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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 1 Aug 1923

Vol. 4 No. 22


Deputy Gorey has given notice of a question as to the advisability of introducing legislation to extend the date of the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act in order to deal with the question of compensation beyond the 20th March.

I wish to appeal to the Government to extend the date from the 20th March to some later date that will be found proper. About the 28th March a considerable amount of burnings took place in the country. After that it ceased altogether as far as the political aspect of the question went. As far as the industrial aspect was concerned, unfortunately it did not. But we are only dealing with the political aspect, and without making a speech I would appeal to the President to consider this matter and to bring in a short Bill to amend the date.

Speaking from recollection, there is only one Deputy who put forward a request that this might be done. From inquiries that I have made, or, to use the phraseology of the Police Courts, "from information received," the only County Council that has put forward a claim is the Kilkenny County Council. It may be due to its financial genius or to a desire to deplete the Government purse to a greater extent than it is being depleted, or, as Professor MacNeill said, to greater hopes in its representation that something might be done in that direction. No great case has been put up in favour of this. I quite admit it was an arbitrary date. It was fixed because one could scarcely undertake to pay for damage done beyond the date of the passing of the Act. The Deputy has not mentioned the future date, and I am at a loss to know what precise date he means.

The reason I did not mention any date was because I did not want to suggest anything that would be unfair. There are a number of cases. I know of one case in Kilkenny and one in Wexford that occurred on the night of the 20th March or the morning of the 21st.

I would support the suggestion of Deputy Gorey. The intention, I take it, of fixing the date was to make local authorities feel that there was a liability upon themselves to assist in the suppression of these acts. I think it may be assumed, whether it is justified from that cause or not, that they did take steps to assist more than they had previously done. In any case, these acts have practically ceased, except in a few cases. I think that the point that was made by Deputy Gorey might be met without much cost to the State if the time was extended, say, one month.

To the 20th April, I take it, the recommendation is.

That would probably allow a reasonable time for the effect of the Act to be felt by the local people, and it would meet the points that have been raised by Deputy Gorey and his colleagues.

There were not many houses burned after the 20th March. I think that those that were burned before the 20th March and those that were burned after that date should come under the one heading. I think they should be all put together, including my own house.

I would also make a suggestion to Deputy Gorey. Take the case of County Wexford. The house of one of our Deputies here—Deputy Doyle —was burned on the day after the 20th March, and Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde's house was burned a few days after that again.

The 20th April, I take it, is the date that is requested. This is a very serious matter, and I will have to consider it.

I think the President should go a little further. For obvious reasons, I had no time to make a speech or make any observations on the matter. There is no electioneering about this motion. As a matter of fact, I refrained from making an electioneering speech.

We have only two days more, and it is not so easy to solve all those problems, apart altogether from the money question. It has to be done by Act of Parliament. I will undertake to look into the matter and see if anything can be done.

If not, you will have that speech.

The Dáil adjourned at 8.35 p.m.