Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - International Conference on Marine Pollution.

8.

asked the Minister for Transport and Power why Ireland was not represented at the recent International Conference on Marine Pollution in Oslo.

9.

asked the Minister for Transport and Power why Ireland was not represented at the recent International Conference on Marine Pollution in Oslo; what steps are being taken by his Department to be informed of the decisions taken at this Conference; and if he will agree to be represented at future conferences of this nature.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together.

The conference referred to in the Deputies' questions was convened by the Nordic countries with a view to adopting an international convention prohibiting dumping in international waters of persistent noxious substances. The conference did not adopt a formal agreement and further information in this regard is awaited. It would, of course, have been open to this country to consider ratification of any convention adopted by the conference.

The agenda of the conference related to the work of a number of Departments in this country. In the case of my Department, the preoccupation of the staff concerned with more urgent matters precluded attendance at the conference.

As regards future conferences of this nature, consideration will be given to any invitations to attend. As the Deputies will note from my reply to Question No. 7, arrangements are being made by the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation to hold an international conference in 1973 on the subject of restraint of pollution of the marine environment.

Does the Minister not accept that there is marine pollution or potential marine pollution here and for that reason was it not desirable that this country should be represented at that conference?

We attend most of these conferences but we make an assessment as to when it is necessary and not necessary to attend. We have the matter of marine pollution well in hand. The Minister for Local Government is preparing a country-wide scheme of pollution prevention in co-operation with the local authorities in so far as pollution can be prevented.

Could the Minister give any information as to the intensity of operations on the home base that prevented these hard-worked officials going to Oslo? It is new in my experience to hear of officials so hard-pressed that they cannot go abroad to a conference and I am rather impressed by the idea of business that could keep them at home.

I do not propose to answer facetious questions of that nature.

Mr. O'Leary

It is not facetious. There are two questions.