Committee on Finance. - Local Government Bill, 1954 —Report Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 12:—
In page 16, lines 24 and 25, to delete "River Shannon" and substitute "Rivers Shannon and Blackwater."—(Deputy Corry.)

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.

Deputy Corry's amendment ostensibly seeks to ensure that the Minister in making a bridge Order would not be empowered to restrict in any way the facilities for navigation on the River Blackwater. His real object is, of course, to get an entrance through which would preclude the erection of a fixed bridge at Ardsallagh above the town of Youghal. It is understood that it has been represented to the Minister that if, as he states, a fixed bridge at Ardsallagh will not interfere with navigation, nothing will be lost by accepting the amendment. The correct position is, however, that a fixed bridge at Ardsallagh would at least theoretically interfere with navigation. At present there is no clearance limit on ships using the Blackwater up as far as Cappoquin. Any fixed bridge on this stretch would, therefore, give rise to a theoretical obstruction.

Is it in order for the Deputy to read his speech?

No, but I think the Deputy is only making reference to notes.

I am referring to some notes. Has the Deputy never in the course of his speeches made reference to notes?

The Deputy is reading from a paper as far as I can see.

I am sure the Chair will be able to look after procedure without Deputy Briscoe's assistance. In fact, only small ships can use the river because of the limited depths of the channels, and a bridge at Ardsallagh giving 21 feet of clearance at high water mark would afford a passage to all ships at present using the river, provided they have steppable masts. Most vessels are equipped in that way. At least all the modern ships have this amenity now. The inclusion of an opening span in the bridge at Ardsallagh would add considerably to the cost and reduce the advantage of the site. The Department of Finance have intimated that such a proposal would have to be considered by the Minister for Finance de novo as it would involve considerable increase in the grant, the present amount of which was approved very unwillingly by the Department of Finance. The only river trade as Deputy Desmond has already stated, to be affected, is the export of pit props. The transport is presumably provided by English and Welsh companies.

It is submitted that it would be very wrong for the Dáil to pre-judge the issue of the Youghal bridge site by this indirect kind of action that would deprive the local road authorities of any discretion in the matter. I am sure Deputy Corry would be the last Deputy to suggest that. The Waterford and Cork County Councils have acted on their existing discretion and have adopted the Ardsallagh site, and have employed a consulting engineer to prepare the plans for the bridge. If the Dáil took action now precluding the local authorities from proceeding with that work they would already be liable for considerable fees and damages on foot of the contracts which they have made with Mr. O'Connell, consulting engineer.

The acceptance of the amendment would also be tantamount to using indirectly a new legislative provision to fetter the discretion of the Minister in respect of the code of law relating to bridge Orders in which the existing Local Government Acts give the Minister a final statutory and quasi-judicial function.

That function has been exercised by the previous Minister, Deputy Smith, when he decided on the basis of the evidence and report of the proceedings at the public inquiry to recommend the local authorities to adopt the Ardsallagh site. The present Minister in his turn has sanctioned the employment of Mr. O'Connell for the preparation of the plans for a bridge at that site.

The proposed amendment is, therefore, an effort to cut across all the decisions that have already been taken, and to stop the local authority proceeding in accordance with these decisions as they are, in fact, already proceeding. It is, in fact, tantamount to using the Legislature for a purpose similar to one which would propose taking an action before the High Court out of the hands of the High Court, and bringing it before the Dáil to be decided.

It is a dangerous thing in this House for a Deputy to come in between some members of the Cork County Council. Goodness knows what could happen. However, on this occasion I would like to say, in a general way, that I am in complete sympathy with the amendment put down by Deputy Corry. The Minister was good enough to ensure that, as far as the Shannon was concerned, swivel bridges would be the order of the day.

If decisions on these matters were left entirely to the local authorities I am not too sure that we would have the best results in the long run. This is not meant as a criticism of the Cork County Council in particular, because I have seen on the Corrib where a local authority insisted on erecting fixed structures across the river, thereby cutting off the Corrib basin from the sea for all time. The extraordinary situation there at the moment is that you have, on the passageway up to the Corrib, a number of swivel bridges, and recently a number of fixed structures were erected by the local authority. I am sorry that a measure of this nature was not before the House in time to enable me to table an amendment to have the river on the same basis as the Shannon.

In my opinion, the feelings of the people should be taken into consideration in these matters. Now that we have the local elections coming along soon, naturally individual local representatives are not anxious to have an extra burden placed on the ratepayers and possibly, if the swivel or open bridge was decided upon, it would, normally, at any rate, be a dearer proposition, and the councillors concerned might feel that they would be blamed for the extra burden placed on the ratepayers.

I do not propose to enter into the advantages that would accrue, perhaps in years to come, from navigable waters being kept clear and perhaps at present there is not a great deal of traffic on the Blackwater—I am not familiar with it—but from the remarks passed here by Deputy Corry last week, I am inclined to believe that there is and has been more traffic there than even on the Shannon.

At Athlone, anyway.

In the Athlone area, I should say. Deputy MacBride and others dealt with the comparative cost of transport by water and otherwise, and it is quite obvious that if we take an intelligent view of this matter of the use of our rivers for transport purposes, there would be a change of opinion in higher circles with regard to the question of swivel bridges and so forth.

I do not know how true it is, but it has been suggested to me that there is a conflict of opinion between the engineers as to the erection of a swivel bridge near Youghal. It was suggested to me that one set of engineers have stated that it is possible to reconstruct the present bridge at a cost £135,000 less than it would take to erect a new fixed bridge. Let me make that a little clearer. The reconstruction work would involve a swivel bridge or an open bridge and that reconstruction work could be carried out much cheaper than the construction of a new bridge which would be a permanent structure. I understand that a very competent group of engineers has made that claim and that another group of engineers has disputed it.

In a matter like that, laymen cannot judge, and I would suggest that, before making a final decision, the Minister should bring in some neutral expert engineering opinion to decide on the claims or suggestions of these engineers, because, if it is feasible to reconstruct the present bridge at a lower cost than that involved in the erection of a new bridge and yet leave it movable, it would be a very attractive proposition from the point of view of the local authority from the financial aspect and from the point of view of the State generally in so far as it would safeguard future navigation rights on the Blackwater itself. We do not know what view may be taken by the next generation or the following generation of a decision on our part to erect fixed bridges over important rivers like this; but I would not like to think that people coming into this House in time to come would take a very poor view of the present Dáil as being short-sighted and lacking in vision with regard to possible developments. I am in full sympathy with the amendment moved by Deputy Corry.

I had the utmost sympathy for the Minister while the Parliamentary Secretary was speaking. It is a pity that child did not wake up on 1st December last when an amendment relating to Athlone Bridge was being put through the House. The speeches made by the Parliamentary Secretary and by Deputy Desmond would have been made very well on that occasion, because the Westmeath County Council applied for a bridge Order which was granted and they employed a consultant to prepare the plans and specifications of the bridge sanctioned by the Department. Then the Minister, very wisely, in my opinion, brought in an amendment to the Local Government Bill——

Does the Deputy appreciate that there was no question of site? The site was agreed in Athlone.

I am not talking about site, up or down, hither or over. I am talking about a swing bridge 80 miles from the mouth of a river, a swing bridge, which, in the words of a member of the Westmeath County Council, had not been opened for 20 years.

25 years.

For 25 years, that bridge had not been opened and it is 80 miles from the mouth of the Shannon. The Minister came along—I am dealing now with what exactly happened—and by an Act of this House annulled his own bridge Order.

I do not think it is an Act yet and there is no Order yet.

I will deal with that kind of game in a minute. The Minister annulled his own bridge Order.

There was never a bridge Order made and there was never an Act passed.

These are matters of fact.

The House is aware that there was never an Act passed.

These are matters of fact on which the Chair cannot decide.

An application for a bridge Order was made and the Minister sanctioned the employment of a consultant to prepare the plans and specifications for a fixed bridge in Athlone. Will the Minister admit that much? The Westmeath County Council will have to pay that consultant for preparing the plans and specifications of the fixed bridge. This is economy.

Then, having done that, he comes in here—I am only following in the very worthy footsteps of the Minister in this matter—and puts before this House an amendment of the Local Government Bill we are now discussing on Report Stage, annulling the decision of the Westmeath County Council, and compelling them to put a swing bridge 80 miles from the mouth of the Shannon at Athlone, where the previous swing bridge had not been opened, in the words of Deputy Kennedy, for 25 years. Now, that is one side of the picture.

Now let us take the other side of the picture—and this is a long and rather sad story. On seven occasions— and this is an answer to Deputy Desmond—the Cork County Council refused to apply for an unconditional bridge Order for Youghal. Bear in mind that on seven occasions they refused to apply and, in the end, they applied only on the personal guarantee of a predecessor of the Minister in that office to the effect that that bridge would not go one foot above the present site. The Minister is aware of that because the statement I am making here was borne out by my colleague, Senator O'Gorman, last week in his presence, namely, that that personal guarantee was given by the late T.J. Murphy who was Minister for Local Government at the time. Those are the conditions under which this came into the hands of the Department of Local Government.

I want to put this to Deputy D.J. O'Sullivan, who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, and to Deputy Desmond in view of what they have had to say about the Cork County Council. After inquiry, and after the decision of the inquiry was published, the Cork County Council unanimously sent up an application to the Minister for the reconstruction of Youghal Bridge. We hear a lot of talk here about the will of the people and about the wishes of the people. Well, why was that done? It was done because not one of the three political Parties in the Cork County Council dared, on the eve of a by-election, to oppose the wishes of the people of Youghal and of the Youghal area. We had Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour tumbling over one another and solemnly declaring: "We are going to put the new bridge down below the old bridge below the town."

MacNamara's Band.

No man can deny it. The first announcement we ever got that a sum was being granted by the Department of Local Government towards that bridge was contained in a letter from Deputy Smith, the then Minister for Local Government, in which it was stated that a sum of £187,500 odd would be given.

Would the Deputy relate all that to the amendment?

I am dealing with the statements made here on this matter.

This is not an inquiry into the site of the Youghal Bridge.

This bridge is being put at the mouth of the Blackwater and it will stop all traffic up and down that river—all traffic. The Minister took us for an excursion last week and, although it was rather a long one, I followed his footsteps again in respect of that excursion.

I want the Deputy to relate all this to navigation on the Blackwater.

Very strictly, Sir.

It is not the site of the bridge on the Blackwater that we are discussing. We are discussing the relative merits of this amendment as against the words in the section.

The words in the section bring in that no fixed bridge must be put over the River Shannon. I am endeavouring to ensure that no fixed bridge will be put over the River Blackwater or, at least, over the navigable portion of that river.

With special reference to sites?

Yes. At column 1317 of the Official Report of the 3rd March, 1955, the Minister is reported as saying:—

"If a fixed bridge is built there it will not affect navigation in the way that has been suggested here. We already have a fixed bridge over the Boyne and there never has been the suggestion that it has been an obstruction to navigation."

Is the Minister aware that the fixed bridge over the Boyne is over the unnavigable portion of that river?

The Deputy had better go North some time.

That is not correct at all. All ships docking at Drogheda go under the Boyne viaduct.

The Minister continued: "There is another one over the Foyle in Derry."

I suggest that, some time, the Deputy might go and look at it, too.

If I say that the bridge over the Foyle is over the unnavigable portion of the Foyle, does the Minister admit that? The Minister then took us for an excursion. I am quoting now from column 1318 of the Official Report of the same date. The Minister said:—

"In the fjords of Norway and Sweden all the bridges are fixed bridges but there is never any obstruction of navigation. We know also of the famous Golden Gate on the West Coast of America. That has never obstructed navigation."

Does the Minister know the distance between the water and the Golden Gate Bridge?

Two hundred and twenty feet.

Does the Deputy want that clearance over the Blackwater?

I want an opening span in that bridge. The Minister continued with a few more of them. Can the Minister name any bridge in Sweden or Norway with a clearance of only 21 feet, which he is proposing here?

At high water?

At high water. The Traneberg Bridge at Stockholm has a clearance of 86 feet. The Sando Bridge over the River Angerman has a clearance of 114 feet. These are the bridges that the Minister is talking about.

Is all that as accurate as the information about the bridge over the Boyne at Drogheda?

I do not intend now to fight another Battle of the Boyne. The Forth Bridge, mentioned by the Minister, has a clearance of 150 feet. The designer of the proposed tunnel alongside the Forth Bridge has inspected Youghal Bridge and has given it as his opinion that it can be reconstructed, with an opening span, for £250,000. That is the difference. The Minister went further and talked about the old schooners. The information at my disposal in connection with that matter is that the masts of the ordinary trawlers are from 30 feet to, in some cases, 60 feet.

What would a trawler be doing up the Blackwater?

Nothing has any business there, according to the Minister. He will not let anything go there except a duck boat, if he gets his way. I am informed that 16 schooners of 350 tons have gone up that river in the past four years—16 out of the 27 for which the bridge had to be opened. The schooner's seaboard is ten feet and the height of the mast 60 feet.

That is 70 feet altogether.

And they are going to put steppable masts in for them to go up—with three or four loads in the year, or whatever they want, up the Blackwater. The whole matter was very carefully discussed here on the Minister's amendment about the Shannon. Deputy O'Sullivan, the Parliamentary Secretary, had a very free leg then to come in and protect the Westmeath County Council from being compelled to put an opening span in a bridge that had not been opened before for 25 years, but he did not do it. I do not know where this amendment and section are going to take us at all. In paragraph 5 of Section 40 (1) we have: "Where the execution of the work has the effect of curtailing or terminating a private right of any person——"

The section is not open to discussion. This is not the Committee Stage. We are discussing only the amendment.

It will be open for discussion later on. When the section comes on, we will discuss it.

This is the Report Stage and the sections have been passed and agreed to on the Committee Stage. There is an amendment to this on the Report Stage.

Suggestions have been made that I have been responsible for holding up this bridge. I have given the Minister—and I thought he would accept it—a very reasonable way out of the whole position. The Cork County Council were anxious to reconstruct that bridge if they could get it done for £250,000. Is not that correct?

Reputable consultants have stated it could be reconstructed for £250,000.

He is a Corkman also.

Is the Minister prepared to put this to the acid test? We will supply him with the plans and specifications. Will he submit them to his Department and get their approval and if they are approved by his Department is he prepared then to invite tenders and let us see then who is right and who is wrong in all this? Goodness knows, the ratepayers are paying enough and the Minister is a member of a Government that said they were out for economy. I am trying to save him £150,000. That is a lot of money. I am trying to protect the interests of the people of Youghal. By the way, in answer to Deputy Desmond's statement about the bridge before the last one, I would like to say the bridge before the last one was a timber bridge with an opening span.

Without an opening span.

With an opening span in it. The merchants of the town of Youghal subscribed £1,000 to have an opening span put in it, on the guarantee that the opening span would be put in it and that they would have free navigation up the river.

That was this bridge, the present bridge.

I beg your pardon. You are a generation late. You are like the Parliamentary Secretary over there that woke up in March when he should have been awake in December.

Were there stepped masts on that one?

That is like the hinged ship they wanted to get round Black-rock bend.

The Deputy is crossing more bridges than Youghal Bridge.

I am. I am dealing with statements made here by Deputy Desmond on the previous bridges and whether there was an opening span in them or not, and I am entitled to deal with them.

In a certain fashion.

The Minister stated here that he was not going to obstruct any river. That is his statement here last week. On the foot of this, he is going to obstruct the river and obstruct it very seriously. I hold that no Government and no local authority has a right to come along and say to any town: "We are going to ruin your industrial prospects by sealing up your waterway. That is being done in the case of Tallow and Cappoquin—the Minister is sealing up the waterway there and preventing industrial expansion in those towns.

As I said here the last night, I am in Tallow fairly frequently and anyone visiting either Tallow or Cappoquin and seeing the conditions there could see that both those towns—despite the bacon factory in Cappoquin—are crying out for industries. The Minister knows also that industries follow a river. Where there is a waterway, as Deputy MacBride said, you have a cheaper method of transport. That cheaper method of transport is to be done away with in this case. We know —and I presume the Minister knows, too; he ought to, he has experience enough of it—the cost of the upkeep of the roads. Here is a road that costs nothing, a free road, you need not come out with tar macadam or anything else on it; and the Minister is going to deprive the people of Cappoquin and Tallow and the people of Youghal of that road which God gave them and which the Minister is now going to block.

Who gave Cork the River Lee?

They got it.

Was that any asset last week?

It certainly was, but when you see the development of a harbour used for the spending of £400,000 five miles away from the end of the harbour, you have a different tune.

Read Deputy McGrath to-day.

Now, we will take you out on one of the little streams there and take you for a run, later, when we have time.

There would be no Ford factory in Cork if it were not for the River Lee.

Absolutely.

I am asking that this river be kept open for navigation and for traffic. Did anyone ever hear of one of those ships the Minister is thinking of—which are employed perhaps ten times in 12 months to come up any river—coming along and putting in steppable masts to come up that river for the sake of a couple of trips in a year? He knows very well they will not do it. To be quite honest about it, I am absolutely amazed at the Minister's attitude. I thought he would be delighted and that he would nearly get up there and thank me for preventing him from doing that injustice. I was sure he would. The Minister sits there and is not prepared to budge one way or the other. The Minister says: "Oh yes," but I would like to ask him what all this expenditure is about. The Minister told me he sent down instructions to the county council to pay £10,000 or £12,000 for a consultant to prepare plans and specifications for a fixed bridge at Ardsallagh.

You insisted on bringing him.

The Minister sent down instructions to the county council to employ a consultant to prepare plans and specifications for a fixed bridge at Ardsallagh. Did the Minister do that?

No. It was not to prepare plans and specifications for the bridge at Ardsallagh but to advise the Cork County Council.

It was to prepare plans and specifications for a fixed bridge at Ardsallagh. I saw the letter which was sent down. That is why I feel so puzzled by the Minister's whole attitude. I saw that letter.

On a point of order. No such letter was sent down. I merely sent a proposal which came up from the Cork County Council.

I have endeavoured to divert the course of the discussion towards the amendment and the section. I do not want to go back again to whatever inquiry was held or to whatever things preceded that inquiry. The Deputy has plenty of material. If the Deputy proceeds to discuss the inquiry——

I only mentioned it once to-night and that was in reply to Deputy Desmond. I do not want to go back to any inquiry.

I did not mention the inquiry. There was no need to refer to me at all.

Deputy Corry was quite relevant up to now. I hope he will continue to be so.

What I have been dealing with is the very self same position that obtained in the case of Athlone Bridge.

The Deputy told us all about Athlone Bridge and Foyle Bridge. We heard something about the Corrib too. Now we are on the Blackwater.

I have plenty of food in the Blackwater for the argument I am putting up. I am arguing that the Minister has the remedy in his own hands. The Minister could make a decision that would satisfy me and everybody within the next four months. I am prepared to hand him all the plans and specifications for the construction of the bridge. After the preliminaries are over the bridge would be built in 18 more months, and who knows but that the Minister might be there then? I can assure the Minister it would be a pleasure to bring him to Youghal to open the bridge.

Would you have red tape?

It would be green.

I would not mind cruising down the river with the Deputy.

Would the Deputy invite me, too?

Certainly.

Is the Moby Dick one of the boats that went up the river?

It is the only one that will ever go up there. I certainly appeal to the Minister out of ordinary justice. How can he refuse to the people along the Blackwater what he has granted to the people along the River Shannon? Has he any grounds for refusal? Here is a bridge that was open practically every month for the past four years. Is he going to close that now? That is the Minister's attitude. It is an unfortunate attitude I am sorry to say, but the Minister has the remedy. Is the Minister prepared to advertise for tenders and end this argument?

The Deputy put that question three or four times.

Is the Minister going to end this argument once and for all?

The Deputy must not try to emulate the river which flows on forever.

I do not wish to keep flowing on forever. There is one other little item which concerns what happened in other countries. I should like to inform the Minister that in Sweden sanction was given for 150 open-span bridges in March, 1933. Those are in respect of the rivers over which the Minister took me for a sail last week. The lowest clearance I can find in the list here is 87 feet. Why should the Minister spoil the loveliest river in this country? It is navigable up to and beyond Cappoquin. Let us keep it clear where it is. That is not asking too much. The matter is in the Minister's hands. I would like if the Minister took his courage into his hands and forgot all the manoeuvres which put him into this very false position. He is in a false and wrong position.

The Deputy is repeating himself in respect of this matter by making appeals to the Minister and referring him to bridges outside this country. He has done that several times. Has the Deputy any new matter to introduce?

There is one other matter I want to bring in and that is the action of the Minister in that he is going to throw a very severe financial burden on the executing authority. I want to know now from the Minister whether the 75 per cent. grant covers compensation. That is a fair question, and I should like if the Minister answered it.

What is this matter in regard to the grant?

We are offered a 75 per cent. grant for the bridge and I am asking whether that 75 per cent. grant will also apply to compensation.

That compensation, to my mind, has no reference whatsoever to the amendment.

The amendment is to a section, Sir, and the section says: "... the work may be executed notwithstanding that it constitutes or will constitute an interference with any right".

The amendment refers to paragraph (4) of the section.

Paragraph (4) says: "Except where the bridge Order relates to the River Shannon the work may be executed notwithstanding that it constitutes or will constitute an interference with any right."

Paragraph (4)?

Yes, Sir. It goes on to say "including, in particular, a right of navigation."

Would the Deputy read the whole of the paragraph, which states:—

"(4) Except where the bridge Order relates to the River Shannon the work may be executed notwithstanding that it constitutes or will constitute an interference with any rights (including, in particular, a right of navigation, whether or not conferred by statute)."

On a point of order. May I respectfully submit to the Chair that it does involve compensation because there is a further section in the Bill providing for the payment of compensation where navigational rights are interfered with? As I understand the amendment, it is to protect against interference with navigational rights and I think the point that Deputy Corry is making is that any interference with such rights would involve compensation. His amendment would save the Exchequer and the ratepayers money by preventing any interference with navigational rights.

I cannot allow another section to be opened before it is reached. The other section was decided on the Committee Stage of the Bill and the only thing open for discussion here now is sub-section (4) and the amendment——

I want to deal with——

The Deputy is endeavouring to deal with a local inquiry in respect of this bridge. That cannot relevantly arise on this.

I am not. I am dealing here with the interference with any rights——

The Deputy is talking of compensation and there is no reference to compensation in the section.

I am not going to mention compensation but I am going to deal with interference with a right. There is a right possessed—which we all deplore—by the Duke of Devonshire, a fishing right, and there is also a right possessed by 200 fishermen who are fishing that river and that right is definitely going to be interfered with. The Minister saw those fishermen last week and they told him the exact areas affected and the Minister being a fisherman himself, understood it. They described the exact areas that they could not fish with drift nets. They cannot fish for instance between the old bridge and the new bridge with the drift nets. That is five-eighths of a mile. They cannot fish for a half-mile above the new bridge with drift nets because the nets would be pulled into the bridge and tangled up. That is one mile and one-eighth of a mile out of the four miles of river these people have to fish.

That means these people will have to get rid of 15 of the 50 boats which they are at present fishing in that river. And it means depriving of their living the 60 fishermen who man these boats and throwing themselves, their wives and children on whatever the social services will give them now. That is the position that arises through this. That is one of the rights that those men are to be deprived of and it does not matter what clearance there is at the Ardsallagh Bridge, that right goes anyway because the river is absolutely useless to them. They had an opportunity of explaining that to the Minister, and as far as I could judge at the interview, the Minister was accepting their explanation and was quite satisfied with it. Is he going to deprive those fishermen of their livelihood, for that is what it will mean? If he is, who is going to pay them? Is it the State or the local authority? According to what is here it is the executing authority and that puts the whole lot down on Cork County Council.

The Duke of Devonshire draws something like £700 odd from those 60 fishermen, £13 per man. I do not know what 20-years' purchase we could make that up on, but it would be £15,000 or £16,000. I think the fishermen's claim would be, roughly, £75,000 or £80,000 in all. Who is going to pay it? Add that to the cost of Ardsallagh. Those are the facts. The Minister, in doing this, is going against the wishes of the elected representatives of that area, for every elected representative of that area, every county councillor in that area voted for reconstruction.

Six members out of 47.

I am well aware of that situation in which the game of wearing out was carried on for a number of years, and a county councillor who never saw the old bridge, never crossed it and never would cross it—what would he care?

He would have to pay the piper. They would have to pay for the bridge.

What would he care? That was the frame of mind in which Cork County Council approached it—"let us get rid of it".

They approached it very fairly.

It was no longer political bait once the election was over and the Parliamentary Secretary was no longer in the town of Youghal solemnly declaring to the people that "that bridge will never go one foot above the present site. Get them out, and we will keep your bridge".

He never said that.

I beg your pardon.

He is not here to answer.

We are travelling far away from the amendment— do not let us travel back to the general election.

I say Cork County Council unanimously decided in favour of the reconstruction of that bridge.

Until expert opinion proved it could not be done.

The expert never saw a bridge being constructed in his life.

Until he saw you.

I am sorry, Sir, I did not mean to bring that in.

I have asked the Deputy to deal with the matter before the House.

That is one of the rights that is about to be destroyed in the change of this site. We hear many people here declaring their utmost sympathy for the poor, their utmost sympathy for the ordinary working man, their utmost sympathy for the ordinary fisherman—we hear all this. There were no fishermen being compensated in the case of the Athlone Bridge, for instance, which was passed unanimously in this House on the 1st December. No fishermen were involved there. There was nobody to claim their navigational rights had been stopped or that they were losing anything by not having the right to use the navigable river. Still, this House on that occasion unanimously gave their decision. I am condently appealing to this House now, and above all to the Minister, to withdraw his objection to this amendment and let it go through. I think the wrong attitude has been adopted in this matter.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted, stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 57; Níl, 42.

  • Barry, Anthony.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Belton, Jack.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Burke, James J.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Carew, John.
  • Coburn, George.
  • Collins, Seán.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Crowe, Patrick.
  • Deering, Mark.
  • Desmond, Daniel.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Anthony C.
  • Everett, James.
  • Finlay, Thomas A.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hession, James M.
  • Hughes, Joseph.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Larkin, James.
  • Lindsay, Patrick J.
  • Lynch, Thaddeus.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Madden, David J.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, William.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Carroll, Maureen.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Donovan, John.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Sullivan, Denis J.
  • Palmer, Patrick W.
  • Reynolds, Mary.
  • Roddy, Joseph.
  • Rooney, Eamonn.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tully, James.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neil T.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Honor M.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Michael J.
  • de Valera, Eamon.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gogan, Richard.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kelly, Edward.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lemass, Seán.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • MacBride, Seán.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McQuillan, John.
  • Maher, Peadar.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Ó Briain, Donnchadh.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Tully, John.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Mrs. O'Carroll; Níl: Deputies Corry and Hilliard.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Bill recommitted for the purpose of taking amendments Nos. 13 and 14.

I move amendment No. 13:—

In page 20, to add to Section 49 a new sub-section as follows:

(2) Sub-section (1) of this section shall not apply—

(a) where the certificate was given by a person acting as an arbitrator, or

(b) where the decision on which the certificate was based required the exercise of professional or technical judgment.

Section 49 deals with the situation where a person is retained by a public body in any professional or advisory or consultative capacity. During the Second Reading of the Bill I said I wanted to make it quite clear that the section would not give power to have a consultant surcharged for any professional advice given. Doubts have arisen since then about this matter and the amendment has been put in to remove such doubts. In regard to professional men employed as consultants there is no question of their being surcharged for professional advice. Doubts were expressed on the section as it stood and it is for the purpose of clarification that the amendment is brought in.

Who cannot be surcharged?

Consultants.

The auditor himself cannot be surcharged.

He can be surcharged but in his professional capacity he will not be surcharged. Of course, a common law action may lie but under this section he cannot be surcharged. As I have said already it is for the clarification of this position that I have brought in the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In page 21, to insert before Section 51 the following new Part:

PART V.

Approved Local Councils in County Boroughs.

51.—(1) Where the inhabitants of a locality in a county borough have, either before or after the commencement of this section, established a council, committee or other body, whether corporate or unincorporated, for furthering the general social and economic interests of such inhabitants, the corporation of the county borough may, on the application of such body, by resolution declare that such body shall be an approved local council for the purposes of this Part of this Act.

(2) The making of a declaration under this section shall be a reserved function.

(3) In this Part of this Act "approved local council" means a body in respect of which a declaration under this section has been made and every reference to a corporation made in relation to an approved local council shall be construed as a reference to the particular corporation of a county borough which made the declaration under this section relating to that approved local council.

52.—(1) The corporation may provide a building for use by an approved local council for public and other meetings and for lectures, exhibitions, general recreation or other similar social objects and may entrust the care and management of the building to the council either permanently or temporarily.

(2) The corporation may acquire by agreement land for or including a building to be provided under this section.

(3) The corporation may assist an approved local council by supplying them with furniture, office equipment and stationery and, where a building is provided under this section for use by an approved local council, by paying the whole or part of the wages of a person acting as caretaker of and performing cleansing and similar duties in relation to the building.

(4) The corporation may—

(a) make a grant to an approved local council towards the provision by the council of a building for public or other meetings and for lectures, exhibitions, general recreation or other similar social objects, and

(b) as a condition of making the grant, require the council to enter into such agreements with the corporation governing the use and disposal of the building as the corporation consider proper.

(5) The corporation may, for the purposes of this section, borrow in the same manner as they may borrow for the purpose of defraying expenses under the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Acts, 1878 to 1953.

(6) Money borrowed pursuant to this section may be lent to the corporation by means of an issue from the Local Loans Fund as if such loan constituted a local loan within the meaning of the Local Loans Fund Acts, 1935 to 1953, and was authorised by an Act of the Oireachtas.

(7) Functions of the corporation under sub-section (1), (2), (3) or (4) of this section shall be reserved functions.

During the debate on the Committee Stage I said I was prepared to consider an amendment put down by Deputies MacBride, Tully and O'Connor. The purpose of the amendment was to enable Dublin and other corporations to extend the same facilities in regard to the building of public halls and community halls which at the moment county councils are able to extend. County councillors have certain functions and the corporations were purposely omitted from the section as it stood. I was very impressed by the arguments put forward by the Deputies with regard to Dublin and I think the amendment will achieve what they desired at the time. The corporations can now assist generally in the provision of parish halls in the same way as county councils have power to do.

I should like to express a word of deep gratitude to the Minister for having put in this amendment. He certainly met the suggestions we made very handsomely and constructively. Indeed, I think the amendment he himself has now put into the Bill is much better and much more comprehensive than any we had suggested. I should like to assure the Minister that this would be a tremendous asset in Dublin, especially in the newly built-up areas where the question of community centres and boys' clubs and of playing fields has become a really acute problem which has to be dealt with. The Minister has been extremely helpful in this matter and I wish to thank him very sincerely.

I think, if I may say so, that there were distinct views expressed about this particular matter. This amendment now allowed by the Minister permits the local authority to make whatever regulations it may desire to make. If the local authority wishes to make a grant, or if it wishes to extend loan facilities to whatever outside body may be concerned, it apparently can do so.

The corporation need not implement the provision at all if they do not wish to do so.

I should like to be clear on one point, and that is that this will not prevent local authorities from making sure that a management controlling such a parish hall will be approved.

Certainly.

And that the work can be done through a grant or by a loan with or without interest or at a reduced rate of interest. Is that so?

See sub-section (4).

I want to be quite clear.

It deals with grants merely, not loans.

This is in Committee and I think there is an amendment by Deputy Kennedy——

Not in this particular case.

It is on that that I want to be clear. Let us take for example that a parish hall is required in such a place in the City of Dublin as Ballyfermot. It would require considerable expenditure. We know that we could make the money available on a repayment basis, but not as a grant, and we do not want to be prevented from doing that. Certain local authorities are able to recognise the people to whom such a loan could be extended. I would like to know whether the Minister is prepared to amend that further to make that possible.

We are only dealing with my particular amendment at the moment.

I know that, but the other amendment deals only with county councils and not with urban authorities.

That will come in when the Minister's amendment is accepted. If the Minister's amendment is accepted by the House and mine is accepted by the Minister, my amendment applies to corporations also.

I am afraid I cannot promise to accept the Deputy's amendment. We will have to take this one first, at any rate.

I am sorry the Minister has not seen fit to accept the suggestion made to him on the Committee Stage. Small halls can be provided under this amendment but not anything in the nature we envisage. I can tell the Minister now that the clergy in Ballyfermot are prepared to take a loan from Dublin Corporation, a substantial loan, repayable in an agreed period of time, to build a proper parish hall. Under this particular amendment we will be prevented from giving the facilities which would be suitable to requirements in that area.

The Deputy will have permission to give a free grant under this amendment.

Dublin Corporation could not afford out of the rates to give a sufficiently adequate grant to meet the cost of erecting parish halls.

Then they need not implement the section at all.

But we want to be able to help these people.

They will get the money just as cheaply from the bank as from the corporation.

We would be prepared to give a loan at a nominal rate of interest and we are now being prevented from doing that.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.