asked the Minister for Lands and Fisheries whether he is aware (1) that grave congestion exists in the Faughart District, Co. Louth; (2) that the small holders are forced to pay upwards of £6 per acre for conacre; (3) that most of the land which these small holders are forced to take on the eleven months system belongs to people who do not reside in the district, and who have been letting it in some cases for 20 years; (4) that the small holders in the district who usually take conacre every year have organised themselves, and assert that they will not take land this year in an effort to have subdivision speeded up: and further, to ask the Minister what steps he has taken, or intends now to take, to subdivide the following lands in the Faughart district:—(a) Eastwood Murphy, Castletown; (b) Bells, Marleford; (c) Bradfords; (d) Donnellan, Forthill; (e) Myles, Carnbea; (f) Morris, Sportsman Hall; (g) McDonalds, Waterlodge.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Co. Louth Small Holders.
In view of the congestion existing in the district referred to, the Land Commission have under consideration the acquisition of the Eastwood Estate at Castletown, the Bell Estate at Balriggan, the Bredford Estate in the Townlands of Carn More, Balriggan, Lisdoo and Sportsman's Hall, the Myles Estate at Carnbeg and the Morris Estate in the Townlands of Sportsman's Hall, Moorland and Balriggan.
There are no proceedings before the Land Commission regarding the Donnellan Estate, Forthill, or the McDonald Estate, Waterlodge.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary say when it is likely the work will be carried out?
It will be a long time because so far we have only reached the preliminary stages. Practically all these lands are subject to a Land Commission annuity. That will add to our difficulties in carrying out the negotiations.
Is there any chance of the work being carried out before next spring?
In view of the fact that these tenants have organised themselves and say that they will not take conacre until the lands are divided, could not the Land Commission take over the lands in the meantime and let them to the people?
No, the Land Commission could not possibly take them over.
Then there will be a crux there this year if the tenants follow up what they state they intend doing. They believe they are entitled to these lands. They have been paying £6 an acre for them. If the Land Commission are going to divide the lands at some future date, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he could not take them over immediately and have them let to the people. Whatever profits are got out of the lands this year could then be applied towards a reduction of the rents to be put on.
I have already explained that the lands are subject to a Land Commission annuity. The owners are entitled to equivalent holdings elsewhere. Of course they may not claim such an exchange. The Land Commission cannot take over possession of the lands until the owner has accepted our price and has agreed to hand over possession of the lands. So far, as I have already stated, the negotiations have only reached the preliminary stage. In the normal course of events it may be twelve months before we reach the stage when a price can be offered for the lands.