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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 22 Jun 1928

Vol. 24 No. 9


The Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Act, 1924, empowers the Minister for Finance to cause to be prepared an authentic register of subscribers to the Internal Loan and to prescribe the conditions and evidence upon which any person claiming to be a subscriber to the Internal Loan may be entered in the register. The Act further provides for the issue to every subscriber, whose name is entered in the register prepared under the Act, of a certificate enabling the subscriber to obtain repayment on or after the 1st June, 1927, at the rate of 28/- for every £ subscribed.

In February and March, 1925, a public notice was inserted in the Dublin and provincial Press inviting applications for repayment from persons claiming to have subscribed to the loan. Formal minutes were issued by me on the 19th December, 1925; 15th October, 1926, and 30th March, 1927, in pursuance of Section 4 of the Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Act, 1924, prescribing conditions and evidence upon which persons claiming to have subscribed should be entered in the register. The effect of the first-mentioned minute is that the name of any person (whether the original subscriber or his legal personal representative) who submitted an application in writing before the 31st March, 1925, and furnished particulars corresponding with entries in the records of the Department of Finance, might be entered in the authentic register. The minute of the 15th October, 1926, waived the condition as to the time-limit for lodging applications. The minute of the 30th March, 1927, primarily covers cases in which there is no record of the subscription in the Department of Finance and enables me to authorise the entry of such cases in the authentic register, with a view to the issue of a Savings Certificate, where I am satisfied that the evidence produced is sufficient to warrant that course.

The total number of subscribers is estimated to be approximately 140,000, but, owing to the circumstances in which the Loan was raised, only 120,000 names are recorded in the primary register, which was compiled at the time the Loan was raised or almost immediately afterwards. Efforts are being made to obtain particulars from collectors where such particulars have not yet been furnished, but in many cases the original collectors are not now available, while in others difficulty arises from the fact that the lists received cannot be reconciled with the individual applications received from the area in question. Sometimes even conflicting lists are received in respect of subscriptions in a particular area. In accordance with the conditions originally laid down and promulgated in the public notice referred to above, subscribers were required to lodge their applications not later than the 31st March, 1925. Only 35,200 applications, however, were received by that date, and I subsequently decided, for the time being at any rate, to waive the time limit. No further time limit for making applications has yet been fixed. Repayment has, up to the present, been authorised in 70,615 cases, representing approximately £342,000, including principal and interest.

The amount still outstanding (including principal and interest) is approximately £188,000. I am confident that by the end of the present financial year repayment will have been authorised in all cases in which particulars of the subscription are recorded in my Department, and application has been made for repayment, and also in cases in which, though the particulars were not recorded, satisfactory evidence in support of the claim has been submitted to the Department of Finance. In certain cases, however, considerable correspondence and investigation may be entailed by reason of the fact that sufficient evidence in support of the claim is not forthcoming. The situation is further complicated by the fact that applications are being received in large numbers from persons who subscribed to various funds for national purposes about the time that the Loan was raised and who now think they are entitled to obtain repayment.

Requests are frequently received in the Department of Finance for lists showing the names and addresses of subscribers and amounts subscribed in particular areas, but there are serious objections to furnishing lists of that kind. It should particularly be borne in mind that owing to the circumstances in which the Dáil Eireann (Internal) Loan was raised, the fact that the Department of Finance has not, through the payment of periodical dividends or otherwise, been kept in touch with individual subscribers and the imperfections generally of the records which have been compiled, it is essential to insist that individual subscribers should apply in writing for repayment. It is equally essential, in the interests of the subscribers themselves as well as in the interests of the Exchequer, that the Department of Finance should not take any step which would facilitate fraud.

There may be several persons bearing the same name in any particular locality and if lists of subscriptions were furnished there would obviously be grave danger that claims might be submitted from persons other than the actual subscriber who would be in a position, as the result of the furnishing of lists, to submit full particulars of the subscriptions in respect of which they apply. This risk would, in fact, arise even in cases in which there were not persons bearing the same name, and the possibility of substantiating a claim would be increased in cases in which the original subscriber died or emigrated since the loan was raised. It may be stated here that a number of claims have already been submitted which there is every reason to suspect, and in at least one case a prosecution has been ordered.

Finally, it must be recognised that if a list were furnished to one person in respect of a particular area it would frequently be found that others could with equal justice claim to be furnished with a copy of the same list, and it is obvious that the making of lists of this kind in large numbers would seriously retard the progress which is being made with the task of authorising repayment of subscribers generally.

It is consistent with the refusal to furnish such lists to refuse also to reply to the direct question. "Is the name of A. B. on the list on the primary register of subscribers?" At the same time it is less objectionable to reply to such an inquiry than to furnish a list of subscribers with particulars of their subscriptions. If the subscriber concerned has applied for repayment before the inquiry is made, his application will be dealt with in the ordinary way, and if his name is on the primary register it does not matter whether an inquirer is so informed or not. If his name is not on the register he will generally be informed in a very short time by the Department of Finance that there is no record of his subscription, and he will be asked to furnish any evidence he can, such as a receipt, a paid cheque or a statement from the collector in support of his application. If, on the other hand, the subscriber has not applied before the inquiry is made he gains nothing by being informed that his name is or is not on the list of subscribers. The fact that an inquiry is made about A. B. in particular justifies, prima facie, an assumption that A. B. has subscribed to the loan, and obviously he ought to apply for repayment whether his name is on the primary register or not. The important point, of course, is that no information should be given as to what amount is recorded in the register as the subscription of A. B. and this information cannot in any circumstances be given.

It is, perhaps, convenient to take this opportunity of saying that Deputies have recently begun to make it a practice to make inquiries by personal application at the Department of Finance or by way of Parliamentary Question, about large batches of individual cases. The Department is naturally anxious to furnish Deputies with the fullest information consistently with the considerations indicated above, but Deputies must recognise that inquiries of this kind about large numbers of individual cases divert the energies of the staff from their normal duties and thus delay the work of repayment generally, while accomplishing little for individuals on whose behalf the inquiries are made. All claims are being dealt with as expeditiously as possible, and it is accordingly suggested that Deputies should in future restrict their inquiries to an absolute minimum. Special attention can always be given to a particular case in which it is alleged that the delay in authorising repayment has been unduly prolonged or is entailing hardship, but it must not be overlooked that subscribers themselves are in some measure responsible for the delay in making repayment by reason of their failure to send in their applications when originally invited to do so by public notice. I would suggest, also, that Deputies should make their inquiries about Dáil Loan subscriptions by letters addressed to me or to my Department rather than by Parliamentary Question or by personal application. No useful purpose can be served by making inquiries about cases in which no application has been made for repayment, as application must be made in writing by any person claiming to be entitled to repayment. In general, I think that inquiries by Deputies should be confined to ascertaining the progress made towards authorising repayment in individual cases which, by reason of hardship or exceptional circumstances, appear to merit special investigation. I may say that in any case in which particulars are furnished, in support of an application which corresponds with the particulars on record in the Department of Finance, the period which elapses before payment is authorised does not normally exceed two months. In cases, however, in which inquiries are necessary the delay entailed must depend largely on the promptitude with which applicants reply to the inquiries addressed to them and the nature of the replies received. As a matter of administrative convenience in the Department of Finance and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs the practice has been adopted of authorising payment in batches of cases numbering from 2,000 to 6,000 at intervals of about two months.

In certain cases subscriptions were collected for the Loan, but full particulars of the names of the subscribers and the amounts individually subscribed were not furnished to the Dáil Department of Finance. These cases present some difficulty, and it is obvious that applications for repayment in cases where there is no record of the subscription must be carefully scrutinised. In general, however, the subscriber in such a case should be in a position to produce satisfactory evidence, whether in the form of a receipt from a local collector or otherwise, and a considerable number of applications have, in fact, already been admitted on the strength of such evidence. It has been suggested that a tribunal might be established to deal with applications in this particular category, but it does not appear that such a tribunal is at present necessary. The existing machinery is sufficient to enable the Department of Finance to deal with all applications so far as can be foreseen, but if the necessity for taking any special measures to complete the task of repayment should hereafter become apparent the question of establishing a tribunal, or taking other appropriate steps, will be considered as and when the occasion seems to require. It has been suggested that in cases in which repayment has not already been authorised, interest on the amount of the subscription should be allowed as from the 1st June, 1927, to the date of repayment. In reply to this, however, it must be urged that in most of the cases which would be affected by this suggestion application for repayment was not made when such applications were invited. The delay on the part of the subscribers concerned has, in fact, proved a source of considerable embarrassment to the Department of Finance, and there would be no justification for making the Exchequer liable for additional interest in cases in which the delay was the responsibility of the subscribers themselves. There may be a small proportion of cases in which, as a matter of equity, there would be ground for the admission of a claim to interest, but the number of such cases is comparatively very small, and their examination and the calculation of the appropriate amount of interest would inevitably retard to some extent the task of repaying subscribers generally. Moreover, legislation would be necessary to enable the Department of Finance to make any payment beyond that provided for in the Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Act, 1924, and, while the possibility of framing such legislation is not entirely ruled out, it is felt that at present, at any rate, there is not sufficient justification for promoting it.

I would like to ask the Minister for Finance a few questions regarding the repayment of this loan. Is it some of the permanent staff of the Department of Finance is dealing with repayments, or is it a temporary staff? What amount of business has been dealt with from January 1st? The Minister stated that the normal period for repayment was two months from the time the application was sent in. I can give the Minister particulars of a case where the receipt has been sent in six months, and where there has been a card received acknowledging its receipt but no repayment.

What I said with reference to the normal period of two months was where the subscriber was one of the 120,000 whose names were on the primary register; those whose names we had on record. It did not apply to the very considerable number of other persons whose names we have not got.

Am I right in assuming that the names of persons who hold official receipts would be on the primary register?

Not necessarily.

I know a number of subscribers whose money was sent up at the one time. I speak with a fairly intimate knowledge of the question, because I was director of the loan in Westmeath. A batch of subscriptions was sent up at the same time. Some of the subscribers applied for repayment six months ago and some applied four months ago. People who applied four months ago have been paid but the others have not. It would strike an outsider as if there is a lack of system in dealing with this matter. During the Black-and-Tan period a number of people burned their receipts. The Minister spoke about a tribunal, but I think some sort of an interview should take place between the people who were concerned with the collection of the loan in each county and the Minister for Finance. That would speed up matters. These could be looked upon as reliable people, and they would indicate who subscribed and who did not. I know of a particular sum of money that was handed in to the Department of Finance in October, 1920. The individual who handed in the money did not take the risk, apparently, of bringing the list of names with him. He got a temporary receipt. Such a list could be proved by taking into consultation the particular officers that carried out the collection of the loan in the county. I am glad the Minister made this statement, because there is a belief in the country that it is the staff is holding up the work; that they are temporary people who want to knock as much as they can out of it.

I would like to mention a case something like the one Deputy Kennedy mentioned, where no list was sent in. I met a person in Castlerea last week who held all the money for a particular area. Those who subscribed there have only got the ordinary postcard acknowledgment of their application for repayment. The person I was speaking to is getting very uneasy about the matter. I tried to reassure him, and I told him that the Minister was going to make a statement. I am perfectly satisfied that that man handed in the money, but his neighbours are becoming suspicious, seeing that so many other people have been repaid. In the interests of that collector and others like him, the Minister should consider the adoption of some method of making it clear to people who have had to wait, whose names were not on the register, that the money was handed in. It may be difficult to do so, as maybe three or four areas combined and that the money was handed in by one person. I know there is a difficulty. In the case that I referred to, I told the man that we were expecting a statement from the Minister and I thought it might cover such a case. If there was some individual guarantee from the Minister, or at any rate an acknowledgment, that the money given the collector was paid in it would clear up the matter. If people like the man I speak of had that assurrance it would be a guarantee that they handed in the money, and a lot of trouble would be saved.

I would like to know what the Minister would regard as satisfactory evidence, in the absence of the actual official receipt signed by the late General Collins, because I know that in certain districts, in Mayo especially, there are people who hold receipts given to them by the original collectors. They were not official in the sense, I take it, in which the Minister speaks of official receipts—they were not certificates, in other words. These receipts have been asked for in several cases, but I do not know if anybody who produced such a receipt, whose name was not on the primary register, has been paid—whether that receipt has been accepted as sufficient evidence of having subscribed. I can bear out what Deputy Kennedy said. There are districts in Mayo where the money was handed in on behalf of a number of subscribers, and no list of them is apparently available. Some of the collectors are dead, and some have emigrated, and there is very great difficulty in compiling authentic lists now. I think that it will be necessary to take special steps to investigate cases where the money was handed in in a lump sum, but without lists being sent in. I think that it would be well for the Minister to give an indication of what he would regard as satisfactory evidence, in the absence of the actual certificate or in a case where the name is not on the primary register. I think the Minister said that the number of subscribers was 120,000.

Roughly 140,000. Of course we cannot be sure within a few thousand.

That is what I say, that roughly there would be 120,000 on the primary register.

The Minister's statement will clear the air in this matter, and I think it was about time that such a statement was made. I am not much concerned with those on the primary register, except that I think there has been unjustifiable delay in paying the people who applied a year or six months ago and who gave their numbers on the register. But I am not satisfied that the steps the Minister is going to take in regard to the people who are not registered will be sufficient. People whom I know in County Mayo applied for payment, and they got the usual card stating that the matter was receiving attention. A few months ago I found out that these people were not registered at all. If there is to be a delay of that kind in notifying individuals after a year that they are not registered, and if these individuals have to go to the collectors to get some proof that they did pay, I think that will be a very slow and slipshod method. In County Mayo I know of large areas where the people were not registered. If the Minister would accept a suggestion, I could give him the names of about four responsible people in north, south, east and west Mayo who were more or less primarily responsible for the collection of the loan there, and if he would take them into his confidence he could give them areas from which sums of money are credited in the Department of Finance, but from which there are no names, and they could get lists from the local collectors, in addition to the proof required, and the Minister would get whole areas registered. That would be much better than waiting for every individual to prove his claim. It would settle it in a much more satisfactory manner, and, I think, in a better and a cheaper manner, than by having to communicate with every single subscriber, or with everyone who claims he subscribed, and it would certainly save the Department a lot of work.

I have just one suggestion to put to the Minister in reference to legal representatives. The Minister spoke of "the subscriber or his legal representative." In many cases, especially in the case of those who could least afford it, the subscriptions were small—say £1—and proving that one is a legal representative of somebody might entail the cost of a few pounds. I would like to know what proof exactly is required in the Department that one is the legal representative of a subscriber, because I think a letter from a parish priest or a teacher should suffice. The Minister is, of course, aware that among the farming community administration is not always taken out. A farmer's son generally carries on de son fort; he does not bother about letters of administration, or anything else, and there should be some simple method in such cases of proving that the son is the legal representative of the father.

I know of one case where an individual applied for a return of his subscription. He received the usual postcard. A year or so has elapsed since he made the application, but he has not yet received back the subscription. I know his name is on the primary register, so that I think the case indicates that there must be some lack of organisation in the office.

I do not know the case the Deputy is referring to, but what, perhaps, happened was that the person concerned might have been on the primary register for £10 and made application for £15. I am afraid a good many people seemed to think that they had subscribed more than they actually did.

My point is that he did not get any money at all.

He would not, of course, in such a case as I have instanced.

Surely if a man applies for £15, and that only £6 is due to him, he is entitled to get the £6?

That is a point I would like to deal with when I am replying to the debate. The primary register was not very carefully compiled and is not reliable. The Deputy himself knows the circumstances in which it was compiled. The corroboration which we seek is that a person applying will give his name and address for the exact amount on the primary register. That corroboration of the primary register enables us to pay. But if, for instance, there is a certain name down for a subscription of £10, and that someone from the same district applies for a different amount from the amount on the register, we cannot say whether he may not be someone of the same name who knew that his neighbour had subscribed and was merely chancing his arm. If he applied for the exact amount we would say that we believed this is the man, and we would pay it, but if he made application for a different sum, then we would say that we could not pay in that case.

I am not aware that this man made application for more than he was entitled to.

I do not know the circumstances of that particular case, and I am not referring to it.

I know the man very well. I know that he made application and did not get his money, and that it would have been very easy to find out whether there was any mistake on his part or not. In any event, I do not want to make any charge, but I think, as Deputy Kennedy says, there is some lack of organisation in the office and that some reorganisation is required to meet difficulties of that kind. It is quite possible a man may make a mistake. He may think he subscribed £15 where he had only subscribed £12. There is a set of cases in Waterford which require to be dealt with specially. I might say that this is not a Party matter. It is one in which Deputies on both sides of the House are involved. What happened was this: that the original receipts were signed, but the names of the persons subscribing were not filled in owing to the circumstances of the time. The individual responsible signed these receipts, but then he left them aside when things got hot in the neighbourhood. The collector there, apparently, did not send in the names relating to the individual cases in which receipts had been issued. Several of these cases have been sent to me. The position is that there is a whole set of cases in Waterford which, I think, will have to be dealt with specially. There is a third class of case to which I would like to refer. It was where public meetings were held and subscriptions taken in for the fund. These were cases where people subscribed £1 or £2, but there does not seem to be any record of the individuals who subscribed. I imagine that in the long run the Department of Finance will have to send down inspectors to make inquiries into these cases. What I think will have to be done is this: advertisements will have to be published notifying that an inspector is going down to make inquiries so as to enable local people to make their claims. I am afraid that until something like that is done Deputies will continue to receive complaints in connection with these cases. We do not know what the machinery is that the Minister is making use of at present, but I do not think it is sufficiently adequate to deal with all the difficulties arising.

I am glad that the Minister made his statement on this matter to-day. The correspondence which Deputies receive is mainly made up of applications dealing with the Dáil Eireann Loan. I feel that we will be all only too ready to co-operate with the Minister and his Department in the way that he has suggested, namely, that in future when we receive correspondence in connection with this particular loan that we in turn will correspond with him in the ordinary way instead of adopting the practice of making personal visits to the Department, except, as the Minister himself has stated, in exceptional cases. I at least want to pay a tribute to the officials in the Department who deal with these cases. I did not know the gentleman in charge of it until I became a member here. I found him and the other civil servants in the Department most courteous and indeed very helpful on all occasions. I am afraid that a good deal of the delay that has taken place in connection with these cases is due to lack of attention to detail and of perhaps business capacity on the part of the thousands of people who subscribed.

I suppose my own experience as regards these cases was that of many other Deputies in the House. We went to the Department to make inquiries, having only very meagre details as far as subscriptions to the loan were concerned. I went to the Department to make inquiries on behalf of one of my constituents. He made the statement to me that he had subscribed so much to the loan. When I went to the Department we could not get a trace of his name on the list. At least there was no name corresponding to the name of the person about whom I was making the inquiries. It transpired afterwards that he had subscribed £10 in four moieties of £2 10s. each. The result anyway was this: that I felt that in making inquiries into his case I had held up the business of the Department for at least three quarters of an hour. Of course I did not do it intentionally, but the fact remains anyway that I held up the business of the Department while these inquiries were being made for that period, and I suppose the same has happened as regards other Deputies.

Therefore, I do not wonder that there is a little disorganisation in the Department due, as I have said, not to any inefficiency or want of business capacity on the part of civil servants, but really to the want of attention to detail on the part of our own people in many cases in not complying with the conditions. I would make this suggestion to the Minister: that a summary of the statement which he has made should be printed in leaflet form and displayed at all the post offices and Gárda Síochána barracks in the State. I think that the circulation of the information contained in the Minister's statement in the particular form that I am suggesting would be a great help in dealing with these cases. The Minister in his statement stressed the two words "exceptional cases." I am prepared to co-operate with the Minister by not making application in person, but as he stated exceptional cases will arise in which, perhaps, it may be necessary to make a personal visit. I have in mind the case of a Cork shopkeeper who has fallen on evil days. A number of writs are pending against him. He has made application to the Department for payment of the amount he subscribed, and as far as I know he has complied with all the necessary conditions. So far, however, he has not been paid the amount he subscribed which was, I think, about £20. I would like if the Minister would let us know whether he would consider that case comes under the heading of exceptional cases, because if so I intend to pay another visit to the Department. There are other exceptional cases. For instance, there are people who are about to emigrate and who are anxious to get their money. There are also the cases of the next of kin of deceased subscribers. I understand they can secure a return of the money if they get a letter from the parish priest vouching for it that they are the next of kin. That is a matter that should be extensively advertised. Many do not know the method by which relatives of deceased subscribers can secure the money that would be due to them in these cases. I suggest that the Minister should issue a pamphlet or leaflet giving instructions that would be helpful to the people concerned and that would eventually prove an advantage to the Department concerned.

Deputy Anthony's experience coincides with mine as regards the particular department that has been referred to. I have an objection to going around to departments, for, as Deputy Anthony says, it generally means holding up the department for a certain time. For instance, if one Deputy holds it up for fifteen minutes, and there are one hundred and fifty-two other Deputies who are entitled to do the same thing, it would mean a serious hold up. My usual practice is to write to the department concerned, but in order to show there is some screw loose in this sub-department of the Department of Finance, I will quote the following letter from the Department—"With reference to your letter transmitting a list of names of persons who are stated to be subscribers to the Dáil Eireann Loan Fund, I am directed by the Minister for Finance to inform you that every subscriber who desires to have his or her name entered on the authentic register which is being prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Dáil Eireann Loan and Funds Act of 1924, should make individual application in writing to the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Government Buildings, Dublin. Each applicant should state fully the name and address of the subscriber, and the amount of the subscription should be accompanied by a receipt for the amount subscribed." These particular cases I refer to were recorded, I presume, on the register. When I went to the Department in connection with the cases of people who had eighteen months before that got postcards in reply to their applications from the Department, I found that their names and addresses and the amount they had subscribed were entered in the register. I was supplied with the numbers of these people on the register, and they got their money. Why these sums could not have been sent to the people seventeen or eighteen months before is a thing that puzzles me. They had kept on applying, and received postcard after postcard, but when I went to the Department and wasted some of their time, these people were paid the money to which they were entitled. The letter which I received stated:—"Each applicant should state fully the name and address of the subscriber and the amount subscribed should be accompanied by a receipt for the amount subscribed." As the Minister ought to know, it was impossible to get or keep receipts, especially in the North, during the Black and Tan War. To my knowledge, in Fermanagh no receipts were issued, and in any case it would be dangerous to keep them. When people who have not got receipts make application and give the address at which they were living when they subscribed and the amount they subscribed, if that is entered on the register, I do not see why they should not be paid.

In such cases payment is made immediately on application.

I have given my experience in connection with people who had been receiving postcards from the Department, and whose names and addresses were entered on the register, and who did not get paid until I called on the Department.

Did they make application in the first instance?

Yes, and they made so many applications that they were keeping the postcards as souvenirs.

I know of several such cases.

In the cases I have mentioned I cannot understand why when the names and other particulars were on the register payment was not made on application. In Fermanagh there is outstanding about £1,500, and in that county as well as elsewhere through the North the people have not got receipts. How then are they going to be paid?

There is only one matter I wish to mention, and it is an important one, and that is in connection with loans to the fund obtained through Sinn Fein cumainn. These subscriptions were sent on on behalf of a parish and not in the names of individuals. The Minister has not indicated any decision with regard to subscriptions of that kind. In my opinion, in such cases the parish priest of the district is entitled to get back these subscriptions for some purpose or other. As it is obvious no individual can get them, I think they should go to the parishes.

I am in agreement with other Deputies as to trouble experienced regarding some of these subscriptions. One-fifth or one-sixth of the total amount subscribed came from Limerick. I have had occasion to make visits to the office in connection with cases, and I fully realise the difficulties of the officials. For instance, take the case of a widow who had subscribed, often she would be mentioned as Mrs. Catherine so-and-so and other times she would be referred to as Mrs. so-and-so. In such case, if she had made application, there would be a difficulty. In some townlands there might be dozens of people with the same name. Where difficulty arises in getting the money the fault lies, not with the subscribers or the officials, but with the collector of the money. I suggest the Minister might take into consideration the question of allowing interest at the rate of 5 per cent. to subscribers from the 1st June, 1927, until payment is made. I do not think that would entail any great amount of trouble to the Department. The calculation in any particular case should not take more than a minute. There are the cases of people who are not registered, next-of-kin of deceased subscribers. There is a suspense list, and I understand it is the collectors who have to do with that, but it would take years before it is complete.

Is it true that when applicants go to the State Solicitor or to Deputies of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party they get their money refunded in a short time?

Can you give instances?

That has been my experience. If that is so we could tell the people to go to them and get their money and they would not have to trouble us. I went to the Department a few months ago and got the numbers. I sent away a list and asked why none of these people got their money. I got a similar document to that of Deputy Carney. It is nonsense to send out a document of this kind at this time as it is only making fools of people.

In reply to Deputy Holt I may say that there is no distinction made between Deputies in this matter nor is there any distinction made between applicants. Deputy Carney referred to certain cases, but I cannot reply to his point at present as it would require investigation. I would be glad, however, if he furnished me with names so that I could make inquiries because there must have been some reason for delay. In the ordinary way, if an applicant applies and if the particulars he gives correspond with the information on the register, there is no delay in authorising repayment. At an early stage we had not got an alphabetical index, consequently for some time those who could give numbers were given preference as they were easy to trace and their cases were dealt with. There is an alphabetical index now and any particular applicant can be traced and his case dealt with quickly whether he gives a number or not. The principle on which all applications were dealt with was to deal with all straightforward cases first where repayment could be made without much investigation. The more difficult cases were postponed, the object being to get the largest number of people repaid at the earliest possible moment. There is in certain cases, perhaps, more delay than if we took the cases as they came, but on the other hand more money has been paid than if we had not postponed the more difficult cases and dealt with the simpler ones. It may be argued that we should deal with cases as they come and let the staff deal with the more difficult, cases at the same time as they deal with the simple ones. We believe that what is being done is more satisfactory on the whole.

Deputy Kennedy asked about the staff. There are a certain number of temporary staff employed, but most of the staff are permanent, and there is nothing in the suggestion made by the Deputy. Deputy Boland asked about the case of a collector who was embarrassed because people whose money he took had not been paid. If I got the name of that collector from the Deputy I would see what could be done in that particular case or cases like it. We might not be able to insert the names of the people he would give us on the authentic register, or on the other hand we might, but we would take steps to see that no individual was open to the suggestion that he had not paid over the money. Deputy O'Connell asked what evidence will be taken. Provided no snag arose, we would take the receipt given at the time as evidence. A list furnished by the collector at present would be evidence. If it was a large subscription paid by cheque the cheque would be evidence, but it is hard to say in any individual case what would be taken as sufficient evidence, though any one of these things may be sufficient. If a list was supplied by a collector and it tallied with the records from the district and did not conflict with the particulars of any application that came in—some on the list might not have applied and others might— and if the statement tallied with the individual applications we would accept that list as evidence and insert the names in the register. We have been doing that. We have cases in which two or three collectors certified a list and we inserted the names on the register. In reference to Deputy Clery's query, I may say that if such people would furnish us with the names of the collectors we would apply to these collectors and would receive from them a list which might not be regarded as conclusive evidence in itself, but it would be regarded as being conclusive if it tallied with the other information in our possession.

Someone pointed out that we do not insist on letters of administration where the amounts are small. We would accept a certificate from a parish priest plus a letter of indemnity from the person receiving the money, promising to repay it to the Exchequer in case another claim had to be admitted. Deputy Anthony asked whether we would regard certain cases as being exceptional on the grounds of urgency. We would. Where there is urgency and where the circumstances would not justify any additional delay that might be caused through special inquiries having to be instituted, we would regard such cases as urgent. I have dealt with Deputy Carney's case, and I would ask him to supply me with particulars so that we might look into the matter. The case of subscriptions sent us by a cumann or group, to which Deputy Moore referred, and in which no individual would be entitled to payment, is a matter which I would like to consider further. Perhaps Deputy Moore would put down a question, and I could then deal with the matter. Finally, I would only say that we have dealt with a very substantial number of cases. They are being dealt with at a fairly rapid rate at present, and nearly all cases that can be dealt with by the present procedure will be disposed of by the end of the present year. When we see what residue remains and what the problem then is, we can decide what the machinery will be. We can decide whether a tribunal or some system of local investigations will be necessary. There is, however, a large number that can be dealt with by the present machinery, and the only thing we can do is to hasten them. We will deal with the remainder when we have exhausted our present resources in whatever way seems to be necessary.

May we take it that the Department of Finance will take up, for example, the question of getting the parish priest to certify cases, particulars of which have been furnished, and that they will go into the evidence in cases particulars of which Deputies have already handed in, so that Deputies will not have the trouble of going into the whole thing again where correspondence is in their hands?


The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until Tuesday, 26th June, at 3 p.m.