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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 15 May 1931

Vol. 38 No. 12

In Committee on Finance. - Estimates for Public Services—Vote No. 55—Land Commission (Resumed).

The Dáil, according to Order, resumed consideration of the Estimates for Public Services in Committee on Finance.
Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Deputy Derrig.)

Yesterday, in reply to a remark made by Deputy Connolly, I quoted figures for Co. Meath, and these figures are significant. Similar figures might be quoted for many of the 26 Counties. As one travels by road from Dublin to Cork or from Dublin to Sligo one notices over whole districts, and for miles along the roadside, the number of large farms, generally of good land, that there are. I have returns before me supplied by the Department of Industry and Commerce, showing that the total number of agricultural holdings in the Saorstát is 369,000 odd. There are 254,000 holdings of from one to 30 acres. In other words, 64 per cent. of the holdings are under 30 acres. That 64 per cent. represents, roughly, 20 per cent. of the acreage. I notice that in the Saorstát there are 8,182 holdings of over 200 acres. That is to say, that 2 per cent. of the holders are in possession of 21 per cent. of the acreage. I wonder if Deputy Sheehy will say that is putting the people back on the land of their ancestors. The average holding would be 400 acres. I might deal with the matter county by county, but instead I shall just take a few counties. I find that in Connaught there are 4,218 holdings of one acre or less; 2,501 of from one acre to 2½ acres; 4,857 of from 5 to 10 acres; 13,487 of from 10 to 15 acres, and 37,489 of from 15 to 30 acres. Of course a lot of these might be termed economic holdings. I have not got their valuations. I have got the acreage only. Regarding the small holdings, there is another question to be considered, and it is that there are men through the country who hold five and six of these. These would really be large farmers, but as their holdings are reckoned separately they might come in under the term of small holdings. In Connaught there are 79,344 holdings under 30 acres with an average of 15 acres per holding. In Connaught there are 1,105 holdings of over 200 acres with an average of 564 acres. We have been accused here of telling a rather sorrowful tale of roads in Connaught, and indeed, one Deputy suggested the appointment of a Commission on boreens in Connaught. It is easy for men with 200 acres of land and over to talk of combining about employing labour. I agree that in certain cases the men themselves could do a lot of the repair, but there are cases in which they could not do it, where the land and turbary are so divided. The Commissioner, perhaps, not telling headquarters, may have promised that roads would be made, and they were not made. Let us take a few counties. In Meath there are 8,062 holdings of an average of 9½ acres, and above 200 acres, there are 631 holdings with an average of 371 acres, in other words, there are 631 holdings with 42.6 per cent. of the land. In Galway, there are 19,652 holdings under 30 acres, averaging 15 acres per holding. In Galway there are nearly 300,000 acres for 544 holdings, or an average of 532 acres.

Now, if the Parliamentary Secretary would make inquiries as to the area through Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Portumna to Eyrecourt, he will find out a great number of farms of 300 and 200 acres, while people are still hungering in the West for land, so there is room for expansion and the moving of migrants and the saving of the Gaeltacht. We will be told, when asking for land for the farmer's son, that there is no land available, while all that land is available. I would not advocate the reducing of all farms in Ireland to a dead level of 40 acres, but when you get cases where two per cent. of the holdings in this country have 21 per cent. of the acreage there is really room for improvement. I think nobody will deny that. In Mayo, 25,418 holdings are under 30 acres, and there are 375,439 acres in all, the average of each holding being 17.8 acres. In Mayo you have 234 holdings of over 200 acres; you have 189,311 acres of holdings on an average of 809 acres each. Surely there is congestion in Mayo, and there is a Gaeltacht in Mayo to be relieved.

In Leitrim there are 9,324 holdings under 30 acres. There are 150,000 acres approximately in holdings averaging 16 acres. There are 34 holdings of over 200 acres, with 19,482 acres in all, averaging 572 acres. I do not say that the Land Commission could have divided up all that land by now, but it is a problem that the Land Commission should look to, and we should get some indication of their policy on this from the Parliamentary Secretary. What is their policy in regard to this state of affairs, and when are the people going to be put back on the land?

Yesterday Deputy Wolfe referred to Kildare as a fairly good tillage county. Round about Athy is, as I have seen myself, a very good tillage area. But if Athy is a very good tillage area what must be said of the rest of the county considering the percentage of tillage there. It certainly must be ranch or something approaching to it. We have in Kildare 4,749 holdings of 30 acres or under, or an average of eight acres, or 9 per cent. of the agricultural land of that county. There are 443 holdings of 200, a total of 172,424 acres, or an average of 400 acres. Or, in other words, 443 holders have 42 per cent. of the agricultural land, and 4,749 holders have 9 per cent. of the agricultural land. And although the land around Athy is a good tillage area, I wonder what Deputy Wolfe has to say about the rest of it. Regarding the acreage tilled, it amounts to one-ninth or 40,980 acres tilled. In one section there is intensive tillage, if you like, but what would be the percentage of tillage for three-fourths of the county?

In County Wicklow, one-eighth of the land is tilled, Offaly, one-seventh; Leix, one-sixth; Carlow, one-fifth, approximately; and Louth, one-fourth. That does not speak very well for Kildare. That is a problem to which I would invite some indication of policy from the Parliamentary Secretary. When vesting is complete, and we hope it will be very soon, and when the Parliamentary Secretary is free for it, this is the next problem to tackle. I certainly say, and I am sure Deputy Sheehy would agree with me, that while you have 21 per cent. of the agricultural land held by 2 per cent. of holders, you have not undone the conquest or the evictions or the confiscation that have occurred in this country, or put the people of Ireland back on the land of their ancestors.

There are just one or two matters I would like to call the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to in connection with derelict farms here and there throughout the country. There is a considerable number of them in Co. Waterford and adjacent to it. I know the extreme difficulty of dealing with any of these farms, owing to the fact that the men in occupation of them have to be dispossessed, and naturally there is a feeling against taking a farm from which a man has been evicted. But we will have to make up our minds to the fact that many of these men who are being dispossessed are men who have been idle and extravagant, and who have deliberately let themselves sink into bankruptcy. I am not blaming the Land Commission for not letting these lands, but I would like to point out that some effort will have to be made to put these lands back into use. There is a considerable acreage at present going practically to waste, and if something is not done these lands will eventually become practically useless.

Personaly I am not in a position to point out to the Land Commission what they can do in this matter, but I think we will all have to agree that some effort will have to be made to change public feeling in this matter, and to see that we must not consider, any longer as martyrs, those men who will have to be dispossessed of land to which they paid no attention. I can understand these feelings, during the old days of the land war, when an evicted tenant deserved public sympathy, and was a man for whom the people had the greatest consideration, and behind whom they stood. The man who, through carelessness, idleness or extravagance, has neglected his farm, is not in the same category and should not get the same sympathy. In passing I may remark that the Land Commission is very hard on the man who happens to fall into a half-year's or a year's arrears, and very often they treat him more harshly than the man who owes a considerable amount. Probably the idea is to keep him gingered up, so that he will not lapse into carelessness, but the man who has been a steady payer, and who, perhaps, through some temporary hardship, is unable to meet the current year's arrears, should get more consideration than he often does.

There is just one more matter. I am rather interested in this question of embankments, and I would ask that every effort be made to see that these embankments, before being handed over to the tenants, are in a reasonably sound condition. There is no doubt that since the 1923 Act, and for some time before it, many landlords deliberately neglected to carry out their obligations with respect to these embankments. They neglected to repair sluices, with the result that many of the embankments were in a very bad condition, and men have complained to me that if they are asked to take them over a 10 per cent. deduction to keep them in repair will go nowhere. They have pointed out to me sluices that will cost a couple of hundred pounds to repair. Here and there embankments are considerably damaged as the result of the neglect of the last ten years. They ask: what is to happen there in five or ten years' time? There may be a serious breach which will run into £1,000 or more, and they say that the 10 per cent. deducted is ridiculous. They have asked that these embankments should be examined, and that they should not be taken over from the landlord until they are in a reasonably sound condition. I think that is a reasonable request.

There is the old question of the division of land. The same complaint is in the County Waterford also. The evicted tenants are constantly agitating for restoration to their old holdings. They claim that the men who have got land here and there have not held on to that land, and that as a matter of fact they only acted as a sort of agent to others, who were not entitled to such land, and that after some time they passed the land to people who were not worthy of any consideration whatever.

I was surprised last night when I heard Deputy Connolly talk about migrants from congested districts who were placed on the good land of Meath. There is a difference of policy as between himself and his co-member, Deputy Heffernan. Deputy Heffernan's policy is that the good land is too good for the people, and Deputy Connolly's policy is that the good land is not too good for the people. I cannot see eye to eye either with Deputy Sheehy when he praises the Land Commission for the good work they have done. In the County of Tipperary, which I represent, we have a number of estates, some of them taken over by the Land Commission and not yet divided, and more of them to be taken over. The Greene Estate, Lattin, has been in contemplation for the last eight years, and nothing has been done yet. This estate is grazed by the cattle of Mr. Gould, a cattle-dealer who holds large tracts of land all over the country. Three years ago 60 acres of this estate was let into hay. The hay was cut and never saved. It was left to rot on the land. In the village of Lattin there are eighteen to twenty families with no land whatever. There are no sanitary arrangements there, and they have to go from two to three miles for milk. His estate is in the vicinity of this village, and surely the Parliamentary Secretary could let us know how he stands with regard to this estate or what he means to do with it. The Minister for Agriculture, when this was first brought up through the Land Commission, gave a promise to a deputation he received that he would give immediate attention to this estate, but since nothing has been done.

The Phillips Estate in Gale was taken over three years ago by the Land Commission and has been set on the eleven months' system since. They realised a sum of between £700 and £800. The rent and rates of this place are something about £400. Therefore there would be a saving of about £1,200 to the Land Commission. We would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary what he intends to do with this money. Is he going to put it up for fencing and making roads on this estate or is he further going to send it to the Gaeltacht? We have learned that a lot of this money collected by the Land Commission is sent to the Gaeltacht.

We do not think it fair that this money should be sent away. We think it should be used where it is collected, for the benefit of the tenants on the estate. We have also the Scully estate at Golden. Time after time questions have been raised as regards this estate. On each occasion we were told that the matter would get immediate attention but nothing has been done. Then there is the Purefoy estate at Cappa-white. There are four families living on this estate, one or two of them have been brought into court recently with a view to having them evicted. I thought the time for evictions had gone but it seems it has not. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to let us know the position in regard to this estate. Are the workmen on the estate to be thrown on the roadside when the estate can be taken over and divided? Then there is the Trant estate of about 2,100 acres. 300 acres of this estate are all that have been acquired by the Land Commission. There is a large amount of congestion in the district. There is a big number of uneconomic holders and landless men. I suppose the reason the lands of Lattin are not taken over is because Deputy Heffernan has stated, inside and outside the House, that the lands are too good for the people. Surely the Land Commission ought not to adopt the policy of Deputy Heffernan. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to let us know what are the intentions of the Land Commission in regard to these estates. A number of people on these estates will have to go on home assistance if they do not get work. They will be put on the shoulders of the ratepayers. I do not know what is to become of the country if this thing is allowed to happen.

There are a few pressing matters that I would desire to bring to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary in the hope that he will look into them. In the parish of Island-eady, near Castlebar, there are over a hundred tenants whose valuations are under £5. Very near that village there is a large grazing ranch, containing 500 acres, held by Mr. Fahy. It has been inspected about a dozen times but the Land Commission have done nothing to take it over. In the parish of Westport there are 1,500 acres of the finest land held by Lord Sligo. The Land Commission have inspected those lands but have made no move to take them over. There are over 200 tenants whose average valuations are under £5 living within a few miles of these lands. Within three miles of the town of Balla there are over three thousand acres held by half-a-dozen people who cultivate none of it. Acute congestion exists in the parishes of Balla, Mayo, and Kiltimagh within a mile of those grazing ranches.

There is a case I want to request the Minister to give special and immediate attention to; that is the Castle-maggaret Demesne, containing over 1,500 acres. Acute congestion exists all around that demesne, in the electoral division of Ballindine, Claremorris, Kilvine and Caraun. Close by is that large grazing farm on the Rush estate known as Cuillane and held by Mrs. French. The Land Commission were to take over this estate, but now it appears a speculator has come in and got possession from Mrs. French. I understand that the matter is being considered at the moment by the Land Commission. Memorials by the dozen have been forwarded by the tenants of the townlands of Kilnock and Tavanagh requesting the acquisition of this farm. Within three miles over 3,000 acres are held by four people. The Land Commission have inspected these lands time after time. Petitions and memorials have been forwarded, but the land is still in the hands of the graziers.

There is another matter that I want to bring to the attention of the Minister. It is in regard to bog roads which were unfinished. Close to Cloonlara, on the Blake-Dillon Estate, there are 150 tenants cutting turf. The roads to the bogs are impassable, and the turf is lying in the bog since last year and cannot be removed. Nothing has been done except the sending of an inspector to make an inspection. I understand that the grant is exhausted. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will see that something is done for these tenants. At Murneen, on the Burke Estate, Cloonmore and Cultibo, on the Jordan, Ormsby and Burke estates there are several roads to bogs unfinished. Petitions have been forwarded recently to the Land Commission urging the completion of these roads without result. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will have inquiries made into these matters and see that something is done. There is no doubt that acute congestion exists, particularly in South Mayo, and some steps ought to be taken to relieve it. The lands that are available should be taken over and divided amongst the congests.

There are only a few remarks that I wish to make on the Land Commission Vote. Now that the lands are about being vested I would like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the position of some farmers from the village of Ballycotton to Youghal. Those lands have been suffering from coast erosion for the past four or five years. In some cases farmers have lost two or three acres of their holdings. I would ask the Department to have a survey of those lands made before the vesting takes place. I think it is due to the tenants that that should be done. They have been paying rent at a reduced rate and also rates in some cases for the past fifteen or twenty years for land that has been taken away by the sea and which they no longer occupy. The Land Commission should either do that or construct some breakwater on the front of those places where the sea is now cutting away the land.

We had a case in Ballydaniel and Ballymacoda a few years ago in which there had been some agitation, but that has now been ended. The place has now been divided, and everything is going on satisfactorily, but we want the Land Commission to fix a rent in proportion to the value of the plots into which this land has been divided. That is a matter that can be taken up by the Land Commission with the tenants. The tenants are not unwilling to pay a fair price for these plots that have been given to them in the division of the land in Ballydaniel. It is unfair to expect one man to pay 24/- for a plot and another man to pay only 17/- for a plot of equal size and of the same quality in the same field. This is an eight acre field, and all the land is of equal value. I fail to see why one portion of the field should be valued higher than another portion. These are things that from time to time create a certain amount of irritation amongst the tenants and a certain amount of discontent.

There is the estate of John Cronin of Garrymore. This estate has been divided up, and it has worked out satisfactorily, but I regret to find that Mr. Cronin is not compensated to the full extent. The case has been hanging on, and cases like this should not be left hanging on, but should be immediately dealt with and not taken up bit by bit. When a case arises it should be dealt with and finished immediately. There is nothing to prevent this particular case now from being dealt with at once, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see that this is done.

As to the matter of coast erosion, I suggest that a surveyor should be sent down to see that these people will not suffer additionally through the land that has been eaten away by coast erosion, and that they will not have to pay rent for it. Either that should be done or the tenants should be protected from the effects of future coast erosion. I have met these people from time to time, and I told them that I understood before vesting would take place that they would be given the proper allowance in their annuity. I understand now that these cases are to be immediately dealt with under the 1931 Act. Before that is done I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see where coast erosion has taken place justice will be done to the holder.

I want to avail of the opportunity presented by this Vote to bring forward many of the grievances which burden the farmers in South Kerry with a view to having these grievances redressed by the Land Commission. First I will deal with turbary. I do not propose to go into details in this matter, because in 1927 and again in January of this year, I supplied the Land Commission with particulars of places where new roads into turbary and repairs to old roads were urgently needed. Though the Land Commission succeeded in two or three cases in opening up turbary by making new roads into it, still very much is yet to be desired in this respect. Under the unemployment grants of 1927 and 1930 some roads were made into turbary. I know of one estate where the tenants in their annuities are paying rent for plots of turbary which had been allotted to them, though they do not, and cannot, make use of those plots because of the fact that there is no road leading to them. For those reasons I consider that, on the whole, the Land Commission has not fulfilled its obligation to the people of South Kerry in respect of roads to turbary.

There is another case, I had in mind, in one townland in which there are ten tenants. The Land Commission constructed a new road connecting the houses of eight of these tenants with the main road. There are still two tenants who have no road leading from their dwellings to the main road. Why this is so is to me a mystery. The Minister knows the place too. I know several cases of coast erosion in my district. In these cases the sea has encroached and taken away acres of land in the case of individual farms. That was the very best land. Still these holders are being charged the full amount of their annuities. If the Land Commission would pursue this policy to its logical conclusion and if the sea is continually encroaching on a particular farm until there is nothing left but the house and haggard the Land Commission would still want the tenant to bear the full annuity. That is a ridiculous state of affairs. If a man does not own land why is he asked to pay an annuity for it? Why is the annuity not reduced in these cases of coast erosion?

Then there is the case of fishing rights. I understand that according to the Land Act of 1903 the fishing rights vest in the Land Commission on the Appointed Day. I believe it is the practice of the Land Commission to take over these rights and let them, and that the tenants on the property where those fishing rights exist get nothing in return from the Land Commission. I think that is altogether wrong. About 22 years ago an agitation sprang up in South Kerry. That agitation was got up by the tenants to secure the ownership of their holdings. The landlords then were willing to sell but they did not want to surrender the fishing rights when they surrendered the land.

The tenants naturally concluded that they should get the fishing rights when they purchased the land. The landlord had the right to the fishing because of the fact that he owned the land abutting the river. The tenants were under the impression, and rightly so, that when they got possession of the lands they should also have the fishing rights attached to those lands as the landlord paid nothing at all for the fishing rights when he got them first.

In later years the tenants got worse terms than the tenants under the 1903 Act although we now have, as some people call it, a home Government. There are people who agitated for years for fishing rights and they brought the landlords to their knees because they made the fishing rights of no value. The hotels had been renting the fishing rights from the landlords and the hotels were compelled to surrender their leases. The landlords found that when the fishing rights were of no value to them their best course was to dispose of the whole thing. The big war then came on and spoilt the tenants' chances. Our home Government has taken away the rights that the tenants considered belonged to them and they are disposing of these rights. They give leases to other people, foreigners perhaps, and the tenants get nothing. I suggest that the Land Commission should lease the fishing rights to a committee of the tenants on each property at a nominal figure. If that is done the fish will be better looked after. I do not blame anybody for poaching in a river which runs through his land. Under existing conditions he would scarcely be allowed to look at the fish. Foreigners can come here and fish as much as they like but the local man is deprived of any chance of fishing. If the Land Commission leased the fishing rights to a committee of tenants on each estate they would be doing an excellent work for the tenants, for the Land Commission and for the fresh water fishing in the country.

I believe I would not be doing my duty if I did not say a word in praise of the manner in which the Parliamentary Secretary has carried out his very difficult and onerous duties. His recent Land Act will be a monument to him for all time. The offices of the Land Commission are, to my mind, the home of courtesy. Everywhere you go you meet officials ready and willing to do what they can for you; that is, if you are courteous yourself. Yesterday I heard nothing but praise of the collection office. I also can bear testimony to the way in which that office is conducted. The chief there is just as sympathetic as he is stern; that is because he is a Corkman. I often have occasion to call into the sub-division Department and there, too, I find everybody willing and ready to help and to do what is just and fair. In my own parish we have a few treacherous rivers flowing into the Blackwater and they do untold damage to the farmers.

There are other things more treacherous in Cork than the rivers.

They must take all the treachery from Waterford and Kilkenny on their way to the Blackwater.

And when they are caught out they do not give a Kilkenny name.

In the olden times the landlords used to maintain protection walls, and, as Deputy Goulding pointed out, sluices on their farms. These sluices and protection walls have been neglected since the Act of 1923 was passed. I need scarcely point out to the Parliamentary Secretary, because he knows it is his duty, that it is necessary that certain moneys should be withheld when payment is being made for land in order to maintain those sluices and protection walls for the benefit of the farmers. As regards the fishery rights in my district, they were the subject of dispute for a long time. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will see to it that that dispute will be settled in a very short time. I made representations a few years ago to the Department in connection with 17 farms that were badly in need of a connecting road. There was in existence a kind of road like a tunnel. I got a grant and the road was improved very much for the farmers there. In those circumstances I do not think I would be doing my duty if I did not thank the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary for their kindness and for the way the Department has carried out its duties, not alone in my parish, but all over the twenty-six counties.

There are one or two matters to which I would like to draw attention. They are of great importance to the people in Co. Galway. I do not propose to delay the House by a continuation of the criticism that has been meted out to the Land Commission. Certain Deputies have, and probably rightly so, just like the Deputy who has sat down, expressed the height of praise for the Land Commission. The Deputy, I suppose, belongs to the lucky section who possess the necessary influence. As far as we here are concerned, it would appear that the surest way the people will not get what they want is to ask us to look for it. As a proof of that I will remind the Parliamentary Secretary of a particular estate in Galway in regard to which I put down a question on the 28th of March, 1928. I then referred to the lands known as Carranemore, Carranebeg, Creevagh Island and Gortnabuka, in the parish of Killimoredaly. I got, what I considered at that time, a very favourable reply to the effect that the lands were about to be acquired, and that there would be no undue delay in their distribution amongst the tenants.

I repeated the question on 26th April, 1929, fourteen months afterwards, and I got what appeared to me to be exactly the same reply. I repeated the question again on the 14th May, 1930, and my interpretation of the reply was that it was similar to the two I got previously. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that it was not quite the same — that some slight improvement had been made. I referred to these two particular cases on the Land Commission Vote last year, and I was looking forward to some good results, but a year has since elapsed and there is no sign whatever of the land being divided. If it takes three years and a few months to take over an estate and to do the necessary work in connection with the division of it, that seems to me to be an extraordinary state of affairs. The question was again raised on 28th March, 1928, when the Parliamentary Secretary stated that proceedings were about to be taken. A year afterwards he said that some improvement was made in connection with the proceedings. A year later he said that considerable progress was made. Another year has elapsed and there is not the slightest sign of the land being divided. I am only putting these facts before the Parliamentary Secretary in order that he will make a special note of this case and not have it like the Lattin lands in Tipperary going on for eight years. I think three years is sufficient for the Department to deal with the matter, and, when replying, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary that he would state definitely for the information of the people interested when they can look forward to a division of the land. He may say, as he did when winding up the debate last year, that it is impossible to answer particular cases, and that the proper thing to do would be for Deputies to raise these matters by way of question. It seems to me that there is no use putting down questions because the same answer is given year in and year out. For that reason, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary when replying, if he pleases, to give some information about the Ashtown Estate in County Galway in Killimoredaly, comprising the lands of Caraun More, Caraun Beg and Creevagh, and let the people know if there is any possible chance of the land being divided in the near future.

There are other estates in County Galway which I might say are on the long finger for a good while, but there is no use mentioning them now. I would ask the Department to speed up the division of the land and give these people a chance of living. The position of some of them is pitiable. They have small uneconomic holdings with valuations of £2, £3, or £5. There are large families in practically all cases and the young men try to earn a living by working for the county council if they can get such work or for the Land Commission. If these families had economic holdings they could make a decent living and be good citizens. They are good workers and if they had land they would work it.

I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to a matter that vitally affects people in County Galway. Some time ago a question was raised on the adjournment by Deputy Moore dealing with the scarcity of fuel. I took part in the debate, and mentioned cases in Galway where there was undoubted hardship and an unquestionable scarcity of fuel. I was twitted by the Minister for Local Government because I made out that the scarcity of fuel was due to bad roads leading to the bogs. I stated that the fuel was there, that the people had saved it, but that they could not get it out of the bogs. I stated that in a certain sense there was no scarcity of turf, because it was in the bogs, but the people could not get at it. The Minister said I was raising a question about roads and not one about the scarcity of turf, and that I had practically admitted that the turf was there. That is so. The statement is just as true now as it was then. In Galway the people cut more than one year's supply of turf. They spend a certain amount of time in the bog, and then go ahead with their other work, but at the end of the season it is customary to bring home the turf. If the weather is not what it might be, or if it is a wet season, it is physically impossible for the people to bring home the turf owing to the shocking condition of the roads to the bog.

I cited certain cases last year, and I made reference to a petition signed by sixty-two families in seven townlands, some of them situated eight miles from the bog, asking that a suitable road should be provided. Although these people cut and saved turf in the bog for their own use, they had to buy supplies in a bog six miles away from them while others had to go into Tuam and purchase coal. I drew the attention of the Minister for Local Government to the case and sent him the petition, because he stated that he had never received a petition dealing with bog roads from Galway Deputies. I sent the petition to the Department. The Minister denied getting it, and I told him it would not be long until he would get it. The Department wrote acknowledging it on the 8th December last as follows:—

I am directed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th December, 1931, and enclosure relative to the Bog Road, Monivea, and to state that the matter has been referred to the Land Commission for consideration in connection with any schemes in contemplation by that Department in the area in question.

Since that date the relief grant was distributed, but not one halfpenny was spent in that area, and not the slightest notice was taken by the Land Commission of the plight of these sixty-two families. The Parliamentary Secretary or his Department never took the slightest notice of the petition. I would like to know what consideration (if any) was given to the petition.

The Department of Local Government wrote that if representations were made they would certainly do something for the people if the case proved to be a genuine one. In a letter I sent to the Department I asked that an inspector should be sent down to the district immediately to see if the case as I had put it was true. I do not know if an inspector was sent or not. If not, I demand that an inspector should now be sent to examine and report on the condition of the road, as it is absolutely impossible for the people to get their turf out of the bog. If an inspector is sent down he must be satisfied that the condition of the road is such that it is not safe to bring turf out by it. The people in the townlands affected are honest and conscientious, and I do not believe that any of them owe annuities. The rate collector has stated that everyone of them has paid the rates to date. If they are meeting their obligations the least the Land Commission should do is to provide a decent road into the bog. Horses have repeatedly fallen into the drains when drawing out turf. I am trying to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the necessity of doing something in this case, because it appears to me to be a genuine one.

The townlands affected are Carrarea, Crumlin, Balliskeagh, Belleville, Cussane, Minah, Laraghmore, Clonnavadogul, on the Monivea side. I would refer the Parliamentary Secretary also to the fact that in 1927, shortly after the entrance of our Party to this House, I made representations about a road to another bog at Shudane. It is in a very bad condition. Representations have been made repeatedly from all sides of the House about it. I have no doubt that Deputy Brodrick will agree with me, as he has been approached and has also made representations. With the exception of the other road that I referred to this is about one of the worst roads in the county. The residents in this place go ankle-deep in all weathers when coming from the bog. About ten or twelve families live there, and up to fifty or sixty other families use the road for the purpose of getting fuel. I asked that the road should be inspected in 1927. Inspector Lyons, from Ballinasloe, visited the district, and he stated in the presence of the people that it was in a shocking condition. I accompanied the inspector on the occasion, and he intimated that he would make representations to the Land Commission to see if it were possible to have money spent. There has been no money expended in this area by the Land Commission out of the grants that have been provided. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give special consideration to these two cases, and to see if it is not possible to improve the roads to these bogs.

I would also ask the Parliamentary Secretary to make a special note of the case of a tenant on the Blake estate named John Bird, whose receivable order is No. 117/2397. He got land from the Congested Districts Board, but the Board would not make a road to his house. A road was made on a certain part of the property to facilitate other people, but they would not make a road to his house. He was offered 5/6 per perch to make a road, but he refused to do so on the grounds that it was not sufficient. I would ask the Land Commission, which has taken over the liabilities of the Congested Districts Board, to give particular attention to this man's case, to see if a road cannot be made up to his house. He has asked me to make special representation in order to see if anything can be done.

Ní raibh fúm focal do rádh go dtí gur chuala mé an Teachta O Fogartaigh, as Tiobrad Arann. Dubhairt sé go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag fáil an iomarca airgid as an tír seo. Shíl mé, nuair a labhair an Teachta eile as Condae na Gaillimhe, an Teachta Mac Siúrdáin, gur bé an chéad rud adéarfadh sé nach raibh sé ar aon intinn amháin le n-a charaid, Teachta O Fogartaigh. Ach, ní mar sin atá. Duine a bheadh ag léigheamh na bpáipéar gach uile lá cheapfadh sé, do réir Fianna Fáil, nach raibh an Rialtas ag déanamh tada don Ghaeltacht. Ach, anois, deir duine aca féin go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag fáil an iomarca agus deir duine eile nach bhfuil sí ag fáil a dhóthain. Sin an bealach 'bhfuil siad ar 'chuile cheist. Níl beirt ar bith aca ar an intinn amháin. Shílfeá, le cloisteál o Theachta O Fogartaigh, gurbé Tiobrad Arann atá ag coinneál an Ghaeltacht beo agus nach mbeadh duine ar bith innte meireach Tiobrad Arann. Acht tá mé ag ceapadh go bhfuil go leor dá dhream ar an intinn céanna agus rud ar bith a gheobhasmuid uatha gur cosamhail le "oineach Uí Bhriain é agus a dhá shúil ina dhiaidh." Gheobhann muidne ár gcuid ón Rialtas agus gan buidheachas ar bith ag dul dóibh sin. Níl coirneál ar bith in Eirinn nach bhfuil faoi fhiacha ag an nGaeltacht —fiacha nach n-íocfar go bráth, fiacha nach féidir a íoc. Mara bé an Ghaeltacht, ní bheadh aithne ar bith ar an Tír. Choinnigh siad an teanga beo—a mbuidheachas do 'chuile dhuine. Chuir Cromwell na daoine as Tiobrad Arann agus as a leithéidí de áit go dtí an Ghaeltacht agus chuir sé isteach na buie mhóra ina n-áit—na buic go bhfuil Teachta O Fógartaigh annseo ar a son. Mar sin, is beag an t-iongantas go bhfuil sé in aghaidh na Gaeltachta. Ach, céad míle buidheachas le Dia, tá an Ghaeltacht ag dul 'un cinn agus tá an teanga ag dul 'un cinn agus is gearr gurabí an Ghaeltacht a bhéas in uachtar agus Tiobrad Arann agus a léithéide a bhéas in íochtar.

Anois, faoi obair Choimisiúin na Talmhan, tá sé ag déanamh go leor imo cheanntar-sa ach tá go leor le déanamh aca fós agus tá súil agam go ndéanfaidh siad é i ndiadh a chéile. Anois duine ar bith a rachadh trí Ghleann an Mháma indiu agus a rachadh thríd deich mbliana o shoin, deirfeadh sé nach é an Gleann amháin é. Tá tighthe nuadha á ndéanamh leis an gCoimisiún, tighthe go mbeadh spóirt ar dhuine ar bith a bhraitheadh ortha agus go gcaithfeadh strainséar ar bith á iarraidh "Cé atá ag déanamh an obair iongantach seo?" Níl siad ach i dtús na dtighthe. Tá súil agam go ndéanfar cúpla scór aca ar a laighead sa nGleann. Tá talamh a roint ann, tá droichead á ndéanamh ar na haibhne ann agus tá bóithre á ndéanamh ann sna áiteacha nach ceapfeadh aon duine ariamh go bhfeicfeadh siad bóithre ann.

Anois, faoi'n £300,000 a thug an Rialtas don Tír. Fuaireamar cuid di—cuid réasúnta. Ní chuireann muid ár súil thar ár gcuid. Tá muid sásta má fhaghann muid ár gcion. Níl pobal ón Líonán go dtí an Spidéal—an áit ina bhfuil an fíor-Ghaeltacht agus na fíorghaedhil—nár iarr mé oibreacha ar a son as an airgead seo. Ní bhfuair mé an méid a d'iarr mé ach féadaim a rá go bhfuair gach uile phobal roinnt den airgead. Fágadh go leor le déanamh ach ní rinneadh an Roimh sa lá amháin. Do réir cuid de dhream Thiobraid Arainn agus a leithéide fuair muid an iomarca. Indiu, nuair a hoscluíodh an páipéar agus nuair a chonnaiceadh an freagra a thug Aire an Airgid ar mo cheist féin agus nuair a chonnaiceadh go bhfuair Gaillimh £46,000, chuala mé go leór ag caitheamh air, "O tuille ag dul don Ghaeltacht. Nach ag Aire an Airgid a bhí an roinnt agus thabharfadh seisean gach uile rud don Ghaeltacht agus don Ghaedhilg!" Bhuel, is maith an rud go bhfuil a leithéid mar Aire Airgid ann. Go bhfágaidh Dia i bhfad ann é. Meireach é, ní bheadh an Ghaedhilg agus an Ghaeltacht ag dul ar aghaidh mar tá siad. Níl aimhreas go mbeidh buidheachas na tíre uilig air nuair a bhéas an chuid is mó againn ar shlí na fírinne.

I want to get some information on one or two points from the Parliamentary Secretary. While I can anticipate his answer, it would be just as well if he made clear to many tenants who purchased in 1923, their position in relation to any reduction that they may get when the vesting order is complete.

A number of farmers who purchased under the 1923 Act asked me from time to time to raise the question with the Department. I have done so, but, notwithstanding that fact, I have still further correspondence and contact with these people, who are under the impression that while they purchased under the 1923 Act and have not yet got their vesting order, some allowance should be made to them because they have not got the reduction which they otherwise would have got. It would obviate much loss of time and discussion if the Parliamentary Secretary would make that quite clear in his reply. He has, of course, given me the information which I required, but it would be just as well if he made it public to-day, and so save time and trouble.

Another matter which, perhaps, is of a little more interest to me as a representative of the Borough of Cork, and about which I would like to know the policy of the Department, is the position in regard to lands which had been in British military occupation before the establishment of the Free State, lands which have been evacuated by the British, and which were held by them for the purposes of military barracks. Within a few miles of the City of Cork there is a large tract of land at Ballincollig which was formerly occupied by the British troops. I understand from men in the district, competent farmers, that it is good tillage land, and that the Land Commission is not getting an economic rent from it. In view of the fact that there are a number of persons in the vicinity farmers' sons and others, who are prepared to pay a fair rental for the land, perhaps the Department would consider the advisability of splitting it up and dividing it amongst a number of small holders or letting it out as building land.

As I say, there is a large number of farmers' sons and others in the district who are only too anxious and willing to accept it at a rental from the Land Commission, but I am informed that the Land Commission have established a sort of custom by which they put land of this kind up to auction for the highest bidder. I do not know if that is the case, but that is the way in which it has been represented to me. At any rate, it is a pity to see this land going practically to waste, and if the Department cannot let it at an economic rent, I think it would be a good policy for them to cut their losses and to let it to the people who will till it. I would also ask the Parliamentary Secretary to split up some of the untenanted land. I do not make that plea on behalf of idle, dissolute, or extravagant farmers. I know cases in my area where, at least, one farmer has to depend for his milk on a cottier. Some of these cottiers are anxious to get land, are willing to work it, and are in a position to get the necessary capital to stock it. There are also lands held by the Land Commission from which tenants have been evicted owing to non-payment of annuities or other causes.

Like one of the Fianna Fáil Deputies who spoke on this Vote, I do not want to stand for extravagance or laziness, or to speak for a man who does not want to work and who will not produce anything out of the land. There is, however, something to be said for the hard-working farmer, for the man who makes an earnest endeavour to produce something on his farm. I know that many of them are passing through a bad time, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to slow up a little bit in regard to the collection of annuities from such men. I am aware of the consideration extended by his Department wherever a good case is put up. I must pay that tribute to that branch of his Department which has to do with the collection of annuities. I know that when a case is presented to them which is a good one, and where they are satisfied that a bona-fide effort has been made to get the most out of the land, and also that an endeavour will be made at the earliest opportunity to pay the annuities, the Department have always been considerate. I think that that fact has been borne out by every Deputy who spoke on this subject.

I feel that the Land Commission are at times in a difficult position. We have inherited a tradition from the old days when evictions took place and when rack rents had to be paid, and we know that there was always a great deal of sympathy with the person who was evicted. Now, however, when we have our own Government and the Land Commission, over which the Oireachtas have a certain amount of control, the outlook on such matters will have to be slightly altered. The annuities must, of course, be paid to somebody, but I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he might agree to a little easing down in that direction by his Department. I do not for a moment suggest that there should be an absolute writing off of moneys due, but that there should be a little easing down, because I know that such a policy would go a long way to satisfy a number of hard-working men who are doing their best on the land. I am anxious, when the Parliamentary Secretary is replying, to get an indication of his policy in regard to land formerly occupied by British military. An agitation was got up some time ago in the neighbourhood of Ballincollig in regard to such lands situate there, and an indication of policy on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary would, no doubt, provide useful information for those people there who are clamouring for such lands.

I have more or less been forced to my feet by some of the speeches that have been made on this Vote, especially that of Deputy Anthony. There is one principle advocated by Deputy Anthony to which I take considerable exception, namely, the suggestion that the Land Commission should ease off in regard to the recovery of annuities. A contrast has been drawn between the evictions which took place in the past owing to rack-rents and those which now take place owing to the non-payment of annuities. We know that rack-rents were extorted in the past and that the tenants could make a justifiable claim that they could not pay them, but the question of the annuities to-day is quite another matter. Owing to the operations of the various Land Acts men were able to go into court and have fair rents fixed and annuities are now recoverable by the Land Commission from tenants who were subject to the operations of the Land Acts up to 1923 on judicial tenancies of a second and third term. Liberal purchase Acts were based on these judicial tenancies and in very few cases, if indeed in any, to-day can a comparison be drawn between the rack rents of the past and the annuities of the present day.

Hear, hear.

I am glad that Deputy Anthony agrees with me. If it were let go to the people that it was the policy of the Dáil that an easing up should take place, it would have to be an easing up all round, because you would have 90 or 99 per cent. inclined that way naturally. Naturally, we all would be inclined that way. I am an annuity payer, and we would all like to get the same facilities. Instead of having self-reliance amongst the annuitants, it would sap the spirit of self-reliance, and I do say it would not be a wise policy to advocate the easing up of the collection of annuities and have the ratepayers to pay the burden afterwards, because it is the man who pays up in every case, the ratepayers who pay rates, and the annuitant who pays annuities, who would have to bear the whole burden. That cannot be so. Every annuitant will have to pay his share. For that reason I think Deputy Anthony's suggestion was rather injudicious.

On a former occasion I did make the remark in sarcasm that a boreen board should be established for the West of Ireland. After listening to Deputies from the West, one would get the impression, judging by the mentality of the people there, that they do not seem to avail of their opportunities to do the best they can for themselves. Deputy Jordan, when speaking, gave a list of families who were going for turf to a particular bog, and he said that they had only one road. He gave the number of families as 62, I think. Presumably, there would be one worker in each family, perhaps more. Now I have a very clear vision of what I could do by mobilising the man labour of 62 families and by putting them on a bog road or any other road or to drain a lake. There is very little more employed on the Barrow drainage. I have a very clear vision of what I could do with the man power of 62 families. I always understood from what I have heard of the West, and judging by what I saw in the little part of Galway over which I travelled, that there is plenty of road material to be found there. I believe they have a few rocks to spare.

It would take them a long time to draw them from where they are.

I suggest that there is a big field there for co-operative effort not alone in regard to the buying of foodstuffs and in the marketing and selling of produce, but also in regard to matters of this kind. I say in all seriousness to western Deputies that it does not advance their case if they let it go forward to Deputies from other counties that this is all they are able to do for themselves. I have no knowledge of the western people as farmers, but I did happen to hear some comments made in the midlands recently, in County Westmeath, about migrants who had come from the west and the reports were not at all favourable to them. They migrated from the west into these counties. I think that even Deputy Kennedy from Westmeath will bear me out in that. Perhaps it is due to the peculiar outlook which they have on work in the west of Ireland. Goodness knows, a man with a valuation of £5 or £10, cannot be said to be hard-worked all the year round. He must have plenty of leisure or semi-leisure at his disposal. If they want to make a bog road they have plenty of time and plenty of material to do it. I do say, without wishing to reflect on them, that if they wish to establish their name as good colonists in other counties to which they wish to be migrated, they should put their backs into the work and show that they are deserving of better treatment than they are getting. I do not put this forward as a sarcastic suggestion. I say in all seriousness if they want to convince people in future that they will make good, they should display more earnestness.

Does the Deputy know the type of man who goes into the other counties? Is he a man of 10 acres?

I do not know anything about them.

Well, then you should not talk about them.

I have it in black and white from your people that they are not able to do anything for themselves.

You are talking of the type of man who goes into another county. He is a bigger grazier than yourself.

I do not think so.

I think so and I know it.

I know men who got only 20 or 30 acres in other counties.

They got 20 or 30 acres and £2,000 or £3,000 compensation also for the farms they gave up.

Deputy Fahy also made some statements, and I think that in this discussion we should have a clear indication from the Opposition as to what their views are with regard to the land problem. Our view has been more or less enshrined in the Land Acts which we have passed. In the 1923 Act we fixed a minimum which was a clear indication of what, in our minds, was the minimum economic holding. Our idea was that from 20 to 25 Irish acres would be the minimum that we should reasonably aim at as an economic holding. That is there to be commented on. If any other Party thinks that there should be a smaller or a lesser acreage, they should say so. Our idea of what a maximum holding should be, is also enshrined in the Acts, at least the maximum holding to which the State would render assistance. That is laid down in the limit of advance. The advance is limited to £3,000 at 4½ per cent. or £5,000 at 3¼ per cent., which would work out at about the same capital sum. Our minimum and maximum are therefore more or less fixed.

I have heard Deputy Fahy say that he did not want all the holdings in Ireland reduced to a flat level of even forty acres. I do not know whether he meant Irish or statute acres, but it is important we should know. I would like to know, if he did not fix it at forty acres, at what point it should be fixed, what is their policy or what they intend to do. It is the right of the people of the country to know. It is the right of the people who have no land, it is the right of the people who have very little land, and the right of the people who have a good deal of land to know where they stand. It is right that they should be told by a Party of the importance of the Opposition, importance in numbers anyhow. Figures have been quoted here about the area of holdings. We have been told about a number of holdings of £15 valuation, of holdings of £30 valuation, and holdings over a certain acreage, I think over the 200 acre mark.

In giving figures of this description, I think it is only fair that the number of people who find a living on the different classes of holdings should also be stated. To my mind, and to the mind of the average man in the country, it is just as important to have figures relating to the actual number of men working on the land as it is to the number in actual occupation of land. The man getting a fair and reasonable wage in agriculture is just as well off, if not better off and more independent, than the man on a small holding who is trying to eke out an existence with nothing else coming in to him. When comparative figures are quoted it is only fair and reasonable that we should have all these details. Otherwise the figures will be misleading and, in my opinion, will verge on dishonesty. We should have a full and a clear statement of the number of people who find a living on the land. That is important.

For generations there has been a considerable amount of talk as to whether cattle or people should be on the land. We have one policy here, and hear it preached also from platforms, that the cattle of Ireland should be finished on the land of Ireland. I do not know whether that is good economy or not, but if cattle must be finished on the land then you must have available a certain amount of good grass land to do that. A clever agriculturist might, perhaps, argue that at the moment there might be more profit in raising good stores and shipping them rather than in finishing them at home. That does not arise on this Vote, and I am not going to go into it. I do say that it is due to every citizen to know what is the policy of Fianna Fáil with regard to what ought to be the minimum and what ought to be the maximum holding for the farmers of this State. As far as we are concerned, we have put that in black and white, and it is due to the people of this State that the Opposition should do the same, and say whether they disagree with our policy, as far as it has gone, or whether they approve of it. There is no use in talking vaguely of these things. These are matters that the public want to have information on. Let us hear from Fianna Fáil what their policy is as to what the maximum and minimum holding should be. Let them tell the people what their general policy is, what they agree with and what they disagree with.

On a point of explanation, I understand that the last speaker made some references to a statement of mine. Would the Deputy inform the House what he could do with a man-power of 62 families—effective man-power, I think, was the term he used. I stated that 62 families were affected as regards the particular matter I referred to. I want to know from Deputy Gorey now the meaning of the word "effective" as far as we in Galway are concerned. These 62 families are not living on a bog road. The nearest family affected by it resides three miles distant. I want to know if Deputy Gorey expects that the man-power of 62 families, some living three miles from it and others nine miles, are to come along and make this road gratis and for nothing?

The Deputy is now making another speech.

Mr. Jordan

I just want to explain that these families are not living on a bog road.

The speech that we have just heard from Deputy Gorey displays the real mentality of what we understand as that of the Pale. It certainly comes well from a Deputy who represents an area into which has been flung, so far as one can make a rough estimate, something like £3,000,000 of State money since this State was established. It certainly comes well from Deputy Gorey to lecture County Mayo and other western counties as to what they should expect from the State, particularly if all that we read in the newspapers is true as to the results of this investment by the State. Regarding the land question, in my area there is one policy which should be considered, and it is that the people should come first. Deputy Gorey asked whether it should be the cattle or the people. Sixty or seventy years ago, or perhaps longer, when the landlords commenced their eviction campaign, their economic standpoint was that it was a better economic proposition to raise cattle on the land than to maintain people. Looking at the matter from the iron law of economics they were right, but is anyone in Ireland, with any pretence to national sentiment, going to get up and justify their attitude? Is anyone in this House going to say that they were right in flinging thousands of people on the roadside? That is my answer to Deputy Gorey.

It does not answer me at all. My argument was as between tillage and cattle.

Deputy Gorey certainly gave me a surprising piece of information when he stated that there was a minimum of 22 Irish acres established by this State. Will any member of the House, whether on the Cumann na nGaedheal, Fianna Fáil or Labour Benches who comes from the Western counties say that 22 Irish acres is the average holding given out at the present time by the Land Commission in these counties, and especially in Mayo? I am certain there is not one Deputy who would say that is so. As far as my information goes, 22 statute acres would be nearer the mark, and even Deputy Gorey will admit that there is a considerable difference between 22 Irish acres and 22 statute acres. In the County Mayo there are 234 farms still in existence of over 200 acres, comprising 189,000 acres of land. I have stated that the average farm distributed by the Land Commission ranges from about 20 to 25 statute acres. I ask Deputies in considering that to remember that you have still in the possession of people in Mayo 389,000 acres of land divided up into farms of over 50 acres. At the same time there are in Mayo 4,905 land holders living on farms of less than 10 statute acres.

I want to know from the Parliamentary Secretary when he is going to make a real effort to settle the land question in the West.

As regards the implied sneer, or air of superiority adopted by Deputy Gorey, we do not come here as beggars. We are not begging for a charity. We ask, in the words of the Cumann na nGaedheal organ, this Government, supposed to be national and native, to undo the conquest, to wipe out the motto of "To Hell or Connacht." I would remind people like Deputy Gorey that if the farmers in other parts of Ireland are free men to-day, if they can claim to be the real owners of their land, or to have fair rents, let them not forget the thousands of men who went down in the fight for the land in the West of Ireland, who went down with their lives, who went down with their homes, who beggared their families; and let him remember that it was they and they alone that bore the brunt of the fight. It was they who were the storm troops of the fight; it was they who were the spear-head of the movement. I myself was reared in the atmosphere of that fight. One of the longest things I can remember is as a small boy being brought to the top of a hill by an old man, who pointed out to me a vast wilderness, where he told me 280 families had been thrown on the roadside while 280 homesteads were given to the flames. That, after all, is not so long ago. Some of the people that saw these things in the West are still alive, and I repeat again that we do not come here asking for charity or begging for favours. We come here to ask, what we are informed is the national Government, to do what the Government organ placarded the city with last week they would do, that is to undo the conquest.

I find that of the vast amount of land I have mentioned only 35,000 acres have been or are proposed to be taken over by the Land Commission under the 1923 and subsequent Acts, so far as I can get the figures. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to explain what has happened the other 150,000 acres of land in Mayo in farms of over 200 acres. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give us an explanation or to give a promise that he is going to do something really genuine to settle the land question in Mayo.

While that vast amount of vacant land exists in the County Mayo, we find the Land Commission going into ventures in reclaiming the bogs of Erris and spending vast sums of public money on the project. If these operations were being carried out for the purpose of giving employment, well and good. But if carried out for the purpose of getting land for the congests in the neighbourhood or in the County Mayo, it seems a very ridiculous policy to spend thousands of pounds in reclaiming bogs when there are thousands of acres of fertile land available in the county that could be taken over by the Land Commission. I certainly do not object to the operation if it is for the purpose of giving employment, but I object to it if it is for the purpose of giving to congests this so-called reclaimed land when, at the same time, there are thousands of acres of fertile land, as I have already said, available in the County Mayo.

I always considered it a mistake for the Government to have abolished the Congested Districts Board. The one good sign that they are making an attempt to gradually restore that body, or a similar body, is to be seen in the Gaeltacht Act, and eventually they will have to follow that road. The Gaeltacht Act was certainly a very good Act. The only fault in connection with it is that there is not sufficient money provided to finance it. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister for Fisheries, in connection with the congests living in non-scheduled areas, who cannot make any use of the Gaeltacht Act because they are prevented by the Act itself from doing so, to consider a scheme of restoring the system of the old Congested Districts Board for what is known as the parish grant. Anyhow, I hope the Minister for Local Government, when bringing in his promised Housing Bill, will, if the Minister for Fisheries or the Parliamentary Secretary does not do anything, take this matter into consideration, and have a clause in the Bill which will make it possible for people living in rural districts to get a grant for repairs.

I would also ask the Minister for Fisheries—and again I would bring in the Department of Local Government into the matter—to consider what they are doing throughout the West in regard to roads. There has been built, under the Land Commission and Congested Districts Board, during the last 30 years, hundreds of miles of what are known as cul-de-sac roads. Under the Local Government Act of 1925 the local bodies were prevented from spending any money upon these roads while at the same time except in rare instances the Land Commission will not provide any money. So I hope when they reply either the Minister for Fisheries or the Parliamentary Secretary will indicate whether the Land Commission has any policy regarding these roads. I hope that as a result of the Land Act recently passed by the Dáil there will be no further delay in completing the vesting on the Sligo, De Clifford and Ardalaun Estates and that the Parliamentary Secretary will see that the matter is at last finished. I would again ask the Parliamentary Secretary to indicate what he intends doing about taking over the vast number of grazing ranches and untenanted land in the County Mayo.

Certainly it would ease Deputy Gorey's mind and other Deputies in a similar position to a considerable extent in regard to what might have happened their own big ranches in the midlands, if the Parliamentary Secretary would speed up the acquisition of the untenanted land in the West of Ireland and would use that land, as far as it would go, to solve the problem of congestion. I hope when the Parliamentary Secretary is replying that he will give us some indication or make some statement and let us know when the Land Commission intends to take some definite steps.

I want to urge upon the Parliamentary Secretary to be very careful in accepting the suggestion of Deputy Anthony with regard to the land near Ballincollig, in Cork. I do not know exactly the extent of these lands. I presume he refers to a large stretch of flat land in the valley of Ballincollig. It is the only site near the City of Cork suitable for an aerodrome, and although it is some miles from the city, until a better site is found, it should not be broken up. There are few enough large fields in this country just now, especially near large towns. We all know that in the future Cork is going to become more important than Dublin, and for that reason it is most important Cork should have a muncipal aerodrome.

I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question or two. He will remember that in January last a deputation came from the Wexford Co. Council, accompanied by Deputy Allen, Deputy Ryan and myself, in connection with an endeavour by that Council to secure portion of the £300,000 grant for the Cahore drainage and the drainage in Kilmore, Co. Wexford. Promises were made by the Parliamentary Secretary and his Department that when the fine weather came a certain sum would be given. The other Deputies from Wexford know as I do that in Cahore especially hundreds of acres of land are under water. It is a scheduled area. The Board of Works have not insisted on the Drainage Board carrying out drainage as it should have done, with the result that this land is under water for almost two-thirds of the year. Not alone that, but the roads in the vicinity are under water for at least half the year, with the result that people are prevented from going to church in a great many cases at different times of the year.

I notice that in a reply given by the Minister for Finance yesterday to Deputy Mongan that it is stated that Wexford has received £29,000 out of the grant for the relief of unemployment. That is certainly news to me. I do not think that Wexford got a quarter of that money. I would like to know whether its portion of this has been earmarked by the Land Commission in an effort to fulfil the promises given in January last. Certainly the promise was made that the money would be found when the weather was better. I think if anything is to be done it ought to be done now.

Whilst I agree with Deputy Anthony that farmers find it very difficult to pay their annuities, I am of opinion that the Parliamentary Secretary should be very careful as to how he would apply the leniency suggested by Deputy Anthony. Under the law as it stands now, if annuities are not paid the deficiencies must be made up by various county councils in the State. That is by local ratepayers, many of whom have paid not only their annuities, but also their rates. As the law stands, the Land Commission has nothing whatever to lose. The deficiency in land annuities is to be made up from the local rates. It is a system which county councils all over the State have been objecting to for years, and, in my opinion, is a system which should never have been adopted. In a great many cases we have ratepayers who not alone have to pay their own rates, but have to make up the defiency of people who have not to pay their land annuities. In the constituency I come from, the fact that land annuities are not paid, is responsible for an extra rate of 1s. 2d. in the £. I can understand the Land Commission not going very far to recover land annuities in a whole lot of cases where they could be paid. I know there are some people who find it impossible to pay the annuities, but other people are taking advantage of the situation which prevails.

Another problem which confronts the county councils to-day is the question of derelict farms. I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary if they have arrived at any policy or what their future policy is, so far as derelict farms are concerned. I know certain county councils have time and again written to the Land Commission and made representations and certain objections in so far as derelict farms are concerned. I think the time has arrived when something should be done. I believe rates should be paid to the Land Commission or to the various county councils so far as these farms are concerned. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us that his Department has some policy in mind, so far as these derelict farms are concerned, and that it will be applied quickly.

It is seldom that I have reason to pay a tribute to the Irish Land Commission, but I would like to do so to-day, in as far as their scheme of vesting is concerned. Since this time twelve months, when we appealed very strongly to the Parliamentary Secretary to hurry up the vesting of land, it is a great consolation for the farmers all over the country to know that something like 70,000 holdings have been vested. No better news has been sent out from Leinster House than that to the farmers. When the land of Ireland has been finally vested the farmers will stand to gain something like £100,000 per annum from the vesting of their holdings.

That is a big thing coming at a time like this when there has been so much agricultural depression all over the country. It has been said again and again that the farmers have been spoon-fed by other classes in the community, that we ought to be well off and doing splendidly. I can assure this House that anything we have got off in the shape of rent has been more than counter-balanced by the additional local rates we have been called on to pay. I will give you an instance in connection with one holding of 21 Irish acres which I possess. In 1928 my rates on that holding were only £3 2s. 0d. a year. My local rates this year are £19 odd, so that anything we have got off in the shape of the reduction of rent is much more than piled on to us by an increase in the local rates.

There are two branches of the Land Commission that I would like to pay a tribute to. One is the Collection Department where we have a live wire who is doing good in the hurrying up of land purchase and another Department is that known as the Examiner's Office, 93 Merrion Square. They have done wonderful work with regard to the taking over of land purchased at too high a price by the National Land Bank and the local committees. Thus they have relieved those purchasers of the huge debt which they incurred through the purchase of these lands and which would have bankrupted whole parishes, to my own knowledge, had not the Land Commission come to their assistance.

Having got that far, I come to the parting of the ways with the Land Commission. I have to complain, as I have done in previous years, of the slowness with which the ranches in my county are being divided. I have also to complain that too much money is being given for these ranches, money which the tenants could never repay in the future, except the price of agricultural produce of every description goes up very much. There were estates acquired in my county where if the full purchase price was to be paid by the tenants in the future it would mean an annuity of £2 per Irish acre. It would be impossible to pay any such figure. It might be done near a big market like Dublin, but it is impossible to pay it in a rural district in Tipperary. We hear a lot about the untenanted land that has been purchased but we hear very little of the quantity of untenanted land that still remains to be purchased. In my county, especially in the southern part, there are vast ranches that I would like to see acquired and divided up. As some other speaker stated, there is no outlet for our surplus population except the land. We have to concentrate to a much greater extent on that in the future when trying to provide a living for our own people.

In regard to the division of the ranches. I have some complaint to make in regard to the people who get land. My opinion is that the labourers who lose their living through the division of an estate—lose their weekly wage, their bread and butter—ought to be the first people who would be provided for. Next to these the congests or small holders, within an area of, say, two miles, should be looked after. You might extend the limit in a case where you would have land suitable for perpetual meadowing. Further, there has been a habit that I do not approve of, of giving the mansions to people who, in my opinion, ought not to get them. Mansions on estates that are taken over by the Land Commission for division ought to be disposed of in the public market and to the highest bidder. I think it is only fair to the tenants who will have to live on these estates, so that their annuities can be cut down to the lowest possible figure.

I do not intend to go over the ground that so many other Deputies have gone over. I would ask the Land Commission to consider those few points, in regard to the class of people who ought to get land in the future. I would also like to say that in the case of villagers living up against ranches and whose forefathers in many cases were driven from these ranches, some land ought to be set aside for accommodation purposes for these people.

I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the conditions that exist around Dungarvan. There are a number of uneconomic holders and landless men who would be very anxious to get land. There is the estate of Alice Murphy, of Ballinacourty, which has been in the hands of the Land Commission since 1928. The local people have written to the Land Commission from time to time about this estate. They have even written to the President about it, but nothing has been done. The Land Commission stated in one reply that the land was being let for grazing and that the agreement would end in November next. This letter was written in May last. Yet the land has not yet been divided. In one case there is a man, the grandson of an evicted tenant who was upon some of that land originally. His grandfather held forty acres on that estate. I would imagine that he would have a prior right when that land comes to be divided. Other evicted tenants and other uneconomic holders should also have a right, and the land should be divided up as rapidly as possible.

I should be very slow to advocate anything like a general easing down in the collection of land annuities, not only for the reason given by Deputy Corish, namely, the burden that falls on the ratepayers, but chiefly because you could do nothing worse in this country or nothing that in the long run would be crueller to the people themselves, than to encourage them to think that by a certain amount of political pressure they could evade payment of their lawful debts.

It inevitably happens through sickness, death, ill-fortune, of one sort or another, that people who are eager and anxious to pay do get into difficulties and into arrears. I must say that I found in a general way, as Deputy Anthony testified, when that happens, and when the matter is brought to the attention of the Land Commission, they treat the matter with commonsense and humanity. It must also inevitably happen on occasions that legal proceedings have to be taken. What I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary is, when steps are taken or are in contemplation, the consequent burden of the legal costs incurred should be eased as much as possible. The Parliamentary Secretary is perfectly familiar with the matter. When dealing with large farmers, such as Deputy Gorey, it is a different matter, but in the case of small holders the additional cost laid on by the taking of legal proceedings is out of all proportion to the debt originally incurred. I am sure that in these cases the Land Commission take action with the very greatest reluctance. In some cases the debt is due on a very small rental, possibly 30/- a year, or something of that sort. When the usual letters have unfortunately failed to bring about a settlement, the matter is placed in the hands of the State solicitor and certain proceedings are taken and certain stocks are seized and sold. The net result of the whole thing is, that when it is all over the unfortunate creature finds himself in the position that he actually owes more to the Land Commission than he did at the start, because the money realised for the stock sold is not equal to the amount of the legal costs incurred.

It is said, with truth, that hard cases make bad laws. I am not going to suggest to the Land Commission that this is not quite an exceptional case. Nor am I going to suggest to them that they should acquiesce in the "No Annuities" campaign. But I do suggest that it might be possible— and I understand that the Parliamentary Secretary has the matter under consideration—to find a way out of that exceptional difficulty. If so I would like to know what the result of the Parliamentary Secretary's deliberations have been.

I wonder did Deputies Shaw and Connolly, when they sang a hymn of praise here for the Land Commission, represent the views of any of their constituents, or is it simply a meed of thanks for the little favours that have been done for themselves? Do they wish to indicate that the Irish Land Commission has satisfied their constituents in the vesting of farms, in the division of estates, in the class of tenants they placed on the new farms, in the amount they got out of the unemployment grants last winter, in the excessive demands made by the collection branch of the Irish Land Commission on defaulting annuities?

I wonder do these Deputies represent anyone's views but their own when they get up and laud the most inefficient Department of the Irish Free State—the Irish Land Commission? Deputy Connolly stood up as the hero and defender of the migrants. Deputy Gorey dealt with the success of the migrants in the County Westmeath. I wonder what exactly does the Deputy mean by migrants? Is it the class of man who comes up from the West and gets a holding of 200 or 300 acres because his own has been taken from him? If that is the class of migrant they stand up for and want the Land Commission to speed up his migration, we on these benches do not stand for him. Deputy Gorey is right when he says they have been a failure. The migrants we mean are the small uneconomic holders. We wish to see them getting economic farms in the Midlands. We do not mean the landlord in the West whose land has been taken and who has been removed to another estate in Meath or Westmeath. I know my county inside out, and I know very few migrants of the type that we mean.

Deputy Gorey talked about a maximum and a minimum holding of land. If a man with forty acres lets his farm go wild, does not work it and does not give employment, he has more than a maximum holding. If, on the other hand, a man with 200 acres tills his land and employs three, four or five men, he has not a maximum holding. It is the use the land is put to that guides us as to what is a maximum or minimum holding. When we have farms of 1,000 acres such as there are in my county, and more particularly in Meath, on which there are only a herd and a dog, then the man owning that land has far more land than he should have. In fact, such land should be divided amongst the people who will utilise it properly and who will keep the population on the soil.

There are in Meath and Westmeath people with hundreds of acres who do not grow sufficient potatoes for their own household use, and who buy Russian and German oats to feed any live-stock they stall-feed. They are responsible for the silent wilderness which has been written up repeatedly. The sooner a Government gets in that will set its face against that condition of things the better for the progress of the country. We do not measure the wealth of the country by the number of cattle we have. If we were to adopt that policy, then the year 1847 was a prosperous year. We measure the prosperity of the country by having the maximum number of people on the land. We do not agree with the statement by the Minister for Finance that the land of Ireland is carrying the maximum population it can bear.

Under a proper policy of migration the migrant would be placed in conditions similar to those which he had left, but with a bigger holding. He should have a proper house and out-offices. He should be given a loan with which to stock his farm. The money should be found by the Land Commission and issued in the form of a long term loan which could be repayable through the annuity. The loan could be extended over a long period at a minimum rate of interest. If he has to get a loan for five or six years at six per cent. from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, with all the costs of mortgages, folios and everything else, he will not be in a position to live on the farm.

In regard to the division of estates in my county, the policy should be adopted that where an estate is divided and new tenants are put in— not migrants—there should be a minimum period of at least twenty years in which the new holder could not dispose of the holding. Five or seven years would not be enough. I may be told that the question of free sale is involved there.

It is altogether a different matter. The people who were tenants for years under landlords who imposed rack rents, the people who have improved their holdings, built houses and out-offices and who have established their homes should certainly have the right to free sale. Where you have a citizen placed on a new farm, where you give him a preference over the other persons equally entitled, and hand him over that farm without practically any charge to himself, then if he is a failure after half-a-dozen years he should get out and somebody more desirable who would make the farm pay should be put in his place. That should be the policy of the Land Commission.

I have seen the Fetherstonhaugh estate of thousands of acres near where I live divided, through the efforts of the late Laurence Ginnell, into small farms. There are not 25 per cent. of the original holders there to-day. As soon as they could sell out they sold and most of the land is back with the ranchers.

In previous years the amount paid for untenanted land has been dealt with. The Minister has been charged with paying too much for land and the Parliamentary Secretary has given percentages which go to indicate that he was buying land cheaper than it was bought under the 1903 Act. If that is so, it is an extraordinary thing that the annuity on the holding divided under the 1923 Act is 50 per cent. greater than the holding on the other side of the ditch. That is the case all over. I do not know whether the annuities on the Greville Estate or any other estate compare any way favourably with the annuities on land divided under the 1903 Act. It may be so in other counties. I do hope that in future purchases in County Westmeath the Land Commission will pay a price which will enable an annuity similar to the annuities under the 1903 Act to be fixed.

In the division of estates the Land Commission inspectors and surveyors work in a very slipshod fashion. When they put up divisions between different holdings they throw them up any old way. The result is that in twelve months or less the ditches are down. They go out into the field and take half the field in scraws to build the ditch. There is an old saying: "Make your ditch out of your shovel." Certainly the Land Commission do not make the ditch out of the shovel. The cattle pull down the ditch and the quicks with it. Anyone who has experience of the country knows that you must dig in the soil in order to make the ditch and get down to the solid earth, and it is only in the solid earth that the quicks will grow. The Land Commission take half the field in scraws, and the result is that the quicks do not grow and the ditch does not last. They might get a little training from the ordinary country man in this matter, and keep away from theories, plans and maps. They might then be able to make a solid ditch that will last.

I asked the Parliamentary Secretary about estates that came under the 1881 or 1885 Acts. Under one of these Acts the Land Commission advanced three-fourths of the purchase money, and the landlord executed a mortgage for the other fourth. In some cases they took the benefits of a decadal reduction, and the redemption of the three-fourths of the purchase money goes on for thirty years or so. In other cases the purchase money is nearly redeemed, but in all these cases the mortgage exists. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that under the 1923 Act they could get the mortgage redeemed on the remaining fourth, and that cases had been dealt with by the Land Commission under that Act. In my county there are great number of these tenants on three or four big estates. We would like to know the procedure to be adopted by the tenants in order to get the benefits of the 1923 Act so as to redeem the mortgages. I have failed to get the information from the Land Commission. We would like to know how people interested in town parks should proceed so as to get their holdings dealt with under the recent Land Act. In the case of sub-tenancies existing for 20 or 30 years, is it the policy of the Department to get them dealt with even where they are very uneconomic?

I notice that the travelling expenses for the Department amount to £31,000. How are the inspectors and surveyors allowed expenses? Have they mileage; and, if so, what is the rate per mile? Do they give returns for their expenses? To my mind this is altogether too great a sum for the type of work they are doing.

I said before that they hopped about from Billy to Jack, and seemed to get nowhere. Instead of sticking to one job and finishing it, they go here, there and everywhere, and in their three-day or four-day week they give very small results. This sum of £31,000 is, to our mind, altogether too large, and we should like to hear it accounted for by the Parliamentary Secretary. Under subhead N there is shown a loss on unoccupied holdings of £100. When there is an eviction on the holding of a defaulting annuitant, would the Parliamentary Secretary state who is responsible for the annuity from the time the holder is evicted until the holding is again occupied? Is the county council charged with the annuity in the meantime? It does appear from this sum that it is, because, in a couple of cases, I know the annuity in the intervening period would be much more than £100. Is it fair that the county council should be charged with the annuity for the period during which nobody is in occupation of the holding? Should not that be the responsibility of the Land Commission? Should it not be the responsibility of those who bring about the eviction—the responsibility of the Collection Branch, who in many cases are unreasonable in their insistence on too rapid a payment and in their insistence on too large an amount from the person who is in arrears with annuities? Deputy Connolly talked about the drainage of the Shannon by the Land Commission. I should not be surprised if the Land Commission drained it for him, he has so much praise for them. They must have done quite a lot of good things for him, but there is one thing certain, not much of the unemployment grant came to the County Longford through the Irish Land Commission.

[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.]

I stated in the beginning that the Irish Land Commission was the most inefficient Department in the State. I know that there are good officers here and there in it, that there are efficient officers who, if they got a chance, would do good work. But taking the whole body, for which a sum of nearly £700,000 is being voted, the Department is very incompetent. There is no co-ordination in it. I was often told, before I became a member of the Dáil, that there are offices in the Irish Land Commission in which a typewriter does not get clicked from one end of the week to the other. I have ample proof of that since I became a Deputy. I have gone into offices there and the whole staff were catching flies. They had nothing to do, and, when a question was put to them, the head of the department knew nothing about his subject.

Did the Deputy know about it?

I have gone to the Land Commission at one o'clock to see particular officers. They were at lunch. I have gone at two o'clock. They were not back. I have gone at three o'clock and three-thirty o'clock, and they were not back. In some cases they did not turn up until a quarter to four. I say, deliberately, that I have gone to the Land Commission repeatedly during the past four years, and that that has occurred. For three and a half hours, responsible officers have been at their lunch.

How did you know they were at their lunch?

Deputy Shaw gets his chance of speaking in this House without interruption.

It is not fair to make charges like that.

Deputy Shaw should extend to other Deputies the same facilities that he receives when he speaks. He seems to be particularly nettled when I get up to speak.

When charges are made that are not true.

I will make what charges I like as long as I am a member of this House. I am responsible to nobody but the occupant of the Chair in this House. I am not responsible to Deputy Shaw. Responsible officers of the Land Commission have been absent for over two hours, instead of one hour, at their lunch. The Parliamentary Secretary should see that there is a definite lunch-hour fixed in his Department—let that be from one to two or from two to three. He should see that his staff give some semblance of work for the vast sum of money voted to the Commission every year. Changes have been made, but radical changes, I think, have not been made. Deputy Flinn, speaking of all the Departments of Government on one occasion, challenged the Ministry to put in an independent firm of chartered accountants to see that these Departments were giving results for the money expended on them. That is a challenge which can be repeated, particularly in the case of the Irish Land Commission. Since it was set up under the British Government, that Commission has cost millions of money. It has cost as much as would buy out all the land of Ireland. We know that, in the British times, it was staffed by favourites whose work was done by juniors, that it was staffed by incompetent men who could not pass an examination. They were put in there because they were friends of those in power or because they were members of the Masonic Order. We inherited a lot of these gentlemen. When we got rid of some of them, we found the Government establishing a new order of things and putting in a lot of university graduates in their places. These graduates had to be taught their work by the junior officers. We contend that it was the duty of the Government to promote their efficient junior officers and not put a bar to their promotion, as they have done.

The Parliamentary Secretary has got a Bill through the Oireachtas for the immediate vesting of land. We are anxiously awaiting the results of that Bill. We are more than anxiously awaiting the questions which will arise under that Bill about non-judicial holdings—whether these holdings will be speedily dealt with. In many of those cases the 10 per cent. reduction will be of very little use unless the question of establishing a fair rent is dealt with speedily. The Parliamentary Secretary was charged with a big responsibility when he took over the Land Commission. He has failed in that responsibility. At the eleventh hour, he has taken a leaf from Deputy Derrig's book in trying to get done some of the work which should have been done in the last nine years when this Government was in control.

I want to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary, not for any of the reasons given by Deputy Shaw and others on the opposite benches, but for his wonderful method of co-ordination in the Land Commission. The co-ordination I refer to is that between the Cumann na nGaedheal branches down the country and his officials during any period in which unemployment money is being expended. When the unemployment grant was being introduced here by the Minister for Finance, I pointed out that the portion to be expended by the Land Commission would be expended by them as all such grants were expended by them heretofore in the payment of Cumann na nGaedheal personating agents and officials in the Gaeltacht. As far as the Gaeltacht is concerned, that is a way the unemployment grant was spent by the Land Commission. Every personating agent of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party was employed in the Gaeltacht for several weeks, while the money that was passed here for the relief of unemployment lasted. Twenty-five gangers were appointed in Connemara whom I knew to be personating agents and whose only qualification for gangership on roads was that they had acted as personating agents in the last election. I mentioned that here before. I do not find any amusement in repeating it. At the same time, on every opportunity that I get I will refer to the corrupt way in which the money the Land Commission has in hands for relieving unemployment is being expended. The method of selection of works was as follows:—The principal men of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in each parish called together the personating agents, selected whatever roads or works they thought were necessary in whichever area they considered they got the greatest number of votes, and then they appointed in charge of these works the persons who had been personating for them in the booths at the election.

This method of electioneering has been more successful in the Gaeltacht than in any other place, because the people there vote openly, being mostly of the illiterate class. The personating agents know exactly who is voting for their party and who is not, and the chances of employment for those who vote for Fianna Fáil are very negligible. I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary is aware of the corruption or of the method by which money is expended in Connemara, but I will tell him on every occasion that offers that the money we pass here for the relief of unemployment is being spent in a corrupt manner in the Gaeltacht. The financial affairs of the personating agents of Cumann na nGaedheal are not matters of very great interest to me, but five of the personating agents of that Party came to me recently and complained that one ganger was getting £3 a week while the others had only 35/-. I do not know why this distinction was made, because their services to the Party as far as I know were of equal value. The Parliamentary Secretary might take a note that a man named Flaherty was paid £3 a week for doing the same work for which four other gangers only got 35/- a week. These men pointed out that the distance they had to travel was the same, that they were all temporary gangers, that the hours were the same, that there seemed no difference in the method of their employment, and that they had all actually given the same service to Cumann na nGaedheal as the other man. In their opinion there was no reason why one should be paid £3 a week and the others 35/-. It is of very little interest to me what they are paid, but as a matter of curiosity I would like to know on what basis the £3 was arrived at in one case and 35/- in the other cases.

In the Cloonbur area, where there is a good deal of poverty and congestion, no work at all was available under the unemployment grant, the reason being that the organisation of Cumann na nGaedheal there was not what it should be. If the organisation was working there, of course the same methods would have been adopted. It was only in those areas where the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation was up to the mark that work was given. The gangers were appointed, and as far as I can judge no official was sent down to see that they worked or kept any hours. As I have been informed, they were simply told that £60 or £70 was granted for certain work, and that they could draw the money and put in their hours anyway they cared. There has been a good deal of comment in Galway about the matter. I spoke to members of the Labour Party and to members of our Party about it, and they told me that the same methods were adopted by the Land Commission in other constituencies. I do not think the organisation could have been so good, and that the co-ordination between the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the Land Commission officials could have been so perfect in other constituencies as in the Gaeltacht.

I made a few notes while the Parliamentary Secretary was speaking about the Cloose Valley scheme. When that scheme was in the initial stages I spoke on the inadvisability of adopting that method of migration. People from the seashore were sent to a mountainy area where the valuation of the land is three farthings an acre. The Minister for Agriculture stated at the time that if these people were migrated to any other part of the country it would probably cost £700 per family. I cannot find out exactly what the Cloose Valley scheme has cost, but I take it that £4,000 was spent on reclamation and £4,000 on building up roads, making £8,000. From what I hear the houses, the stables and out-offices cost £700 each. I may be wrong in that, but no figures have been given. The total cost at present of the Cloose Valley schemes would be nearly £12,000 if that is correct. What has been got for that amount of money? Five tenants have been transferred from villages on the seashore to the Cloose Valleye at a cost of £12,000, which would work out at £2,000 per family. I think it was the Parliamentary Secretary I heard questioning a suggestion by Deputy Derrig on migration. He asked if the proposal was a sound or an economic one. Surely it would be a more economic proposition than one costing £2,400 per family? What is the result? Nobody with land and nobody who had made what I call a success of his farming operations at the seashore could be got to leave and to migrate to the Cloose Valley.

It was with the greatest difficulty that they got four or five families who had no land, so far as I know, to migrate there. In the Land Commission report they say that those who migrated left farms behind which were re-distributed amongst the remaining congests, "showing that the benefit was widespread." If only five families benefited it could hardly be said that the benefit was widespread, or that great advantage was gained considering the amount of money spent on the scheme. As Deputy Walsh stated, if the money were spent to give employment alone I have no objection. I do not care how they spend it as long as it gives employment and relieves congestion, but if they are supposed to be migrating people from a bad area to a good one, at a cost of £2,400 per family, then I say it is not a sound proposition. They also get a subsidy and some money for the purchase of cattle. I may have been out in my calculation—it may be more or it may be less—but I made out the cost to be over £2,400 in the case of each family that was migrated to the Cloose Valley. I do not think that the Minister is very satisfied with the results so far.

When you compare the cost of erecting a house there with the amount suggested by the Minister, a grant of £80, for the erection of a new house in the Gaeltacht, it will be found to be rather out of line with the £700 which it cost the Government to erect a house in the same area. There is no doubt that when the Government builds a house with a gang of men employed, it cannot be done as economically as by a private individual. The difference is too great. It shows that in the Gaeltacht it is impossible to build a house for £80, as suggested by the Minister. I would like to have more information about the cost of the Cloose Valley scheme. The scheme has been in operation for some years, and so much money has been spent it would, I suppose, be rather hard to throw up the whole scheme now. The houses and stabling have been built, and some people have been migrated. I would, however, like to have some information as to the actual cost, including the building of houses, the making of roads, the subsidy, and so forth, in connection with that scheme so that we might know exactly what it cost.

Mr. Brodrick

I am pleased to learn from Deputy Dr. Tubridy's statement that we have so many supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal in the Gaeltacht, particularly in Connemara. It looks well for Deputy Mongan's chances at the next election; in fact, Deputy Dr. Tubridy told us that he was sure of success. Perhaps he will also be a help to some more of us. Deputy Dr. Tubridy made a statement some time ago—I think it was on the Relief Vote—to the effect that the houses in Cloose Valley were built out of relief money. I questioned him on that point, and he then stated that he did not know out of what money they were built, but that they were built by the Land Commission. He had, however, the cheek to make the statement that these houses were built out of relief money.

I corrected Deputy Brodrick at the time, and I will correct him again now. If he looks up the Official Report he will see that I stated that the official staff engaged on the erection of these houses was the same staff which dealt with the expenditure under the Relief Vote, and were as I said, working in connection with the Cumann na nGaedheal Party.

Mr. Brodrick

We will leave it at that. I listened to his speech, and it was not contradicted at the time. The Deputy has an advantage over me in dealing with the Gaeltacht, but I took particular notice of the list of works carried out under the Relief Vote in Connemara. I find that whether the work was big or small, and most of it was small, there was hardly an electoral division in Connemara in which work was not carried out. Deputy Dr. Tubridy should not blame Cumann na nGaedheal if Deputy Mongan is active. If he were as active as Deputy Mongan he would probably get a good deal of work done also. Deputy Mongan, on looking over the different electoral areas, probably saw what works were wanted, and they were probably the same as those which Deputy Dr. Tubridy had in mind. The Deputy will find that in 80 per cent. of the electoral areas in Connemara work of some kind was carried out under the Relief Vote. In regard to the payment of gangers, the Deputy said that some got 30/- and others £3 a week. He should, however, know that there are such men as supervisory gangers employed by the Land Commission, and that they get £3 a week, whereas an ordinary ganger in charge of a small number of men gets 30/-.

They were in charge of the same number of men.

Mr. Brodrick

The supervisory ganger is usually in charge of a number of other gangers. I am surprised that Deputy Dr. Tubridy did not know that.

These gangers were employed in the ordinary way?

Mr. Brodrick

Deputy Dr. Tubridy always brings up these complaints on this Vote, but it is not fair, because he knows that a large amount of work has been carried out in Connemara, and if supporters of Cumann na nGaedheal have got employment it shows that there must be a large number of our supporters there. Deputy Kennedy referred to landlords coming from the west of Ireland to the Midlands. As usual we hear two voices from Fianna Fáil on this matter, because we have Deputy Kennedy speaking against what he calls the landlords of the west coming up to the lands in Meath, whereas Deputy Fahy says that these men should be taken from their lands in Galway, and sent elsewhere. The men who are coming from the west are not landlords. Some of them have surrendered farms of 200 acres in order to carry out what Deputy Fahy wants, so as to make the land in the west available for the small landholders. We have, however, Deputy Kennedy of Westmeath saying that they should not get land in Meath. What does Deputy Kennedy want? Does he want the people who live by the land, and who surrender 150 or 200 acres to be fired out of that land in Galway, and to be paid off in cash? If that is not the idea of Fianna Fáil what is it? We want to know that. Deputy Fahy says that they should be placed elsewhere, but Deputy Kennedy says that they do not want them in Meath. I know the people who are coming from the West, and I think that some of the Galway Deputies will agree that they are hard-working farmers. Even Deputies on the Opposition Benches will agree that a good proportion of them are hard-working farmers, who have made their livelihood out of the land. Deputy Kennedy also referred to the Fetherstonhaugh estate which was divided some years ago, and said that of the twenty-five new holdings which were made there, a big percentage have since changed hands. That certainly shows the need for the Land Commission to be careful as to whom they are giving land. They should see that the best men are selected for such land. I know that in a small way that applies to Galway also. Even under the 1923 Act I have seen some people, very few, who were anxious to get away.

The main fault which I have to find with the administration of the Land Commission is the unfair way in which that portion of the Relief Vote allocated to Co. Clare was distributed. Practically no scheme was carried through in East Clare though there were at least nine much-needed works submitted there. For some reason or other none of the schemes were started and there is, as far as I am aware, no good reason for that. Requests were made for some much-needed works in the case of bogs and isolated hamlets. Drainage schemes were submitted in respect of small farms which would benefit considerably if the works were carried out. I believe that political prejudice is the reason for all this. To prove that I can quote no less a person than the Minister himself. When addressing a meeting in Kilrush he was asked by Mr. Thomas Reidy, County Councillor (Co. Clare), on the 7th February, 1931, if he was aware that 80 per cent. of the rural population of the parish were supporters of the Government Party, and at any rate they were not giving them free grants to make roads, scour drains, etc. They had applied over and over again. The report goes on to state:

"Mr. Lynch: I was informed that the district was strongly supporting the Government and I am surprised to hear that no new works were started. Do you mean under the relief schemes?

"Mr. Reidy: Yes, the making of bog roads.

"Mr. Lynch: I will make a list of any of these roads that are put up. They should be put up in the order of necessity and the amount of employment given. I will see what I can do in the matter."

Hear, hear.

Afterwards some works were started in that area. I think that affords sufficient proof that it was political bias.

"In the order of necessity."

Political necessity.

I believe that it is on a political basis the allocation in respect of such schemes was made, at least in Co. Clare.

I listened to the speech of Deputy Gorey a while ago. I notice that whenever the Land Commission Vote comes before the House he tries to rise to speak. I remember distinctly that last year he called the poor unfortunate people with five or six acres of land in the West of Ireland some lovely names. Again this year he could not let them pass. He said that the people there do not avail of the opportunities given to them, but he did not say what opportunities were being given to them. He said he did not know, when I cross-heckled him in the matter, so that he admitted he did not know what he was talking about. Again he said that a man with a holding of ten acres has plenty of leisure time to make roads, drains, etc. That just shows how little he knows about the man with a ten-acre holding. I know that such a man in the West has to work very hard. The ten acres of land is not sufficient to give himself and his family a livelihood, and every spare day that he has in the week he is looking for work. There is very little work to be obtained, of course, but he is breaking his neck trying to get work—a week on the roads or work from some other farmer or other person who is able to give a little employment. His leisure time is therefore very little. Deputy Gorey would require to know a little more about that particular type of farmer before he starts to talk. He says that the Government have put down in black and white what their policy is regarding the division of land and the size of the holdings.

They have put it down in black and white, but if you examine the size of the farms that are being divided all over the country you will find that the man with a £2 valuation is left out and that the man of £8, £10 or £15 valuation has got an increase. No matter what the Fianna Fáil policy may be, and even though it may not be in black and white, I certainly believe that it will be better than that. Even in Country Galway you have men holding over 1,700 acres while hundreds of men have but one acre. The first thing that the Fianna Fáil Party will do when they come into power will be to relieve the big rancher of some of his land. Even if they take 1,000 acres from him he would still have 700 lots of land, but the 1,000 acres will give 100 acres to a lot of people who have only one acre at present. You can go down along the scale until you come to about 25 acres. The case of Henry Burns was referred to. That, I suppose, is one of the biggest cases in Ireland. Harry Burns has 1,627 acres in Clonfert and 411 in another part of the country. These are the figures which I got from the Parliamentary Secretary, but he did not give me the amount of land which this man holds in Offaly. I believe that it belongs to his wife, but that is the same thing. He has had 2,000 acres of land, yet since the present Government came into power and called themselves a National Government they have not taken a perch of land from him. What is the use of talking about men with 200 acres while you have men with 2,000? Why not start with him, why not start at the top? You have brothers-in-law of Mr. Burns with over 1,000 acres but not a perch has been taken from them. Yet we listen to men like Deputy Brodrick on platforms down the country talking about the millions of acres of land which the Land Commission have divided but I have seen documents showing that Deputy Brodrick has been at the Land Commission offices trying to get farms divided and the only reply he got was that the matter was receiving attention, the usual bunkum we get from time to time.

Deputy Brodrick did not make a speech, but because Deputy Tubridy made a few points that seemed to nettle him and that evidently he did not like, he tried to justify himself and Deputy Mongan. And for what? Because of the relief grants. Week after week, if one takes up the "Connaught Tribune," one will see where Deputy Brodrick is giving a grant for the making of a certain boreen, or a grant for a certain bog road, or a grant for the making of a certain drain. It is not the Land Commission that is doing these things but Deputy Brodrick. It is not even the public funds that are paying for these things, according to this paper.

Why discuss it here, then?

I am discussing the very thing here that hits hard. We go round and we examine these relief schemes. There are three cases that I know of in the parish of Newbridge. Deputy Brodrick was brought to Mountbellew and met a private gathering in the Town Hall. Certain schemes were put forward and the people present at that meeting, a few days afterwards, send men round to the villages to tell people that if they subscribed a shilling they would get their road made. The subscription of 1/- was for getting the road made, not for the Cumann na nGaedheal fund at all.

There was one particular case I raised from Boherbanagh, Newbridge, Co. Galway. This particular village road is absolutely a disgrace to any government calling itself national. Children cannot get out of school in winter time, and people cannot get out on to their land to look after it because of the flooding of the road. The flooding, of course, is due to the fact that the bridge that was there some years ago has gone flat, and the water is flowing over the head of it instead of underneath. Even after these people subscribed their 1/- there is yet no sign of the road being made. That has happened all over the County Galway and not in one or two places only. I have travelled the greater part of North Galway and part of East Galway, and I find something like four schemes out of the relief grant and these four schemes, even though they were badly needed, were nothing like what you might call the most needed.

Deputy Brodrick was trying to justify himself and Deputy Mongan. The one thing troubling them is their return at the next General Election. Probably that troubles us all a little and so we will not deal with that matter very much. Deputy Brodrick finished his speech by saying the Land Commission should be slow about dividing the land and that they should be careful about whom they give it to. I agree with that; they have to be slow all right, but what I call slow might be a year or two when dealing with a particular estate, but when it comes to a question of five, six or seven years I think it is too slow. I have a number of cases that the Land Commission have had in hands during such a length of time. One case, in particular, is the land taken from Mr. Hession, Tycooley, on the Clonbrock Estate, Co. Galway. This land was taken over a couple of years ago. I asked questions in the House on different occasions about this particular land and the Parliamentary Secretary said they were going to deal with it. One of the things I thought they were going to do was to take over the farm of Harry Burns of 411 acres, but there is no sign of that being done, even though there is a farm at Killasolan that would relieve a great lot of them.

The Land Commission have decided that it is a better money-making job to let the land in grazing at a terribly high price. At the present time the grazing of it is let at something like twice the figure that a particular man down there used to have it for some years ago. I remember that the first year it was taken over the grazing rent charged to the man who took it was £200. The unfortunate poor people who have it at present must be paying about £400. If the Land Commission have to hold it over, then let them do justice and set the land at a reasonable rent. They certainly should not be mulcting these poor people. They surely deserve a chance as much as the bigger men.

There is another case in Fohinagh. I asked a question about this land last April. This refers to the lands of John O'Connor, of Fohinagh, on the Clonbrock estate. The farm consists of 837 acres. There are a large number of people around there who have not even an acre of land. The number of them may be small, but I think there are at least ten or twelve. I believe this man is anxious to sell, and that he has made a statement on several occasions to that effect, but I think the position is that the Land Commission are not breaking their necks to buy. If this land were taken over it would relieve a big dispute that is going on at the present time in Ahaseragh. There were some outsiders brought in there, and the local people complain that they are not being dealt with fairly. If this land were taken over it would relieve all that, as well as a lot more congestion in the county. I move to report progress.

Progress reported: the Committee to sit again on Wednesday, 20th May.
The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 20th May, 1931.