FISHERIES DEPARTMENT REPORT: DISCUSSION

SPEAKER

said the next business was the discussion of the report of Fisheries Department.

(Speaker here vacated the Chair and it was taken by the Deputy Speaker (S. Ó Ceallaigh).)

, said for several reasons the activities of the Department were turned to the organization of home and foreign markets and he appealed to the Deputies to give all the help they could in the different areas suitable. They were at present concentrating on the Dublin market which could deal with 100% more than it was dealing with at present, but it would not take anything but high-class fish as it would not pay to send anything else.

He had a letter from Clonmel to-day which showed that fish sent from Liverpool at 2 p.m. on Thursday reaches there at 9 a.m. on Friday whilst fish sent from Howth by the first morning train did not reach till 9 p.m. on Friday night. He had the same complaint from Dingle. They could not do anything at present except to get the public boards to interest themselves to compel the railways to improve transit facilities. It was absolutely necessary to organize the home market if they wanted to develop the fishing industry. The foreign markets were at present very bad. He had with him reports showing the decrease in the prices in Scotland, England and Wales. Mackerel fishing was a failure this year. America was threatening to put a high increase on the duty on imported mackerel—5½ dollars—or an increase of 3½ dollars on the present tax. That would mean Ireland could not export cured mackerel to U.S.A. However, Mr. F.P. Walsh was interesting himself in the matter.

proposed the adoption of the report. He would like to know if the Director took up the matter of transit direct with the railway companies. He had no grievance if he did not make an attempt to remedy the trouble. He suggested that big business firms, shareholders and large traffic-dealers should be approached to bring pressure on the railways to give improved transit facilities.

seconded the adoption of the report. He noticed they got no information about those co-operative societies which had been financially assisted by the Dáil. He would like to hear how they had progressed.

said he would like to find out if their Government had sent any communication to the American government on the proposed increased tax to be imposed on mackerel.

, replied that he had communicated and had been working on the matter for the past four months. Mr. F.P. Walsh had promised he would do his best in the matter when he returned home to the U.S.A.

asked how much money was lost over the co-operative societies.

DEPUTY TOMÁS MAC DONNCHADHA (Tipperary)

¹ said a lot of poor people put money into the Dangan Co-operative Society and they had heard nothing about it ever since. They had lost all confidence in the Dáil. They had built their own ice factory in Cahirciveen, but it was impossible to have any development in the industry without help from the Government.

1. Seósamh Mac Donnchadha was a member for Tipperary. Tomás Ó Donnchadha was member for Kerry

asked would the Department have any interest in the Shannon Fisheries Board.

suggested the Director would get the sanction of the Dáil to send three or four men abroad to Lowestoft or Yarmouth where they would get a perfect knowledge of grading fish. Technical knowledge was absolutely essential.

He would not agree with the Director that co-operative fishing would ever be a success. His experience was that it was only individual enterprise that made fishing a success.

They got no report from the various fishery societies established on the Irish coast. He had heard nothing about the inquiry ordered into the affairs of the West Carbery Society.

Railway transit was a serious matter, but no successful development would be carried out unless the organizers knew their work and did it well. In America they would only handle certain well-known brands. The home market would be unlimited if properly developed. It was said Irish people did not eat fish. The difficulty was it could not be secured.

said the report of the inquiry into the West Carbery Fishing Society was presented by himself and Deputy Seán Hayes at a previous meeting.

said the question of branding in connection with the export of cured mackerel was only one side of the problem. The question of marketing was perhaps of more importance. What happened during the war was that the Americans were willing to buy any sort of fish and there was no grading done. The old method in operation was that the curers graded the fish according to size and catch and they sent the fish on consignment to buyers in America. They received a certain advance as soon as the fish was shipped at Liverpool, but they never knew how much they would eventually get for their produce. The buyers might have been honest men but his impression was that the buyer made the most profit out of the business.

He suggested (1) that mackerel curers should get instructions on grading (2) that there should be a national brand and (3) that instead of sending the fish consigned it should be insisted upon that an outright sale was made. It was also of importance that they should have a representative in America to take charge of their interests. If such improvements were not made the export trade would be killed.

thought the Ministry had been unjust with the railway companies. He saw fish vans attached to the mail train with only one or two boxes in them and he was not surprised that the railway companies did not continue the service. When he went home lately he met a man from Achill who told him the whole coast was full of French fishermen lifting up free fish. The people round were calmly looking on while the foreigner caught the fish. The Minister, he was afraid, would have to make the natives catch the fish.

replied that the reason he suggested public boards should take the question of transit facilities up was that they had some influence at present with traders and shareholders. He was glad to hear from the Deputy for Mayo (Mr. McBride) that fish vans were provided. He knew lines where there was a refusal to do so. With regard to the question as to the state of the societies, there was a dual report presented on the West Carbery Society and was discussed at the last meeting of the Dáil and disposed of. He told Deputy Thos. Ó Donnchadha that he would supply him with the full figures for Dingle. The whole peninsula was thoroughly organized; there was a building obtained for a curing house and sheds erected by voluntary labour. The commission of inquiry met at Dingle and went into the whole question and the result was they found it would take from £16,000 to £20,000 to work the industry there: that was the impediment. That amount of money could not be put up at the time. The local people could only find £1,000 and the Dáil could not provide the balance. It would be a good investment if the fish came in but fish did not come when you wanted them and it might be a bad speculation.

They knew about ice being wanted in Cahirciveen but that was a matter of finance. With regard to W. Carbery, the district was a very good mackerel area and some of the best fishermen in the country were there but the society was started at the worst possible time. No buyer he knew made money that season, in fact 2 or 3 of them went bankrupt.

If the House desired it the bank would proceed against the society for the amount due, a matter of about £6,000. They had given security on their boats. He would not advocate doing so. There was stock there estimated at £5,000 but it was not worth that sum. The fishermen thought they could start again if conditions were normal, but there was no work proceeding there now. The men were most anxious to develop the co-operative system. Mr. O'Mahony objected to co-operation but it was a policy sanctioned by the Dáil. They could not have a national brand unless the men were organised and they could not have them organised without having co-operation and the men linked up by co-operative societies.

remarked in Norway there was no co-operation.

continued and said he thoroughly agreed with Mr. O'Mahony that Norway was the place to send their men for training. Fishing there was under state control and they had a grip of most of the foreign markets.

The standard of Irish fish was the very lowest instead of being the highest. The policy of societies was the only policy he would advocate and the only one they could work. The matter of markets was only a temporary measure to meet the present position because they could not function openly and work societies. The fishing industry was one of the most important they had and would require state aid. They would want to put millions into it, and they were not able to do that. Then they did not get the best men. It was necessary these organisers should have a knowledge of Irish: they had that, but they would want to know something about fish as well and boats. They did their best and three of them had been dispensed with because work could not proceed.

He agreed with Mr. O'Mahony that they should send men abroad for training but he disagreed with him as to co-operation. If Mr. O'Mahony could put forward any better scheme that would organise the men and give them the best return for their work he would consider it.

The small estimate applied for this half-year was only to work the markets. Re inland fisheries he had been trying to get the police to stop poaching. Salmon fishing was a success this year because they had no fish in the English or Scottish rivers.

asked what was the nett loss suffered by the Dáil owing to the Department's activities in promoting these co-operative societies.

replied he would have the figures for the Dáil to-morrow.

DEPUTY SPEAKER

said before he put the report to the Dáil for adoption he would say one word with reference to an observation which dropped from the Minister of Fisheries. He said it because he was afraid the remark might be interpreted that a qualification of Irish for an organiser of fisheries might seem to spell inefficiency. When these appointments were being made 2 years ago all candidates were sent to him to see if they were qualified in Irish. He was glad to say that at no time did he recommend a man who was not qualified in the duties required of him because he had Irish. On one occasion two candidates, who were passed as qualified, were sent to him for examination re Irish. They were both fully qualified in Irish but he recommended that he considered one of them unsuitable for the position and it turned out afterwards that that man was not successful, but he was taken on because of the great dearth of candidates. He was afraid the Director of Fisheries unwittingly put his reference to the qualifications in Irish in such a way that it could be interpreted by the Dáil in this manner—a man having qualifications in Irish was more likely not to be the best man for the position.

explained there was nothing further from his mind than to suggest such a thing. He dared say he could not have got better men at the time. He would be the very last man to sneer at the language.

Question put and agreed.