To ask the Minister for Fisheries whether it is his intention to estimate the amount of money required for loans to make the Irish fishing fleet efficient, and also what grants would be required for the immediate necessary improvements of the harbours used for fishing purposes.
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - LOANS AND GRANTS FOR FISHING INDUSTRY.
I am making provision in my estimate for the granting of small supplementary loans, in approved cases, for the refitting of fishing vessels, the owners of which, owing to the period of depression through which the industry has been passing, have been unable to maintain their craft in an efficient condition. I wish it, however, to be understood that such special loans will only be granted where the applicant can satisfy the Ministry that he is prepared to make special efforts to reduce the arrears in respect of former loans. When I state that these arrears on fishery loans total to something like £40,000, I think the Deputy will agree that, until we have done something to improve marketing conditions, it would not be wise to embark upon heavy expenditure in the improvement of the existing fishing fleet, or the provision of additional tonnage.
As regards fishery harbours, schemes for the improvement of certain harbours which urgently need attention are under consideration. It is, however, to be borne in mind that any expenditure by Government, through this Ministry, in such a case would be dependent upon the measure of financial support which the local authorities were prepared to give to any approved scheme. I feel that there would be no object served by preparing an estimate of the total sum required for the improvement of fishery harbours, as it would run to a very large amount; and this is really not a matter that can be dealt with in globo.