Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Killarney Boot Factory.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that Messrs. Hilliard and Palmer's Boot Factory, Killarney, is practically closed down, thereby causing serious unemployment in the town; and, if so, whether he will state the cause.

I am aware that the factory to which the Deputy refers has been working on short time since the beginning of the year, but I am informed that no workers have been discharged.

The firm in question have informed me that the short time working is due to reduced demand consequent on very heavy imports of footwear during the year 1947 and the early part of 1948. Steps have already been taken to afford relief by reducing the quota of footwear permitted to be imported under licence and the quantity which may be so imported during the current quota period, which began on the 1st January, has been fixed in agreement with the footwear manufacturers' associations.

Is the Minister aware that short time is not confined to this factory in Killarney, but that it is more general in the industry? Is he further aware whether that has any connection with the shortage of suitable heavy leather, and will he say if any representations have been made to him on that matter?

I know that allegation has been made, and I am having it inquired into at the moment.

Is the Minister satisfied that a sufficient quantity of heavy leather is being manufactured in the country at the moment?

The tanners assert that there is, and the manufacturers say that there is not. All that I can do is to have the matter inquired into, and, as I have said, that is being done at the moment.

Is the Minister further aware that hides with the hair curried off them, are being exported, and that such hides were formerly made into heavy leather here?

I am aware that whatever shortage there is, if there is a shortage whether of light or heavy leather, is not due to any export of hides.

Is the Minister aware that factories that formerly made, tanned and finished heavy leather are now exporting hides with the hair curried off them?

I am informed by the tanners that there is no shortage of leather, and I am informed by the manufacturers that there is. As I have said, I am having the matter inquired into.