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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 4 Jul 1924

Vol. 8 No. 5


I explained on the First Reading what the Bill is about. The Schedule discloses the persons who are affected. The circumstances have so often been before the Dáil that I do not think it is necessary to go into the matter in detail. Parts 1 and 2 of the Schedule specify the persons affected. I think it will remove a cause of complaint that has been urged for a very long time, and it is the fairest and best way of dealing with these officers' claims. In respect of any sum over and above what will be fixed by the Committee, of which Mr. Justice Wylie is Chairman—any sum over and above what would be our fair quota—the British Government is making up the difference. I formally move the Second Reading.

I am not going to oppose the Second Reading, but I think it would be necessary to have some explanation as to why certain of the officers mentioned in the Schedule are to be paid by the Minister for Finance, and why local authorities in some cases are to be relieved of liability for doing things which they did, not in response to a demand made by the acting national authority. Where it can be shown that local authorities, in taking steps regarding their business, acted in clear response to demands made by the national authority, I think a very good case is made for the responsibility being shouldered by the national authority, but until that position is made clear I would be inclined to criticise the inclusion within the Bill of clauses which would mean relieving local authorities for the consequences of their own acts in this matter.

In any and in all of the cases that have been mentioned here, those cases were the subject of negotiation or advice or of order from the national authority at the time. But the national authority at that time did not undertake any liability in respect of them, and it was in the main, with the exception of one particular lot, under orders of the Department of State that was working under the National Authority and in defence of the moneys and the property of local authorities under the Local Taxation Account. In so far as this particular method of dealing with all these cases is concerned, that is in substance made a national charge, but it is not a national charge that will fall upon the Exchequer because of the fact that the local authorities in question, by reason of this particular struggle, lost anything in the struggle, and in consequence they have no liability to meet in respect of it except that for which they were very well compensated in other directions.

I cannot understand how the President makes out that these local authorities lost nothing. I think he is very well aware that in consequence of the tightening up of the British administration immediately after the orders issued by Dáil Eireann had been carried out, the various Councils had to get loans from the banks, and they had to pay a very high rate of interest for them.

In that connection the only difference between losing money is in the distribution between local authorities and those from whom they got the money. If the Deputy wishes to make a point in that connection I make him a present of it.

Question: "That the Bill be read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday.