CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - PURCHASE OF TENANTS' HOLDINGS.

DOMHNALL O MOCHAIN

To ask the Minister for Agriculture whether the tenants on the estate of Mr. F. Barry, of Macroom, signed an agreement to purchase their respective holdings in November, 1906, and whether the estate was not vested until the end of the year, 1922, and if the Minister could state the reason for the delay. Further, whether the landlord's representative, Mr. W.C. L. Sullivan, assured the tenants at the time of the signing of the agreements that the estate would be vested not later than four years from that date; and, if on such representation, the tenants agreed to pay and have been paying 3¾ per cent. interest, in lieu of rent, on their respective purchase moneys, and whether the tenants have now been sued for twelve months arrears of interest by the Land Commission. Further, to ask what steps the Minister proposes to take to secure a refund of the excessive interest paid for the past twelve years by these tenants, and to have a fair adjustment made to settle the matter amicably.

Agreements dated 1st November, 1906, for the purchase of their holdings on the estate of Mr. Michael F. Barry, County Cork, under the Irish Land Act, 1903, were entered into by the tenants with the owner at prices agreed upon between the parties and were lodged with the Estates Commissioners in April, 1907.

Estates pending for sale under the Land Purchase Acts are proceeded with in their order of priority, so far as may be practicable. Preliminary requisitions in respect of this estate were issued in 1915, and the property was inspected during 1917. The Requisitions of the Estates Commissioners arising on such inspection were not disposed of until 1922, and then only as to 45 Agreements. These 45 holdings were vested in the purchasing tenants and the purchase money therof advanced on the 5th May, 1922. There are 18 holdings as to which the Commissioners' Requisitions as to title and other matters have not yet been complied with.

In their Purchase Agreements the tenants contracted to pay interest in lieu of rent at the rate of 3¾ per cent. on their agreed purchase moneys until advanced. The Estates Commissioners have no knowledge of any such assurance by the Landlord's representative as referred to in the question. The Commissioners have no power to remit any portion of the interest payable under the Purchase Agreements, and they are under a statutory obligation to collect it and pay it over to the persons entitled, and in the cases in default they have had no option but to institute legal proceedings for the amounts still outstanding.