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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 25 Oct 1950

Vol. 123 No. 1

Local Government Act, 1946 (Amendment) Bill, 1950—Second Stage.

Tairgim:— Go leífear an Bille den Dara hUair. Bille simplí sea é agus tá súil agam nach mbeidh orm an iomarca cainte a dhéanamh ina thaobh. Níl i gceist sa Bhille seo ach go dtiubhraimís don udarás iomchuí cead nó cumhacht ainm sraide d'athrú. Fén Acht Rialtais Aitiúil, 1946, coimeádadh an chumhacht sin ó na hudaráis iomchaí ach amháin nuair a bheadh deimhin déanta dhe acu gur le toil cheithre seachtóde lucht díolta na rátaí san áit phoiblí sín ina bhfuil an t-athrú á dhéanamh. Ní dócha gur gá a mhiniú go gcialluíonn an focal "sráid" sa Bhille, fé mar a ciallaíonn sé sa phríomh-Bhille, "Cuid de shráid agus fós an t-iomlán nó cuid d'aon bhóthar, cearnóg, lána nó áit phoiblí eile." Tá an chiall chéanna leis an abairt "údarás iomchaí" ata leis an abairt sin in Acht 1946.

Anseo i mBaile Atha Cliath, tá ainmneacha baistithe ar chuid d'ár bpríomh-shráideanna agus is d'fhonn masla a thabhairt do Ghaelibh is d'Eirinn a baisteadh na hainmneacha sin orthú den chéad uair. Comórann cuid de na n-ainmneacha seo allmhúraigh a tháinig anseo i seirbhís Shasana chun éagóir agus cos-ar-bolg d'imirt ar Ghaelibh. Theastaigh ó fhormhór mhuintir na hÉireann agus, creidim, ó fhormhór mhuintir na cathrach ainm sráide amháin d'athrú agus é d'athbhaisteadh in onóir do shár-laoch a thug íobhairt a anama ar son na hÉireann i ngleic leis an namhad sa tsráid sin ach toisc Alt 78 d'Acht 1946 d'éirigh le dream Gallda toil mórfhormhór Bhleá Cliathach do chosc, agus tá an t-ainm "Talbot" fós go hoifigiúil ar Shráid Seán Treasaigh. Má ghlacann an Dáil leis an mBille gearr seo, beidh cumhacht ag Bardas Atha Cliath an t-athrú sin, an t-athrú is gá, a dhéanamh.

In asking the Dáil to give a Second Reading to this Bill, I believe I am asking them to give to the appropriate authorities a power which these local authorities should long since have had. In the present state of our law, Section 78 of the Local Government Act, 1946, precludes a local authority from altering the anachronistic nomenclature of public thoroughfares without first obtaining the consent of not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers therein. In the belief that that is an improper restriction to place on the local authority, I ask the Dáil to accept the principle embodied in this short Bill. I feel that it is a Bill—I may be wrong and I know that there are probably other views on it—which does not require any lengthy discussion. Either one accepts the principle embodied in it or one rejects that principle.

The history of our street names in Dublin and elsewhere is intimately tied up with the conquest of our country and the fact that we were for so many years unfree. Back in the time of the "Merrie Monarch" in the time of Charles II, legislation of some sort was enforced changing the names of, or perhaps naming for the first time, many of the principal streets in this our capital city. Following what was, I suppose, the universal practice of the time, many of these streets were named after members of the family of the reigning monarch, and so we came to have King Street, Charles Street, Ann Street, after the King's Consort, Duke Street, after one brother, and York Street, after another brother, Grafton Street, after an illegitimate royal offspring, and so on. That practice continued and was developed, and at the time the Streets Widening Commissioners were operating, about the end of the 18th century, a number of other streets were similarly named after the then Viceroy and we had the spectacle of Sackville Street, Talbot Street and Earl Street named after Henry Talbot, Earl of Sackville. I think it was even carried to such ridiculous lengths that, having called Henry Street for the Henry, Talbot Street for the Talbot, Earl Street for the Earl and Sackville Street for the Sackville, they did not like to leave out the "of", and, in the neighbourhood of what is still officially known as Talbot Street, there was, up to quite recently, an "Of" Lane in order that the two-letter word should not be left out.

My submission to the Dáil is that the retention of these names in some of the principal streets of the capital of Ireland is an anachronism of which we should get rid. I know that specious arguments can be adduced in support of the contention that it is unwise to change nomenclature of streets with too great a degree of rapidity. But, if it is accepted that these names remain merely as symbols of a conquest, is it not time that we gave the power to local authorities, in circumstances where they think fit—a power which I imagine would be wisely and conservatively used—to symbolise the reconquest that has been taking place, to symbolise the fact that this nation is progressing towards freedom for the whole of the country?

The retention of these names, to my mind, is an insult to the aspirations of many of our people and that retention is defended, quite sincerely I am sure, in this House for what people imagine are very good reasons, but that retention is sought by a small minority outside who want to compel the majority of the Irish people to continue to today to seoininism. I think that we should, by giving the appropriate power to the local authorities, enable these out-of-date and foreign nomenclatures to be got rid of.

The case is made sometimes that traders in certain streets might perhaps suffer some temporary degree of inconvenience by reason of the change. My only comment on that is that to me it does not appear either possible or likely and I would refer the Dáil to the cases of Pearse Street and O'Connell Street. I do not believe that it can be suggested that at any time trade was disrupted or traders or other persons inconvenienced because of the change in the names of these two streets.

The Act of 1946 was debated in this House and an amendment was introduced seeking to achieve the same object which this Bill seeks to achieve. A point which I think was overlooked when that amendment was being discussed was that, while it may well be that we should have due regard to the rights and desires of minorities, the position that was achieved by Section 78, and achieved similarly in respect of rural districts and townlands in the other analogous sections, was merely to give the power of veto to the ratepayers without any regard to the people who may live in these streets and still not be paying rates to the local authorities. I think that in that respect to have regard only to the view of ratepayers and disregard the view of the total of the residents in the streets is an undemocratic approach.

The case was made also when that amendment or some similar amendment was being discussed that it was preferable to allow the change to take place by common consent and that subsequently the appropriate legislation or appropriate Order should validate the change which had already taken place by common consent. I must confess that that is an argument which does not recommend itself to me. I fail to see for what reason official recognition should lag behind what is, certainly in the one case which I mentioned, the popular desire.

I do not believe that if these powers are given to the local authorities they will be irresponsibly or recklessly or unwisely used. It bespeaks a very low opinion of the citizens who serve without fee or reward on local authorities to suggest that their degree of responsibility is less than that of members of this House. I do not think that that is an argument which could seriously be put forward. So far as the Dublin Corporation is concerned, anybody who has read or listened to the deliberations of that body must admit that the majority opinion of that body is as a rule a wise, judicious, conservative type of opinion; certainly not the type of opinion which would rush into change merely for the sake of change.

One of the things that would be achieved by giving this power to the appropriate local authorities and by the subsequent wise use of that power would be that our young people growing up would unconsciously assimilate a certain amount of the history of our country. I know that it will probably be urged against me that minorities should not be coerced. That is a view to which I myself subscribe. But, where the minority is an insignificant moneyed minority and where the wishes of that minority are dictated by a prejudice against Irish national aspirations, then I think that it is carrying tolerance too far to allow a moneyed minority of that type to dictate to the majority of the people of this country the names by which their streets should be called. I recommend this Bill to the Dáil.

I should like to make just this comment. The Bill to my mind could be improved by an amendment. I confess quite frankly to the House that I overlooked the position of rural areas—of the names of places other than public streets and thoroughfares—and the Bill would, perhaps, benefit by an amendment to that extent. I am quite prepared, if anybody has any misgivings about the matter and because the Bill does not include the names of towns, townlands or urban areas, to submit an amendment myself or to accept any amendment submitted.

Ba mhaith liom cuidiú leis an méid atá ráite ag an Teachta Ó Liatháin. Fé mar atá mínithe aige, tá an Bille seo anashimplí ar fad. Sé an chuspóir atá aige ná fo-ailt I agus fo-alt 3 d' Alt 78 den Acht Rialtais Aitiúil, 1946, a cur ar ceal agus lán-chumhacht a thabhairt d'údaras iomchuí ainm sráide a athrú má cheapann an chuid is mó den údarás sin go mbeadh sé ceart a leithéid a dhéanamh. San Acht Rialtais Aitiúil, 1946, deireann Alt 78, fo-alt l:—

"Féadfaidh an t-údarás iomchuí, le toiliú ceithre sheachtú ar a laghad de na ráta-íocóirí i sráid, ainm na sráide a athrú."

agus deireann fo-alt a 3 den alt ceanna:—

"Féadfaidh an tAire rialacháin a dhéanamh ag ordú an nós imeachta is inleanta ag an údarás iomchuí chun a fhionnadh chun críocha an ailt seo an dtoilíonn ceithre sheachtú ar a laghad de na ráta-íocóirí i sráid le hainm na sráide a athrú."

Tá na rialacháin sin déanta, ach do réir mar a thuigim an scéal níl siad ró-shásúil. Ach, gan bacaint leis na rialacháin caithfidh sé bheith soiléir go bhfuil prionsabal ana-thábhachtach i gceist—agus sé an prionsabal é sin, ná ceart agus cumhacht ionadaithe na ndaoine chun athrú iomchuí a dhéanamh má cheapann siad go bhfuil gá leis an athrú sin. Ag léamh dom díospóireachtaí na Dála nuair a bhí an cheist seo ós comhair na Dála sa bhliain dathad a sé chím go raibh an teachta Mac an tSaoi ana-láidir i gcoinne an rún a bhí ar an dul céanna leis an gceann seo agus sé an fáth a bhí aige ansin ná nach mbeadh sé ceart cur isteach ar cheart na coda is lú de na daoine in aon áit áirithe in n-ainneoin a dtoil. Aontaím leis sa tuairim sin, dar ndóigh, ach ní fheicim go bhfuil aon bhaint ag an argóint sin leis an scéal.

Gach dlí a chuirimíd i bhfeidhm anseo cuireann sé isteach ar cheart daoine éigin, agus má tá sé ceart a leithéid a dhéanamh déanaimíd é.

In supporting the views expressed by Deputy Lehane I wish to refer briefly to what appears to me to have been the strongest argument advanced by Deputy MacEntee, who was the Minister in charge when a proposal similar to that which is now made by Deputy Lehane was before the House by way of amendment when the 1946 Act was being enacted here. The principal concern of Deputy MacEntee at that time was the avoidance of interference with the rights and the property of the people if the power which was then sought for local authorities were given to them. I might say that I agree with Deputy MacEntee that there should be as little interference as possible and that the rights of the minority should be respected. However, where a change is desirable and where a state of affairs exists which we see to be an undesirable state of affairs it is unfortunate, perhaps, but, for the common good, even the rights of people must suffer. Every enactment of this House interferes with the rights of many citizens of this State, but the fact that it interferes with these rights does not prevent this House from passing legislation.

The argument advanced in 1946 by Deputy MacEntee, who was then Minister, and the argument, which, I suppose, he will still advance, does not carry any very great weight with me because I cannot for the life of me see that the material loss sustained by, let us say, the people now in Talbot Street will be of any consequence at all. I remember being told once about what happened when it was proposed that the Limerick Corporation should change the name of a street then known as Great George's Street to that of O'Connell Street. The directors of one particular firm in the street in question did not approve of the change which it was proposed to make. This particular firm was getting a new supply of notepaper. One member of the Corporation who, in his young days, had been an employee of that firm, learned of this and, although the Corporation were resolved that the name of the street should be changed from that of Great George's Street to that of O'Connell Street, the firm in question, when getting the new supply of notepaper printed, adhered to the old name of Great George's Street.

The corporation had a request sent to the firm before the printing was done to have O'Connell Street printed on the notepaper but the firm insisted on their right to use whichever name they chose. Accordingly, the address of Great George's Street was printed on the notepaper despite the wishes of the corporation. Then the corporation took very proper action indeed, and resolved to cut off from that particular firm supplies of gas, water and electricity until such time as it had the proper name of the street printed on its notepaper. That was, of course, material interference with the right of that firm, and caused them certain monetary loss inasmuch as the notepaper was not usable. When pressure was brought to bear, they had new notepaper printed. They are still there and I believe that the monetary loss suffered by them was negligible.

In the same way I cannot see how it will affect business in any street if the name is changed. I do not see that it will prevent any man or woman who wants to buy an article in that street from going there.

An important principle is involved in this measure, and even if there is weight in the argument of Deputy MacEntee, I say that the principle involved is of greater importance. In this year of 1950 I can see no good reason why the principle involved in this Bill should not be acceptable to Dáil Éireann. For these reasons, I join with Deputy Con Lehane in asking this House to accept the principle. Deputy Lehane has confessed that we are not putting the Bill forward as a perfect measure, but what he is asking this House to do and what I am asking the House to do is to accept the principle in the Bill, to give it a Second Reading and, provided that it will not affect the principle of the Bill, to amend it appropriately on Committee Stage.

I, like the majority of the members of this House, am in full sympathy with the spirit behind this Bill introduced by Deputy Con Lehane but I do not think that in its present stage the Dáil could consider it because, as far as the 1946 Act was concerned, in respect of the changing of place names, there are four different types involved. Deputy Lehane provides in this Bill merely for one type of place, that is, a street. There is also to be considered the method to be adopted to change, for instance, as is provided in the 1946 Act, the name of an urban district, small town, village or locality. The provisions in that Act governing the changing of place names generally, as Deputy Lehane knows, are contained in Sections 76 to 79. I do not think it is right that we should consider the method of procedure to be adopted for the changing of street names by itself. It is a matter for further consideration whether this amendment should apply only in the case of names of streets. There may be good reason for not applying it in the case of place names covered by Sections 76 to 79. It may be desirable, for instance, to adopt the procedure that Deputy Lehane suggests in the case of streets. It may not be desirable—I am not saying yes or no—to apply the same procedure, for instance, in the changing of the name of an urban district because it might be considered that not only would the local authority of the urban district be concerned but that it might also be a matter for the county council for the particular county and, of course, a matter for the State in general or for different Departments of State. The proposal in this Bill would certainly make the changing of the name of a street a much simpler matter than it is at present. Anybody who has experience of it knows that it is considered quite a complicated affair to have a place name changed. These are things that will have to be considered in conjunction with the proposal which Deputy Lehane has now before the House.

There have been objections to the terms of the existing legislation on the ground that the word "ratepayer" does not include the occupier of a small dwelling within the meaning of the Local Government (Rates on Small Dwellings) Act. 1928, and accordingly, such occupier, not being a ratepayer, would not be entitled to vote in a plebiscite on a proposal to change the name of the place. The House will forgive me if I mention a particular instance that happened some time ago in connection with the changing of the name of a town in County Wexford. It was proposed by the county council there on the initiative of a number of people in the town, to change the name of Newtownbarry to Bunclody. The position was that a big majority of the people of Newtownbarry wanted to change the name to Bunclody. The procedure was gone through and it was just by the skin of their teeth that they got the required four-sevenths of those who voted but it was discovered—I do not think it was ever the intention of the Act—that many people who would in the ordinary course be considered to have the right to vote were disfranchised and did not have a vote because they were not regarded as ratepayers in the sense in which that would be interpreted in the Local Government Act of 1946. Even though the majority of the people in Newtownbarry desired to have the name changed to Bunclody, it was only by the barest of margins that that position was brought about. The reason why a number of people were disfranchised was that they were tenants of a landlord who, being the ratepayer as defined in the Act, had only one vote and his vote went in respect of all the people who were his tenants, who would be regarded by any member of this House or any member of the public as ratepayers who would be entitled to have a vote. Such a position ought to be corrected, apart from the suggestion before us from Deputy Con Lehane, because, under the present procedure, it may be that a minority could have its way in regard to the changing of a place name. If we do not apply the provisions of this Bill to place names dealt with in the other sections, I would like to see it applied to occupiers of small dwellings, and I have demonstrated the necessity for that in the example I have given with regard to Bunclody.

I quite agree with Deputy Lehane and his colleague who seconded the motion that there are many names which perpetuate unhappy periods in our history and which should be allowed to pass into oblivion, and I am personally in favour of facilitating the procedure. I do not want to enter into arguments or to make any comments as to whether this street or that street in the City of Dublin should have its name changed but I do think, in respect of many places, towns, and certainly in respect of many streets, that there is a great case to have the names changed to names which would be more in accordance with our tradition and history.

The one thing which struck me particularly was that the local authority at the present time has full power to name a new street. If a corporation or county council or urban district council erect a row of houses they are entitled to give that a name. Apart from the fact that local authorities have this power to name streets, I think I am right in saying that if a private builder or building association or company erect a number of houses and in effect establish a street they have power to give that particular street a name. Then the unfortunate local authority has the job of trying to translate the particular name into Irish. I have the example which has just been given to me of a place called "Butterfield"—I do not know where it is. The translation which the local authority gives is "Gort an Ime". Did anyone ever hear of such a name for a locality? It would be far better if such places that have unusual names, names which are not at all associated with our culture, history or tradition, could be changed to something which would be in tune with our history.

As I have stated, the Bill as it stands would not be acceptable. When I say it would not be acceptable I do not mean that the principle would not be accepted. In view of the other matters which I have mentioned, and the need for early amendment of a few provisions in the 1946 Act, I suggest that this Bill should be deferred until the Government have an opportunity of reviewing the position with reference to the considerations I have mentioned, and also with reference to some other urgent amendments. I hope it can then be replaced by a short, noncontroversial Bill which will enable the present drafting to be revised and enable parliamentary time to be provided for the other items to which I have referred.

If the House wants any assurance as to the consideration of amendments to which I have referred in respect of the procedure to be adopted to change the names of places and streets and towns, villages and localities, I can assure Deputies that this matter will get consideration in the immediate future, and I hope to have before the House a Bill which will deal with the things which I have just mentioned.

Deputy C. Lehane rose.

I would like, before Deputy Lehane speaks, to know whether he accepts the suggestion of the Parliamentary Secretary?

When concluding, I was going to deal with that.

In that event, I may be permitted to say a word in relation to the proposal now before the House. I do not know whether the purpose which Deputy Lehane had in mind was to misrepresent what is already embodied in the Local Government Act of 1946. I thought it was, because he seemed to imply that a new principle was embodied in the Bill he was introducing. Now, what is the principle in the Bill? So far as I can understand it, it is that the appropriate authority should be given the right to change the name—in this particular instance of a street.

Without qualification.

The main point is that it should be given the right. The section reads:—

"The appropriate authority may change the name of any street."

I turn to Section 78 of the Local Government Act of 1946 and I see that:—

"The appropriate authority may with the consent of not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers in the street change the name of the street."

So that the fundamental principle which the Bill suggests is a new one is already embodied in our legislation. The appropriate authority, under Section 78, has a right to change the name of a street. Let me emphasise that the appropriate authority has the right to change the name of a street in the same way as the appropriate authority has the right to change the name of a town or a townland or a village or a locality.

Provided they pay rates.

Unless I misunderstand the words, the appropriate authority has the right to do that.

"The appropriate authority may—"

—I am going to omit a certain proviso—

"change the name of the street."

There is a condition attached to the exercise of that authority and it is a condition which, I think, ought to appeal to most democrats. I understand that this Bill, like the County Administration Bill, is being introduced in the name of democracy. We have heard a lot about the rights of minorities and that this is put in to safeguard the rights of minorities. On the contrary, this is put in in order to ensure that the majority will have some rights, that the people who live in the street will have some rights just as the people who live in the city have some rights. The people who live in the city or the town or the townland have a right to change the name provided they give to the people who live in the street or the town or the townland, the majority, the same sort of right as they demand for themselves in the name of the majority, the larger unit.

On a point of order. Is it in order for Deputy MacEntee to misquote words in the statute?

That is not a point of order for the Chair to settle.

I hope I have got the point across.

The statute says that the appropriate authority may change the name of the street. I am going to transpose the condition—with the consent of not less than four-sevenths of the ratepayers in the street. Let us realise that the fundamental declaration in the statute is that the appropriate authority may make a change in the name. The only condition that is imposed is that they claim to act in the names of the majority, of the larger unit, and that they will secure the assent of the majority of the smaller unit; that is to say, the majority of the people who are going to be affected immediately and directly by the change. It seems to me that is a fair principle.

Is it a majority of the individuals who pay rates or a majority of the people?

The majority of the ratepayers, the individuals. I am not prepared to stand or fall by the word "ratepayers" in a matter of this sort. I am trying, if I can, to direct the attention of those who profess to talk in the name of the majority and in the name of democracy to the fact that other people may have rights. The smaller group has a right also, perhaps not as well consolidated as that of the larger unit, but at any rate it has some right. I doubt, of course, whether a Deputy with the totalitarian background of Deputy Lehane will see that even the majority in a street or town can have any right.

They have no right under your section unless they pay rates—is that not so?

Even the ratepayer should have some right in relation to his own street in respect of the property in which he lives and upon which he pays rates. I do not know whether Deputy Lehane is prepared to get up in any town or city or street and deny that the ratepayers in that town or city or street have rights—deny that the majority of the ratepayers in that town or city or street have rights.

What about the absentee landlords?

You deny the right unless he pays rates.

I am merely pointing out that the people who have the first right in any town, village or street are the people who live in it.

The Deputy will agree that under this procedure some ratepayers are denied the right.

The Parliamentary Secretary will bear with me while I try to develop my argument, as I think it is germane to the speech which he has made and that it is an argument which supports the appeal which he has made to the House to allow this Bill to be taken back and reconsidered by the Government. I was pointing out that the law as it stands allows the appropriate authority to change the name of the street, but it does impose the condition that they shall secure the consent of four-sevenths of the ratepayers. In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, if one had used the word "occupiers" instead of "ratepayers" for the constituting body that might have been better. In any event, under the Act if the Corporation of the City of Dublin wish to change the name of any Dublin street or if the appropriate authority in any urban district wish to change the name of any street in the urban district or if the county council wants to change the name of any locality or any street in an unurbanised area, the initiative rests with them. That is the substantial change. For instance, if the Dublin Corporation wants to-morrow to change the name of any particular street in the city, they can of their own volition take the initial step to secure the consent of four-sevenths, of the bare majority of the ratepayers living in that particular street. They could do that, but they have not done it, and I do not know that they did it in any other local authority, except perhaps the county council of Wexford, where they did want to change the name of Newtownbarry to Bunclody. I am not aware of any other, though I am not now as intimately associated with local administration as I was.

The case of Mostrim, from Edgeworthstown.

Anyhow, they were able to do it. They were able to avail of this section and it did not prevent them, notwithstanding the peculiar and abnormal position which existed in relation to Newtownbarry, from changing it to Bunclody. As the Parliamentary Secretary himself has admitted, there was a peculiar situation there. If the Dublin Corporation to-morrow avails of the power given under the Act, I do not think there would be any particular difficulty in changing the name of any street in the city, provided it was a change which would appeal to the majority of the people as a whole. I do not think that any majority of the ratepayers in any street in Dublin would very strenuously oppose a proposal to change the name of a street.

They did in Talbot Street.

Perhaps the approach in Talbot Street was not of the best. These situations have to be handled with some concern and some regard for the interests and feelings of the people, in the sense of the amourpropre of the people who are immediately affected. I think there was an attempt on the part of some people in the case of Talbot Street to steamroll the opposition—and that is not the way to do it. As Deputy Lehane himself has said, the name of Brunswick Street was changed to Pearse Street. It was changed with much greater facility than the name of Sackville Street had been changed to O'Connell Street; but it was done in the case of Brunswick Street and I feel certain that if the same method of approach had been adopted in the case of Talbot Street the change, which was desired by some people, would have been made—desired, perhaps by a majority of the people of the city. In any event, the appropriate local authority has power to change the name of the street, town or locality, the only condition imposed being that in all circumstances the assent of the majority of the ratepayers should be secured.

Deputy Lehane, in introducing this Bill, made a lot of play about minorities—and apparently he had in mind political minorities—thwarting the national will in this matter, refusing to give honour to patriotic Irishmen. I do not think that, in the case of Talbot Street, to which he referred, it could be alleged that there were antinational feelings actuating the majority of the people who did not assent to the proposed change. I do not believe it. Deputy Lehane and others must know many of the people who live in that street and know they have as good national records as many in this House.

And they were in favour of it.

Not all of those who could be described as good nationalists were in favour of the change.

They would not be inclined to call it MacEntee Street, by any chance?

Or Keane Street?

A Deputy

Or Slate Street?

Or 3,096 Street?

In all democracies it is incumbent upon those who have to make laws and administer the State to consider in all proposals the desires, wishes and interest of those who will be immediately affected. Those immediately affected by a change of name are those living in the district or area concerned. No one can deny that. Whether the reaction to the change is or is not as great as the person immediately affected may fear, nevertheless the residents in the street or area are the first people affected, and therefore it is only reasonable that their wishes should be considered and that they should be consulted. That is what the Act as it stands requires the corporation to do—to secure their consent. I think they could secure that assent if they proceeded in a reasonable way.

The council could change it again.

Precisely, as Deputy Allen remarks. There must be some sort of ordered method of doing this. We cannot have the names changed with every succeeding change of a council. There must be some control over the mere operation of majority rule in this matter, particularly where you are dealing with a subordinate body which cannot be said to be altogether as conscious of the general national interest, and particularly of the all-important interest of ensuring that people feel they are being fairly dealt with within reason; because it is that feeling of fair dealing as between minority and majority, as between one man and another, which enables a democratic community to stick together and co-operate with one another.

Let me come back again now to the point that Deputy Allen made in relation to the necessity for our having some sort of machinery which will ensure a certain degree of stability in these matters. One cannot have a council changing the name of a street to that of a person who at the moment happens to be generally acceptable to the majority of the members of the local community, and then another council coming along later and perhaps changing the name back again or altering it in some way. If we do not have stability in this matter what is there to prevent Parnell Square, for example, if a certain party secured a majority here in Dublin, being changed to "Red Square," or Pearse Street to "Stalin Street," or O'Connell Street to "Molotov Street." That is the sort of thing against which one must guard, and the argument is in no way fanciful because that is exactly the sort of thing that is happening on the continent of Europe at the present time.

If that party ever got control it would not matter what you vote for.

No, perhaps it would not matter. But, again, that party might get control of the city without getting control of the State, or it might get control of the country without getting control of the city. If you like, it is an absurd position, but it is a conceivable situation, and it is to guard against that——

You would want a time limit.

A time limit might be as irksome as the present position. In view of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said about the unexpected difficulty in changing the name of Newtownbarry, perhaps it was unfortunate that the franchise in this matter was, so to speak, conferred on the ratepayers and not on the occupiers. In so far as Dublin is concerned and possibly some of the urban areas, there was a real difficulty or problem which had to be solved. We could not have a special register. We already had the ratepayers in the street who were well known and it simplified the matter if we conferred the franchise on the ratepayers rather than on the occupiers, because then the officers of the local authority could send out the proposal immediately to the ratepayers who were known and recorded on the rate books and who could express their views. Had we chosen the occupiers instead of the ratepayers it might have been more difficult to secure a general assent to the change. I hope the Government will take these matters into consideration when framing the suggested legislation.

Over and above all that, and over and above the merits of the particular proposal embodied in the Bill and the principle contained in it, there is another overriding reason why the suggestion of the Parliamentary Secretary ought to be accepted. This Bill, on the motion of a private member, who has no responsibility for the government of the country except such responsibility as he assumes when he supports the Government in power for the time being, proposes to give to local authorities certain powers which may affect the economic interest and perhaps the livelihood of every individual who lives in any street in any part of the State. The application of this simple section might, therefore, be very widespread. I do not know whether or not it will be widespread but, as the section stands at present, it could be widespread. I think it is a proposal which should have the backing of the Government and be put before the House on the responsibility of the Government and not on the responsibility of a private member. As I say, it could be very widespread in its scope and I would suggest that the mover of the Bill should accept the proposal made by the Parliamentary Secretary and allow the Government to consider to what extent it can meet the wishes and the views which have been expressed.

So far as I am concerned, and I say this quite frankly, I hope the Government will devise some machinery which will have regard to the people affected by any changes made. I think, too, that if a simple means could be devised of securing an expression of opinion from those people who occupy property in areas likely to be affected by any such change that would be preferable to the securing of an assent under existing legislation from the ratepayers alone.

I do not think the subject matter of this Bill is of any very great importance but I do think an important principle is involved in what might be regarded by some as a trivial measure. It is seldom that I echo the views of Deputy MacEntee, but I certainly find myself doing so in relation to much that he has said here to-night. I think the Bill, as proposed by Deputy C. Lehane, is a thoroughly undemocratic measure. It proposes to deprive people of any right or say in the manner in which their street, locality or place of residence may be described. For that reason I think it is wholly bad. Nevertheless I can see the reason why the Bill has been introduced by Deputy Lehane. There are unfortunately many places which are misnamed. There are many places which should bear names more closely related to our national aspirations and outlook than the names they bear at present. While we may see that that position is wrong, we should not set about righting it in the wrong way. It is unthinkable that this House should pass into law a measure providing for a change in the name of a street or locality without at the same time providing some machinery for obtaining the views of those who reside in the particular area. I can see the objections which could be voiced against the present statutory provisions of Section 78 of the Local Government Act, 1946. Like Deputy MacEntee, I think it is unfortunate that the four-sevenths majority provided for should be a majority of the ratepayers. I think it would be preferable that that majority should be a majority of the residents in the area. If Deputy C. Lehane were asking the House to approve of a measure which could provide for a change in the name of a street or locality with the consent of the majority of the residents, that would meet with my complete approval.

It is useful to know that for the future.

That can be tested very soon.

I think that any proposal which provides that the local authority, or the appropriate authority referred to in the Bill, would be entitled to change a name without consulting anyone is an undemocratic proposal and one that should not be approved of or supported by this House. May I also suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that, if an occasion arises in which this matter is further considered by the Government and by the House, the entire question contained in this Bill should be approached somewhat along the lines I have suggested, but providing for a more general consultation than that which is set out in the 1946 Act. Listening to Deputy MacEntee, I could not follow the reason he gave as to why the term "ratepayers" was inserted in Section 78.

Because ratepayers were easy to get at. You could not be certain about occupiers.

Deputy MacEntee was Minister at the time, and he would be aware of a document known as the register of electors which contains the names of the adult residents in each street, village and area.

The ratepayers might not be there.

It tends to change rapidly.

In any event, I agree with the objection to the term "ratepayers" as at present applied in the Act. There is the objection also which Deputy Cowan has mentioned. It is a very important objection, that in certain cases ratepayers are the owners of property and who live far distant from the district or locality concerned. While we should ensure that the will of the people affected is consulted, we should also ensure that it is done in a democratic way by providing for a general consultation of all the interests affected. I think that could be done by approaching it either on the residential basis or by considering the parliamentary electors living in a particular street or locality. For these reasons, I suggest to Deputy Lehane that the Bill, as proposed at present, should not be proceeded with, and that a Bill which would provide for a modification in the present section on the lines I have mentioned, would be a more democratic measure to introduce into this House, and one which I am sure would have the support of all sides.

This Bill is a simple Bill, but it does not deal with a very simple problem. I think what Deputy MacEntee and Deputy O'Higgins have suggested could very easily be incorporated in the Bill by an agreed amendment. That is why I interjected when Deputy O'Higgins was speaking, that it could be very soon tested. The principle to which Deputy MacEntee and Deputy O'Higgins have agreed could be put into this Bill by an amendment.

Then you would have an entirely different Bill.

Not at all. There would be no trouble. It would be a very simple amendment. I would say in regard to this Bill, how difficult it is to do anything. It does not matter what you try to do you always find objections to the effect that if you had done the thing the other way it could be done, but if it were done the other way some other ground of objection would be made. I have not read the debate in which Deputy MacEntee, who was then Minister, defended at great length the ratepayer clause in the Act. I am sure he had very sound and logical reasons, or apparently sound and logical reasons, for defending the ratepayers, but it is clear that the ratepayers were put into that measure to ensure that changes would not be brought about readily, speedily or quickly. It was a reactionary device to maintain the position as it was, just, as I say, praise for the Bill, if it were put in another form, is a reactionary device to prevent anything being done.

Let me say that I disagree with all this naming of streets after individuals. I do not see what merit it has. I think it would be much simpler if, in Dublin, we had our streets numbered by numbers such as 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th street. I would much prefer to see that than to see the names of individuals that we have as street names at present. I would much prefer to take these things out of the hands of local authorities altogether. I would like to see some central organisation set up which would be empowered to abolish all these imperialistic names and tags that we have tied on all over the country, and have no question of ratepayers, occupiers or anybody else.

I think that would make it much more difficult. There could be arguments as to whether it was King Henry or Henry Joy McCracken that was intended.

There would be no trouble. You could give a small committee the power to wipe out all these offensive names. It should have been done 25 years ago.

What about surnames?

I am not concerned about surnames. I have suggested that we should do away with all these names altogether.

Christian names and all?

Mary's Abbey?

Wipe out all names in this city of individuals of the type that Deputy Lehane referred to when speaking. If this thing is left entirely to local authorities I can see this sort of thing happening that a local authority in a few years' time may want to call a street after Seán MacEntee.

I doubt it very much.

But with a change of politics in a particular council it may want to remove that name, and put up Seán Keane Street. That is the kind of thing we may have if you leave this entirely to the councils. The names may be changed very frequently.

At every monthly meeting.

There is provision for a time limit.

No. If you are going to leave it entirely to the local councils, they will have complete control. There has been a lot of talk about democracy, but I do not know exactly what the term "democracy" is meant to convey here. Is it the wish of the nation or is it the wish of the few individuals in a particular street? Is democracy control in Ireland by the Irish people or is it control in sections of Ireland by people who are antiIrish?

The Deputy seems to be in the wrong street now.

This matter has been debated on the principle of democracy. We have had a statement from Deputy MacEntee that it was anti-democratic to change the name of a street unless four-sevenths of the ratepayers of that street agree.

We cannot have a discussion on the abstract question of democracy.

A majority of one elects a Deputy to this House.

I know that, but you require a majority of four-sevenths at the moment to change the name of a street. That is a substantial majority. I would suggest to Deputy MacEntee and Deputy O'Higgins that, having given expression to the view that if this power were given to the occupiers or to the residents in a street, having agreed to that as a principle——

Do not be too slick, I said that this was a Bill that should be brought in by the Government. That is my view about it.

That may be the view of Deputy MacEntee, that it should be brought in by the Government.

And the Government has undertaken to consider the Bill and to bring in proposals to deal with this problem.

Any Deputy in this House is entitled to bring in the Bill, and the fact that we are debating it shows that it is properly before the House. It is a private member's Bill properly before the House. Deputy MacEntee agrees that the Act which he piloted through the House would have been improved if he had provided for occupiers instead of ratepayers. Deputy O'Higgins agrees that he would support that.

He said residents.

Yes, residents.

That is rather different.

Residents in the street would satisfy me.

What about rated occupiers?

I am not concerned with the rated occupiers.

It may be a street in which there is nobody living but caretakers and the business people, who own these premises, should surely have some say in the matter.

I do not agree that the fact that a person is lucky enough to have a lot of money should give him rights which an ordinary caretaker living in the street would not possess.

You would close down the business.

Deputy Cowan should be allowed to speak without interruption.

This whole question boils down to the fact that it does not matter what anybody tries to do, there will be opposition from one angle or another to it. It would be almost impossible in that state of affairs to have anything done in this country. Deputy Allen says it is democracy.

If it is done in a responsible manner, anything that is useful can be done in this country.

I think this Bill is a responsible Bill. It is brought in at the desire of a very big number of people in this country. I am quite sure that those Deputies who have spoken very loudly about monuments to our patriot dead are not entirely travelling on the very same road when they object to simplifying the method of doing away with all those signs and insignia of British imperialism in Dublin and elsewhere.

I should like to say that this question is not new. There is a very special and particular reason, I admit, why the name of Seán Tracey should be associated with Talbot Street but there is, as Deputy MacEntee has pointed out, a very large principle involved. I disagree with Deputy Cowan's approach to this question. There are many streets in the City of Dublin in which a substantial business is carried on but there are comparatively few residents in them. There is almost an international value attached to them from the point of view of the trade these people do. They pay very heavy rates and they are entitled, therefore, to be considered. I know there are certain types of people in this country who will never recognise changes of the type suggested. I know there is a particular organ that persists in referring to Dún Laoghaire as Kingstown.

And which supports Deputy Cowan.

That is news to me.

We can understand the motives behind that but on this particular question I hope Deputy Lehane will realise that generally speaking the citizens of the City of Dublin—which is one of the places concerned—have reacted reasonably to any proposal for the renaming of streets. I was rather surprised when Deputy Lehane referred to Sackville Street becoming O'Connell Street.

What about Tel-Aviv? Was there not some changes of name there?

If Deputy Cowan changed his name, it might not be confused with Cohen so often. I am not objecting to changing the names of certain streets but one has to be reasonable in these matters. Deputy Lehane almost forgot that in the immediate vicinity of O'Connell Street there is a street called Cathal Brugha Street and a street called Seán MacDermott Street.

Streets where the residents have no property. The workers would not object, but business must be considered!

Is O'Connell Street a street of men of no property?

Seán MacDermott Street is a street where only workers live.

It is all very well talking but we cannot interfere drastically with the reasonable rights of ratepayers. There are streets the names of which have their origins in British titles but in many cases these origins have been lost sight of and these names have become names associated with the country here. In the particular instance given, the residents or whatever persons were canvassed to have the name of Talbot Street changed, were not agreeable to that course. I agree with Deputy MacEntee that amongst those who objected there were some people personally known to me who, as Deputy MacEntee said, have as good a national record as anybody in this House but who for business reasons and also because of the manner in which they were approached, objected.

Were they approached by the corporation?

Not then, but they could now.

They were approached by individuals who went on behalf of a group or groups, but not by the corporation.

Were they not approached with the authority of the corporation? You should know that.

I know. The corporation is in the position that in some cases private individuals can go around and canvass the residents or occupiers of a district and ask them to subscribe to a proposal for an alteration in the name. If they can produce to the corporation the names of four-sevenths of the ratepayers of the street as laid down by the law, the corporation accepts that automatically. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 26th October, 1950.