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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 28 Nov 1934

Vol. 54 No. 3

Public Business. - Shannon Fisheries Bill, 1934—Report and Final Stage.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In page 5, Section 9 (2) (f), line 44, after the word "Finance" to add the words "nor to make any such demise or letting of a fishery to which Article 11 of the Constitution applies for any period exceeding ninety-nine years or with a provision for renewal."

It will be remembered that this amendment was moved on the Committee Stage but withdrawn upon certain objections being raised by Deputy McGilligan, that it was not necessary to provide against the making of a letting of a fishery to which Article 11 of the Constitution applied with provision for renewal, and in view of the provisions of the Bill that permit of the making of a letting of a fishery purchased by the Board under this Act with the provision for renewal subject to the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Finance. I have reproduced the amendment in the original form because the Article of the Constitution referred to does, in fact, prohibit the making of a letting of State property with a provision of renewal.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 7, before Section 14 (3), to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) When the price to be paid by the Board for a fishery or fishing right is being assessed in pursuance of this section and it is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that the owner of such fishery or fishing right or a person entitled to a portion of such price by virtue of his having an estate or interest in such fishery or fishing right worked such fishery or exercised such fishing right personally by his own skill and labour and that the profits derived from such working or exercise formed the whole or a substantial part of the livelihood of such owner or person, the arbitrator shall add to and include in the price so payable to such owner or to the portion thereof so payable to such person (as the case may be), as assessed under the provisions of this Act other than this sub-section, such sum as appears to the arbitrator to be a reasonable compensation for the whole or partial (as the case may be) loss of livelihood suffered by such owner or person in consequence of the acquisition of such fishery or fishing right by the Board, regard being had to the likelihood of such owner or person being able, in the circumstances of his case, to transfer his skill and labour to some other profitable occupation.

This is the amendment which I indicated on the Committee Stage would be introduced although at that time I stated that it would form part of Section 23 instead of Section 14. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that, where the owners of a fishery or of a fishing right operate the fishery or exercise the fishing right themselves by their own labour, and, by doing so, have earned a livelihood, that they should receive, in addition to the price of the fishery as ascertained by the arbitrator under the Acquisition of Lands Act, compensation for the loss of livelihood, taking into account the possibility of their being able to transfer their skill and knowledge to some other profitable occupation. This, of course, is the amendment designed to meet the particular case of the Abbey fishermen who have fishing rights and own certain fisheries on the fresh waters of the Shannon. In the case of other fishery owners they will receive the compensation assessed by the arbitrator in accordance with the regulations under the Acquisition of Lands Act and with that compensation they can, in theory, if they so wish, remain fishery owners by acquiring fishery rights elsewhere.

The Abbey fishermen are not in that position. They are a community of people who have exercised this right of fishing in the Shannon over a long number of years, and merely to give the present members of that community the present value of their fisheries would be inequitable. Consequently, it is proposed to supplement the compensation which they will receive by another sum to be determined by the arbitrator, a sum which will take into account again the fact that the members of that community are losing their means of livelihood, and that it will not be practicable for them to transfer themselves to some other river and there exercise their skill as fishermen. They will, presumably, have to seek occupation in some other walk of life for which their training as fishermen will be of no particular advantage, and, consequently, it is proposed to give them this extra compensation.

It will be noted that another amendment, amendment No. 4, affects Section 23. Section 23 will operate and make it illegal for any person to fish with a net on the fresh waters of the Shannon, with certain exceptions. It is proposed to permit the right of net fishing to continue in the case of any person who has been lawfully exercising such a right for the 12 months previous to the passing of the Act. That will mean that there will not be a cessation of net fishing on the Shannon immediately the Bill becomes law, as would otherwise be the case, and that such persons will continue to exercise their right to fish on the stretches of the Shannon under their control until such time as their fishery rights have been acquired by the Electricity Supply Board and until the compensation, both in respect of the value of the property and in respect of the disturbance that will take place provided for in this amendment has been determined and awarded. The main purpose of the amendment is, I may say, to give consideration to the sympathetic claim which the members of that particular community have over and above the purely legal claim which other fishery owners can put forward.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 8, Section 20 (2), line 45, after the word "order" to insert the words "increase the said weekly close season to more than seventy-two hours nor".

One of the sections of this Bill increases the close season from 48 to 72 hours and provides, as the Bill stands, for an alteration of the weekly close season by the Minister for Agriculture by order. Objection was taken in the Dáil to the Minister having the power to effect that alteration by order. I suggested that I would produce an amendment requiring that such order should be approved of by the Dáil before coming into effect. The actual amendment that I am introducing goes a bit further. It provides that the weekly close season, now 48 hours, which can be increased to 72 hours, can be altered by the Minister for Agriculture by order, but not so as to decrease it below 48 hours or to increase it above 72 hours. If it is found necessary at any stage to increase the weekly close season beyond 72 hours, then it will be necessary to introduce fresh legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment

In page 9, Section 23 (1), line 9, after the word "person" to insert in brackets the words "(other than a person and the successors in title of a person who, during the period of 12 months immediately preceding the passing of this Act, has lawfully exercised a right of fishing with nets or a net in the fresh waters hereinafter mentioned)".

This is the amendment to which I made reference when dealing with amendment No. 2. The purpose of it is to permit the continuation of net fishing on the fresh waters of the Shannon by persons who have been legally exercising that right of net fishing until such time as their right has been purchased from them.

Will a permit be given in such cases?

The position is, of course, that certain people have the right to fish with nets on the Shannon. There may be people fishing with nets who have no authority whatever from the owners of fishery rights there, but this Bill makes it illegal for any person to fish with nets except such persons as have been legally exercising such a right during the past 12 months. The onus of proof is on such persons to show that they have a legal right to fish with nets if any question of a prosecution should arise. The main purpose of the amendment is to enable the Abbey fishermen to continue to exercise their fishing rights until such time as the Electricity Supply Board is in a position to take them over.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.