Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish-made Footwear.

9.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the difficulty prospective purchasers of footwear have in obtaining Irish-made men's shoes in Dublin city and if he will have this situation resolved.

Since many Irish manufacturers of men's shoes supply retail outlets throughout Dublin city I do not think that prospective purchasers should have any great difficulty in obtaining Irish-made men's shoes. To assist consumers in locating those shops which stock Irish merchandise, including footwear, the Irish Goods Council has set up a "shoplink" shopping information service within the Dublin Tourism Organisation. There are regrettably some shops in the area which tend to stock little or no Irish-made footwear.

If I heard the Parliamentary Secretary aright, I can only assume that he never looked for Irish-made shoes. I have had considerable difficulty in finding a place in the city here which sells Irish-made shoes. It is easy to buy Belfast-made shoes in Belfast but not to buy Dublin-made shoes in Dublin. The point——

I am anxiously awaiting a question.

What is the Parliamentary Secretary doing about the situation, first of all to reduce unemployment in the footwear trade and also to bring home to the people the need to buy Irish-made footwear?

The Minister has done a great deal about this subject. He was responsible, in conjunction with the various agencies, for the establishment of the Guaranteed Irish scheme and for the programme mounted by the Irish Goods Council which includes this "shoplink" service which enables people who want Irish-made goods to get in touch with a body who will be able to tell them where they can get them. I agree with the Deputy that there are still some retailers who do not stock Irish-made shoes on the scale that they should, but a recent survey carried out by the Irish Goods Council indicates that the measures taken by the Minister and the various agencies under his aegis are already yielding very substantial and significant results. In a survey carried out by the Irish Goods Council 74 per cent of respondents purchased more Irish footwear in 1976 than in 1975, with an average increase of 18.5 per cent in the purchase of Irish-made shoes by retailers surveyed by the Irish Goods Council. This indicates that the retailers are improving in their performance, and that in the same period the purchase by consumers of Irish goods went up by 14 per cent. The Deputy may also be aware of recent press reports from certain shoe industries which indicate that their improved performance is attributed by them voluntarily to the success of the Guaranteed Irish scheme and the improved purchase of Irish shoes in the Irish market as a result.

Where did the Parliamentary Secretary get these figures? I believe the campaign has not succeeded. Even in this city it is almost impossible to buy a pair of Irish-made shoes. There are English- and Continental-made shoes but no Irish. I suggest that either the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister make a trip around to try to find a pair of Irish-made shoes. I am sure they will have difficulty in finding them.

The survey to which I referred was not a subjective one carried out by any individual, but was carried out by the Irish Goods Council in an objective manner. It showed that there was a substantial increase in the purchase of Irish shoes both by retailers and consumers in 1976 as against 1975, and the efforts of the council are being maintained in 1977.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary wearing Irish shoes at the moment?

I must take it that the Parliamentary Secretary is not, because of his refusal to answer that question.

Please let us make more progress at Questions today.

I am wearing Mocassins.

The Deputy has been called to ask a question.

Will the Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary see to it that Irish shoes made by George Earl of Bailieboro will come on the market shortly again? That place has closed down.

Have the Government any obligation to support the Parliamentary Secretary? There are no Ministers present and practically no Deputies.

That is not in order. Question No. 10 please.