When discussing this amendment last Thursday, I pointed out that, as far as we are concerned, it is a matter of grave import and not a matter that we could gloss over lightly. While Deputy Corry expressed the view held by him in connection with this particular matter, it is not for us simply to come in and agree because it would be of advantage to navigation in the waterways of the country. Where the Blackwater is concerned, we take it for granted that the amendment would mean the erection of an opening-span bridge at one point only, that is, at the entrance to the Blackwater near Youghal. It is well to draw attention to the difficulties. It is not correct to say that for centuries there was a bridge with an opening span at Youghal. We would like to see opportunities given to the various centres and towns situated near harbours. In the case of the Blackwater, it was not until the present bridge, which is now obsolete, was erected that there was a bridge with an opening span there. My information is that, prior to the erection of that bridge, the bridge near Youghal was always a fixed bridge. Therefore, we cannot point to past glories and the wonderful traffic that there was on that particular river.
In a very eloquent way, Deputy MacBride indicated the advantages of an opening span, but that involves greater difficulty than mentioned by him. The Deputy said that there is no expense whatsoever involved in the upkeep of a river. I am not alluding to the Blackwater when I say that there are many rivers in the South of Ireland which are not navigable and it would cost the State a huge fortune to make them suitable for shipping. They may have been suitable for that purpose long ago, but due to silting no boats of any size can use them. It is not a proper approach to the matter to say that the rivers are there and there will be no expense in upkeep.
We cannot avoid the particular issue involved in this amendment. It is directly related to the problem of a certain bridge at a certain point on the Blackwater. While Deputy Corry mentioned here and outside and in the public Press his own viewpoint, and went so far as to try to convince the general public that the Cork County Council are prepared to spend a lot more money than they need, it is only fair to every member of the Cork County Council—and I presume it applies equally to the members of the Waterford County Council—that the House should know that it was only after the gravest deliberation, only after considering every aspect of the problem and only after carefully examining the reports that were submitted to them by highly qualified people, including the most highly qualified officials of the Department of Local Government, that they decided on the course of action which it is now known they are in favour of. That being the case and it being true to say that Deputy Corry was in a minority at all times, there is no use in his pointing the finger of derision at all members who do not agree with him.
Let it be known that the interests of the town of Youghal were foremost in the minds of every member when this particular problem was discussed locally. They wanted to facilitate the business people and the people in general in the town of Youghal. That is quite clear. The question that had to be decided finally was, not whether we would erect a particular type of bridge but whether we were ever going to erect a bridge on the River Blackwater. Therefore, in my opinion, without further evidence being adduced in favour of the amendment, it is not one that we would favour.
It is clear from Deputy Corry's remarks in moving his amendment that a certain number of ships have used this river for the last four years. We take Deputy Corry's figures as being correct but he has omitted to tell us the draught of the ships that have been using that river for the last four years. I believe I am entitled to say that they are somewhat of the same type as the ships that are coming in, not to Cork Harbour alone but into the pier and the village of Crosshaven. The main traffic for which the ships have been used on the Blackwater for the last four years has been the transport of pit props from up river. If it is more than that, I am surprised that Deputy Corry did not let us know.
Where we are concerned, it is not simply a matter of supporting a particular Minister just because we may be supporting the Government. It is simply and solely that we want a bridge on the Blackwater to suit the requirements of the town and the people of Youghal and the neighbouring County of Waterford. It is because we are convinced that too much time has been given to talking of erecting bridges that we say it is about time to erect the bridge and forget the time that has been wasted. Unfortunately, not only time but money has been wasted because of the various reports that had to be submitted to the local authorities of the two counties concerned. It is because I am satisfied that every member on these two councils is a man of common sense whose approach to this matter has been guided by the fact that they needed something which would be of direct advantage to Youghal and to the two counties that I cannot see any point in supporting the amendment except, as I say, if we had at the start the information which Deputy Corry did not give. According to his own statement, he is prepared to give it in a further letter to the Press but we wanted it here and not in the Press; we wanted it in the Cork County Council and we did not get it.
I believe that, not by supporting the amendment, but by agreeing to support the line of action that has been suggested by the Minister, we will, please God, be in a position to say that we are coming nearer to the day when we will have a bridge at Youghal suitable for the traffic using it and which, by its height of over 20 feet above the highest point of high water mark on the river, as stated by the Minister, will enable traffic to use the river, as has been the case in the last number of years.