To ask the Minister for Defence if he has been informed that, during recent military operations, a number of fishing boats were seized in Clew Bay and brought to Westport. If he is aware that the owners of those boats are toilers of the sea, whose main source of livelihood is fishing. If he will be responsible for any damage done to the boats while under seizure: and if he can see his way to give instructions for the return of the boats in question at the earliest possible moment?

The Minister for Defence states that he is aware that fishing boats were seized owing to their being used by Irregulars to cross from Achill to Louisburgh area. Any hardship caused to the owners is regretted, and the boats will be returned at the earliest possible moment. Claims for any damage which occurs to the boats while under seizure will be adjudicated upon by a Board, which is about to be set up to deal with cases of this type.

May I ask the President if he is aware that over eighty men are on the brink of starvation at the present time on account of the non-return of their boats?

I expect the Minister for Defence is aware of that, but these eighty men must realise that they cannot have it both ways. If they are employed by the Irregulars to damage the country, they cannot at the same time put forward claims for compensation.

May I ask is the President aware that the greater portion of the communication between the North and South side is at a point really considerably nearer to Westport?

I have been informed myself, before this matter arose at all, that this is the means of communication, and that it has done considerable, damage in that particular area as being the only means of communication. It is, of course, regretted that there should be loss sustained by these people, but people must realise that they cannot be permitted to facilitate the Irregulars and at the same time to claim compensation for what has occurred in that particular sphere of activity.