Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Canal Barges.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state the number of privately owned canal barges presently plying on the former Grand and Royal Canals as compared with seven years ago and the number idle, both mechanically propelled and horse-drawn, and the number of wooden canal barges, the building of which was subsidised from State funds during the emergency years, that are now in a usable condition, and the number that have been sold or scrapped and, in view of the difficulties that might arise in the transportation of fuel in the event of another emergency, whether he will contemplate giving a maintenance subsidy to the owners of privately owned barges or direct Córas Iompair Éireann to take any not in use under its care for maintenance in reasonable condition.

I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate in the Official Report a statement giving particulars of the numbers of privately-owned barges on the Grand and Royal Canals compared with the corresponding numbers in 1944.

The 29 horse-drawn wooden barges built by the State during the emergency years 1942-1944 were sold. I am informed by Córas Iompair Éireann that six are held by them for canal maintenance purposes only; 18 have been broken up, and five are off the canal systems and their present condition unknown.

It is not proposed to take action in the manner suggested by the Deputy in the last part of his question.

Following is the statement:—

PRIVATELY-OWNED BARGES.

Mechanically Propelled

Horse-drawn

TOTALS

CANAL

Working

Idle

Total

Working

Idle

Total

Working

Idle

Totals

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

Nos.

1944

Grand Canal

29

29

10

2

12

39

2

41

Royal Canal

4

3

7

4

3

7

TOTAL

29

29

14

5

19

43

5

48

1951

Grand Canal

14 (a)

11

25

2

2

14

13

27

Royal Canal

1

6(b)

7

1

6

7

TOTAL

14

11

25

1

8

9

15

19

34

Notes: (a) At present only eight of these are working constantly.

(b) Five of these are understood to be sunk, but could possibly be made serviceable.