I asked the following question of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries yesterday afternoon:
Whether the sporting rights on the Sandford Estate, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, have been recently let by the Land Commission to the senior officer of that Department in Co. Roscommon, and to an officer of the Department of Local Government and Public Health; if so, will he state the rent offered and accepted, whether any public advertisement that the lands were to be let was published, and, if not, what procedure was adopted to ensure that the letting was made to the best public advantage, and further, whether he is aware that for the last eighteen years the shooting on this estate was free.
I got the following answer which really was not an answer to my question at all. I asked about the Sandford Estate and the reply referred to the Wills Estate. This was the reply:
"The shooting over the untenanted land on the Ed. W.S. Wills Estate, Co. Roscommon, was leased by the Land Commission to Mr. C.F. Kelly for a period of 20 years from 1st April, 1924, at an annual rent of £1."
That is supposed to be an answer to the first part of my question; also to the part as to what rent was offered and accepted. I got no answer whatever as to whether any public advertisements were issued. The answer goes on:
"Mr. Kelly is the sole lessee of these rights. Except for the seasons 1921 to 1923 the shooting over this estate had been let annually since the lands were acquired by the Congested Districts Board in 1914."
The Parliamentary Secretary, in reply to a supplementary question by me, said that the only shooting rights that were available were on this Sandford Estate, although in the written answer he said there were shooting rights on this other estate called the Wills Estate. He said that if any mistake was made, it was made by me and not by himself. I can quite understand the Parliamentary Secretary, not being in the constituency, getting mixed up in these two estates. If a mistake were made it was made by him. There is a very important principle involved in this matter. The official in question is the person who reports everything in connection with land to headquarters in Dublin. He was familiar with all the proceedings in connection with the acquisition of this estate and knew what price the Congested Districts Board paid for it. The Parliamentary Secretary, in his reply, referred to a certain house he has acquired. This gentleman wrote to a higher officer in the Land Commission and put his own valuation on this particular house and property which he was bidding for himself and got it for a song. He actually asked to have credited to the estate timber sold to the Congested Districts Board to the value of between £240 and £340; also another £100 worth of timber sold in the district.