To ask the Minister for Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a considerable amount of arrears of rates is still outstanding in the Leix and Offaly County Council areas, resulting in the suspension of some hundreds of road workers, who have been employed from three to five weeks previous to their suspension without receiving any wages, and also the non-payment of the usual grants to the different County Institutions, if he is thoroughly satisfied that all the rate collectors and members of the County Council have taken all reasonable steps to collect outstanding amounts, and if he will state what effective measures he is now prepared to adopt in order to deal with the defaulting ratepayers in the area.

There are still considerable arrears of rates outstanding in Leix and Offaly, and, as stated in the question, the Councils concerned were obliged to suspend road works. At a special meeting of the Leix County Council in November last it was decided to allow the men to return to work on the understanding that wages would be paid according as the finances of the Council permitted. Practically all the men returned to work, and are employed on this understanding, but payments to them are probably somewhat in arrear.

I am not aware of any specific complaints having been made as to the non-receipt of County Council contributions.

The difficulties of the County Councils and the rate collectors in dealing with recalcitrant ratepayers are common knowledge.

Arrangements are being made in these, as in other counties, to afford effective military assistance to the County Councils in the collection of rates, and I am hopeful that the financial difficulties will be very shortly removed.