To ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that large sections of many of the Irish railways in the South and South-west of Ireland are completely closed down, as the companies allege that they are unable to maintain a service owing to the conditions obtaining in these districts, the result being that some thousands of railway employees are unemployed, and, as they do not come within the ambit of the Unemployment Insurance Acts, are not in receipt of unemployment benefit, with the result that many of them are on the verge of starvation; whether he is prepared to recommend to the Government special arrangements whereby these men shall receive such financial assistance as will save them from utter destitution; and, in view of the manner in which the Irish railways in the 26 Counties are affected by the present trouble, if he will say when the Government will place the reports of the Irish Railway Commission on the table of the House, and announce their policy as to the future of the Irish railways.


It is the fact that considerable numbers of railwaymen lost their employment owing to interference with the railways in the South and South-west. But at the suggestion of the men, arrangements have been made to employ a substantial proportion of them on the work of repairing and maintaining the lines, and in this way, and by the improvement in traffic which is expected to result, the position will be greatly eased. The payment of unemployment benefit to workers not within the scope of the Insurance Scheme is a proposal which the Government could not accept. I anticipate that it will be possible to place the reports of the Railway Commission on the table of the House in the course of next week with a view to an early discussion.