Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Department of Defence Rent Demands.

asked the Minister for Defence whether he is aware that owners of bungalows on lands adjoining Department of Defence lands at Fort Templebreedy, Crosshaven, County Cork, have been served with notices demanding payment for the use of the Department's approach road to the fort; and, if so, whether, in view of the fact that these people have no other reasonable means of approach to their properties and have been using the road without let or hindrance for very many years, he will withdraw these demands.

It recently came to light that certain persons are trespassing on the Department's property at Fort Templebreedy by using the military road at the fort and opening gateways in the boundary fence, which is also the Department's property, or crossing the fence as a means of entry to their bungalows erected on lands adjoining the road. A certain amount of damage is thereby caused to the Department's property.

In order to regularies the matter in accordance with the provisions of the State Lands Act, 1924, each of the persons concerned has been notified that if he desires to continue using the road, favourable consideration will be given to an application from him for an encroachment by gate, to be erected, if necessary, by him at his own expense, in the existing boundary fence—a fee of £1 per annum to be paid by him in respect of the encroachment.

I regret that it is not possible to withdraw these notifications, but the question of charging a reduced fee is being considered.

Could the Minister reassure the public generally that this action is not a prelude to preventing the people from using the ordinary amenities of strolling around these lands for recreational purposes in summer?

The present action is in compliance with the direction issued by the Department of Finance in 1944, namely, that these people using the military road and building gateways for entry and exit should pay some fee. One bungalow has been there, as the Deputy knows, for a considerable number of years during the British Administration. A number of other bungalows have been built in the last three or four years. Some are in course of construction at the moment. The proposal is that a reasonable fee —I think the fee mentioned is not unreasonable—be charged for use of the road and the right to construct a gate. There is no intention to impose any limitation on people beyond a fee.

The Minister has not replied to my supplementary question. I asked him if the ordinary public, who have always been using this road and passing through the lands as a short cut or a means or getting recreation, will suffer any imposition as a result of this fee now being imposed on people who have bungalows on the adjoining lands.

I do not know whether that question should be addressed to the Minister or to the people who have the bungalows. Obviously—as far as the use of the road is concerned—there will be no tax imposed on members of the public but if they encroach on bungalow areas that is a matter for others.