With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 16 and 17 together.
The removal of gravel and sand from the foreshore is governed by the provisions of the Foreshore Act, 1933. Under section 3 of the Act I may grant a licence to any person in respect of any foreshore belonging to the State if in my opinion it is in the public interest to authorise such person to remove any beach material from such foreshore. In accordance with section 20 of the Act a statement giving full details of foreshore transactions is presented annually to the Oireachtas. At present there are 53 licences in force authorising removals of sand and/or gravel.
An applicant for a licence to remove beach materials is required to complete an application form giving full details of the proposed removals and to pay the appropriate fee. If after examination in my Department, which may involve consultation with other Departments, it is considered that granting the required licence is in the public interest, then the appropriate licence is issued to the applicant.
As regards enforcement of the provisions of the Act, I am empowered under section 6 to make a Prohibitory Order prohibiting the removal by any person of beach materials from a specified area of seashore whether publicity or privately owned i.e. the foreshore and every beach, bank and cliff contiguous thereto whenever I am of the opinion that removals have affected or are likely to affect prejudicially any public rights in respect of such area of seashore or have caused or are likely to cause injury to any land or building, Wall, pier or other structure. Under section 7 of the Act a Prohibitory Notice in writing may be served on any person prohibiting removal of material from a specified areas of State-owned foreshore whenever I am of opinion that such removal should be restricted or controlled.
Substantial penalties are provided for breaches of Prohibitory Orders and Notices. Two prosecutions were instituted during the five years ended 31st March, 1969. One person was prosecuted in the year ended 31st March, 1966, and one person was prosecuted in the year ended 31st March, 1969, and this case is at present sub judice.
In considering the grant of licences, the making of Prohibitory Orders and the service of Prohibitory Notices, I take private as well as public interests into account. Where unauthorised removals are made, however, any question of damage to private interests is one for settlement between the parties responsible and those affected.
I am satisfied that the provisions of the Act are adequate to prevent unauthorised removals of gravel and sand.