech begins at the bottom of column 85. She said, and I quote:
 I, too, would like to welcome this Bill and speak briefly on it. Before doing so, I would also like to extend a warm welcome to the Minister of State on his first visit to the Seanad. It is appropriate that, as a colleague at the Bar, he would introduce this Bill which in a general sense benefits the legal profession to some extent and also the area of Dublin in Henrietta Street where the King's Inns is located.
That is the reason I asked you, a Chathaoirleach, whether it was in order for me to say that the attitude adopted by a Member of this House was hypocritical. How can the same person, having made that speech in 1981 in respect of a Bill in which there was no social content whatsoever, come in and say now that she specifically objects to the inclusion of a similar sum of money in the 1984 version of the Bill?
Mr. O'Leary: I know the reason. If the explanation is not satisfactory I can assure the House that on Committee Stage of the Bill I will not lose the opportunity of explaining what I think the reason is, because there is a particular reason for such a severe about face in this regard. It is unbelievable that the same Member, in respect of the same amount of money, in respect of a draw down from exactly the same source to be used for precisely the same work, to be executed by precisely the same body, should, without a word of explanation to the House, change and adopt the attitude adopted  by her today. I find it totally unbelievable.
Leaving aside what other people think, I consider the provision of £600,000 towards defraying the costs of the carrying out of works specified in section 4 of the Bill to be entirely justified, because there is a fundamental difference between the type of service being provided by the Honourable Society of King's Inns and that being provided by other professional training organisations. To understand what I mean in regard to that one should first realise that there are practising at the Bar in Ireland at present approximately 450 barristers. Even that is an overstatement because a substantial number of those practising or who are counted as practising are, like myself, involved in other matters and, consequently, practise very little; but they are counted as being practising members of the Bar. The actual number of people practising on a regular and full-time basis would be substantially fewer than 450. Something of the order of 350 would be a good estimate but there are in Ireland almost 2,000 people who hold the qualification of the degree of Barrister of Law conferred by the Honourable Society of King's Inns. Again, I cannot give the exact number because no exact register is kept. One cannot say how many are still alive, but one can say that the number is in the region of 1,500 to 2,000. Therefore, there are a vast number of people who sat for this examination, who were awarded this qualification and who did not proceed to enter the profession of barrister before the courts.
A further example that this is a continuing trend, indeed an accelerating trend, can be seen by reason of the fact that there are 500 students involved in a four-year course at King's Inns and those 500 students average out at 125 per year. I do not know if you have an intake of 125 what your likely production of barristers is at the end of the day, but it would be at least 100. There is no way that a profession which has as a very maximum 450 practising members, not all of them practising full-time, needs to be serviced by 100 people per annum. It does not need this number because the  average life of a person at the Bar would be in the order of 25 to 30 years allowing for the fact that many of them divert into other professions over a period of time. Obviously, what I am saying not only applies to the past, but applies in the future and therein is the fundamental difference between the King's Inns and something like the solicitors' building in Blackhall Place. By and large solicitors train people, the overwhelming majority of whom practise as solicitors and they are involved in the professional training of their own people for their own profession and for nothing else. Naturally, there would be some people who would drift away and do not practise as solicitors, but overwhelmingly those who qualify as solicitors practise as solicitors. That is not true in the Bar now and it has never been true. The Honourable Society of King's Inns is an additional third-level institution which provides education for those who need it and for that reason it performs a totally different and very useful function not only for the people of Dublin city but for the people of the country.
I received in respect of the proposed allocation to the King's Inns a letter, dated 20 June 1984, from the Union of Students in Ireland and signed by Mr. Joe Duffy, president of that body, who, I am sure, is an excellent man indeed.
Mr. O'Leary: Thank you. Mr. Duffy requests my support to ensure that King's Inns would not receive any funds from the dormant funds in the courts. I do not grudge either Mr. Duffy personally or any of the minority of students in the country that he represents, or indeed the majority that he does not represent, any of the grants which are voted from time to time by the other House of the Oireachtas for the provision of educational qualifications at third level; but I think Mr. Duffy should subscribe to the view that the people who are studying at King's Inns are entitled to expect from the State at least some consideration — if not the same consideration — in respect  of the expense of undertaking their third-level qualifications.
There are, of course, different views as to what degree each third level institute is subsidised by the State. The universities are, by and large, subsidised to the greatest extent. The other third level colleges of one type or another are subsidised to a lesser extent, but subsidised heavily — none I would venture to suggest less than £500 per annum per pupil. If we take the 500 pupils at the King's Inns and if we take that at any time three-quarters of them are not studying to practise at the Bar of Ireland but are studying to advance their general level of education, would you not think it reasonable to expect that 350 of these students would be entitled to a subsidy of £500 each per annum? Would you not think that it would be reasonable to expect that those 350 students would be entitled to a subsidy of £500 each per annum which would be the very minimum that would be received in any other third level institution? That would be an annual subsidy of £175,000 and that would continue in perpetuity if that modest level of State funding was provided.
It is not suggested that it should be provided. The Society of King's Inns or, indeed, the barristers, who by and large finance that body or the students who pay a substantial portion of the cost of providing their own education, are not, as far as I know, asking for an annual subvention from State funds towards the education of those people. They are quite satisfied to finance it themselves. As far as I know, the practising members of the Bar in Ireland are quite happy to subsidise not only the people who will be coming in to enrich and improve their profession but also those who are just using the school at King's Inns as a method of furthering their general education and their legal education in particular.
We should not forget that in the United States of America the most usual general qualification of any third level student is law. It is considered to be an excellent training ground whether a person is going into business or into the legal profession  itself or any branch of it. The training of a greater number of our young people in the disciplines associated with law is to the general benefit of the community. The people who are educated at the King's Inns are a cross-section of the community. The majority would have a university degree. But a significant minority, by which I mean 30 to 40 per cent, would not possess a university degree. In addition there would be a considerable number of them who are mature students.
When I found that I was able to overcome the difficulty of not being able to afford to go to university when I left school I found precious little welcome in the National University of Ireland, who, instead of facilitating me in seeking to educate myself further, put obstacles in my way. But the Honourable Society of King's Inns acted differently. In that regard they are to be commended.
Mr. O'Leary: I was always able to look after myself even before I got my legal qualification. All that enabled me to do, Senator Ferris, was to extract the more obscure absurdities from the speeches of the people who were making points around me. I could always extract the obvious absurdities from them and most of what I heard here today were obvious absurdities.
In seeking to educate myself in that regard I received no public subsidy, nor did I look for one. The Society of King's Inns received no public subsidy for performing that function to the best of their ability. They did it out of their accumulated funds and out of the contributions of their members.
We must recognise that contribution towards the education of mature students and they should have, if not our financial support, at least our support in a general way. We should ensure that the building which is used for this purpose would continue to be made available. For that reason, I conclude my contribution in so far as it relates to supplying money for the upkeep of the fabric of the King's  Inns building in Henrietta Street by reiterating that I fail totally to understand the change of mind by Senator Robinson in this regard and her abject failure to explain that change of mind in her contribution to this House today.
The use the remainder of the money is to be put to is imaginative. The various purposes set out are good except as regards section 3(2) (e). I will explain why I think that is not a good use for the money. The use of the rest of the money can be broadly put into the category of being for works of a capital nature. They do not give rise to continual annual expenditure. That is the type of work which I think is appropriately financed out of a fund which only becomes available very occasionally and is not available on a regular basis. For that reason the funding of projects out of this source — I emphasise that — should be directed towards expenses which are themselves of an occasional nature, whether that be the refurbishing of a building or the provision of capital money in respect of it. All the other areas where the money will be spent — the £600,000, which I understand will be used for works of a capital nature in the culture and arts area proposed under section 2, paragraph (a); the £300,000 to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, about which I will have something to say later; the £100,000 suggested for the community youth recreation employment programme, the provision  of the Children's Court; and the extension, repair and maintenance of other buildings under the control of the Minister of Justice relate to the spending of the money in that way.
The provision of legal aid in civil cases is a matter for continuous funding on a year by year basis. I do not think it will benefit greatly from the provision of a lump sum. I do not think that makes much sense. If you enter on a scheme of legal aid in civil cases, of which I am certainly in favour, you must do so on a continuing basis and not only have a scheme on a continuing basis but have a level of commitment which is consistent. In other words, if a facility is made to people this year the same facility must be made available next year. It can increase but, having increased, it should remain increased. For that reason I do not understand the way in which the Minister proposes to use the money for the provision of legal aid which will provide additional legal aid in one year. Unless the fund is topped up from some other source it will of necessity mean an unequal level of service; it is not that I consider legal aid in civil cases a less worthy objective; it is a different kind of objective. One would be shocked if widows' pensions were to be provided out of this fund, because next year there would be no widows' pension because the fund would be gone. Similarly, there is not much point in providing civil legal aid unless you have a guarantee that the level which you are going to provide is going to be continually funded out of some alternative source. This is very important.
In common with the other Members of the House, no doubt, I received many representations on behalf of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and in respect of the increase of the amount of money which the Minister would make available towards the capital project which I understand is known as Cultúrlann na hÉireann. It was not quite clear from Senator de Brún's speech, but I understand in this case that the commitment entered into in 1981 by the Government of the day to provide a sum of £200,000 was not honoured, but now is being honoured  by reason of the amount of money which is now being provided. Senator de Brún indicated that it was not honoured and left it at that. He seemed somehow to give an indication that this was a different sum of money.
As I understand it, the commitment entered into by the previous administration with regard to the provision of £200,000 in 1981 is now being honoured under the terms of the Funds of Suitors Bill, 1984, section 3 (2) (c). I would be very interested to know if my understanding is correct and I would like the Minister to indicate whether, in fact, it is correct. I would like to say how important it is that Senator de Brún brought us up to date on the cost of the lack of provision of that £200,000 to that organisation. I think he said that the loan which was taken out in respect of that £200,000 had since given rise to interest of something in the order of £85,000 or £86,000. I note with satisfaction that the original capital sum of £200,000 plus the interest which is accrued to date is still less than the £300,000 which now is being provided. Therefore, it would indicate that that £300,000 having been provided, the financial difficulties of the organisation, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, in so far as they relate to the capital cost of Cultúrlann na h-Eireann, will no longer relate to the lack of provision of £200,000 originally promised.
If there remains within that organisation a substantial sum of money still to be paid, that arises as a result of some additional expenditure incurred by the organisation, either additional to the funds provided or additional to the costs originally planned. It is important to recognise that the Minister in conceding, as he did in the other House, an increase that from £250,000 to £300,000 has covered totally any shortfall which the delay in providing the £200,000 had brought about. Therefore, any shortfall in the central funding of that organisation as a result of capital expenditure arises as a result of voluntary decisions entered into by that organisation by their own executive and not as a result of failure of  any Government to meet a commitment which it had made over the last few years. Senator de Brún quite rightly brought to our attention the level of grant which Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann receives from the public purse. It is right that that should be examined from time to time. It may well be right that it should be increased from time to time, or that it should be changed back to the £125,000 which it was prior to the reduction to £110,000. I do not think that explains the critical financial position in which the organisation finds itself. If my information is not correct I would like to be corrected. I understand that the critical financial situation is due to an overrun in the cost of the provision of Cultúrlann na hÉireann rather than a deficiency on the day to day spending of the organisation which arose as a result of the reduction of the grants to which Senator de Brún referred. I certainly have no objection to the provision of £300,000, which is a worthwhile investment in the premises known as Cultúrlann na hÉireann but we should not be carried away by allowing ourselves to be persuaded that an additional commitment was entered into by this or a previous administration.
Having said that, I have a number of other points that I would like to refer to on Committee Stage. In particular, I am not clear with regard to the termination or the completeness of this Bill. Am I to take it that the fund which will be created after the passing of this Bill is a once off fund or can moneys which arise in the future in respect of these dormant accounts of funds of suitors at a later date be drawn upon and used for the residual purposes of this Bill? It is important that we find that out so that we understand the full significance of the legislation which we propose to enact.
The Bill represents a very fair expansion of the original Funds of Suitors Bill presented to this House in 1981 which, unfortunately, was not enacted by reason of the intervening general election, but which was rather limited. It will ensure that other capital funds are properly used and for that and for other reasons that I have enumerated I support the Bill in its entirety.
Mr. B. Ryan: There is almost a choke in my voice after listening to Senator O'Leary's impassioned defence of that obviously totally altruistic body, the Society of the King's Inns who are doing so much out of the most altruistic of motives to advance the education of the less privileged among us and who are not deigning to ask their members for a subsidy, who are demeaning themselves or imposing upon the over-stretched public purse in order to provide this entirely benevolent service to many who would otherwise be without the benefit of this highly specific and specialised form of third level education which is known as the Bar examination.
The trouble is that that is not the way most of us see that particular body. While Senator O'Leary made a very impassioned case, I do not think he addressed many of the questions that many of us would have about that body. I will come back to some of the questions I have about the whole nature of some of the elitist professions, with their mystery, self-governing rules and secrecy and all these things which, we are persuaded, without any public accountability are being done in our interest; that, even if we do not realise it or even if we think the opposite, they really are for our own benefit. It seems the epitome of paternalism and of the sort of elitism which many of our established professions appear to believe is the appropriate way for them to regulate their affairs. But I will come back to that later on.
A lot has been made of an earlier decision of this House to support a Bill which contained at least some of the same material as this Bill. I do not know whether it is supposed to be a fundamental political fault to look at something afresh. Because the situation today is fundamentally different from the situation three years ago, you are supposed to apologise for taking a different view. People who defend this are not aware of the stresses and strains that are developing in the texture of Irish society. Senator O'Leary is less of a politician than I think he is if he does not know what is happening  in Irish society. I will come back to that as well.
Are there any other mysterious funds salted away somewhere which some enterprising Minister will find at some stage to top up the overstretched public purse? Many years ago Dr. Noel Browne used the capital sums accrued by the Irish Sweep to engage in a major programme of house building. It seems to take a maverick to do that. Perhaps there is a maverick streak hidden in the Minister that I have not noticed so far. I await with interest another piece of legislation in which the maverick may surface in great style. The idea of using funds such as the funds here for creative purposes is obviously welcome in principle. It is clearly not a good idea to have substantial sums of money lying unused when there is so much that needs to be done.
The issue involved in this Bill — the central question — is not whether it is a good idea to use such funds but what the priorities are for the allocation of such funds. There is a long queue of deserving causes which could use not £600,000, or £6 million, or £60 million to great public advantage. The number of voluntary organisations I know of to whom £10,000 represent a life-saving injection of capital is enormous, to whom £60,000 would represent a paradise on earth, and who would never even dream of expecting to get £600,000, even though they may well deal with 20,000, 100,000 or 200,000 people who are destitute, who are far in excess of the numbers of members of the Society of the King's Inns. These organisations will never see from the State even a fraction of £600,000.
As Senator Robinson said so eloquently, the issue is not whether a particular building needs or deserves to be preserved. The issue is why this is more important than 50, or 60, or 100 other deserving causes.
I read the Minister's speech on Second Stage in the other House and I read his speech here. It contains a very well-reasoned explanation as to why the King's Inns is in desperate need of repair. What it does not contain is any argument why that need is greater than a long list of other needs for capital injection that  I can present without even going through my life. I could list 20 or 30 organisations that are liable to have to terminate or greatly reduce their services because of their financial circumstances. They are appalled that a Bill in this form should come before us.
It is worth saying in passing, incidentally, if I can get away with it before the Cathaoirleach stops me, that the sums of money involved here are but a fraction of the increase in defence expenditure that this Government sanctioned, the highest percentage increase in defence expenditure in Western Europe as far as I know this year. We could do a lot more if we had a look at our overall priorities. That is as much as I will say, with the indulgence of the Cathaoirleach, on that issue.
The real, central question on this Bill is a question of perspective on values and priorities in a society that is beginning to fray, not just at the edges, but in the centre. The fabric of society is such that not only are those on the extreme margins of society being alienated but probably 25, 30 or 40 per cent of our population are in the process of being alienated from what they see as an increasingly indifferent and uncaring political, religious and trade union establishment. The logic behind the defence of some of the allocations of funds in this Bill is impeccable, as far as it goes. It would be a Philistine, or some type of extremist within whose ranks I would not dream of counting myself, who would suggest that the preservation of our architectural heritage is anything other than extremely important. None of us takes issue with that. Many of us take issue with the choice of priority.
Before I come back to talk at length about that choice of priorities, let me welcome the aspects that are to be welcomed in this Bill. I have reservations about the use of funds like the funds of suitors to do something that is clearly the obligation of the community, that is, to provide a proper Children's Court. Nevertheless, anybody who knows the condition of the Children's Court could not but welcome the provision of funds for proper court facilities for children. I  would be unworthy of my provincial connection if I did not make at least a passing reference to the extraordinarily metropolitan orientation of the allocation of funds in this Bill to the King's Inns, to Cultúrlann na hÉireann which is based in Dublin, to the Children's Court which is in Dublin. Some of us might well wonder are there not good and worthy causes outside of the capital city which should at least be looked at again.
I can give anybody who wants it a long list of worthy and deserving causes. There is in the Bill a passing reference to the provision of free legal aid in civil cases. It is very difficult to create public awareness about what free legal aid in civil cases or its absence really means. The people who have been providing free legal aid through the Coolock Law Centre, through FLAC, and to the extent that restrictions are imposed on them, the people in the law centres, produced statistics as well. None of those addresses the scale of human misery that is hidden behind an inadequate civil legal aid system or, indeed, in many cases, the absence of access to such civil legal aid. We have family violence, confusion about family rights, the extraordinary omission from all of our State provisions of any legal aid in the whole area of social welfare, the specific exclusion of social welfare legislation from the area of the law centres, that area of legislation where those who are most vulnerable in our society most attend, and that area of which they are most the victims. There was the extraordinary decision to exclude all that from the current provisions on the law centres. In that one corpus of legislation on social welfare can be summed up an enormous part, not just of the actual poverty of a large section of our society, but the consequent humiliations, hurts and degradations of an insensitive administration with enormous delays and legal inconsistencies about which many people would argue, and constitutional abuses which anybody with any resources at their disposal would long ago have identified in our social welfare system.
They cannot be dealt with because our present provisions for civil legal aid spereasone  cifically exclude both constitutional cases and the whole area of social welfare legislation. This is an area in which there are probably thousands of people suffering grievous inustice, who have no access to solicitors and no access to legal aid. Contrary to something that was attributed to the Minister in the other House, there are large numbers of people in Irish society who do not even know where solicitors live or have their offices, not to mention know the name of a solicitor.
Therefore, it is a matter of great regret that the legal establishment is allocated specific and substantial sums of money. We are told it is not to them, but it is to preserve their grandiose notions of their own importance in a building that befits their station that these funds are being allocated and, therefore, it is effectively to the legal establishment. If ever I saw a beautiful analogy of the crumbs from the rich man's table it is the suggestion that what is left over after all these other causes are dealt with will be used to advance civil legal aid where so much misery exists.
This brings me back to Senator O'Leary's touching defence of the legal establishment. I should like to contrast this particular apparently oppressed, hard-up and extremely altruistic profession with another profession with which I am familiar. It is not that which was attributed to me by another member of this Government — a professional liberal: my actual income-earning profession is that of an engineer. My profession does not have a closed shop where we determine the entry standards, the numbers that will be allowed in and where we determine the standards under which people operate. We have to do something that people on the other side of this House, and particularly in the two major parties, should not be lecturing me about. My profession has to compete on the marketplace; it cannot determine fees in advance; it has to compete for its fees. My profession cannot determine the standards and the numbers of entry; people have to compete for that. My profession cannot decide in secret how to organise itself: we are accountable under  the law of the land in open court. We are accountable and all our qualifications come effectively through universities and third level colleges of this land. We do not believe that we have any particular need to advance beyond that.
At the end of the day my profession is tested not by whether it regards itself as successful but whether we succeed in the marketplace. That is the difference between a market-orientated profession and a profession which is oriented towards preserving its own privileges and status in society. I would invite the Honourable Society of King's Inns to take a similar view, to become a competitive body in the marketplace instead of what they are, the preservers of privilege and status and of extraordinary out-moded ritual.
It is because of a perception of the Society of King's Inns, of a perception of what the legal profession collectively represents in Irish society and of a perception of a fairly determined effort to preserve their own privileges, that I have such profound reservations about the decision to allocate funds to the Honourable Society of King's Inns.
From an external observer's viewpoint the casual way, at least in terms of public debate, that this decision was reached, whether it be three years ago or today, reeks of discussions with the establishment and shows that the establishment can look after itself. Nobody has felt obliged to justify this in terms of competing needs as distinct from the objective problem of a building which is clearly in need of repair. That is the argument which has not been addressed but it is the argument that must be addressed. I speak for a large number of concerned voluntary organisations who are anything but politically-orientated, each of whom has received letters from statutory organisations saying: “We regret, we regret, we regret”, a chorus of regrets towards every voluntary organisation about many badly-needed innovations and capital investments that cannot be done. These people do not follow the intricacies of politics. All of a sudden something surfaces and £600,000 is available to  enable the barristers to live in the style to which they are accustomed.
There may well be good reasons for preserving this building, as there were, incidentally, for the preservation of Christ Church Cathedral. It was in serious need of repair and we could not, because of a constitutional provision, provide funds from the State for that very deserving cause. That small religious community of 100,000 people managed to raise the funds to do the job themselves without any provision from anybody. They are not a particularly wealthy group of people, rumours to the contrary notwithstanding.
Apparently something is fundamentally different in the case of the King's Inns, something which we do not know about. I have read stories which have never been contradicted about barristers earning £100,000 and £200,000. I find it astonishing that an organisation, some of whose members earn this sort of money, can apparently, without argument, be allocated funds simply because they have the good fortune to work and operate from a very aesthetically attractive building. There are better reasons for using money than that and there are better reasons for arguing with people about it.
Whatever people may say about the merits of the building, the Society of King's Inns have a choice. It is quite simple: if they cannot afford to maintain the building in which they work then let them move to a place they can afford to maintain. That is what the rest of us have to do. Can one imagine if I said that I was living in a pleasant building which I could not afford to maintain any more, and if I asked the State to bail me out? I know the answer I would get: I would be told to go and live in something that I could afford to live in. I do not understand the difference and I doubt if I will ever understand the difference, except that the establishment responds to itself in a way different from the way it responds to those who are outside that establishment. There is a lot more one could say on this Bill but most of it has been said and well said before now.
 I shall conclude by saying a number of things. Why is this provision more important than the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cork which is threatened with going broke, with the Simon Community in Galway which is almost broke, with the Rape Crisis Centre which is almost broke, with the homeless people in Carlow where six people in a voluntary organisation are being invited to provide a building on their own without State aid, with the priorities and the conditions of 13,000 people in long-stay psychiatric hospitals in worse conditions than any prison in the country? Why are all these concerns less important than one building which has its own architectural merit? That is the question that has to be addressed — not the value of the building but the priorities that are being addressed. Three, four or five years ago that may not have been a problem.
I want to say here something which will have to be said again and again in Irish society: we are no longer a homogeneous society, we are no longer a society of consensus, we are no longer a society of where different needs engage in civilised discussion about how to fulfil those needs. We are a society which is rapidly becoming a society of haves and havenots, where the haves are desperately arming themselves with increased legislation and with other things to preserve their privileges against the increasingly restless and an increasing minority of have-nots. Its importance is not because £600,000 is such a huge sum of money in the overall terms of public expenditure but because of what it says about the perceptions of us as an establishment and them outside, seeing us more and more irrelevant to their needs. It is important in what it reflects about understanding the priorities; what it reflects about the needs of many people trying to work for those in poverty and the disadvantaged; what it says, above all, about the cosy relationship between those in the judicial and legal establishment and the political system. The idea of providing a substantial sum of money indirectly to preserve the status and the privilege of a very privileged minority in Irish society means  there is something fundamentally wrong with the priorities in this Bill.
Mr. Ferris: I will not make a very long contribution on this Stage of the Bill, but I have some comments to make. Not being one of those privileged few who were able to grace the chamber of the Honourable Society of the King's Inns or the solicitors' educational institutions, I notice that most of the contributions have been made by people who are privileged in one form or another. I commend them for their spirit in defence of the various institutions. It is right and proper that the record be put straight by their knowledge. It has been said that a week is a long time in politics; certainly three years is quite a long time in politics. Many things have happened in the past three years that have made the provision of money or the determination of our priorities in the spending of money very important. A volatile, young, growing population are now asking questions which possibly three years ago had not arisen in their minds. Senator Robinson's contribution three years ago is not basically different from her contribution today except that she questions the priorities and that is a good thing for politicians to do. I doubt very much if there is any other fundamental reason for her change of emphasis in the allocation of this money. I am quite sure Senator Robinson will deal with this matter herself at a later stage in the Bill. I will confine my remarks to what the Bill covers and how I feel it might be covered differently.
I do not question for one moment that there is unanimity among those best qualified to judge that the building housing the King's Inns and the Registry of Deeds is a minor classic and one of the finest buildings of its kind in Dublin. Senators who spoke today agree with that. It is important therefore that that building should be preserved. The State, through the Funds of Suitors Bill, gives a guarantee to the courts that, in the event of a claim being made, it would make itself accountable for the repayment of this money. It is a question, then, as to whether the State has a responsibility to ensure that this building is maintained,  because this is a private building. It is a question of whether we have access to two-thirds of it or all of it. If, the Honourable Society of King's Inn's have no fundamental objections to the transferring of ownership of this magnificent building to the State, I would welcome that, because from what the Minister said they appear to be unable to meet the challenge of looking after this building themselves — although Senator Robinson has queried that. I wonder if the Minister has done any research into whether they can deal with the maintenance of their own building. If the Minister is satisfied that they are unable to do so then, rather than accept the defeatist attitude of Senator Brendan Ryan, who suggested that they might move out, perhaps they might hand over the control of this building to the State. I am quite sure we would still allow them access to it and that we would then accept our responsibility to maintain our classical buildings. Indeed, we are fortunate that we have funds available to assist in the preservation of this building. Have any questions been raised with the Society of King's Inns about the possible transfer of ownership to the State?
I know, as a member of a local authority, that when I suggest that the council spend one penny on private property, I am told that legally it is impossible for a local authority to spend any money on private property. I am then faced with the dilemma of trying to assist in the preservation of a beautiful building and trying to separate its functions, which are totally and exclusively private, from what is in fact a public function. I have no doubt that the King's Inns perform a very useful function. Senator O'Leary has made a very spirited defence of their functions. Although I have not been privileged to experience them, I have no doubt that what he says is absolutely correct. However, I have made clear my reservations about spending public money on a building over which we will have no control, legally or otherwise, afterwards. We might have access to two-thirds of it but tomorrow morning, if I walked into the other third, would I be asked where I was going, or would I  have the privilege of entering the sanctum of that other portion of the building which is not in public ownership?
Section 3 (2) deals with an allocation of not more than £600,000 to be applied for such purpose or purposes in relation to culture and arts within the meaning of the Arts Act, 1951, as the Taoiseach may determine or otherwise. The Minister outlined a £100,000 project for the renovation of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Westland Row. Undoubtedly, that is a very commendable and cultural institution. However, I must have regard to the fact that the balance of the funds are at the discretion of the Arts Council. I then find myself on the side of Senator de Brún when he makes a spirited defence of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in regard to the sum of £300,000. I am concerned about the attitude of the Arts Council towards our magnificent Irish cultural and educational voluntary association, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. There is no doubt that the allocations that have been made to this body by the Arts Council in recent times are an indication that there is not the same commitment to our Irish cultural heritage as there is to other forms of culture such as ballet and opera. Irish music, song and dance have wide national support. There is no doubt that Comhaltas have fulfilled that responsibility in an admirable fashion. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator O'Leary. I do not think the Government should accept full responsibility for all the debts incurred by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. I am satisfied that the £300,000 mentioned in section 2 (c) meets to a large extent the original commitment given to this wonderful organisation.
The recent increase which the Minister has agreed to in the other House has now brought it up to what we would consider the allocation should be. Under section 2 (a), a further sum should, if at all possible, be made to Cumhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann by the Arts Council at the discretion of the Taoiseach. I suggest that the figure of £50,000 is a reasonable sum and indicates a commitment by the Arts Council to the continuation of the cultural  heritage we all are so proud of. It is right that the allocation of £300,000 to be disposed of through Roinn na Gaeltachta should be specified in this Bill because allocations from Roinn na Gaeltachta to Comhaltas have been decreasing. In 1981 we gave them £125,000; this year we gave them £110,000. I hope that is not indicative of any movement from supporting a cultural education and a heritage association like Comhaltas. A very limited amount of the £5½ million available to the Arts Council this year is being made available to sponsor Irish culture in particular. I make a special plea to the Minister to request the Taoiseach to have the Arts Council make a further £50,000 available to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Senator de Brún talks about putting down an amendment. If we amend the figures we are dipping into the balance of the sum which could be available either for the provision of free legal aid or for the carrying out of very necessary works to courthouses and other buildings throughout the country which are in a dilapidated condition and which are a charge on the local authorities. These authorities do not have the money to maintain these buildings. There is a statutory demand on the Department of Justice to look after these buildings on their behalf and they have no funds to do it. I hope the balance of this unexpended money, £800,000 or £900,000, after the provision of the new Children's Court in Dublin which everybody agrees is necessary will be used for this purpose. The more we can provide to maintain the dignity of children who have run into trouble the better and we intend to expend £750,000 under that heading. I am loth to start amending this legislation to make that sum smaller and to have a lesser amount available for items which have not yet been specifically itemised by the Minister, or the Minister who will be responsible for spending this money in the future.
I am absolutely delighted that there is an allocation for the Minister for Labour to spend on what I would term country projects. As Senator Ryan said, this Bill seems to be predominantly orientated  towards the capital. Many people living in the capital feel that there is nothing beyond the Naas dual carriageway. I can assure them that there are many useful community projects which have been inspired by local authorities, community associations and public subscription from people who have a commitment to providing facilities in their own areas, for which the total cost could not be quantified by any Government were it not for the voluntary commitment of many people and many organisations. This additional sum would be a necessary stimulus to the enthusiasm they have shown down through the years.
I was sorry this Government found it advisable, in a way which I could never understand, to remove the environmental grant schemes which were used by local authorities and community projects in towns and villages throughout Ireland — previously Tipperary, Clare, Mullingar and every other place got £3,000, £4,000 or £5,000 under this heading and I was pleased about that. I would like the Minister's commitment, if he can give me a commitment on behalf of the Taoiseach, that of the £600,000 allocated under the Culture and Arts Act, 1951, apart from the £100,000 already allocated, the remaining £500,000 will be used by the Arts Council as liberally as possible in trying to meet the wishes of everybody on all sides of this House, so that Comhaltas will benefit from that funding as well as from the specific amount entered here.
I would also ask the Minister to pursue the possible acquisition of the King's Inns building, which they are obviously unable to maintain. If we are to continue to assist them to maintain a building which we consider of value, the least we should have in return is control of the building at some future date, so that future members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, who will not have these funds available, to them, will have the satisfaction of owning premises in which we have invested a lot of money over the years. Now we are using funds that have been lying dormant in the courts and which the State is underwriting. That gives us the responsibility to be as specific as we can  about the use of this money, and to ensure that it is used for the best possible purpose. Here, I have to agree with Senator Ryan. If we were to make a list of priorities on which this money should be spent the King's Inns would not be one of the priority areas for anybody who has a social conscience, who has been involved in problem areas, whether it be in free legal aid, in marital breakdown, or in any area of assistance that we need to give to the ordinary people who have been reflecting their dissatisfaction and disgust with us in recent times by staying away from the polls because they feel we are not coming to grips with the problems facing them. Senator O'Leary read into the record a letter he got from young people like The Students of Ireland; I had a copy of the same letter. These are the kinds of views that are now being expressed, and if we turn a deaf ear to them we do so at our peril.
Mr. Lynch: I welcome the Bill. When I first heard of the Funds of Suitors Bill I, like other Senators and many other people, could see many reasons for the money to be channelled into different areas. I thought of areas of social activity, charitable organisations, environmental areas and so on. The list was endless. I could see the Minister's dilemma. With such a wide field he would not know where to start or finish. At the end of the day he would only have the crumbs Senator Ryan spoke of earlier to distribute, and they would not have been adequate. I appreciate that the Minister had to confine himself to the small, untended garden patch where this money will be beneficial. I have my doubts about the King's Inns, but I believe there is a lot to be said for and against this move. I am glad the Minister has taken the decision not to enter into any controversy with regard to the money being provided for the King's Inns.
I welcome the allocation of £100,000 additional funding for community youth, especially recreation and employment. The year 1985 is designated the year for youth and any contribution in that area will be welcomed by me.
Many people may not realise that for  many reasons, possibly outside their control, community centres and those who built and operate them find themselves in dire financial difficulties. This has arisen mainly because of a certain amount of to-ing-and-fro-ing during the 1981 to 1982 period with changes of Government and consequent changes of this scheme. Both the Departments of Education and Labour were responsible and various commitments were given and broken by Ministers. The result is that many community projects had shortfalls which were not met by the State. I appreciate the Minister's action now in giving £100,000 towards this scheme.
The provision in regard to the Children's Court is welcome and I support Senator de Brún and other Members in regard to the allocation to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. They are a recognised national cultural organisation, well respected and having a tremendous amount of goodwill not alone here but throughout the world. I personally knew the late Dr. Brian Galligan who initiated the Comhaltas not too many years ago. From their foundation they have travelled throughout Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and across the world. They have 400 branches, among them 40 in England, and at present there are 600 classes actively participating in cultural activities under the auspices of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Functions organised by the Comhaltas annually are attended by 750,000.
I was glad to see a Land and Market survey recently establishing that Irish traditional music is now the most popular of the living arts here. Not everybody here knows that. The Comhaltas have played a major part in promoting Irish traditional music and culture to its rightful place and has gained for Ireland worldwide recognition by their displays, concerts and impromptu sessions. They have not alone something to offer to the people of Ireland but to nations throughout the world. At this critical time in our history, in the aftermath of the publication of the New Ireland Forum Report, when all our hopes and desires for reconciliation and reunification are once  again rekindled, we should give due recognition to the role of the Comhaltas, specifically in regard to Northern Ireland where there are 60 active branches of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. There, people of different religions and beliefs come together to sing and dance. That type of development is essential not only in Northern Ireland but in the island as a whole — the formation of a common cultural bond.
I have had personal experience of sitting in sessions with musicians from Sandy Row and the Falls Road, all in one group, who prior to that at some stage in their lives would have literally cut each other's throats. But there they are sitting together playing Irish music. They have come to a new realisation that there is more to life than political and religious divides. There is no such thing as a cultural divide and the Comhaltas have done a tremendous amount to achieve that.
The Comhaltas have lifted Irish traditional music and culture out of a limbo and have restored it to its rightful place in the hearts and homes of the people. I give full recognition to the GAA, the Gaelic League and the other organisations who have played major parts in the presentation of our sports and language, but today we are all concerned with the financial position of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Any organisation that has given so much to their country just for the love of the people and their culture, and having achieved so much, should not find themselves at a critical stage of development in such financial straits. The Government and the Departments concerned appreciate the great potential embodied in organisations such as the Comhaltas. We have put up the shutters on our tourist industry through taxation, high prices and strikes during the years, but we could promote our music, dancing and culture and bring it to the world. The Comhaltas have organised tours and concerts throughout the world. I get a feedback of how well they have done. I have seen my friend, Joe Burke, of the Comhaltas and Seán Maguire playing in places as far away as Boston and Philadelphia. They are our ambassadors to America.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann could  become stagnant or else go forward to achieve even greater things. We are in a position here to decide the future of the Comhaltas. We are not talking about just one building in Dublin, but Dublin is my capital city no matter which part of the country I come from and I am proud of the buildings we try to preserve in it, and therefore I would not oppose the decision to give money to the King's Inns. However, I appeal to the Minister and Members of the House to give full recognition to the Comhaltas for what they have done and can do in the future. They are our greatest ambassadors, our greatest tourist attraction. They have done a great job for the country and they deserve our recognition before it is too late.
Mr. O'Mahony: I had intended to be brief and pertinent during the course of my contribution. I had intended to speak about two matters only, but Senator O'Leary raised the temperature somewhat when he accused one of my valued colleagues of hypocrisy and I feel I should reply on her behalf since she has finished her Second Stage speech, although I have no doubt she will respond in due course during Committee Stage.
Senator O'Leary made two points in particular in this regard. He said that we in the Oireachtas are constantly faced with the question of choices not just in relation to the contents of this Bill but in relation to our legislative programme generally. He is right in that. We are faced with choices in this Bill and in our legislative programme as a whole. But the point is that the choices we make consistently favour the advantaged in our society. For example, our tax system——
Mr. O'Mahony: I quite agree that it certainly was disorderly. However, he was right in making the point that we are faced with choices, and we make choices here consistently. On the whole we make those choices in favour of the advantaged in our society. We have created a tax system which is to their benefit principally. We have created an economic system which is to their benefit principally. Indeed, we have created planning legislation which is principally to their benefit also. He is quite right that choices are being made consistently and they are being made against the poor, the oppressed, the unemployed and in favour of those who are privileged. They are being made by the two principal parties. They are not being made by this party, the party to which Senator Robinson belongs and whom he accused of being hypocritical in a disorderly way. They are being made by his party in particular at the moment and have been made by the Opposition party also. The question of hypocrisy is one which we should explore in more depth in future in this House. Perhaps we should discover, for example, why it is that those who are creating the destruction of our buildings in this city are also those who are contributing massive sums of money to the main political parties. We should try to discover why it is that this Legislature refuses to take action to introduce legislation to prevent this destruction and so on. The Senator is right about choices. Choices are being made and are being made against the people Senator Robinson attempts to represent.
In relation to this Bill choices are also being made. We are talking about a relatively  small amount of money, £2.8 million. That is not a great deal of money in the context of the overall Exchequer programme. Nonetheless choices have to be made in relation to it. I do not have any substantive opposition to some of the proposals contained in it but we come to a question of choice when we come to the question of whether it is appropriate that £600,000 should be made available to the benchers for the renovation of the King's Inns when we are not apparently prepared to provide any substantive amount of money for the grossly inadequate civil legal aid system.
I have attempted to look at the figures involved in the Minister's speech and, as far as I can see, of the £1.19 million residual figure he mentioned, when the £750,000 estimate for the Children's Court has been taken out there remains only £0.44 million which is to be spent, first of all, on renovation and repair work on a series of courts around the country and then one arrives at the residual figure for civil legal aid. A careful reading of the Minister's speech — and I hope he will correct me if I am wrong — suggests there is almost nothing in the financial provisions of the Bill for civil legal aid. Our party discussed this matter at some length and are of the opinion that some substantive quantities of money were to be provided for civil legal aid in the context of this legislation. They are not there as far as I can see and, of course, we are faced with the choice. I certainly have no difficulty in general with the idea of public money being spent to preserve buildings of value and, indeed, buildings such as the King's Inns. Socialists, members of my party, have always understood and valued our architectural heritage. We have always been prepared to do everything in our power to help towards the introduction of better planning legislation and more financial resources for our heritage. We have in many ways been unique in this regard over the history of the State. But when it comes to the point that we are faced with the decision today between making £600,000 available for the purpose of restoring and renovating the Kings' Inns, on the one hand, and  virtually nothing for civil legal aid, on the other, then we have to look very deeply at what is happening.
I quite agree with Senator O'Leary's point that there is merit in the idea that civil legal aid programmes should be provided for and funded through current expenditure in the normal annual budgets. That case has been made consistently since the early seventies by the legal aid organisations, and indeed by my party, but it has not happened. There has been minimal commitment on the part of successive Governments to civil legal aid despite the fact that access to the law is an essential civil right in any civilised society. It is not happening in ours. May I instance one example of where one reaches the end of one's patience, as Senator Robinson clearly has, and as many of us have. The Coolock Law Centre, the first neighbourhood community law centre in the country, can provide a comprehensive civil legal aid service in the north city area of Dublin for £40,000 a year at current costs. Its work has been welcomed. Its existence has been applauded by successive Governments over the last ten to 12 years. Yet each and every year it has to claw its way into Government Departments, to politicians, to Ministers and to anybody else who it thinks can influence events, to ensure this minimal amount of funding to provide a means of access to law for many thousands of people in the north side of the city. Let me give some of the recent history of this centre. In late 1982 when this Government took over, Fianna Fáil, at the behest of the Department of Justice, as I understand it, had knocked the provision of funds for this centre out of the 1983 Estimates. After considerable persuasion and pressure the Government took a decision to put a special provision into the 1983 budget of £30,000 for the centre in 1983. Everybody assumed that that was an indication of commitment to the continuation on a permanent basis of this centre. However, in the 1984 Estimates there was not anything again. What happens? The matter is referred to the interim Combat Poverty Agency and it is still with them. We are hoping for some kind of interim solution to keep this  centre going for the remainder of this year and some commitment to its continuation in the medium term. Such a centre cannot function unless it understands it has a life beyond any current year.
As opposed to that there is a limited State-run civil legal aid system which in my view is ineffective, under-resourced in terms of manpower and location and hugely expensive compared to community law centres. Yet this centre in Coolock is to get nothing from the Government this year, except some goodwill from the poverty committee. The proposal to have such a centre in Tallaght where there is no civil legal aid service of any kind is not even on the map as far as Government deliberation is concerned. I am not commenting particularly on this Government; the last one made more or less the same response.
We are faced with the reality of the Coolock Law Centre who occupy three very small rooms which they lease in a major shopping centre, providing a first-class and comprehensive service through the limited resources of one lawyer, one administrator and one secretary. It is the only substantive social service of any kind in the north city area; yet it is not able to get even the bare minimum financial resources to allow it to survive.
On the other hand we find that through the Funds of Suitors Bill the State wishes to provide £600,000 for King's Inns. Certainly the State should be in the business of providing funds to maintain and restore our architectural heritage. However, there are many buildings in this city which require such funding. In my view the reason this one has been picked out is that the legal system itself controls ultimately the releasing of this money and it has been able to put a price on its releasing of dormant funds generally, the price being that the King's Inns be restored. Let us face this reality. The benchers are a privileged, private, discriminatory élite in our society. They operate a system of law whereby access to legal redress is prevented for many thousands of people. Yet they seem to have the power to come along to Governments and to say, “This building requires restoration, we cannot afford it, we think  you should come in and do the job for us,” despite the fact that there are buildings all over this country which need funding for such work. Senator Robinson was right. They should not have this amount of money.
Maybe it is impractical to suggest that such wealthy, privileged, élite people cannot raise all of the £600,000 despite the fact that, even if one accepts the minimum number of practitioners mentioned by Senator O'Leary at 450, it would cost them a mere £1,300 each by way of contribution. Many of them could individually raise the money to restore this building, such is their wealth and income. Certainly together they would have no difficulty. Even if they were to raise a loan for the purpose and repay the loan over ten years it would cost them no more than something in the order of £230 a year each.
I ask myself why it is that at a time when we cannot provide decent access to law for the under-privileged, the poor and the not so under-privileged and not so poor in our society, we can provide this money for this purpose. I am forced to the conclusion that they have blackmailed us or are attempting to do so and I find this very difficult to take. If I saw any indication that the legal profession was prepared to reform itself, was prepared to come out from the benches and provide legal services at a reasonable cost, then I would say that maybe there is a case to be made for preserving in this way this particularly beautiful building. I believe strongly that they must be asked to pay their share of the cost of doing so because it is their club. The use of it is confined to their membership and in my opinion they do not deserve this large sum of money to be spent on their building at a time when we cannot or will not even make a minimal commitment to the provision of reasonable civil legal aid services for the poor in our society.
Mr. Fitzsimons: This matter has been very well covered by the Members already and I will briefly give my views. Reference was made earlier to a letter which we all received from the Union of Students in Ireland and there were other  groups associated with that letter. These were HOPE, Cherish, the Simon Community, FLAC, Coolock Community Law Centre, the Rape Crisis Centre and the Open Door Centre. This letter points out that there are many voluntary social and legal organisations within the country who are in dire need of financial help. I would agree wholeheartedly with that statement. There are many worthy organisations which are deserving of consideration.
With specific reference to the King's Inns building, the Minister has told us that two-thirds of this building is owned by the State. I would like to ask the Minister how long has this two-thirds of the building been owned by the State and if the State is paying rental for this portion of the building. Like all the other Members, I am very concerned about our architectural heritage and this important building by James Gandon. It is important that we do everything possible to preserve ancient buildings and all our buildings of architectural merit, but I am not satisfied that the Minister has made a totally convincing case for the amount of money that is being given for the King's Inns building. At the same time, since the State owns two-thirds of the building it seems that the State must be responsible for at least two-thirds of the cost of restoration work, which would amount to £400,000 assuming that all of the work would cost £600,000. Yet there is no contribution from the society. I, like other Members, find this difficult to understand.
According to Senator O'Leary there are between 1,600 and 2,000 barristers, of whom about 450 are practising. I am sure they would all be prepared to make some kind of a contribution. It is difficult to understand the Minister's statement that the Government have accepted that the Society of King's Inns is not in a position to provide the funds needed to carry out the essential and substantial repair work needed to preserve the building which it occupies. Would the society not be in a position to get this £200,000 or make some attempt to come up with some of the cost? In spite of what Senator  O'Leary said about a cross-section of the community qualified as barristers, from my reading of letters in the papers it would appear that this is a very élitist group. I feel they should and would be in a position to make some contribution. It seems that, if two-thirds of the building is owned by the State and one-third by the society, the society should provide one-third of the cost.
I would like to know if the damage to the building is due to neglect. I know the Minister told us that the bad stonework arises from the age of the material, from atmospheric pollution and the poor quality of the granite which was used in the building. But was this not noticed and were some corrective measures not taken? If the Government own two-thirds of the building, they should be in a position to examine the building and take whatever corrective measures are necessary. I realise that the society spent £150,000 in ten years. But that is not sufficient to reach a decision about responsibility for the State of the building. Was the detailing bad? In a well-designed building it is possible to have bad detailing. If the detailing was bad, will this be corrected? There are many other buildings in the city also in a bad state of repair. There is a frightening aura of decadence about all of the city of Dublin. We have derelict buildings, neglected buildings, closed buildings, and as Senator McGuinness has said, badly designed buildings or inappropriately designed buildings, not to speak of their trívialisation by plastic signs, subdivision and so on. For example, there are churches in the inner city which are probably empty now. They have no congregations to pay for their restoration. They need attention. Even if the inner city become alive again I am sure these buildings would be unsuitable for use due to the changes in the liturgy. As we all know, religion is a living thing and it must shed its shell from time to time. I am concerned about those buildings. The same thing would apply to our towns and villages. I know that the EEC is concerned with the natural environment and it is a pity that some money is not prodesigne  vided by the EEC for the repair and restoration of important buildings.
The Minister made the point that there is a precedent for payment of this kind to the King's Inns. But it seems to me that this in itself is not sufficient, because this could result in a situation in which the society could easily neglect the building and look forward at some future time to more funds being provided. The statement that the Government feel that the Society of the King's Inns is not in a position to provide the money is very difficult to understand. With regard to the repair of the boundary walls, gates and railings surrounding the building, I should like to know how much cost will be involved in this work. It does not seem to me that it would be proper to spend much money on boundary walls, gates and railings. I am sure the Minister has an inventory of all essential repairs. Will the £600,000 cover all these repairs or is it envisaged that more money will be needed in the future?
With regard to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, there is nothing more I can add to what Senator De Brún has said. There is no point in repeating what he has said. But I urge the Minister to accede to Senator de Brún's request to increase this amount by £200,000. We are all very concerned about our cultural heritage. We know the difficult fight being carried on by Comhaltas Ceoltoírí Éireann. In my youth and, indeed, later I remember the aeraíochta and feiseanna around the country. Apparently these have died out. Therefore Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann are fighting a very difficult battle. I fully support Senator de Brún's plea to the Minister.
I agree with the expenditure of £100,000 to provide additional funding for the Community Youth Recreational and Employment Programme. Like other Senators, I feel this is not enough. At least it is a gesture towards this important work. The money being spent on the Children's Court is very worthwhile. In its spending I hope consideration will be given to the dignity of those going before the court, the human element, and not simply provide a place where unfortunate children can be paraded.
 Like the other Members, I feel there are many courthouses around the country where money could be profitably spent, many being old buildings unsuitable for their purpose. Rather than repairing many of those buildings as courthouses it would have been preferable had new buildings been provided. They could have been smaller, more comfortable and the acoustics better. All of these things could have been improved upon in new buildings. I base this contention to a large extent on the buildings I know. For example, at home in Kells we have a very large and important building, but it is unsuitable as a courthouse. Had a smaller building been provided the cost would have been far less over the long term.
Mr. Browne: I shall be brief. It is very seldom that a Minister comes in here to distribute or divide a large bag of money. We have found ourselves in that very strange position today — an rud is annamh is iontach, I suppose. But it would be very difficult to divide any sum of money in this way and not have controversy in regard to who receives it. No matter what ideas we may have probably each Senator here would divide it in a different way had he or she the opportunity of so doing.
I applaud the idea of giving money for the Arts. I hope that this money will not simply go to establishments here in Dublin but that some of it will go to other parts of the country and that places removed from the centre of activity will be given their fair share. I hope that the Taoiseach will see to that in his division of the money. An art centre opened in the village of Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, has been a tremendous boost to the area. Local artists whose talents were hidden for years were enabled to put their paintings on exhibition. Better known artists can put their work on display there and all forms of art and activity, including drama, can take place there. I congratulate the Minister for allocating money to  the Arts and I hope that we will see some of that money in the rural parts.
I admire Ceoltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. I come from a county that is supposed to be the homeland of traditional music and if I criticise CCE I do so from the point of view of an admirer. I am not sure that the Government can carry the can for an economic decision made by the people at the top of CCE. I am acquainted with the people at the grass roots of that organisation, the people who play the music and give their services free. I grew up where playing the concertina was taught by a man called Stack Ryan who had Mrs. Crotty playing the concertina also — and all this was free, gratis and for nothing.
I think that some of the supporters at grass roots level are critical of the fact that some of this planning was not exactly as it should have been, that CCE should not have got into this difficulty. I say this as a strong supporter of the work of CCE because I know exactly what they are doing and the number of young people now playing traditional music and the encouragement they get. As a supporter of the organisation I felt embarrassed when I received in the post this letter seeking support and more or less declaring that somebody was trying to kill Irish music and culture. That is self-defeating and not the kind of thing that I like to see coming from any organisation that I wish to support. They may have a problem, a serious problem, on the financial side; but my view and that of many people in the organisation with whom I have talked is that the mistake was made at the top. There is no point in trying to blame people for killing Irish culture, music and so on. Nobody is trying to do that. I am sure if the Minister gave £500,000 somebody would stand up here and propose that he give £600,000. I hope that the organisation's financial difficulties will not cause serious problems in regard to the playing of music and so on. I am delighted that they are getting the extra £100,000 and I would like to see them getting more if possible; but we must be fair. They cannot expect people to continue to dole out money. They  should have made a better effort at sorting out what their cost would be.
I applaud also the idea of courts for children. I will not use up time on that matter because it has been discussed frequently. Perhaps what I am about to say is outside the scope of this Bill. I know a person who has obtained a church annulment and must go to the High Court to get a civil annulment. He will not get free legal aid and cannot afford to pay the legal cost. The person who has a church annulment and cannot face the cost of a High Court action is in a terrible predicament and if there is money to be spared perhaps it could be used in case of people in such a situation.
Mr. Lanigan: Like Senator Browne, I will not delay very long on this. The trend of the debate has been away from what was intended, that was, that certain moneys which had accumulated should be disbursed, not in as equitable a manner as could be, but in a reasonable manner. It seems that a class type of discussion has developed. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with having a class division here. But it is totally unfair for speaker after speaker to claim that a section of our society are wealthy, elitist and privileged. Perhaps a certain privilege is attached to becoming a barrister and it has been stated that only the very wealthy can get into the King's Inns to become a barrister. I do not think that that statement would stand up to examination. Of the two sides of the legal profession the easier and less expensive way to get in is through the King's Inns. I have only limited knowledge of the King's Inns but I know the fees they are charging this year for their course and I know the fees charged this year by the Incorporated Law Society. Solicitors have not been mentioned here as elitist. Barristers has been mentioned as elitist. The entrance conditions for and the cost of entry into the Incoporated Law Society as opposed to the entry provisions and costs for the King's Inns suggest that the solicitors' branch of the legal profession is the more elitist. There is no doubt that to send a student to study law costs too much for any parent and certainly for any student to put himself  through to the legal profession would cost too much. Nevertheless, our legal system is bicameral, as are the Dáil and Seanad. It is about time that one or other side of the legal profession was abolished — although I think that is a matter for a debate in another place, not here today. People are paying too much for their legal requirements because we have the two systems, the solicitors and the barristers. I do not see the value in the system, but we have inherited it and because we have inherited it, it is supposed to be good. The legal profession should be a single profession. No person should have to pay a barrister to get an opinion on a matter about which he has gone to a solicitor. If the solicitor has gone through an educational process in law he should be able to give his own opinion and stand over it without running to either senior or junior counsel.
Much has been made here of the fact that so much money is to be spent on the building for the King's Inns. It has been stated also that two-thirds of the building is owned by the State. Are we to suggest that the State maintains its two-thirds of the building and lets the remainder fall down? Senator Howlin will know the area in County Wexford where the sea was encroaching and certain people who owned houses beside the sea decided that they would build a wall to keep the sea out. One person in the middle would not pay his fee so they built no wall in front of his house. What happened? The sea came in, divided, and his is the only house still standing. I think that is what people want in regard to the King's Inns building. They want us to maintain the two-thirds that the State owns and forget about the third that is owned by the Society of the King's Inns. Of course, people forget that the Society of King's Inns will get nothing. The Board of Works are to get the money and they will carry out the repairs and renovations to the area. I presume that the Board of Works will not be able to do this work unless they get this money. Having regard to the good work that the board have done in many areas throughout the country they are the most suitable to undertake the sort of preservation work  we are talking of. Despite the high costs involved, I am glad that a building by Gandon is to be restored to what it should be and that it will be as it has been in the past — a tourist attraction for people coming into Ireland. There is the aspect also that the area around that particular set of buildings has been used as an amenity area in that part of Dublin which is without amenities otherwise.
Despite any argument to the effect that the building should not be maintained, I consider that the money we are providing will be well spent especially since it is going directly to the Office of Public Works. I would not have any ideological hang up about the provision of moneys for the preservation of that building. There is no physical separation as between the part of the building that is owned by the State and the part that is privately owned. We must maintain that building. A case can be made also for the preservation of other buildings of architectural value and which are in bad condition; but that is for another day. We are speaking about a specific building here. However, in future the input of bodies other than the legal profession should be taken into account when moneys are to be disbursed from the fund in question. I do not know how the King's Inns camp came up top of the list of people to get moneys.
Mr. Lanigan: I know there are many solicitors and barristers around the country. It used to be said in the past that publicans and farmers ran the country. Just as that is no longer true, neither do I think that solicitors and barristers run it any more. I sincerely hope they do not.
Having said that, I feel that in future, if there is to be a disbursement from the funds of suitors, a public advertisement should be placed and people should apply for allocations from this fund to do a specific job. Then an assessment would take place with the people who deserve the funds getting them.
We could go on and on about the preservation of historical buildings or of buildings of outstanding architectural  merit, about the social aspects or the social deprivation caused by not having good court houses, by not having free legal aid centres wherever they are needed, by not having proper facilities for children, or about not having proper facilities for dealing with cases of marital breakdown. However, I do not think the total fund of £98 million would make a great difference if we were to spend it in those various areas. I am sure everybody who spoke here today could pick ten, 12, 15, 16 or 20 other places where the money could be equally as well spent. One of the major disgraces in Dublin city is next door to us here. Our National Museum is the greatest farce of all times. It is disgusting to go into it. Artefacts are hidden downstairs and continue to be boxed and to deteriorate. We could point to that building next door here and say that the £600,000 should have gone into that. I could say that that would enable them to bring up the artefacts from Kilkenny which have been stored downstairs for the last 100 years. From what I read in the papers the artefacts which were taken from Wood Quay are now being dumped down there as well. They are the treasures of Ireland. When one goes to Egypt and looks at what they have in comparison with what we have, we find that they have relatively little. We have it, but what do we do with it? We dump it in storerooms here in Dublin and do not give to the people of Ireland the benefit of their past heritage. We also lose millions of pounds worth of tourism through the same type of dumping.
There is no doubt but that there is a need for free legal aid centres throughout the country. Again, that is a matter for discussion on other legislation. There is a provision of £100,000 for additional funding for the Community Youth Recreation and Employment Programme which is administered by the Department of Labour. That amount is a farce. There is 1 per cent being taken from the gross salary of every wage earner in the country for the provision of such a programme. Now we have £100,000 being put into that fund again. I do not see the great value of it because there has not been an  attempt by the Department of Education and the Department of Labour to get together to provide the facilities needed throughout the country. One sees the Department of Education building a school and putting in recreational facilities while next door there is a club building in which there are the same facilities and which will be used by the same people in the same parish. The total lack of co-ordination in the spending of money for recreational purposes has to be seen to be believed. I sincerely hope the £100,000 will be well used throughout the country but I do not think that in the overall it is going to make any difference except to bolster up bad schemes. I do not mean that the schemes in the areas are bad but I feel that the concept has been bad from the very start.
As far as the Children's Court is concerned nobody can say that this money is not needed, but I do not think it should be coming from this fund. Nevertheless it is a source of finance and it will be well used.
There is a liability of £98 million and an asset of £97,343,000. I wonder where the money in the fund is invested. What income is it earning? Is there a set income from the fund that can be used on an annual basis or on a bi-annual basis? Is it in State funds or in semi-State or commercial funds? Are the funds kept in insurance companies or are they kept in commercial places and what sort of income is derived from them? Is it just left there without any commercial assessment made of the type of investment return that could be got from it?
As I have said, we could go on all night about where this money should go. I am glad the moneys that are there are being disbursed. I agree that more money could be given to Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann.
Some people think the Cultúrlann was a mistake but, as one of the few major cultural centres in Dublin city it was essential. That and the National Concert Hall have given a great boost to the arts. The people appreciate what was done in Earlsfort Terrace. Once they get to know what is happening in the Cultúrlann they  will appreciate why that money was spent.
Comhaltas have played a major part in bringing back a sense of Irishness into this country and a sense of great feeling for our songs and our dances which was not there prior to Comhaltas being formed. The major tourism asset that many towns have in the evening is the seisiún that takes place whether it be in the Newcastle Hotel in Kilkenny or whatever hotel around the country. It is Irish and people can go along and listen to Irish music and see Irish dancing and enjoy themselves in an Irish way. The amount of money that they get in comparison to the amount of money that is wasted by State bodies trying to get tourists in here is not enough. I hope that we will see an increase in the £300,000. An extra £200,000 will not break the bank when we consider the amount of funds that are available. They above all people should get a little bit more.
This year the Olympic Games will be held and we have had the Olympic Games for the disabled. We saw the fantastic performance of Irish athletes in the Disabled Olympic Games. The people who organised the games for the disabled should be helped, if not under this Bill perhaps under the next one. Not only do they benefit themselves but they give other people the courage to get over their handicaps. That Ronald Tynan, a young athlete from Kilkenny who had his two legs amputated, could go over to New York and out of 2,800 athletes from 54 countries be given the award as the best athlete of the meeting, shows that Irish people given the opportunity can overcome difficulties. For this reason I hope that in the future we may have funds to give to the people who are organising sports and games for people who are both physically and mentally-handicapped.
I welcome the Bill. One could go on all night about where the money should be dispersed. I hope the ideological discussions will be reserved in future for the Finance Bill or the Social Welfare Bill and not for a Bill such as this which has been used as an ideological war-ground.
Mr. Magner: For a long time now we  have been told by the leaders of public opinion that there is no such thing as a free lunch and it apparently applies to all sectors of society but the King's Inns, because in that case not only will one get a free lunch but the diningroom will be built for free or fitted out for free. This is disgraceful and I make no apologies for saying it is a disgraceful position. In this time of great economic stringency people are being told daily they must contribute to the cost of services, whether it is education, health or social welfare. Right across the board of social services people are being asked to pay more for what is, we all agree, not a very good service. We have to look at that situation and then try to swallow the fact that we are going to give £600,000 to a private, extremely wealthy, professional organisation. It is an incredible situation.
Somebody spoke earlier about the earnings of that profession. Sometimes in the Dáil Ministers are asked questions about the earnings of the legal profession from the State and the figures come rolling out. They are of a very high order.
Mr. Magner: I did not say this Minister but Ministers in the Dáil. If we look at national tragedies like Whiddy Island, the Betelgeuse and Stardust we will see that massive sums of money went to individuals. Are we being asked to swallow the fact that the benchers can make no contribution whatsoever to the upkeep of their own building? The Minister said they are not in a position to pay. We do not accept that excuse in the case of community groups who do unpaid voluntary work. We tell them that if they want Government grants they have to match them on a pound for pound basis. We tell them we will assist them but that first of all they must raise some of the cash. No such demands are made upon this group. The section of the Bill relating to the King's Inns should be entitled “The Benchers Strike Again” because they seem to occupy a most privileged position in our society.
 The Leader of the Opposition, Senator Lanigan, is quite wrong when he says they do not get it. It is a question of a rose by any other name. If I am prepared to build a house for you free of charge and I do not physically give you the money but I give it to the builder, the benefits are approximately the same. That is what is happening.
Mr. Magner: It is indicative of the way in which quite a lot of the Minister's speech is taken up with defending the King's Inns. More of his speech was devoted to that provision than to any other. One of the justifications for it, according to the Minister, is that commitments were given by previous administrations. If that is one of the justifications, all I can say to the Minister is that there is a clerical gentleman standing guard over an airport in the bog who might take an interest in the fulfilment of commitments given by various Governments. Quite frankly, I do not think that one stands up. Perhaps in times of plenty this provision would not be as painful. In times of extreme financial difficulty, it is painful.
This morning on a radio programme — this borders on the horrific — there was a discussion with an orthopaedic surgeon attached to a children's hospital in Dublin. They could not get the money to operate on a waiting list of children who suffer from scoliosis. The money was not available but if the £600,000 was taken from the youth employment scheme and given to the children's hospital it would mean in effect that something like 84 children who cannot be treated now could walk upright for the rest of their lives instead of being totally crippled.
I do not think we can be asked to accept what Senator O'Mahony described earlier as a blackmail situation. I suffer from the disadvantage of not being briefed by that august body. I understand that Members of the House who are also members of the King's Inns  were briefed by them in order to ensure the smooth passage of this little pack through this House. I challenge anybody to try to defend that in their constituencies, before residents' associations and other associations who are demanding money. Riddle me that. Who will stand up and say well that is the last building before residents' and other associations who are demanding money, who is going to stand up and say that it was the last building designed by Gandon? Who the hell cares? If you are a Philistine because you put people before buildings, then I am a Philistine. At the very least, even at this late stage, the contribution from the benchers of the King's Inns should be 50 per cent of any grant they get. That is the minimum that I would require and even then, I have grave reservations about giving them this money.
The sum of £600,000 is being given to the King's Inns and only one-sixth of that amount goes to combating youth unemployment. This is not a question of ideology, as Senator Lanigan said, but a question of common sense and priority. What matters most? According to this section, the benchers matter most. Senator O'Mahony had a point when he said that they control the fund and I understand that the Chief Justice has quite a say in how this fund is released, and at the end of the day they look after themselves. It is a provision which should not be there, particularly in these times of economic stringency. There are far more worthy causes that are desperately short of cash.
The demands which we make on ordinary people should be mirrored; in fact, the demands we make on people who can afford to pay should be quadrupled. We read of the constant, never-ending demands by the Government, stating that if you can afford to pay, you should pay. Why does this structure not apply to the King's Inns? Why are they excluded from that? We tell the farmers that if they can pay, they must pay. To workers and to every section of society the same message is preached — if you can pay, you must pay. I believe in this instance they can pay, but nobody has asked them to pay. They are getting privileged treatment  over and above every other community or organisation. There must be a reason for this and Senator O'Mahony touched on the reason for it. As I said at the outset, this is a disgraceful provision and should not be passed. At the very least, there should be a compromise. They should have to match pound for pound whatever grant is given to them and I am in favour of giving them nothing.
Senator Lanigan stated earlier that the State owns two-thirds of the building and that we have to look after the other third, which, unfortunately, the Society of King's Inns occupy. Senator Brendan Ryan answered that adequately. If they cannot afford to live there they should get out to some place else and then the State can take the whole of the building and we will not have any problem in this regard. They occupy, as they have done for many generations, the best of both worlds. I am quite sure that when the claret and the cigars are being passed around at the next King's Inns lunch or dinner, the members will certainly toast all of us who have been so magnificently generous to such an élitest club.
Mr. Howard: My contribution on this Bill will be relatively short. I should like to touch on a few points which concern me and on which I should state my position. In general terms, I fully support the Bill. I also fully support the method by which the Minister proposes to distribute the funds that are available under this measure.
There are about five main channels for the proposed distribution of this fund. First of all, £600,000 is going towards capital projects in the arts field. £100,000 of this has been already specified for certain works in Westland Row and there is a balance of £500,000 left. Could I hope that part of that will find its way into suitable projects in the West of Ireland, particularly in County Clare? The next grouping of funds which is proposed to be distributed is the one on which a number of Senators concentrated this afternoon, not least Senator Magner, to whose contribution I have just listened.
In relation to the proposed sum of money to be spent in renovating the  King's Inns building, when I received the Bill this was one aspect which concerned me. I could make quite an emotional speech on this subject given time and there is wonderful material here if one were disposed to go in that direction. I had reservations initially and therefore I tried to acquaint myself as fully as possible with the subject. I can assure the House that I was not briefed by any of the residents of that particular building or by the people who use it, but I made inquiries with regard to it and attended, as I had the opportunity, the relevant Dáil discussion. This aspect of the Bill is crystallised in the Minister's speech: this is a building of which two-thirds is owned and occupied by the State. Because of this, it is not fair to suggest that all this money is being provided for the benefit and gain of a particular body of professional people.
The Minister also stated that a survey carried out in 1980 indicated that in 1980 figures the cost of carrying out a satisfactory renovation of the entire building would come to £1.3 million. What is proposed to be spent on this building is less than half that figure. It is solely on those points that I made my decision. Before I came to this conclusion, I was very much of the mind of some Senators who have spoken against the provision here today and, indeed, elsewhere. Having clarified the situation to my satisfaction, on the basis that the State owns and occupies two-thirds of the King's Inns building and that the sum being provided is less than 50 per cent of the estimated cost in 1980 figures of carrying out a satisfactory renovation, I support the measure.
I should like to refer to two other channels of expenditure. The next one is the sum of £100,000 to community youth recreational and employment projects. I welcome this expenditure. I would not disagree with people who would like to see this sum much larger than it is. This £100,000, from personal experience in my own county, will achieve very satisfactory  results in relation to a number of projects. I gather that there are about 14 such projects throughout the country. In my county, in the town of Ennistymon a community centre is being erected. The promoters succeeded in raising, by the standards of the area, a substantial sum of money. It will be a very worthwhile project. It has a recreational and an amenity value for all the residents of that town and the surrounding area of County Clare. The promotors found they were short of money to complete the building. Funds being made available under this Bill will enable that complex to be completed satisfactorily. On behalf of the people in that area I want to express their thanks for the generosity of the Minister in ensuring that this community centre will be completed.
The balance of the funds comes to something like £1.19 million. The largest part of that will go towards the building of a Children's Court in Dublin. As a non-Dubliner, I am not very familiar with the situation here. From what we hear there is a need for that building. Expenditure of £750,000 on the erection of a Children's Court is necessary and I do not think anyone will disagree with that.
I want to return very briefly to the grant being given to Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann in respect of their headquarters. I want to thank the Minister for his generosity in making that sum available. I will bow to nobody in my commitment to and my support for the restoration of Irish music, song, and dancing. They are important parts of our cultural traditions. I have had the privilege of participating in a number of ways to the revival of Irish music, song and dancing. I applaud the work done by Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann over the past 20 years or so and the satisfactory results they have achieved.
I want to refer to the activities of Comhaltas in my own county. Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann succeeded in erecting a very satisfactory premises in the town of Ennis. They were supported by the county development fund and by voluntary subscriptions. It is an excellent building. It is achieving its purpose and playing  an important part in promoting the spread and the revival of Irish music, and so on. I question the economic wisdom of building the structure in Monkstown. It would have assisted the revival of Irish music and the promotion of Irish culture and traditions if, instead of erecting that large building in Monkstown, a number of buildings had been erected in various parts of the country.
The tradition of Irish music, dance and song is very great in rural Ireland. Therefore Comhaltas were unwise to erect a concrete structure here in Dublin when they already had a building which was adequate to meet their needs. If we engaged a contractor to do a job for a certain figure and found it was costing twice that figure, we could not come back to the State and say: “We overspent by double what we intended.” That is not realistic. I say with great admiration for the movement that, if a fine organisation like Comhaltas have to depend on a Government subvention, that dependence will undermine their capacity to do the work that they originally set out to do. The voluntary work of many people throughout the country has brought Comhaltas to the point they are at today.
Senator de Brún in a very wide-ranging address, which reflected his commitment to the movement and which I applaud, told us that Comhaltas have 400 branches throughout the country, 60 in the Six Counties, 40 in Great Britain and 25 in North America. Something like 750,000 people per year attended functions throughout the country. For a voluntary organisation with a commitment to promoting what is best in our cultural traditions, that is the source which should be tapped for finance. Even tapping those 750,000 people at £1 a head would ensure that Comhaltas could achieve what they set out to do.
I thank the Minister for his generosity in providing £300,000. Let us not forget that 18 months ago the figure mentioned was £200,000. It was subsequently increased to £250,000 and then became £300,000. Of course that may not be adequate. If the theory is that the State should fund the entire work of Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann, then Comhaltas will  begin to look to the State as the source of the funding for their activities. Once that point is arrived at, the commitment of the voluntary element which is necessary to sustain Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann will be eroded. Therefore for the benefit of that organisation, for the benefit of the kind of work they are doing, they must rely upon the spirit they created over the years. I fully support the Bill.
Mr. Howlin: I welcome the opportunity to comment on this Bill and express the views which are held by a great many people outside of this House. At a time of economic depression when all expenditure is put under a microscope to test its worth and value to the people of Ireland as a whole, when there is virtually no money available for desirable though non-essential works, the availability of moneys from the funds of suitors is welcomed by all. I welcome the allocation of £600,000 for capital projects in the Arts field. Although specific allocations have not yet been decided, with the exception of the £100,000 for the renovation of the Royal Irish Academy of Music premises, I earnestly hope that advantage can be taken of this £600,000 to provide for the development of arts centres around the country.
Much of our nation's artistic endeavour is centred in this city, in the capital. Few suitable centres exist around the country in which exhibitions can be properly housed, mounted and displayed. Even fewer are available to house such exhibitions and exhibits on a long-term basis. We have very few properly designed and built centres to bring dance, music and drama in all their facets to the centres of population outside the main cities. The establishment of art centres in our towns is one development which I wholeheartedly endorse and encourage since they act as a stimulant and a catalyst for the arts. May I be marginally parochial and say this: that I hope that the moneys from the £600,000 fund available through the Taoiseach's Department will be made available to projects such as the Wexford Arts Centre and the Wexford Theatre Royal, both of which have  contributed immeasurably not only to the artistic enrichment of the south-east but to the artistic enrichment of the country as a whole. The Theatre Royal, being the home of the Wexford Opera Festival, has gained for Ireland a reputation for artistic excellence in the field of opera.
I welcome also the allocation of £300,000 for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann to cover part of the cost of the extension of the Cultúrlann. I have listened carefully to the various contributions regarding the role and activities of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí. It is quite clear that every Member of this House appreciates and applauds the tremendous voluntary effort of such a wide-ranging organisation in protecting and promoting the best of Irish culture as expressed through traditional music and dance. I believe we cannot overstress their importance; it is important not alone to pay lip service to that but to give concrete expression, as will be done through the provision of the moneys for the Cultúrlann.
I have taken on board the reservations expressed by Senator Howard and Senator Brown earlier, that perhaps decisions have been made by Comhaltas in the recent past that put them out on a limb and it is a marginally worrying thought that there would be an expectation that the State would be there to bail people out. However, the acknowledgment of the role and the contribution that Comhaltas have made to the development of Irish culture and the enrichment of Irish life is certainly underlined by this allocation. Similarly, I welcome the provision of £100,000 additional moneys for the community youth recreational and employment programme. Senator Ferris said earlier that it was to be regretted that the environmental grants which were heretofore available have been phased out. I hope that more moneys will be channelled into these efforts.
The building of the proposed Children's Court is to be welcomed and has been by all sides for the many reasons outlined by, among others, Senator Robinson. However, I share Senator Robinson's concern at the lack of specifics regarding the actual amount of money that is to be made available for civil legal aid. The  extension of the current inadequate and patchy provision should be a priority if we are genuinely concerned with making our courts and our system of justice more accessible to all the people.
I come finally and inevitably to the contentious part of the Bill, the part that has occupied most of the contributions we have heard this afternoon and, as other Senators have pointed out, most of the contribution of the Minister in introducing the Bill to the House. The allocation of £600,000 for the refurbishment and renovation of the King's Inns building is to my mind wholly and totally unsatisfactory. No doubt that building is of significant architectural interest. I fully and unreservedly accept that. I do not share the enthusiasm of Senator Magner to be regarded as a Philistine but I share his sense of priority.
No doubt the work proposed by the Office of Public Works to be carried out should be carried out. However, I am certainly not convinced that the moneys which would otherwise be available to be spent for the benefit of the community at large should be spent on this project. It has been clearly put by Senator Robinson that at this time particularly the allocation of this huge sum of money to maintain a privately-owned and privately-run building is a grave cause of concern for us all and indeed a disgrace.
Every single public representative is aware of the pressure on ordinary people at this moment in merely maintaining themselves and their families and trying to provide for the basics of education. On an almost daily basis now we see valuable community projects, which would be of direct and immediate value and benefit to a great number of people, shot down through lack of finance. Surely we must look critically at our sense of priorities. We acknowledge that communities have been deprived of what must be regarded as basic recreational facilities but they are being told incessantly that the public purse is bare. If they want to develop a playground, or provide the basic recreational, stimulating facilities for children on housing estates, the money must be raised locally. Practically every undertaking  by a community must first start off with a fund-raising effort. No matter how poor or disadvantaged that community is, they must first put their own hands in their pockets as a proof of good faith before they come to the State and before the State is willing to give any money. It is no wonder that there is genuine anger expressed throughout the country at the apparent ease with which money is made available for the renovation of the headquarters of one of the wealthiest groups of people in the state.
This Bill has been introduced this afternoon by the Minister for Justice. Section 3 (2) (b) strikes me as being singularly lacking in justice. The disadvantaged in our society must perceive this as yet another example, heaped upon all the other examples, showing that the advantaged are locked into the system, that the establishment looks after its own and that all others may expect the scraps from the table and nothing more. The turn-out in the recent European elections should have flashed the warning lights for us all. It told us that more and more people see the political system in which we all operate as being irrelevant to them, to their needs and to their aspirations. The decision taken to include this provision in this Bill, and decisions like it, have contributed to this sense of alienation and this sense of frustration with the political system that has been evident recently.
It is significant that Senator Lanigan during the course of his comments should suggest that we had somehow descended into a class discussion. We have not enough class-based discussions in this House. He said that he had no ideological hang-up about the provision of £600,000 for the renovation of this building. It does not surprise me that he or his party would have no ideological hang-up or indeed that the Minister's party would have no ideological hang-up about the provision of £600,000. I and my party have an ideological hang-up about it in the face of blatant deprivation throughout the country.
Mr. Kennedy: I join with other Senators in welcoming this Bill which is designed to utilise dormant funds of suitors for the various purposes the Minister outlined in his speech. On the controversial proposal to allocate £600,000 to the Board of Works, not to privately owned institutions, so that the essential work of repair and renovation can be carried on the King's Inns building, I agree with Senator Howard. It is important to point out that two-thirds of the building is owned by the State. It is important also to put on record that a sum in excess of £190,000 has been provided by the Society of King's Inns in maintaining and preserving that building. In addition, £40,000 has been provided by the same society towards the provision of lecture and tutorial facilities in the same building. A sum of £30,000 has been spent by them in providing canteen and other facilities for the students in that building. The judges and practising barristers, a limited group of people not in excess of 350, have provided a total of £162,000 in the past five years.
These are audited figures and I have inspected them for the past 20 years. These audited accounts are open for inspection to every single Member of this House and they show that over the past ten years the Society of King's Inns have incurred an annual deficit of approximately £30,000. This annual deficit has had to be made good by the limited number of barristers and judges. The Society of King's Inns provide costly legal services and costly library facilities for their students. It does not cost the taxpayer one penny. If Senator Magner and Senator Howlin wish to become doctors they will cost the taxpayer a lot of money. If they wish to become dentists, teachers or members of any other profession they will cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds before they qualify. If you wish to become a barrister very flexible criteria are adopted. You do not need a leaving, intermediate or group certificate; if you can satisfy the education committee of the King's Inns that you have the necessary ability and so on, then you will be accepted. I know people, for instance, in  recent years who qualified as barristers although, unfortunately for them at the start of their career, they did not have the resources even to get a group certificate.
These are the facts that we should not lose sight of. Every third level student is costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds. A student who attends the King's Inns is costing the taxpayer nothing. That student can do his or her first year at £500 per year including lecture fees, use of the library and all the facilities that go with it In the second year it is currently £500, in the third it is currently £500 per annum and in the final year it is £680. I suggest that the most rundown school is costing the taxpayer more than that. The Society of King's Inns are doing a fair job. I do not think they have got justice in this House today, in view of the substantial contribution which they have made from their own personal resources to the provision of legal education for these students. It is all right for Senator Robinson to suggest that every barrister in the country should be levied £1,000 in order to do this work. Not every barrister is in the top bracket of income as a senior counsel as Senator Robinson is. There are barristers here who would not be able to afford £1,000 per annum.
Entry to the King's Inns is very flexible contrary to what has been said. It is open to people from all walks of life. Qualified barristers in practice today were formerly teachers, nurses, policemen, accountants, insurance agents and those working in radio and television. If the Members of this House check the students who have completed their first year in the King's Inns this year, they will find approximately 12 policemen. They will find nurses, teachers and social workers — all sorts of people. A very broad spectrum of people take the Bar exams and there is no age limit. If you attend those lectures you will discover people who are almost at retiring age doing the Bar just for their own enlightenment. I support the case that has been outlined so well by Senator Ryan earlier in the day and in a very practical fashion by Senator Lanigan. The proposals the Minister made in the other areas are excellent and progressive  and this House should support the comprehensive package that has been presented by the Minister for Justice.
Mrs. McAuliffe-Ennis: The object of the Bill is to enable part of the funds of suitors to be vested in the accountant of the courts of justice and to be applied as indicated in the Bill. There are certain aspects of this Bill with which I agree and which are of benefit to the public, for example, the £600,000 allocation to the arts, £300,000 allocation to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, £100,000 to youth community projects and funding for the provision of law centres. I presume that the Taoiseach when he is allocating the funds to the arts will ensure that there is a fair and even spread across the country. I also welcome the fund for youth community facilities and youth community projects and most of all I welcome the provision for law centres. However, I am not clear, nor is there an indication in the Bill, as to the amount to be spent on law centres or where these centres will be set up and I ask the Minister to give further details relating to this section.
There are two areas, however, where I have some difficulty. I am somewhat disappointed that the Minister was not more generous in his allocation to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. They have indicated that in order to function as they have in the past, to maintain their current level of service and dedication to that aspect of our cultural life, they require £500,000. I ask the Minister, in the light of the submissions they have made to him and to the Members of this House, to alter their allocation in this respect.
The section of the Bill which I cannot tolerate — and in this I am predictable — is the allocation of £600,000 to the King's Inns. I, like my colleagues, recognise the architectural value of the King's Inns building to the city of Dublin and indeed to the rest of Ireland. Having said that, I realise it will only benefit a small minority. The allocation, for example, will not reduce what can be considered very high fees. It will not throw open to the public that part of the building which it is intended to renovate nor will it provide  any element of public accountability or indeed an account of any sort in relation to the running of that building. I understand that the King's Inns have indicated that they cannot afford to do the work themselves. I am a little suspicious at a comment like that from one of the best-off sections of our community.
We are talking here about education, third level education, and the expenditure of money on third level and valuable education which is open to various sections of the community. Recently when the INTO and I — as a member of the backbench committee on education from the Labour Party — went to see the Minister for Education about pre-school facilities, we were simply given the answer that those who could afford pre-school education could have pre-school education, and those who could not afford it would have to wait until they were of an age to go to primary school. I would argue that this £600,000 would be far better spent providing pre-school facilities because the mind of a child, up until the age of five, is like a sponge. I ask that this be taken into account too.
Parents contribute to their own primary schools which it is obligatory to attend. The community contribute to community centres. While it can be argued that many cannot afford to contribute to this kind of work, most do: community centres, primary and other schools do get built. What I am saying is that barristers, the elite of the legal profession, can afford to maintain their own private building. It has been said too, that the Office of Public Works will be in a position to offer employment on the proposed work. How many jobs are envisaged, and for how long? Not enough I would say to justify spending State-owned money on privately-owned buildings. The spending of this money is a contradiction if we are to examine it in the light of what is currently happening in various parts of the country.
One particular project — again I will be parochial — in my home area which benefits a fairly large section of the countryside is the work on the restoration of the Royal Canal. The Department of the Environment have been very generous in  their allocation to Mullingar in County Westmeath, but money is needed urgently, and now, to provide CIE with funding to have lockgates fitted. These are now ready at the AnCO operated factory in Inchicore. CIE say they have not got the money to fit the gates. The people who are working on the canal, be it through Department of Environment grants, or as community groups, need the gates to continue their work on the restoration of the canal, and the AnCO factory is going to lose some employees because there is a stockpile of gates and work has to cease.
The project in my own area of Killucan, and further down the county in Ballinacargy, has caught the imagination of young and old alike to the extent that at present they give two evenings a week of their time free with a commitment to the public good. But even more than this could be gained by spending this large sum of money setting up proper market surveys of various indigenous industries, for example, the prospect of a large vegetable operation big enough to meet demand and to defeat dumping by neighbouring markets. This could be carried out in the context of land in State ownership for example, land held by the Land Commission and land held by Bord na Móna. Think of the value this type of research in employment and import terms would eventually yield.
Another area is the wool industry. Is the Minister aware that there was never any market research into the possible viability of the national wool processing plant? In one of the few areas where the EEC can tolerate growth — the EEC is only 75 per cent sufficient in wool production — there is no plan or even market research into possible expansion in this area.
Basically what I am saying is, spend this £600,000 which is earmarked for a private body, for the public good. In that context I call on the Fianna Fáil Members of this House to support the spending of this amount to benefit the public good as evidence of their claim to a social conscience and as evidence that they represent the majority of this country, and not just a small, well-off articulate set.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): I want to thank the Senators who contributed here today. It was a very wide ranging debate. As well as debating what was in the Bill, Senators debated what they thought should be in the Bill and many aspects of society were touched on. Most Senators agreed with the principle of the Bill and I am happy for that support, even though there was some difference of opinion about the actual provisions in the Bill.
Rather than picking out the specific points made which can be dealt with on Committee Stage, it is worth making a few general points about the actual genesis of this Bill. When Deputy Haughey was Taoiseach he gave a commitment to the Honourable Society of King's Inns that money would be provided for the refurbishment of the building. In 1981 when the first Coalition Government came in — the last three Governments were very short lived — the present Tániste, who was the then Minister of State at the Department of Justice, introduced the Funds of Suitors Bill in which £500,000 was being allocated for the specific works which are now outlined in section 4 of this Bill. In present day terms £600,000 is in or about what £500,000 was in 1981. That was the only provision of that particular Funds of Suitors Bill. That would answer a point made by Senator O'Mahony that he thought the refurbishment of King's Inns was some kind of price to be paid to the courts so that they would release the funds for other purposes. In 1981 when the Bill was introduced, only King's Inns was involved. There was no question of other funds being released except for refurbishing King's Inns at that particular stage. Indeed, there has been no problem about that since.
The Government fell, as Senators will remember, and the Fianna Fáil Government — Deputy Haughey's second Government — came to power and decided that they would fulfil the commitment made by the previous Government. The present Tánaiste introduced that Bill in this House, which carried all Stages, and took on board a further commitment,  because they were being lobbied fairly successfully at that time by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann about the Cultúrlann in Monkstown. A commitment of £200,000 was given by the Fianna Fáil Government. When I came on the scene, I was faced with commitments by two administrations — by the three main parties in these Houses — to the King's Inns and the Fianna Fáil Party were committed to £200,000 to Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Éireann.
The House is aware that all Ministers have difficulties in funding their pet projects, so naturally I was looking around, to borrow Senator Brendan Ryan's phrase, in a rather maverick fashion to see if I could come across funds in any other way. I was interested in building a Children's Court in Dublin and I was interested in extra funding for the arts. I came to the decision to bring proposals to Government not only to use the accrued balances in the funds of suitors, but also actually to use what was on deposit. That is the difference between this Funds of Suitors Bill and any other Funds of Suitors Bill. Previously only the interest was spent. The House will be happy to know that in our lifetime there will not be another Funds of Suitors Bill that we can wrangle over here so pleasantly as we did for the last five hours.
On the specifics, let people argue on the merits. First, I would feel that there was a commitment in bringing in the Funds of Suitors Bill to fulfil the commitments made by two previous administrations, and I have done that in the case of the King's Inns. The figure now being proposed is £600,000 which is very much in line in real terms with the £500,000 passed by this House in 1981. In regard to Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Éireann, the original commitment was £200,000. In the Bill as published originally the sum was £250,000. There was a tremendous amount of concern and lobbying by Comhaltas and I thought it would be appropriate to raise that figure to £300,000, the figure in the Bill before us now. It is very difficult to know, when you are dealing with a body like Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, how much they expect and how  much they actually need. It would be a normal part of the political process to look for more than you think you are going to get. When they wrote originally, over 12 months ago, they were looking for £400,000. When the Bill was published after Easter they raised the ante and circularised all Deputies for £500,000. Now the figure is £300,000. It is a fairly good provision for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in present circumstances.
It is not the only source of funding for the Comhaltas. For example, they are getting £110,000 from Roinn na Gaeltachta this year. They are getting £59,700 from the Arts Council. There is a small amount of about £4,000 available from the Department of Foreign Affairs. If this Bill is passed with this provision for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, in 1984 they will have received from public funds the sum of £454,000. That is not bad from the State for a voluntary organisation. We all appreciate that organisation and the work they are doing. The 1985 Estimates will be made up shortly and the Arts Council will have an opportunity to provide extra funds for the Comhaltas if they so wish. The Department of the Gaeltacht can be lobbied again for an increase in the grant.
In 1981 the grant from the Department of the Gaeltacht was £105,000; in 1982 it was £110,000 and it has been held at that figure since. Also in 1981 there was a residue of a capital allocation for the Comhaltas of £20,000. The Comhaltas now claim there was a reduction in their grant from £125,000. It was never £125,000. It was £105,000 but there was the extra payment of a capital sum in 1981. The Comhaltas are a successful organisation and there is no need for me to repeat what many Senators said today. However, on this occasion they are engaged in other work. They are engaged in lobbying TDs and Senators to get the maximum amount from the Funds of Suitors Bill, and to date they have done it fairly successfully because Fianna Fáil had been prepared to give them £200,000, I increased it in the Bill to £250,000 and in the Dáil we increased it by amendment to £300,000. They are not doing so badly  out of this. I have no reason to doubt the claim they make that 800,000 people last year were interested in their music. From 800,000 people £1 a head is a lot of money. They talk in terms of an active membership of 60,000 or 70,000. What we are doing is very generous to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
I was particularly interested in the contribution of Senator Ferris who asked me if it would be possible from the Taoiseach's allocation of £600,000 to give something extra to the Comhaltas, if it became necessary. I will convey to the Taoiseach the view of the Senator — I understand it is the view of the Fianna Fail Party — on that matter. I will ask him to assess the situation to see if more could be given from that subhead.
The difficulty we have is that any increase given now in any of the allocations provided for in the Bill will result in a reduction of the residue, what is left for court buildings and civil legal aid. I would not like to see the residue reduced further because we should spend as much as we can in those areas.
Senator Kennedy made a valuable contribution when he pointed out the amount of money the Society of King's Inns have contributed already in the last number of years — £190,000 for maintaining and preserving the building in the last 11 years, new classrooms and tutorial rooms, additional lecture facilities which were completed in 1983 and cost £40,000. Student canteen facilities were completed in 1983-84 at a cost of £30,000. In recent years the society has been running an annual deficit of £30,000 and the projection for 1984 is that the deficit will be £45,000. They are audited accounts. Therefore, if the money is not made available from public sources the King's Inns building will fall down. That is not an exaggeration. Any Senators who have been down there will have noticed the hoardings around sections of it to prevent the public from being injured by falling masonry.
We could all come in with lists of how the money should be spent. If I suggested we should have a party game with £3 million being the allocation the Senators could draw up lists of where they would  like to spend it. I doubt very much if we would match many items. We would all have our pet projects. I have my pet projects, too, looking at the funds of suitors but I had precedents to guide me. The funds of suitors go back over 200 years. Before the foundation of the State money was allocated from the funds of suitors by a different Parliament for work in the Four Courts, to provide courtrooms and a library in the Four Courts building. After the foundation of the State, money was given for the King's Inns building. Then there was a switch of precedent and money was used for cultural or artistic activities — for example, the building of the Cork Opera House and the rebuilding of the Abbey Theatre.
When it came down to the present, the Tánaiste and I looking at it found two trends, the courts area and the justice area. After that there was the artistic area. When the Government took the decision to use the total fund we were guided by what had been done on the courts side and on the artistic side. There was a precedent in respect of the King's Inns. There was an allocation for £750,000 for a Children's Court in Dublin, in line with that precedent. On the other side of the coin there was the money for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, on the cultural and artistic side, with £600,000 from the Taoiseach's Department to be spent on capital projects by the Arts Council. That also is on the artistic side.
I was faced with the problem that if one fulfilled all the up-front demands from precedents in the past there would have been a residue of between £400,000 and £500,000. The actual residue is turning out at about £400,000. I do not think it is worth keeping £400,000 in a dormant fund in the hope that interest will accrue over the years, because the Seanad will see how long it will take for anything decent to accrue. I want to use the residual amount in the justice and the courts areas.
People will ask why money is being used for youth centres around the country. It is for two reasons. First, this is not extra money being put in by way of grant to start off new centres. There are a number of community and youth centres  around the country which are at a standstill and which a very small amount of money would finish — a little bit of topping-up money. Deputy George Birmingham read out the list during the Dáil debate and I can repeat it on Committee Stage.
What I want to get across is that I am convinced that in dealing with the whole criminal justice scene there is more to it than courts and prisons. There is more to it than even crime prevention. With a very young population it is very important they should have facilities. I do not think that the £100,000 being provided here for youth centres is out of line with the precedents set, because facilities for young people can make a valuable contribution in the justice area, in the prevention of crime, in keeping our young people out of trouble. I am glad that is in the Bill.
I have been questioned about the residual amount and why I have not been more specific on the amounts being allocated for courts other than the Children's Court and for civil legal aid. There are two reasons. First, there is a policy difficulty in relation to the courts. I would like to spend the money on some of the fine court buildings throughout the country which are used by the District Court and which are badly in need of repair but are not adequately funded by the local authorities. At present it is the responsibility of the local authorities to do so. However, if the Government took a decision — and they may take such a decision — then I would like to have some money that I could channel in that direction.
I should now like to deal with the question of legal aid. I am aware that the civil legal aid scheme we have at present is not adequate. It is not dispersed quite enough throughout the country. There is a high demand on the scheme and the problem of the embargo on Civil Service recruitment has affected it. In the normal course of events in a Government Department with many civil servants one can fill one in three of the vacancies and the problems that may arise can  be overcome. However, when dealing with a law centre that may have three solicitors, if they all go a big problem arises. That type of problem emerged with the legal aid centres. The House will be aware that very often those centres are manned by reasonably young solicitors. It can be a job where some people spend a certain amount of time before they move on to a solicitor's office. I am glad the Minister for the Public Service has sanctioned posts for solicitors. Some of the posts that were embargoed have been sanctioned and I hope that will mean an improvement.
I should now like to deal with the Coolock Law Centre. The much maligned barristers referred to today take cases from that centre free of charge. We should put that down as a marker when we are referring to a social or ideological commitment or a commitment to disadvantaged people. I would have thought that, out of the £1 million available to the Minister for Health in the poverty fund, funds would be available as soon as the position is regularised.
If we agree to the allocations under the different subheads there will be a residue of approximately £400,000. It is difficult to be precise about the residue for two reasons. I cannot put an absolute figure on the cost of the Children's Court. It will be approximately £750,000. The site is there and the planning is proceeding. It will be under way by early 1985 but it is difficult to say exactly what the turnout figure will be. It is impossible for me to say when money will be drawn down. I do not know when the different items will be drawn down. I presume Comhaltas will draw it down immediately but I do not know when the £600,000 for the Taoiseach's Department will be drawn down. Depending on the dates of the drawing down, more money could accrue. If all the money was left for another 12 months it would provide another £250,000 approximately. If the money for the Children's Court and the residual amounts are left for another 12 months there may be a further £100,000 to £130,000. It is difficult to estimate.
I have been asked why I was not more specific. I should like to tell the House  that I do not have any particular projects in front of me or coming to me from the voluntary bodies. I am aware of the problems in the Coolock Legal Aid Centre. A legal aid centre, similar to Coolock, is mooted for Tallaght but I do not have proposals that I can examine for that. I would like to have them. I should like to remind Senators that there is a great country beyond Newlands Cross and it is just not a question of which Dublin suburb gets these funds. There are other cities such as Cork and Limerick and rural areas where marital problems exist, barring orders are required and people have all the difficulties that people in suburban Dublin have. Some Senators mentioned that the legal aid centres in Dublin were misplaced because they were located in the centre of the city. That was a conscious decision on the basis that buses run to the centre of the city and by having the legal aid centres reasonably near the centre of the city they were accessible to all people going towards the centre. If a decision was taken to have a centre in every community it would be fine if it was feasible but we would be involved in a ring of such centres around the perimeter of the city.
I welcome what Senator Ryan said initially. Senator Durcan asked if there were any dormant funds lying elsewhere and my information is that there are no other dormant funds either in the Circuit Court or in the District Court. I am not too sure about the point he was making about county registrars but I will have that checked. However, I do not think there are any golden geese around the country that have layed golden eggs in out of the way places. Senator McGuinness asked if the Children's Court would be in Smithfield. My reply to that is yes, on the site that has been acquired there. It is adjacent to the facilities of the probation welfare people. I believe it will be a good centre and will be well planned.
I dealt with Senator Robinson's remarks in a general way. On the allocation to community centres she said it was not enough, a meagre £100,000. The idea there is that it is a topping-up sum. The Minister of State assures me that the sum he has allocated to the various  centres will be sufficient to get them into useable order, or, alternatively, will bring some of them to a point where they can be useful and can be availed of by different communities. They will be a help. It is a situation where funds were allocated, grants were made, funds ran out and now we have a series of minor white elephants in the community and youth areas which could be brought into use with a small amount of topping-up. That is what is being done. Senator Robinson also mentioned the centre city locations.
The question of the King's Inns and the contributions by barristers was raised by Senator Kennedy and others. The total budget is something over £5 billion and we are dealing with £2.8 million in this Bill. It should be remembered that 43 per cent of out total budget has the spending of 43 per cent of £5 billion. Education is costing £1 billion. When one is carving up £2.8 million, laying out a list of priorities and making strong speeches on where money should be spent one should remember the global figures we are dealing with and the allocations made in other directions.
I see the Bill as containing provisions allocating money to be used in areas where in the judgment of the Minister it would be unlikely that they would be funded by any other means from the State funds. In that context, whatever one's view is about the legal profession or whether one thinks barristers or solicitors run the more exclusive club, the building is worth having a look at. We are talking about the outside of the building, the facade. It is a Gandon building. I wonder if Members walked through this tatty city recently and looked around. If they did they would see that we do not have that many fine buildings we can allow to fall down. One could enumerate them on the fingers of both hands. The King's Inns building is falling down and it will not be funded by any other means. It would be nice if it was but that will not happen and down it will come. We will then be left with another semi-derelict site where we once had one of the minor classics of Dublin architecture. We do not have too many to boast about. It will  help the people in the area also. They get access to the park there. I believe people are confusing the Law Library in Henrietta Street with the King's Inns building. The Law Library, the place where barristers gather, is not involved at all in the Bill. We are talking about the King's Inns building where young barristers are educated.
I was amused in the Dáil when some Deputies who are also solicitors got hot and bothered about the allocation to barristers and I was equally amused today when I heard Senator Brendan Ryan refer to his profession of engineers and their contribution and contrasting it with the profession of barristers. We are living in a very rarified atmosphere if we are scoring points off each other on the relative merits of one profession against another or putting forward one profession as being less than privileged. Any of us who have had the opportunity of third  level education, who have had the opportunity of belonging to any profession, should be grateful for it. We should not be trying to arrange a league of exclusivity and be scoring points off one another in regard to who contributed what or who is most in touch with the plain people of Ireland. I do not think it works out like that. If there are any specific points omitted, I will take them on Committee Stage and I am sure the teasing out of the merits of each individual allocation can be done very effectively on Committee Stage.
Cregan, Denis (Dino).
Dooge, James C.I.
FitzGerald, Alexis J.G.
McGuinness, Catherine I.B.
Quealy, Michael A.
Ross, Shane P.N.
de Brún, Séamus.
O'Toole, Martin J.
Professor Dooge: It had been my hope that the Committee Stage of this Bill could have been completed this evening. I think that is unrealistic and that the most we can do is to pass the Second Stages of items Nos. 2 and 3. Accordingly, I would suggest that Committee Stage be ordered for Tuesday, 10 July 1984.
Mr. W. Ryan: We had no objection to having it today if it had been reached earlier, but when it got so late we felt we could not take it this evening. We see no reason why it could not be taken tomorrow morning.
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