Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - West Cork Steamship Service.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that the Great Southern Railways Company intends to shut down its steamship service from Bantry to Castletownbere, and whether in that event he is prepared to provide a subsidy towards the continuation and maintenance of this service.

The steamer service between Bantry and Castletownbere is operated by the Bantry Bay Steamship Company, Ltd., in which the Great Southern Railways Company has a substantial interest, but not complete ownership. I am informed that the question of discontinuing the service has been under consideration more than once since 1924, and has now reached an acute stage by reason of the growth of competition from motor vehicles on the roads and privately owned boats. I understand that negotiations are proceeding between the steamship company and the railway company. Having regard to the alternative means of transport now available, I do not consider that a subsidy from public funds could be justified.

Apart from the private boats, two omnibus licensees operate between Bantry and Castletownbere, and seven persons in Bantry and Castletownbere —in addition to the Great Southern Railways Company—hold licences for the carriage of merchandise by road, covering the area.