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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 13 Apr 1978

Vol. 305 No. 5

Vote 9: Public Works and Buildings.

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £36,173,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1978, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for expenditure in respect of public buildings for the maintenance of certain parks and public works; for the execution and maintenance of drainage and other engineering works; for expenditure arising from damage to the property of External Governments; and for payment of a grant-in-aid.

The net amount sought for Vote 9—Public Works and Buildings—for 1978 is £36,173,000 which is over 36 per cent greater than the total amount voted for this purpose in 1977. The increase arises mainly in the areas of building and construction and arterial drainage where a major increase in activity is expected in 1978. This is in keeping with the Government commitment to boosting employment prospects. I will now comment on the various subheads that make up the Estimate.

Subheads A1, A2, B1, B2 and C cover the administrative expenses of the Office of Public Works.

Subhead D, which provides for the purchase of sites and buildings, shows a big increase over last year's provision. This arises in the main from proposals to purchase a number of premises and sites in Dublin and elsewhere in the country. The necessary negotiations are in train.

The Commissioners of Public Works are continuing with their programme of creation and extension of national parks in selected areas internationally famous for their outstanding scenic, scientific and recreational values. The four areas which have been chosen are: Killarney, The Burren in County Clare, Connemara and Glenveagh in County Donegal.

The purpose of this parks programme is the conservation of outstanding natural environmental assets and the provision of leisure time amenities for our own citizens and for visitors from abroad. Progress hinges on the acquisition of lands and in this connection it is necessary again to express appreciation of the co-operation and understanding which the commissioners have received from the various landowners contacted in the course of negotiations for purchase.

In 1977 Killarney National Park was enlarged by the acquisition of over 500 acres of adjoining lands, including about 40 islands in Lough Leane. A further 200 acres are now being acquired and negotiations are proceeding for some other lands in the vicinity of the lakes.

Acquisition by the State is vital if an integral area of the Killarney Valley, which is scenically and scientifically of very great importance, is to be preserved for the enjoyment and education of this and future generations of our people.

In Connemara the 2,500 acres which were acquired in the Kylemore-Letter-frack area now forms the nucleus of Connemara National Park. Park staff have been appointed and are at present engaged in development work to which reference will be made under another subhead. Negotiations continue for the purchase of suitable adjoining lands and also for an area of bogland and lakes north-east of Roundstone. This merits conservation because of its great scenic charm, its wealth of rare plants, particularly heathers, and the islands in the numerous small lakes which have a distinctive woodland vegetation.

A small area of land has been acquired in the Mullaghmore area of the Burren as a first step in the setting up of a national park there. At present over 1,000 acres are in the process of being acquired while negotiations proceed for several adjoining plots.

In Glenveagh where 25,000 acres were acquired in 1975 development work is in progress and will be referred to under another subhead.

Subhead E is the subhead which bears the cost of the major portion of the Office of Public Work's involvement in the building of new and improved accommodation for various Government Departments and improved facilities for the services which they administer. Again, this programme has been expanded where possible and extra moneys provided which will ensure more employment in the industry. The total amount being made available this year for these works is £9,003,000.

A list of all the works on which expenditure will be incurred in the current year has been supplied to Deputies. I will comment on the more significant or interesting items.

Item 1: The heating system at Áras an Uachtaráin has reached the end of its useful life and is due to be replaced.

Items 3 and 5: The work of refurbishing the south block of Government Buildings is complete and the provision is for settlement of outstanding accounts. Some works have already been carried out in the north block and the main scheme will commence later this year.

Item 6: This provision relates to a project to improve facilities at the main landing place on Clare Island to facilitate transport and communication with the mainland. Some works have already been done but delay has been experienced arising from a contractual dispute. The development and improvement of landing places as at Clare Island, at inhabited islands off the west coast is an important contribution to ameliorating the living conditions of their populations and the Government continues to regard this as a priority task.

Items 7 and 8: The adaptation of the additional accommodation for some of the State Laboratory staff at the former St. Vincent's Hospital has been completed.

Planning of a new State Laboratory building at Abbotstown is proceeding well and it is expected that tenders will be invited this year.

Item 9: Premises have been acquired to replace the existing Stationery Office stores and offices which are totally inadequate and unsuitable. It is hoped to commence work on fitting out these new premises towards the end of this year.

Item 14: This provision is for the refurbishing of 14-16 Lord Edward Sreet, Dublin, which was built as a labour exchange about 60 years ago and requires a major overhaul to bring it up to modern office standards.

Items 15-20: The customs post at Clones has been completed. The additional area acquired at Dundalk Customs Road station has been hardcored to accommodate container traffic. A contract has been placed and work is in progress for the provision of a new frontier post at Carrigans, County Donegal.

Item 21: £20,000 is being provided for works at St. Enda's Rathfarnham. The first phase of the internal rehabilitation of the building has been virtually completed and planning of the second phase, which will include the laying out of the premises as a Pearse Museum, has commenced.

Item 22: Work is practically completed on the provision of a natural history exhibition centre and of an office and store for use in connection with maintenance of the park.

Item 23: Touring the Lakes of Killarney by jaunting car is a long-established tradition and one of the major attractions on the traditional route is Muckross House. In order to improve parking conditions for the jaunting cars and to provide some basic facilities for the jarveys at Muckross, it is proposed to construct a new jaunting car park and jarvey shelter a short distance from the house at a cost of approximately £12,000.

Item 24: Knockreer House, Killarney, is in my view, ideally situated for use as a Biological Research and Field Studies Centre related to Killarney National Park and the commissioners have been in consultation with the Department of Education on this issue. I hope that the necessary arrangements will be quickly finalised to enable planning of the adaptation work to be under-taken in the current year.

Item 25: A contract was placed last year for the construction of a new visitors' waiting centre and caretaker's cottage at Gearhameen at the entrance to the Upper Lake, Killarney. The work is now almost complete and the new facilities will be available to visitors this year.

Item 26: The installation of the new water supply system at Muckross House, Killarney, is virtually completed. The placing of the contract for the sewerage scheme had to be deferred to allow for further investigation as to the type of sewage treatment which will be necessary to meet the high standards required here from the amenities and environmental points of view. The type of treatment plant to be installed will be dependent on the result of this investigation. It is hoped, however, to invite tenders for the contract this year.

Item 27: As was announced at the introduction of last year's Estimate, it has been decided to improve and expand the interpretative and educational aspects of Muckross House so that visitors to the National Park may derive the greatest possible benefit from their visits. Work is proceeding on the planning of the first phase of the project.

Item 28: Some years ago a new section of roadway within the Muckross Demesne was constructed for the exclusive use of jaunting cars returning to Killarney after visiting Muckross House. The purpose of the new road is to provide a more scenic return route within the park and incidentally to ease traffic congestion on the public road. It is now proposed to extend the new roadway further, and a sum of £8,000 has been allocated for this purpose.

Item 29: A provision of £14,000 has been made to clear the amount outstanding in respect of the restoration of the east wing of Kilkenny Castle. Since it was opened to the public in August 1976 over 65,000 people have visited the castle.

Item 31: A provision of £25,000 has been made for the provision of improved facilities for the public near the Knockmaroon Gate, Phoenix Park. The original intention was simply to provide toilets and a car park but it has now been decided to incorporate a small information office and the consequent replanning is in hands. I hope that tenders will be invited later this year.

Item 32: The new visitor centre at Dunmore Cave, County Kilkenny has been opened since summer 1976 but a provision of £5,000 is required to meet some outstanding accounts. In the 18 months to the end of December 1977 over 15,000 people had visited the caves. With the excellent access and interpretation facilities that have been provided, the general public can now inspect and understand these interesting caves with relative ease. I feel that when these facilities are better known a still greater number of people will visit the caves.

Items 33-34: Work began last year on the construction of a new stretch of roadway at the main access point to Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal, and a sum of £60,000 has been allocated from the current year's Estimate to provide for the continuation of this work. The commissioners also expect work to begin during the year on the development of other visitor facilities in the park. Public access to the park will continue to be curtailed until these works have been completed.

Item 35: A sum of £10,000 has been provided to enable preliminary development would to continue at Connemara National Park. Some work has already been carried out on the provision of a park office and future works will include the provision of a new access road, car parking and visitor reception facilities near Letter-frack.

Items 38-52: The popularity of the Shannon waterway continues to grow and this valuable national recreational resource is now playing an increasingly important role in the attraction of tourists to Ireland. This year a sum of £150,000 has been allocated for the provision of additional berthing and harbour facilities at popular centres on the river.

Included in the programme is the construction of a major new harbour at Portumna which should be completed towards the end of the current year. I hope to reopen for navigation later this year the stretch of the Lough Allen Canal from Battlebridge to Acres Lough. This canal was navigable as far as Lough Allen up to 1936 when, as a result of the development of the storage basin in Lough Allen for power purposes, a dam was built across the canal. The restoration will provide an additional four miles of attractive and safe waterway.

Item 53: Improved visitor facilities are being planned at Clonmacnoise National Monument. These will operate in conjunction with a new jetty to improve accessibility to the monument from the Shannon. Negotiations for the purchase of the necessary land are in progress and a provsion of £21,000 is being made to start the works.

Items 55 and 56: Work on the erection of a new building at Inchicore to accommodate staff of the Central Data Processing Services section of the Department of the Public Service is at an advanced stage and the building is expected to be ready for occupation in August. Tenders are being considered for the provision of a standby generator to ensure that the computer centre can continue to operate in the event of a power failure.

Item 59: Contract documents for improvements to the Film Censor's office are being prepared.

Items 60-65: The provision under the heading of the Department of Justice amounts to £1,256,000. The bulk of this provision is in respect of the erection of new Garda stations and major improvements to existing Garda accommodation. A good many of the substandard small stations have been replaced and extensions to a number of stations, especially in the Border areas, have been completed.

Work was completed at 20 centres last year including a new district headquarters at Newcastlewest and a metropolitan station at Swords on the site of the old station. Contracts are in progress at 24 centres, including new district headquarters at Castlerea, Castleblayney, and Kanturk and major improvements at Finglas and Portlaoise. Projects have reached contract stage in seven cases and planning of a number of others is in hands. Among the larger projects in planning are new divisional headquarters at Monaghan and Tralee and new district head-quarters at Boyle, Manorhamilton, Carrick-on-Shannon, Kildare, Killaloe and Mallow and major improvements to Dundalk Garda station. New metropolitan stations at Irishtown and Terenure and extensions to a number of suburban stations are planned. The improvement of facilities at the Templemore Training Centre is also proposed. Last year additional prefabricated buildings were provided at this centre to cater for the larger intake of recruits.

Planning of a new building on the site of the former Four Courts Hotel is proceeding.

Item 68: Part of the premises at 2-3 Kildare Street is being used by the National Library. Planning is proceeding for the adaptation of the remainder to provide additional accommodation for the library.

Item 70: Additional accommodation is being provided for the National Museum in a rented block at Merrion Row. The office area has been completed. The particular requirements of the museum authorities for special display accommodation necessitated the engagement by the Office of Public Works of a specialist firm who are at present handling this aspect in consultation with the museum authorities. When the arrangements are satisfactorily finalised it will be possible to complete the project in a short space of time.

Item 73: The new accommodation at Abbotstown Farm for the scientific and research staff of the Fisheries Division is nearing completion.

Item 74: This item relates to a proposal to extend the Fisheries Field Research Station at Dunmore East. The development of the fishing industry requires that a network of adequately equipped fishery research stations be provided around the coastline.

Item 75: Tenders received for the erection of new offices at Furbo for staff of the Department of the Gaeltacht are under consideration.

Items 76-101: We now come to works for the Department of Agriculture for which a total of £404,000 has been provided. The items include new buildings, alterations and additions to existing buildings at various agricultural centres and improved accommodation at the Botanic Gardens, including a new library and herbarium, to provide research facilities for students. The following is some additional information on particular items.

Items 77-78: Detailed planning for the provision of new buildings at the Botanic Gardens is proceeding. A contract has been placed for the erection of a new staff and student canteen and work is nearing completion.

Items 80-86: A total of £79,000 has been provided for works at Abbotstown Farm. The provision of a milking parlour, incinerator and field station manager's residence has been completed. A contract has been placed for the erection of loose box accommodation and work is in progress. Tenders will shortly be invited for the provision of a new grain storage complex and a new butter and seed testing station is also proposed.

Item 89: Work is in progress on the extension to the brucellosis laboratory at Thorndale, Dublin.

Item 93: The contract for the erection of a new district veterinary office at Raphoe, County Donegal, is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Items 95-96: Work will commence this year on the provision of a field and domestic water supply system and new student accommodation at Ballyhaise Agricultural College, County Cavan.

Items 104-107: Work is well advanced on the erection of a new training school and synoptic reporting station for the Meteoroligical Service of the Department of Tourism and Transport at Murrough, Galway, and the erection of a new meteorological station at Claremorris, County Mayo. A new meteorological station is planned for Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, and an extension to the coast radio station at Valentia is also proposed.

Items 108-149: A sum of £666,000 is required for works for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Work is well advanced on the erection of a new post office in Clonmel. Improvements to the post office in Ballyhaunis, Athy and Enniscorthy are being carried out and tenders have been received for the modernisation of Roscommon Post Office. Contracts should shortly be placed for the erection of new post offices at Shannon and Tipperary and the preparation of contract documents for new post office buildings at Mullingar and Longford is nearing completion. New post offices at Fermoy, Navan and Wexford and improvements to the post offices at Galway, Limerick, New Ross, Thurles and Waterford are also proposed. The adaptation of a former school at Ballinlough, Cork, for use as a sorting office is nearing completion.

Additional sorting office accommodation in Dublin is planned. New area engineering headquarters are proposed for various centres.

In addition to the schemes covered by this Estimate the Office of Public Works will carry out works in connection with the telephone services at an estimated cost of £4.5 million which will be met from the Telephone Capital Account.

Items 154-171: An amount of £270,000 is provided for embassy buildings abroad. Fitting out has been completed at the chanceries in Berne and Bonn. Fitting out of the embassies at Cairo, Jeddah and Teheran is in progress. Fitting out of a residence in Vienna and a chancery in Athens is also in hands.

Improvements have been completed at the Bonn residence, the London Embassy and the Consulate General in New York. Improvements to the residence in Ottawa and the erection of a new chancery in Canberra will be undertaken this year.

Item 173: It is hoped to commence the erection this year of an employment exchange at Manorhamilton, County Leitrim. The work will be undertaken in conjunction with the erection of new Garda buildings.

Item 175: It is expected that contract documents for the new employment exchange in Dún Laoghaire will be completed by mid-summer and that tenders will be invited shortly after.

Item 181: I am pleased to be able to say that this year will see the completion of a number of office buildings designed and erected by the State, namely, stage I of the new Garda Síochána headquarters at the Phoenix Park, a new headquarters for the Meterological Service at Glasnevin and two other office buildings, one at Earlsfort Terrace for the engineering staff of my own office and another office building at Shelbourne Road.

A tender has recently been accepted for the erection of a building at the former Beggars Bush Barracks to house the Geological Survey Office and the Labour Court. Tenders will be invited shortly for the rehabilitation of houses 14-16 Upper Merrion Street.

Planning for the redevelopment of the former St. Vincents Hospital property at the rear of 93-99 Lower Leeson Street is at an advanced stage and I expect tenders will be invited towards the end of the year. It is hoped to commence construction work on the next stage of the new Garda headquarters building in the near future.

Planning for the redevelopment of for the Department of Defence and a headquarters for the Dublin Metropolitan Garda is making good progress.

Tenders have been received for the erection of new Government offices at Mullingar. Preliminary site works in connection with the new Government offices at Waterford are now in progress. Work on construction of the new building there is expected to commence during the current year. Planning is proceeding for new Government offices in Athlone, Cork, Carrick-on-Shannon, Thurles, Portlaoise and Kilkenny. Preliminary planning has commenced for offices in other provincial centres. Cognisance is taken of all environmental and conservationist matters in the planning of these developments.

Item 182: Provision is made here for the cost of fitting out office premises, principally rented accommodation, for occupation by staffs of various Government Departments. It covers the erection of partitions, the supply of furniture, light fittings and so on.

Item 183: Tenders for the conversion of the Great Hall and ancillary accommodation in the UCD premises at Earlsfort Terrace into a concert hall have been received and I hope to be able to announce the placing of a contract in the very near future. The work will take approximately two-and-a-half years to complete.

Arrangements to vacate the areas required are in train.

Item 184: Planning for the restoration of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham is at an advanced stage. The planning is a slow and painstaking exercise and it is difficult to say precisely when it will be completed. However, it is hoped to invite tenders for the restoration work by the end of the year. This will be a large and complex project involving careful restoration and the work will extend over a period of years.

Subhead F.1 provides for the maintenance of State-owned property, which includes such varied items as Government offices, Garda stations, post offices, agricultural institutions, embassies abroad and State harbours.

The subhead also provides for the maintenance of the various parks managed by the Commissioners of Public Works. I have dealt above, under subhead D, with the programme which is in hands for the setting up of National Parks in Donegal, Connemara and the Burren, County Clare, and for the enlargement of the National Park in Killarney.

In keeping with world-wide trends our existing parks are proving to be increasingly popular with our own people and with visitors from abroad. In the main, admission to these parks is free of charge and, accordingly, no overall statistics of the number of visitors are available. A charge is of course made for admission to Garnish Island and there was an increase of 16 per cent in the number of visitors in 1977 over the previous year. In the case of Derrynane and Kilkenny, admission to the parks is free but there is a charge in respect of admission to the buildings and in these cases too the receipts indicate an increased number of visitors.

Increased usage of parks does of course create problems. The growing volume of motor car traffic in the Phoenix Park is a serious and pressing problem, not only because it detracts from the enjoyment of the amenities of the park by the general public but also because of the rising accident rate which is likely to follow from an increased volume of traffic unless restrictive measures are taken.

In recent years speed limits have been introduced in the park and traffic lights installed at two of the entrance gates. I am sure that Deputies will agree that traffic lights, signs, road-markings and so on are inappropriate to a public park and that we should endeavour to prevent the proliferation in the Phoenix Park of such trappings of an urban environment.

I have asked that a comprehensive study be made of the problem and I propose shortly to invite representatives of the local authorities and of the Garda to a discussion in the matter. I hope that some proposals will emerge which will help to reconcile to some extent the preservation of the amenities of the Phoenix Park with a solution to the traffic problem.

Subhead F2 provides for the supply of replacement furniture and of additional items required for existing State buildings.

Subhead F3, which provides for rents, shows an increased rate of expenditure over that of the previous period arising from (a) the leasing of new premises to accommodate additional staff and to replace old premises which had become unsuitable and (b) to meet the cost of enhanced rents arising from renewals of some leases and from review of provisions in current leases. Staffs to be accommodated in newly leased buildings include those of the Departments of Justice. Social Welfare, Defence and the Revenue Commissioners.

Subhead F4 bears the cost of fuel and light for all Government offices. The increased provision is due mainly to the cost of heating and lighting additional accommodation as well as increases in the cost of fuel.

The cost of compensation and so on, arising from damage to the property of external Governments, such as the cost of the reconstruction of the former British Embassy premises, is borne by the subhead F5 and the subhead is being retained by a token provision to enable some outstanding items to be dealt with. Plans are being prepared for the reconstruction of Waterford courthouse under subhead F6.

The subheads G1 to G4 provide for expenditure in connection with arterial drainage which is being carried out under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945. It is hoped that EEC funds will become available in the year ahead for drainage construction works in the western region of the country under a Commission proposal at present being considered. This would lead to the expansion and quicker development of schemes provided that sufficient engineering staff can be recruited.

Subhead G1 provides for the carrying out of certain hydrometric studies and of comprehensive drainage surveys which are a necessary preliminary of arterial drainage schemes. For this £97,000 is requested; last year's provision was £91,000. As in the case of previous years most of the provision is needed to continue hydrometric investigations; the £11,000 included for catchment surveys provides for cost-benefit studies of the Boyne and Bonet schemes which are now in progress.

In subhead G2 the provision this year for drainage works, namely, £4,318,000, is an increase of £1,418,000 over last year's provision. Operations on the Boyne and Maigue schemes will be continued and I now expect the Corrib-Mask-Robe scheme to commence during the summer. Because of unforeseen delays in completing the statutory requirements it was not possible to commence works earlier.

Subhead G3 which provides for the maintenance of completed drainage schemes and embankment works, will require a total of £1,393,000, an increase of £297,000 over last year's provision. The increase in expenditure under this heading is attributable to increased wages and other costs. As statutorily provided the cost of maintenance is recoverable from the county councils concerned.

A provision of £1,000 is included in subhead G4 for the acquisition of lands under the District of Fergus Drainage Act, 1943. In subhead H a total of £1,132,000 is required for the purchase and maintenance of engineering plant and machinery, mainly for arterial drainage work, the purchase of stores and the payment of wages to the staff of the Central Engineering Workshop. New engineering plant will be necessary in order to implement the expanded drainage programme.

Subhead I bears the cost of the construction and maintenance of coast protection schemes. The amount of £88,000 is being provided to maintain six coast protection schemes and continue operations on the construction of sea defences at Inishcrone, County Sligo. An interesting feature of the Inishcrone project, which is progressing satisfactorily, is the joint approach by the commissioners and the Sligo County Council to the provision of sea defences and local amenities in a single engineering undertaking. The cost of engineering investigations of applications by local authorities to the commissioners for protection schemes is also provided for in this subhead.

The amount of £890,000 is being provided for the national monuments service under subhead J.1, to increase slightly the present levels of conservation activity and of archaeological research. Major works will be in progress this year at Ferns Castle, County Wexford, Portumna Castle, County Galway, the Casino in Marino, County Dublin, Ross Castle, County Kerry, Kells Priory, County Kilkenny, Charles Fort and James Fort near Kinsale, County Cork, and at the early monastic settlement at Skellig Michael, County Kerry. Minor works will be carried out to a number of other national monuments.

Grants for archaeological research will be made again this year. Among the sites to be dealt with will be Knowth and the early monastic settlement on Inishcealtra Island, County Clare. The preparation of revised legislation relating to national monuments has been in progress for some time and I hope to have a Bill ready for introduction later this year.

The total cost of the conservation and restoration of Holycross Abbey is borne initially by the grant-in-aid provided by this special subhead, J.2. The cost of the restoration is being refunded by the diocesan authorities. The main works have been completed and the building re-opened for public use for some time now. The provision is required to pay outstanding accounts.

In addition to the works covered by this Vote the Office of Public Works are also responsible for work on primary schools, telephone exchanges, prison buildings and the construction and improvement of harbour works for the Department of Fisheries and Roinn na Gaeltachta. This means that this year the total gross expenditure for which the office will be responsible will be in the region of £64 million.

As can be seen, the activities of the Office of Public Works are varied and widespread. If any Deputy would like further information on any matter which I have mentioned or on any matter which I have omitted to mention and in which the Deputy has a particular interest, I shall try to give it to him in my reply.

I should like to remind the House that on an Estimate speeches are subject to Standing Order 125 which will limit the first speakers of the two main parties to one-and-a-half hours and subsequent speakers to one hour. Deputy Donnellan may speak for one-and-a-half hours.

First of all, I should like to congratulate Deputy Wyse on his appointment to his office as Minister of State at the Department of Finance. I cannot say that I hope he will be there for ever, but as long as the present Government remain there I hope he will stay and I am sure he will do a good job.

The Minister's speech is like the Litany of the Saints; there is a little bit going on for ever. The more one is associated with the Board of Works and looks into what they do, one sees that that is their main function; they give a little bit here and a little bit there and they keep a lot of services in operation. I am particularly happy about their continued commitment to the development and acquisition of national parks throughout the country. Particularly in the southern area, around Killarney and in Kerry, they are doing great work.

Over the years quite a lot of money seems to have been spent on the Shannon in one direction or another. At this stage it would appear that we are leaving the Shannon as a tourist attraction. From time to time it has been mooted that certain works should be carried out on the Shannon with a view to lowering the water levels and so on. It appears that that has been completely forgotten now. I am happy to know that the completion of the new harbour at Port Douglas will possibly be on the cards this year.

The Minister of State mentioned the amount of money being spent on the building and restoration of Garda stations. Perhaps he would have a look at some stage at the Garda station at Tuam, County Galway. It is in a fierce condition and it would be no harm if the Board of Works would do something about it. I have been in touch with the board for a good few years on this subject to no avail. Therefore the Minister might look at it at this stage to see if he can get something done there.

When I was asked to look after this small department I thought for one moment that I might go around and visit all the jobs that are being undertaken by the Board of Works. If I had decided to do this I would be travelling around the world. I see here a figure of £270,000 provided for embassy buildings abroad, and I would be going to Cairo, Teheran and so forth. I am sorry that I did not decide to do it because it would not be a bad holiday at all.

The Minister of State spoke about the provision of funds by the EEC. I am completely dissatisfied with, so to speak, the operation of the Board of Works in this direction. It has been rumoured and it appears that we are going to get something in the region of £15.5 million from the EEC for drainage in the western region. A certain amount of confusion exists among the people in the western region as to whether it is £15.5 million a year or £15.5 million over five years. It is £15.5 million over five years provided we back it £ for £. We have not at this stage surveys completed on sufficient projects in that area to enable work to go ahead.

Rumour has it that the people in Brussels indicated that they wanted to do two drainage schemes in Mayo. I do not think they should put all the money into one county in that region. There are a number of counties there with a number of schemes and division of the spoils between them all would be a lot better. Perhaps I am wrong, but I am under the impression that the Board of Works are at fault in the sense that they have not the necessary surveys carried out on enough of these projects. A major drainage schemes requires something in the region of 100,000 acres. There are a number of schemes with a lot less than that. The board should not be completely concerned with major schemes.

I am not attaching any blame for this to Deputy Wyse as Minister of State because in these matters one is governed by the amount of money at one's disposal. There is increased money this year but it is only a drop in the ocean. When considering agricultural production if you take away the water you are completely lost. When we are getting a gift of £15.5 million from the EEC let us not lose it through inactivity and through our own fault. It is possible that we will lose it unless we make some definite proposals. We should not be completely directed by the people in Brussels as to how we would spend these few pounds when we get them. We should appeal for more money, maybe twice as much. There is no doubt that to back it would be a load on the State but it is for very worthwhile work, particularly in the western region. Some drainage schemes were done there some years ago, there are more in progress, and as a result of these jobs being done a lot of land including one place that was a bird sanctuary and other places where you would not feed snipe, has been turned into prime agricultural land. As a Deputy from Galway, from the western region, I can say that this is what the people in that area are interested in. Every time this Estimate comes up I speak in similar terms on their behalf but to little avail. There is a breakdown somewhere.

It is quite possible that at some stage in the future we may get money from the EEC for piers and harbours for fishing. It is necessary that the Board of Works have their homework done in this direction also. If they have not there will be a delay such as I have already mentioned. Also, we should introduce legislation to enable us to control wrecks around our coasts. We have no control over any of these that are out beyond the low tide mark, and it is possible that there are a lot of them of interest to people in this country at the moment and they may be of even more interest at some later stage. I think this comes under the Board of Works, and some legislation concerning it should be introduced.

Getting back to the arterial drainage scheme, the Minister of State said in his speech that there was no such thing as a priority list. Maybe I am a little parochial using that expression but people would like to know where they stand. Was it broken into two priority lists a few years ago? In his reply he should give the priority list, get it down on paper and tell us the exact stage of each scheme, give a list of works completed in the 20-odd years since the arterial drainage scheme came into operation, and proposals for the future.

Under the Coalition Government, this Government and previous Fianna Fáil Governments, there was a lack of commitment in this direction. It is easy to direct civil servants to carry out surveys but unless we have a political will—and that rests with the Minister of State at the moment—towards arterial drainage we will get nowhere. I see Deputy Callanan in the House and in our constituency we have a particular problem in an area known as the Dunkellin River. I do not want to make a song and dance of the Dunkellin but we have talked a lot about it here and do not seem to be getting anywhere.

Everyone in that area was sure that the Dunkellin would be done when the EEC gave the £15½ million. I was sure too but at this stage I do not think there is a chance in the world of it being done. In my view Fianna Fáil do not have the political will to do that. If they want to prove me wrong they will do it. Many people in that area will be very sorry if this scheme is not done with the £31 million being provided in this Estimate.

The Minister of State should invite from public representatives and others a list of schemes which because they are too large cannot be done by local progress schemes and do not come in under any other scheme. It would be an advantage if we could present a comprehensive list of such works to the people in Brussels with a view to getting money for a specific purpose.

In last year's Estimate approximately £2 million was allocated to the Office of Public Works for the provision of extra jobs but to the best of my knowledge that money was not spent. Perhaps the Minister of State might give us a breakdown of what actually happened. He mentioned the Corrib-Robe-Mask scheme which he hoped would be started during the summer. I hope so too. There has been something in the region of 600 objections of one magnitude or another to that scheme and possibly there is a lesson to be learned here. In the earlier days of arterial drainage the right to object was there but people were not fully aware of it and did not exercise it to the degree they could have done. Now they are "dead wide" and have objected to this scheme. That is the reason why this drainage scheme has been delayed. It could have been started about two years ago but for these objections. The Office of Public Works should learn from this. Legislation should be introduced to avoid a recurrence of this whenever they start another drainage scheme. This legislation should enable them to do the job if they have money to spend.

In the mid-sixties the Office of Public Works were responsible for all roads—I am not talking about county roads and so on—and had an allocation of £1 million or £2 million a year under three headings: minor employment, rural improvements and bog development schemes. They were abolished in 1967 or 1968, handed over to the local authorities and came under one scheme known as the local improvements scheme. Over the years a great deal of money has been spent on these schemes and very worthwhile work has been done. The local improvements scheme is basically a contributory scheme based on valuation. In many cases, particularly where bog roads are concerned, on a cost-benefit survey the local authorities can carry out these schemes.

They do not come under the present Minister. I know what the Deputy is getting at but the Minister of State has no responsibility for them now.

The Minister of State should allocate more money with a view to taking over two of these schemes which were dropped by the Office of Public Works ten years ago; they are the minor employment and bog development schemes. Then the bog roads, particularly in the western areas, can be repaired and brought up to a standard so that people can harvest turf and use roads which are as good as they were in the past. Unless the Minister of State introduces legislation creating two schemes similar to those which operated in the past, a large number of these bogs will have to close down because the local contribution being sought at the moment is first, hard to collect and, secondly, too high. I would ask him to have a look at this with a view to solving the problem if at all possible.

In these days when there are so many people unemployed, particularly in rural areas—I do not want to appear critical of the Government's efforts to solve this problem—this would go some way towards solving the problem of unemployment.

Another matter which concerns me is the lack of privacy in tax offices, post offices and employment exchanges. People visiting these places wish to talk to the staff about matters of a private nature and they should be able to do so without being overheard by others.

I have been a Member of this House since 1964 and the facilities provided for Deputies have been greatly improved since that time. However, further improvement is absolutely necessary. Deputies who came into this House in the last whirlwind talk about the lack of facilities and there is no doubt that Deputies coming here in the future will not accept facilities of the present standard. There is now a dispute in the telephone service but before that arose the service here was atrocious.

I want to mention the heating system in Leinster House. The heating in the restaurant yesterday was intolerable. It must be said that the system is awful. Only this morning I was talking to the fellow who was going around shaking the thermometer and he seems to have the job of controlling the heating in this House. People think that we have every facility here, including a free bar, but Deputies pay the top rate for everything. Heating is a basic facility and something must be done to improve it. The outside of Leinster House is in need of a face lift, as are many other public buildings, and I would ask the Minister to examine this possibility.

There are not at present any recreational facilities in Leinster House. There is a restaurant and a bar and neither of these could be classed as a recreational facility. We could make a laugh of this, as has invariably been done in the past, but such facilities are necessary. I have not previously spoken on this matter in the House, although Deputy Kenny and others have done so. A certain committee looks after such matters but the responsibility will finally rest with the Minister. I have many ideas in this direction on which I will not elaborate now.

I wish the Minister every success in his job.

I should like to be associated with Deputy Donnellan's remarks in wishing the Minister every success. Since we discussed this Estimate in the Dáil more than 12 months ago the Office of Public Works suffered a serious loss in the untimely death of its chairman, the late Mr. Farrell. During my period in the Dáil, which extends back to 1951, I doubt if I ever met a more courteous or more conscientious public officer than the man who was in charge of the Office of Public Works. I think that was the view held by all Members of this House who had the pleasure of knowing and dealing with the chairman over the years. God rest him.

I am very disappointed with the Estimate as provided. I do not blame the Department or the Office for the nature and content of the Estimate. They act more or less as agencies for other Government Departments. Taking into account assertions made here during the period of the last Government that there would be new thinking in the way of providing additional employment, I thought that the Office of Public Works would be used to a far greater extent by the Government, particularly having regard to their many statements immediately preceding the last election.

One of the main planks in the Fianna Fáil general election platform was the relief of unemployment. It was a major point in their manifesto. They told us that if returned to office there would be many additional jobs provided—I think the figure for 1978 was 30,000 over and above replacements. That has not happened and it will not in 1979 or, I am afraid, in 1980.

I cannot understand why the new Department of Economic Planning and Development, and the Government in general, do not utilise the services of the Office of Public Works to a greater extent in the provision of this promised extra employment. They are the main Government agency for the devising and the operation of schemes of all sorts, amenity schemes as well as the larger matters of drainage, school building and so forth. The employment content of such schemes would be enormous and the additional cost of going ahead rapidly with them would not be too great.

In and out of Government I have said repeatedly that the Office of Public Works are the agency who could best depress the numbers of unemployed. I suggest that some inter-Departmental committee could be set up with the co-operation of such Departments as Economic Planning and Development, Education, Posts and Telegraphs, Environment, Fisheries and so forth. There is not a town or village in Ireland which is not badly in need of amenity development, and that is excluding Dublin and the other larger towns and cities.

While all these schemes remain dormant—Deputy Donnellan spoke of the Local Improvement Scheme—thousands of people are drawing unemployment and pay-related benefits and assistance. Many of these would prefer to be at work, earning money, paying their taxes and their social welfare contributions where necessary, than to be travelling to employment exchanges and Garda stations every week to draw their social welfare benefits. Some of them with families draw almost as much money as they would if given work which would be of benefit to their own localities and to the nation at large. The millions of pounds paid out annually by the Department of Social Welfare would go a long way towards providing employment for all those now drawing social welfare benefits who are able and willing to work.

I am putting it to the Minister that he should discuss these matters with his colleagues and, through a new agency, should devise ways and means of producing schemes to absorb the present unemployed. I appreciate that Deputy Wyse cannot do all this himself but why cannot he consult with this think-tank of a man, this man who is supposed to have been responsible for planning the Fianna Fáil manifesto, this professor who is supposed to be almost infallible? Why is this man not capable of devising some schemes with employment content? Has it been beyond him in the nine or ten months he has been in office——

The Minister now in the House is not responsible for that Department. You could raise it on the Estimate for that Minister's Department. You are quite in order in putting the case that this Department should give more employment.

I prefaced my remarks by saying that the Office of Public Works should be the Government agency for providing employment if they are authorised to do so.

That is quite in order but you cannot criticise another Department on this Estimate.

That has not happened. I believe I have made it reasonably clear that this economic thinking and planning which was supposed to come from Deputy O'Donoghue's Department does not exist. The number of people out of work is not declining.

Are former Coalition Deputies out of work?

Sorry Deputy, no interruptions, but Deputy Murphy should get back to the Estimate before the House. He is dealing with another Department. Deputy Murphy on the Estimate before the House and no interruptions.

Deputy O'Doherty mentioned former Coalition Deputies being out of work.

They certainly do not arise on this Estimate. I do not know whether or not they are employed but it does not arise.

That is the major point I have to make on this Estimate. I hope when the Minister of State introduces his Estimate in 1979 that he will have much wider scope in the provision of useful work than he has at the moment. We are to Vote a sum of £36,173,000. Is there a danger that part of this money may not be spent? We have found in previous years that works set down by the different Departments and for which money was voted here, were not carried out during the current year. The unspent money went back to the Exchequer. I was amazed at what happened with regard to harbour development works. We passed money in the House every year for such works and in one year as much as 66 per cent of it was not spent and this money went back to the Exchequer.

Will the Minister of State tell us what sum of money will actually be spent so far as his office is concerned? We could have an Estimate for twice today's sum, £73 million or £100 million. We could have brief comments under the different subheads and pass the money but at the end of the year we could find that a large percentage of the money was not spent. I want to know in relation to the different heads in the Book of Estimates what amounts were allocated by the House for the different works, the money spent, what Supplementary Estimates there were and in cases where the money was not spent I want to know under what headings that happened. That information is very important because the Minister said in the opening sentence of his brief that the Estimate is increased by 36 per cent over last year's Estimate. At the close of the year what will be the percentage over last year's Estimate? I assume that last year's one is the net amount spent. I should be very pleased if I found that the Office of Public Works were able to spend the total amount voted by the House for the projects under their control.

The most important item in this Estimate is the provision of public buildings, the maintenance of them and improved facilities in them. It is hard to say which group of public buildings is the most important. Our schools, particularly primary schools are very important buildings because all our children must attend them. Many primary schools built in the late 19th Century and the early part of this century are not now adequate to meet modern requirements. So many of them are in that category that it is difficult to meet the demands all over the country for improved schools and facilities for our young children. Special priority should be given to the provision of primary schools. I appreciate that in the South West Cork constituency a number of excellent schools have been built in recent years. A lot has been done towards improving the condition for teachers and children. We would all like to see such modern schools all over the country whether in Dublin, Cork, Waterford or the rural areas.

I know that it is a very difficult job to provide such schools all over the country and I know that there is pressure from Deputies in every constituency to get good schools for their areas. All Deputies must make strong representations when they find justifiable cases for the provision of new schools. The Minister of State should get additional staff if necessary and he should ensure that any money sanctioned for school buildings is utilised in the current year. On no account should any of that money go back to the Exchequer.

When the Department of Education Estimate is before the House Deputies on all sides will be seeking increased allocations towards the erection of primary schools, and what goes for primary schools goes for secondary and third-level schools. We know that almost 90 per cent of school children now avail of secondary education and the question of the provision of schools for these children is a very big one. The inadequacy of schools to contain the numbers applying for attendance is a tremendous problem. From the information at my disposal I note that there is no place with a greater problem than the city of Dublin. I sympathise with parents here and in other parts of the country who find it difficult to get secondary school accommodation for their children. The Government should ensure that adequate sums of money are provided to cater for the demand on secondary and technical schools. We are approaching a time when 100 per cent of the children will avail of secondary or technical education.

Colleges also claim that they are finding it exceptionally difficult. I was on the board of the Cork college for some time and the Minister is thoroughly conversant with Cork and we are conversant with the other colleges throughout the country. There is an obligation on the Government to provide funds to provide the facilities required.

Sorry Deputy, I do not think this Minister has any responsibility for colleges, secondary schools and primary schools.

I am trying to make sure that the money approved by the Dáil for such works will be spent. If it is not spent——

The Deputy is dealing with colleges and secondary schools which he can raise on another Estimate.

——it will go back to the Exchequer. When we inquire why money goes back to the Exchequer we are told that staff are unable to cope with the many demands. If that is correct the obvious answer is to get additional staff. When we hear the Minister for Health saying that he will get 2,400 additional staff for his Department, surely the Office of Public Works can get whatever additional staff are required to ensure that their schemes are implemented within the time allowed.

The Office of Public Works must also deal with harbours, but I do not see any detailed statement here in relation to harbour development. I thought that the Minister might have received from the Department of Fisheries a list of the works proposed to be carried out this year and that that list would be included in his statement. We do not know what works on harbours are to be carried out by the Office of Public Works during the current year, so we must speak in the dark in relation to this. We do not know whether the Office of Public Works are geared to spend the money. All along the coast, from Donegal down to Schull, there are demands for additional harbour works. The demands recur year after year. In my constituency, in my town of Schull, there is a harbour which would have been improved this year had the people not changed the Government last year.

The Deputy is certainly at a loss down there.

I am sure Deputy Murphy does not need any help.

I am sure there are great demands for harbour works and I would urge Deputy Wyse, as a Minister of State, to try to ensure that whatever harbour works are listed for this year will be carried out. The question of the improvement of small harbours as against the improvement of bigger harbours would possibly be more relevant to the Fisheries debate, which, unfortunately, by the subtlety of the Minister was cut short this year. The Minister got rid of a lot of trouble by short circuiting that issue.

The Deputy cannot get into Fisheries on this Estimate.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on public parks in the Minister's statement. I entirely agree with the development, preservation and acquisition of parkland in all parts of the country. Naturally in a brief like this the Minister can only refer to the major parks. However, there are smaller parks providing recreational facilities for people in towns and villages throughout the country and the Office of Public Works should extend its help in the development of smaller parks. Everybody agrees that attention must be paid to the Phoenix Park, which is our national park. It is of tremendous advantage to the people of this city and it is of advantage to the country generally. We all look with pride on the Phoenix Park, and any money spent to develop, preserve and regulate it is money well spent. Any steps taken by the Minister to improve the amenities there and to prevent abuses that may arise in or near the park are in order.

On the Estimate for the Office of Public Works drainage schemes used to be a major item. Deputy Donnellan's father used to hold forth very strenuously on this item, having been in charge of the Office of Public Works for a period. We used have petitions in respect of the many schemes listed for arterial drainage. It is a major job of work and it is not necessary for me to go into the position in any depth. But if, as we read or heard, and as was asserted by Deputy Donnellan, there is a possibility of getting 50 per cent grants from EEC funds—and I do not regard the EEC as the fairy godmother some people seem to think it is—then we should put out our hands and try to get it.

What I was referring to was the £15½ million they said they would give us over a five-year period provided that the Government——

Deputy Donnellan referred to £15½ million which he said will be available from EEC funds and which we read will be available provided we put up £15½ million more. If that is the best percentage we can get we should avail of it; 50 per cent is not too bad. When we get £ for £ not only will it help our farmers but it will also aid the provision of employment and would be a further source of improving the amenities in many districts. I would say to the Minister that if this kind of money is available then we should try and grasp it.

I see that the provision under the Department of Justice amounts to £1,250,000 this year. The number of buildings covered by that must be immense. There are so many courts and police stations. Am I correct in understanding that, to some extent, the Department of Justice is responsible for some of our court buildings in conjunction with local authorities. What I have in mind are court buildings in Dublin.

Only one.

It is only one building; I thought there may have been more. In any case there are a number of Garda stations. We all like to see these stations being improved. Just as with schools, that is a job of work that must be phased out; we must have priority listings. Coming from what one might regard as a sparsely populated rural area I should like to be certain that what might be termed in Dublin minor stations would not be overlooked. Reading the Minister's brief there are plans for the improvement and provision of new stations in the larger, more populated centres. Possibly there are good reasons for so doing. But simultaneously we should take account also of the smaller stations in rural areas. I do not like the present trend of closure of a number of these smaller stations in rural areas.

I am glad to see that additional accommodation is being provided for the National Museum. What about the National Library I used frequently at one time and I saw the limitations on space there? A great deal more accommodation is needed in the National Library. It is a useful exercise for our young and old people alike to pay a visit there in their spare time, where all the facilities exist for furnishing them with books and literature on our history. I understand that some people who used like to frequent it do not do so now because they abolished the seating accommodation. I know this may be reasonably difficult taking account of the size of the building and surrounding area. But there is the new building across the road, Kildare House, where some sections of this House are now located. Is it possible that some space could be made available in that building for the National Library? I ask the Minister and the Commissioners to examine its feasibility.

The next item I note is that of research stations. We were expecting one in Kinsale and I do not see it mentioned. Dunmore East is mentioned. I understand that the Office of Public Works are dealing with the Kinsale one. If my understanding is correct I would request them to get it under way as quickly as possible. I know the work of the Minister's office is very varied. He must undertake work also for the Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Posts and Telegraphs.

I notice the provision of £270,000 for embassy buildings abroad. Are we utilising these embassies as much as we could? While it does not arise directly on this Estimate, there is an item of £270,000 being provided for the maintenance of embassies abroad. I thought some of those embassies could play a greater role in feeding the Government with information and encouraging industrialists to come here, people who may set up industries, thereby relieving our unemployment problem. Our embassies abroad should constitute the eyes and ears of the Government in whatever countries they are located and should be of such calibre that they initiate moves without awaiting instructions from home. It was felt in discussions here on previous occasions that perhaps our embassy buildings were too elaborate. I am not inclined to agree with that view. Even though we are a small country we are a proud one. I do not agree with the viewpoint that our embassy staffs abroad should be housed down some sidestreet in poor quality buildings. In modern times we must house our embassy people in modern buildings and be able to meet people in pleasant surroundings when the occasion arises. I am in agreement with the expenditure of money for the improvement of such buildings, with the reservation—applicable to another Department—that perhaps we are not utilising them as best we could.

With regard to drainage, the Office of Public Works is responsible for the maintenance of some relatively small schemes. There are two such schemes in Cork which require to be done. If capital were provided to carry out these schemes those benefiting by the schemes would be willing to take over the subsequent maintenance of them. That is certainly the case in the one in Schull district. If that suggestion meets with the approval of the Office of Public Works there is no reason why such a system should not be extended to other parts. That would reduce the cost of maintenance. A sum of £1,393,000 is provided this year for maintenance. If my suggestion were to be accepted that sum could be used for some other purpose. In the case of local authority and Department of Agriculture schemes the obligation is on the beneficiaries to maintain the schemes subsequently and considering the value of land, I doubt if beneficiaries would have any objection to maintaining the schemes.

Coast protection is very important and the sum provided here of £88,000 is totally inadequate. That sum could be expended quite easily on three or four very small schemes. This is something that should be looked into and more money made available.

I agree with Deputy Donnellan that improvements have been carried out in Leinster House. The new block has proved of great benefit but there is still overcrowding. The Labour Party is housed now in the old block. We are not complaining but we would like some more improvements made. The room I use has five Deputies and two Senators in it. We have only four telephones and only one trunk phone. There is no monitor to relay the debate in the House. I would ask the Minister to ensure that the debates are relayed to all rooms occupied by Deputies. Not alone should Members be properly accommodated but so too should the staff.

The Minister mentioned national monuments and I am pleased that Charlesfort and Jamesfort in the Kinsale region are included. No money is mentioned but I assume a reasonable figure will be expended on their preservation.

The Minister said the activities of the Office of Public Works are varied and widespread. As they are so varied and widespread I can appreciate the difficulties of the office in meeting the requirements of all the representations made to them. I realise that the demands are very heavy. During the years as far as I was concerned the office functioned quite satisfactorily, probably due largely to the guidance of the late chairman. I have not had the pleasure of conducting any business with the new chairman but I presume he is of the same calibre as the former occupant. In his statement the Minister said:

If any Deputy would like further information on any matter which I have mentioned or on any matter which I have omitted to mention and in which the Deputy has a particular interest, I shall try to give it to him in my reply.

I am quite satisfied that the Minister will meet that undertaking. I know he will be prepared to meet Deputies if the occasion arises in order to discuss matters that may be of interest to them. I thank the Minister for including that paragraph in his statement. I may avail of that invitation if the occasion arises to discuss with the Minister any problems that may arise.

I should like to congratulate the Minister on the very ambitious programme set out in this Vote. A Vote of this magnitude would not be worth while if it did not include an expectation of more jobs and I am glad to note that this expectation is included in paragraph 2 of his speech.

As has been pointed out by other speakers, the work of the Office of Public Works covers a very wide area, schools, courthouses, drainage and various other matters. I do not intend to breach Standing Order No. 125—as was mentioned by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle—but there are a few very pertinent points I wish to make. I should like to know from the Minister if it is the intention to replace completely the Carrickarnon station at Dundalk. This customs station has for many years been the subject of many deputations, public discussions and public concern. There is concern at the way traffic at this point has increased in intensity. It is creating a very great hazard and, perhaps as a direct result of this, two deaths have occurred there within 18 months. Moving a certain amount of the traffic from the main road is not the answer. There must be a full replacement and I should like the Minister's comments on this matter when he is replying.

With regard to drainage, there is a statutory obligation on a local authority to pay an annual sum to the Office of Public Works. I know the Minister cannot do much about it at this stage but the local authority should have some jurisdiction over the expenditure of the money which they are statutorily required to pay to the OPW. In my county we pay £2,500 or £3,000 each year for maintenance work and the council cannot ask if the work has been done to specification. I am not casting any reflection on the OPW but it is my opinion that when a local authority spend money in their own county at least they should be in a position to supervise the work or they should get a report on the progress of the work from the OPW.

In 1948 two separate categories of schemes were established—major and minor schemes. With regard to my county, many deputations have visited Dublin over a number of years in an effort to get the River Fane drained. When the schemes were set up 30 years ago priority was not given to any project other than listing it. The criterion for a minor scheme was that there should be a catchment area of less than 100,000 acres and it was designated a major scheme when the acreage was in excess of that amount. The River Fane was designated a minor scheme because there were 80,000 acres in the catchment area. I would suggest to the Department and Office of Public Works that they consider the amount of land that has been inundated in the last 30 years. If they do so they will find that a considerable acreage of valuable agricultural land has been taken away from the pool of such land in Ireland. I am sure the same situation applies with regard to every river in the country. Perhaps the Minister would refer to this matter in his reply.

There is reference in the Vote to a review of Garda stations, including the one at Dundalk, and to the carrying out of repair work. This is long overdue. I am glad to say I have not much experience of Garda stations but I know of the one in Dundalk and I hope the programme will include more up-to-date accommodation, especially for prisoners. In Dundalk station there is no accommodation other than an open day room to which prisoners are taken and where they must remain. There is no accommodation whatever for women prisoners. If it becomes necessary to hold them further they must be sent to Dublin. I hope the question of accommodation will be included in the proposed works.

The Minister has provided more money in the Vote for archaeological sites and other sites of national interest. While we have concentrated to some extent on the major archaeological sites we have neglected to have a look at some of the minor ones. Those sites are important in the light of local knowledge. The Minister should look into this aspect of our archaeological history because sites dating back 2,000 years ago were discovered recently but little was done about them. There is a case to be made here for more liaison and closer co-operation between local archaeological and historical societies so that a framework might be built up for looking after those sites. In his generosity the Minister might allocate some money towards the preservation of such sites. There are some monastic sites which the Office of Public Works practically disregard. I will be in touch with the Minister during the year in connection with this matter and I hope that as a result of that contact progress will be made.

I should like now to deal with the subject of the upkeep, maintenance and reconstruction of courthouses. This has been a bone of contention among local authorities down the years. There is evidence that many of our courthouses are unfit for litigants to go to and for our judges to sit in. I am aware that recently a judge refused to hold a court in a certain courthouse because of its condition. In that case alternative accommodation was found for between £17 and £20 per week for a number of years. I am sure the amount paid for rent of that accommodation would not only have paid to reconstruct the courthouse but would have completely replaced it. However, the courthouse is still there. The Office of Public Works, rather than local authorities, should attend to this matter. Because courthouses are for the benefit of all the upkeep of them should be a charge on the Exchequer.

I would be obliged if the Minister would look into the question of the pier at Clogherhead. The people of that village have been endeavouring for some time to have work carried out there so that their job would be made easier. I hope the Minister will expedite this matter.

The Office of Public Works covers many areas. In fact, the Minister holds the key to the engines of the State. If we did not have this portfolio a lot of the different engines of State would not be running smoothly. I have no doubt that the Minister will do his best and that he will try to get the wheels of this engine moving. However, I was disappointed that the Minister did not grasp all the nettles he could have. I hope he will give serious consideration to the matters I intend raising and will try to change the thinking of his office in relation to them. The Office of Public Works is responsible for schools, prisons, harbours, drainage, Government offices, courthouses, post offices, agricultural institutions, embassies, social welfare offices, coast erosion, garda barracks and so on.

The Minister, in the course of his speech, mentioned an estate taken over in 1974, the Glenveagh estate in County Donegal. Had this estate been taken over by private enterprise then I am sure it would now be open to the public. The Minister has told us that this year another £60,000 will be allocated but in spite of that this fine estate will not be open to the public this year. The wheels of progress as far as the Office of Public Works is concerned travel much too slowly for many people, particularly those interested in tourism in County Donegal. The Glenveagh estate covers 25,000 acres and I realise that we have not yet taken over the house but the estate itself is a wonderful sight. I hope that next year the Minister will be able to tell me that the estate has been opened to the public. There is no doubt but that a big number of tourists would be attracted to it.

Another area which concerns me is The Burren country in County Clare. The Minister told the House that it is hoped to take over about 1,000 acres of The Burren. Those who know that area realise that The Burren stretches for 100 square miles, and is probably one of the greatest wonders we have. Tourists travel from all over the world to see the majestic sight of The Burren. I doubt if many people realise that it is the only place in Europe with this unique rock formation and that it is the only place in Europe with such a tremendous variety of rare flowers. It is only in north Clare that these flowers exist and only in recent years have people gone to look at those flowers which grow between the rocks. It is disappointing to see that planning permission has been granted for a lot of buildings in that area in recent years. If we are serious about maintaining that area as a proper national tourist amenity we must be careful that planning permission is not granted to those anxious to promote commercial projects. This is the only type of rock formation in Europe and it would be a pity if in 30 years' time public representatives would be criticising past Ministers for allowing commercial development to take place there. There should be a freeze on the sale of land in The Burren. The State should offer a realistic price in an effort to take over the area, certainly the most underdeveloped tourist attraction we have. Perhaps the Minister would consider the matter and, when replying, might be able to tell the House that he realises the unique qualities of this area and that he will guarantee the area will not be spoiled by planning permission already given.

We all take an interest in the Phoenix Park, which I have heard described as probably the finest park in Europe. A couple of years ago it was mooted that a golf course should be established there. I think we should leave the park as it is, with no golf course. It is a great experience to travel through it and see the freedom our citizens have there. You can see some running, some cycling, some playing football and some playing polo and horse riding and there is also the Zoo. It is really a beautiful park and I ask the Minister to ensure that it will not be over-commercialised.

I should like to refer briefly to our heritage of cultural houses. I sometimes wonder if our history only began in 1920. We are a very proud nation and we have a wonderful history extending back over hundreds of years. It is a national crime to have some of the stately homes of the past falling into ruin. In the northwest I sometimes visit an estate which I have no doubt future generations will regard as one of the fine mansions of the country, an area which attracts not only tourists but Irish people, it is where Countess Markievicz was born, Lissadell House. It is a great pity that some agreement has not been reached between the Board of Works and the Gore Booths with the aim of restoring it to its majestic beauty, as it must have been in the 1920s. It is probably a difficult period so far as restoration is concerned because the Gore Booths run it as a sight-seeing attraction. However, rather than let it deteriorate further, the State should try to get some sort of lease on the building and reopen it in its original form.

I sometimes drive up to another building to which I feel people will be flocking perhaps for different reasons—Mulroy Castle in north Donegal. It is in excellent condition at present. I believe the Minister should have a new look at these matters and perhaps introduce legislation if possible to make sure that the Board of Works could, if not buy, at least lease these buildings, if the people concerned do not want to sell them. One of our greatest crimes is our disregard of stately homes of the past. Last week we had headlines in the papers about students participating in pickets to preserve buildings in Molesworth Street, but the preservation of buildings there is nothing compared with the need to preserve the buildings we are talking about which are becoming so rare in the country.

Across in Britain we can see the tremendous pride the English people have in their National Trust and the wonderful work they do. Anybody who has visited National Trust buildings realises the lovely condition in which these buildings are. I go so far as to plead with the Minister to look at the national heritage homes we have and come to some agreement with the owners to lease or to buy so that eventually the State can take them over. As future generations come along it will be a wonderful thing for any Minister to be remembered for having introduced a scheme of that kind. I hope the Minister will give us some further information in that regard when replying.

Our spokesman on the Office of Public Works, Deputy Donnellan, was quite right when he turned attention to the £31 million that we are getting through the EEC. I have no doubt that the Government will take up this offer of £15.5 million and that they will see fit to put the other £15.5 million to it. It must be remembered that if we are to spend this money we would not be spending £31 million in one year but spread over a period of five years. I hope that money will be spread throughout the western region. We speak of Ireland as being completely a disadvantaged area, but those who travel the length and breadth of the country know that there are two different Irelands—the real disadvantaged areas and the wealthier sections along the east coast. I understand the £31 million is primarily set aside to drain some rivers involved in the arterial drainage block-up. That is the only way I can describe the position that obtains from Donegal to Clare at present.

It would be a mistake to allocate this money to two or three counties. At least one river in each county should be considered. A cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken in respect of the River Bonet outside Manor-hamilton and in north Leitrim and also in respect of the River Boyle. In Donegal we have a river which probably would not cost a great amount to drain, the Lennon river outside Kilmacrennan. It is probably causing a great deal of flooding of some of the best land in the area. I cannot under stand why we pay millions to bring in industrialists from abroad, give them grants to set up factories and employ people while we do not develop our own natural resources. Surely our land is one of our greatest resources. In Donegal alone thousands of acres are being flooded through sheer neglect of drainage by successive Governments. The river I mentioned is only an example. Throughout the whole of the west, rivers are flooding thousands of acres of the best land at a time when land is fetching £1,000 or £1,500 per acre and we have a tremendous export market abroad. Every pound earned by exports is as good as any pound of foreigners' money invested in setting up industry. Many years ago some politicians said that our wealth lies in our land. That is beyond doubt. We must develop our national resources and we have many, many acres of good land that could be developed. The land is being flooded. We have so many acres of marshland, wasteland and bogland, and anybody, Minister, who is in the position that you are in today must know——

The Deputy should address the Chair.

Through the Chair— anybody, Minister, who is in your position today should take a look at the waste that is going on particularly throughout the western region. About three years ago a survey was done and it was estimated that about 30 per cent of the land in the west of Ireland was what is classed as useless land. If that is the case surely it is good economics for us to develop it through either grants or direct loans to ensure that this waste land is no longer left waste and that it is developed into good agricultural land. Somebody has to grasp this nettle. If the price of land goes up and up, the time is fast approaching when it will not be this Government but the next, or a future Government anyway, who will be fulfilling electoral promises that this will take place. Anybody deeply concerned with the land realises that so many acres seem to be going to waste.

I would like to back up what was referred to earlier, the reintroduction of a scheme involving bog roads, the cleaning of small rivers and streams crossing bogland and part of the wasteland, particularly again in the west of Ireland, which would absorb surplus local labour in the western areas. In reading the papers recently I have noticed with concern it is estimated that Fianna Fáil are not matching up to the job creation programme they promised to this country nine months ago. There is tremendous possibility here, Fianna Fáil are really interested in reaching job targets, to employ many more people under a direct new scheme to improve bog roads, drain small rivers, clean up the country generally, and to see, as far as our tourist resorts and beaches are concerned, that a scheme is introduced under which local people could be employed.

I agree with the previous speaker who said that it is work and not dole that the majority of the people want. It would cost very little extra to create more of these jobs and put people to work. The present Minister should grasp the nettle and say to himself "Right, as far as work is concerned we could certainly employ probably 5,000 people extra in the Board of Works alone by creating these new necessary jobs"—necessary as far as the west is concerned. We on this side of the House will be greatly encouraged when this £31 million promised is put to work.

I want to speak briefly on the facilities that we Deputies have here. Most Deputies will certainly be complaining about them. I wonder how many people in private enterprise businesses would sit in offices such as we are expected to sit in here. I wonder how many would wait, as we have to wait, maybe ten minutes for a lift to get up to their offices. They would not do it. As time goes on and as more sophisticated people come into the House they will not put up with the facilities that the Deputies and Senators are expected to endure in 1978. Admittedly the facilities have improved over the last couple of years. The first thing that should be taken out and thrown on the scrap-heap is that lift for which we often have to wait ten or 15 minutes before we can get up to our offices if we are unluckly enough to have them on the third, fourth or fifth floors. I hope that before the end of this year the Board of Works will see that that lift is thrown out onto the scrap-heap and that we can have a proper lift.

The Deputy should listen to the Minister for Health and climb the stairs.

Maybe the Minister for Health has more time than we have. The second thing I want to mention is that the windows in the new building were fixed about six months ago and now they cannot be opened. Deputy Donnellan spoke already about the heat. On some days in this House it is freezing cold and on other days you have to take off your jacket because of the heat. I am wondering as the month of May is approaching how we are going to open these windows. They cannot be opened at present. I ask the Minister to regard this as urgent.

Travelling through the different areas in my capacity as Defence spokesman I find that every barracks in the country has a sports complex, or if it is not there already there is one planned for 1978. Yet there are 148 Members in this House here, I suppose half of us under the age of 40——

That is only the Dáil. The Deputy did not mention the Senators.

All right, Senators, the whole lot of us. Probably half of us are under the age of 40 and there is no sports complex whatsoever in this area. We come in here at 10.30 a.m. and usually we do not leave until 9.0 p.m. or 10.0 p.m. We are expected to spend 12 hours here. At least in the basements or maybe outside there could be a squash court or table tennis—something simple, we do not want anything elaborate in this House, but we want something whereby some of us can get rid of whatever excess energy we have for half-an-hour after lunch. The Minister for Health is talking about keeping fit; the Government are not backing him up. We have not the facilities even in the first House of this country whereby we can keep fit. I ask the Minister to look into that.

It is not often that I compliment any State Department, but I would like to compliment the Board of Works on the fine job they have done in Killybegs Harbour. The Ceann Comhairle and I come from that constituency and we have seen tremendous advances there over the past five years. I understand that a new lift has been sanctioned for this year. I would ask the Board of Works to ensure that this new lift will be in operation as soon as possible.

I also notice from the Minister's work of art in front of me that a new Social Welfare and Garda district headquarters is being set up in Manor-hamilton, and the people of north Leitrim welcome this step. The Garda station there is not one of the most modern in the world and we are delighted that the new modern Garda station is being erected.

The last speaker spoke about courthouses. I often wonder whether we are doing the right thing in having so many courthouses. Maybe we could consider having two or three courthouses at most in each county. Instead of having these old-fashioned barracks of courthouses we could have smaller, more compact jobs, which could be easily centrally heated and which people could take pleasure working in. It is a very serious business when a young man or woman is brought to court. A solicitor has to stand up and defend that person and a judge has to sit in the courtroom for many hours. These people too are entitled to proper facilities. Our courthouses are the nearest things to workhouses as far as the counties are concerned. They are old, outmoded, old-fashioned, cold, derelict buildings. A certain amount of thought could go into this to see if we could have modern courthouses erected.

I noticed recently that the Office of Public Works are renovating Loughran House in Blacklion for a juvenile prison. There has been a certain amount of outrage from some sectors of the public about this. I cannot understand why because the time has passed when we can be soft on juveniles. It is better for us to have a proper modern juvenile prison even if it is set in Blacklion because these young boys and girls cannot be let go free in any democratic society any longer. If anybody commits a crime it is only right that he should be put into a modern place, as is intended in Blacklion in the next couple of months.

Coast erosion also comes under this Estimate. As I have been saying for many years, not nearly enough money is being spent on coast erosion. This is very serious as anybody who has seen this at first hand will agree. The Office of Public Works should spend more money protecting our land and some of our houses to make sure that as far as the sea is concerned, it does not encroach on our precious land.

I congratulate the Minister of State on his new portfolio. I have dealt with but a few of the many things covered by the Estimate for the Office of Public Works. I hope when the Minister of State is replying he will answer some of my questions.

I will try to be as brief as possible. I congratulate the Minister of State on his appointment. In the nine months since his promotion, there has been no danger of him getting the disease which goes with promotion—arrogance. He is most obliging and that goes for the people who held that office before him. That post has been held by many distinguished people. I congratulate Deputy Donnellan on his promotion. It is time the west was recognised by the Opposition because it was not recognised when they were in Government. I congratulate Deputy Kenny and Deputy White who have also got promotion. The west has very definite problems which do not exist in the rest of Ireland. I was a personal friend of the late Henry Kenny who was one of the outstanding members of this House in my time. As I said, I wish all these people well in their promotion and am glad the Minister has not become arrogant.

The Office of Public Works covers a very wide area. The Minister has given a very detailed account of the expenditure under various headings. The total amount of this Estimate is over £36 million, an increase of 36 per cent on the Estimate for 1977. This is a big increase. I am a little disappointed in this Estimate. The Office of Public Works are responsible for buildings, parks, Garda stations, schools and so on. At one time we used to look to them to play a big part in drainage. The amount of money provided in the last few Estimates for drainage was very low. This year £4 million has been provided out of a total of £36 million, chickenfeed.

We must look at what the Office of Public Works are doing. I appreciate it is essential to keep our national monuments, parks, schools, courthouses and so on but no other section of Government could create more employment than that Office. If an increase of more than 36 per cent had been allocated, they could have provided much more employment because they are involved in many areas.

I note that Portumna Castle and Portumna Harbour have been included in the Estimate. I know the Office of Public Works have spent a good deal of money in that area and I commend them for doing that. The list provided yesterday appears to cover offices, libraries and the National Museum but I do not see any specific mention of building new schools. Schools are mentioned at the end of the Minister's speech. He said:

In addition to the works covered by this Vote the Office of Public Works is also responsible for work on primary schools, telephone exchanges, prison buildings...

There are two schools in my constituency. It was agreed that one of them should be built this year in Kilchreest, Loughrea and there is another promised in Gurteen. Maybe the money for these schools is included in the overall sum for primary schools but I would like the Minister to let us know how many new schools it is proposed to build in 1978 and where they will be built. It is vitally important that we know this. I know a school in the area I am talking about where they had to get a hall because the children would not attend the school any longer. I am talking about Kilchreest. I do not want to be parochial but I have to be. I have been there and have seen the condition of the old school. I understand that school is sanctioned and is with the Office of Public Works. I had hoped work would commence this year. Perhaps the Minister of State would let me know the present position of this school and the school at Gurteen.

The principal part of my speech will deal with drainage but there are several other items I wish to mention. There was reference to the heating system in this House and I remember asking the late Deputy Henry Kenny about this. He said that it would not be possible to satisfy everybody. When there is too much heat in the dining room it is cold at the top of the building. Apparently it is impossible to have uniform heating throughout the House. The only place where the heating is reasonable is this Chamber.

Deputy Donnellan mentioned recreational facilities. I agree with what he said but I would point out that every Deputy works very hard and he or she has not much time for recreation. I have not been to the cinema since I came to this House. If a Deputy has some time to spare there should be recreational facilities available.

The late Deputy Kenny and I also talked about the very faded green curtain behind the Chair.

Take it down and dye it.

I agree. These are some of the items that I mention in passing in connection with the Board of Works.

The Shannon is now talked of in terms of a tourist amenity. That is fine, but is that all the Shannon will ever be? Various Governments have made promises about the Shannon. I am a member of the Suck drainage committee and under an old law we are allowed to do catchments off the Suck only to point X. We cannot go any further because of an Act which was passed in the days of Queen Victoria. We cannot deepen the Suck because of the Shannon. I have reservations about the drainage of the Shannon, but it is time that people in the west knew the actual situation. I understand that the American experts said that banking was the only way to do anything with the Shannon. This would have to be done a certain distance from the bank at summer level. This means that much good land would be taken from farmers along the Shannon. This matter should not be kicked around by any political party. Nowadays it is hardly talked about at all. I should like the Board of Works to state the possibilities with regard to draining the Shannon.

Only £4 million is provided for drainage. As cost-benefit surveys are so expensive we might as well say we will do nothing about drainage. Deputy Donnellan mentioned a river which goes right through my constituency and his, but it is nearer to me because it starts at my door and goes into the sea at Clarinbridge. Hundreds of acres of reasonably good land are flooded from that river. It has been No. 10 on the list of priorities for as long as I can remember. The only time anything was near to being done was when I was part of a deputation to the late Deputy Noel Lemass in the Board of Works. We had an assurance from him that the work would be done fairly shortly. Then the rule was introduced that a cost-benefit survey of all rivers had to be done and this item was left at No. 10.

At the same time, they say it has been reached, that we are at No. 10 at this stage.

We know that the amount of money provided for drainage in this Estimate is small. Regarding the EEC money, will this be spent by the Board of Works or by the Department of Agriculture? Regarding the £15 million which we are supposed to get, is this £15 million for five years or is it likely that we will get another £15 million within the five years? I understand that we must contribute £ for £, but if I am incorrect I wish to be contradicted. Deputy White mentioned spreading it over the west.

A light coat.

It would be a very light coat. It is rumoured that certain rivers have been picked out in one county.

Mayo, we hear.

I do not want to talk of any particular county because we are all in the one boat. In my constituency we thought that when this money became available it would be an opportunity to get matters moving with regard to the Dunkellin river. If something does not happen there will be many disappointed people. Hundreds of acres along the Dunkellin basin cannot be drained and there cannot be a local improvement scheme in that area because of the levels. Until that river is drained there cannot be land reclamation or drainage of farms. Many farmers over a certain valuation lost their social welfare benefits during the past few years and they would not have cared two jots about it if they had received grants in order to carry out reclamation work. They cannot do this in their area as the land cannot be drained because nothing has been done about the Dunkellin river. I appeal to the Minister to let us know what is to happen about this. This river goes straight through the heart of the constituency. Deputy Donnellan emphasised that this is something we cannot accept. He said, and I agree with him, that EEC money should be spread around. I am disappointed that as a result of a recent survey 32 per cent of our farmers are in the lower income group and most of those are in the west of Ireland. At the time, we went around the country shouting our heads off about the benefits that would accrue from EEC membership. Now we must have a second think.

Do not let anybody tell me that farmers in any part of the country would prefer to draw dole, State money, than to work their land. There is not a harder-working section in the country than our farmers but it is an awful thing that so much of their land is unproductive—particularly now when agricultural production is so important—because of lack of finance to drain it properly. Since I came into the House, year after year I have been commenting on the lack of emphasis, in Ministers' speeches introducing Board of Works' Estimates, on arterial drainage. Any Deputy from the west will tell how surprising it is that land can be improved so well by even private drainage schemes. I therefore urge the Minister now in office to do some rethinking on arterial drainage. As I have said, it is a lie to suggest that farmers, particularly those in the west, are not sufficiently productive.

Speaking of the west again, I stress the lack of emphasis that has been given in Board of Works' Estimates to arterial drainage. For instance, we did not get a chance at all last year to debate the Estimate. Deputy Donnellan was the only Deputy who got a chance to make a speech on it before the election.

The point I made is that the Deputy's party did the same thing regularly.

I agree that all parties in Government did not give a chance to Deputies to debate this Estimate properly. This year the Minister's introductory speech contains about four pages only of material on arterial drainage.

I can see reference to it only in parts of pages 21 and 22.

This sort of thing goes back to before the time I came into the House. I know the money is not there for it because money must be spent on other things which come under the aegis of the Board of Works but if more money were spent on drainage the production of the land would be increased and therefore the expenditure would be worth while. There is one disease this Minister is not suffering from, and I hope he will never get it, and that is arrogance.

I shall refer briefly to the local improvement scheme which was once the responsibility of the Board of Works. At the moment it is very difficult to get bog roads improved and I should like to see bog schemes reverting to the Board of Works. The money available was reduced to 10 per cent of cost on a valuation basis, and it is difficult to get even that 10 per cent. I should like the bog development scheme to be reintroduced side by side with proper land drainage.

I am also sore about the question of school buildings and I should like the Minister to explain the operation of that scheme. Of course my main headache, being a Deputy from the west, is in regard to land drainage, whether the finance comes from the EEC or from our Exchequer.

I will be brief. I was glad to be able to listen to Deputy Callanan. He is always worth listening to. He always talks common sense even though we might not agree with everything he says. He knows what he is talking about, and that is a change in the House. The main part of my contribution will be in regard to the Garda station in Navan and the Christian Brothers' school which was closed some time ago. We are sorry to see them go. The Garda barracks in Navan is in very bad condition. It is a very old barracks and has not been improved for a very long time. Everybody was very glad when it became known that the Board of Works had acquired the old school for use as a Garda barracks. That was some time early in 1977 but since that time the school has been unoccupied, unprotected and has been badly vandalised. The Navan UDC are very perturbed about this and they tell me than on numerous occasions they have asked the Board of Works what has happened and have failed to get a satisfactory reply.

This is a pity. If the Board of Works have purchased that school and intend taking it over why should they leave it until it will cost thousands of pounds to repair it before it is converted to a Garda barracks? If they have taken it over why can they not move the gardaí out of the old barracks into it while whatever reconstruction is necessary is carried out? It is a big building and it will be possible to house them in it. I would be glad to know if there is some reason why this has not already been done.

I understand the Board of Works were looking for a site for a barracks or some type of building for a Garda station in the area where I live, the Laytown-Bettystown area. There is a barracks in Julianstown, which is approximately three miles from Laytown and a little more from Bettystown. It is a country district on the main Dublin-Belfast Road. While the gardaí there have to cover a very wide area the main work they do, in the summer time particularly, is in the built-up area of Laytown-Bettystown and down to Mornington. Why has no effort been made to find suitable accommodation? I understand that before the previous Government went out of office not alone the local gardaí but the Department of Justice approved of changing the barracks to the seaside area. I would be glad to know if any effort has been made to find accommodation or if it has been decided to abandon it completely.

With regard to Gormanston Camp I understand that the contract for the improvement of the Army accommodation there has been sanctioned but it is for much less than the proposal which was originally approved. I would be glad to know if a decision was taken to build smaller accommodation and why the situation now is that the accommodation which is being provided will not meet the needs it was going to meet in case there was necessity for a large concentration of troops in that area. The work has not started but I understand it will start in the very near future.

With regard to schools, there is a lot of dissatisfaction over the prefab schools which were introduced as a lifesaver some years ago when it was impossible to get school accommodation. The prefabs built then had a very short lifetime which was recognised by everybody. Now, years after they have outlived their usefulness they are still being used as schools. It is very wrong to have children starting out their lives under conditions we would not have accepted 50 or 60 years ago when we were going to school. I know it is difficult to get all the money necessary to do this work but when it is for such an essential thing as school buildings something should be done.

I notice that the Department of Education and the Department of Finance, which have overall responsibility for the Board of Works, are holding very tight on the 11 per cent local contribution towards the cost of new schools or repairs to schools. It is very difficult in some areas to find that type of money. While everybody is very anxious to see a new school being prepared and to see a school enlarged in an area it places great hardship on the parish when they suddenly find that the amount of money required is beyond their capabilities of providing in the short time at their disposal. The Department should have another look at this to see if the State contribution can be increased. If the parish provide the site it is very hard on them when on top of paying for the site they have to pay the 11 per cent.

There is a great shortage of money in many cases. I live in County Meath near the town of Drogheda and the position is almost impossible there as far as the school is concerned. We are told that the Board of Works cannot provide us with the money. They always get blamed even though we all know that it must find its way back ultimately to the Department of Finance and to the Government.

Drogheda harbour is in that area. I know that over the years it was starved of funds. If it had been handled properly I am quite sure that the mining outlet which is now coming to Dublin would have gone through Drogheda. There were proposals for a new harbour and Meath County Council made arrangements for the provision of land along the Meath coast. Land was purchased which was to be transferred to the Harbour Commissioners for the development of Drogheda harbour. This seems to be completely abandoned. Immediately after the change of Government a sum of money was given to Drogheda Harbour Commissioners which only paid for debts that had accrued over a period of 15 to 20 years. Is that all the money they are going to get or will they get money to develop Drogheda harbour?

Drogheda harbour caters for a very big area of the east coast and the midlands. I believe, when I see heavy trucks loaded with materials coming from Dublin port down the Dublin-Belfast Road, overcrowding that road, that if Drogheda harbour was being used it would serve a dual purpose. It would certainly prevent this overcrowding and I am quite sure that materials could be taken in at a much cheaper rate through that port. Does the Minister propose to give some money to the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners to develop that very useful harbour? The cost of the turn around of a ship in Drogheda has always been very much lower than anywhere else even though the men are being paid trade union rates. This shows they are very hard workers. I would like to know if this money will be provided.

The sanctioning of loans by the Board of Works for contracts throughout the country caused me a lot more annoyance a couple of years ago than it does now. It is standard practice now that when a local authority want to build houses they get approval for their scheme and the Board of Works then approve the money for the job. They are very sticky about this. Perhaps it is the Minister for Finance wearing his other hat and telling his junior Minister not to let this money out, that it is not available at present. The Board of Works, rightly or wrongly, always get blamed for holding up schemes which are sanctioned by everybody else.

We should take the covering off and look at the thing as it is. Who is responsible? If the Board of Works are not allowed to sanction the money for local authorities or if they are told by the Minister that they must not do it for another reason, they should say that in the reply to the local authorities. They should not give the impression that every person in the Department of Finance is in favour of the scheme going ahead but the Board of Works, for some peculiar reason of their own, will not allow the money to go out. I would like to know what is the cause of this trouble.

Specific sums of money were made available by the State in the early months of last year to give employment in water and sewerage schemes and other works like this. The Board of Works did not sanction those schemes until after the change of Government. Why was this not done until then? Why did it turn out that work to be done on schemes sanctioned by me as Minister for Local Government before last year's general election was not done? Is there some peculiar arrangement whereby there is a second list submitted by somebody to the Board of Works saying "This you do, this you do not do"? This meant a very substantial amount of employment which was not given when people needed it.

Arterial drainage is doing very well. I am delighted to hear people again talking seriously about draining the Shannon. The late Seán Dunne used to entertain the House every time the Board of Works' Estimate came along on the draining of the Shannon. At by-elections the people west of the Shannon are constantly told that the Shannon will be drained. As Deputy Callanan has said £15 million is going to be provided by the EEC which will drain a lot of rivers in the west. I suggest that this proposal is just the same as the byelection proposals. I am not as disappointed as Deputy Callanan about what is happening in the EEC because I and my party said this would happen. We know that what other people are finding out now, was what would happen, because we took the trouble to check. While everybody talks about money granted by the EEC for various schemes, the money granted is only used as a top-up. The job has to be done, the money has to be sanctioned and made available, by the State before any money comes from the EEC. I am afraid something similar will happen in relation to western drainage.

A lot of good land along the Boyne is being made available through drainage. People may say that I am against progress, but I am sorry to see the situation we now have in relation to arterial drainage works. Years ago hordes of people worked on these schemes, but now a few big machines do most of the work and the number of people employed on these schemes has dropped. A large amount of money is being spent on Boyne drainage but an incredibly small proportion of that is spent on labour. The job on the Blackwater has now started and this will be a great scheme. There is a very sizeable amount of land just south of Kells which has been flooded many times both during the summer and the winter. There is an old mill there and like everybody else I would like to see it preserved but I do not know whether or not this is possible.

This is a sizeable Estimate. The idea of having a Minister of State in charge of the Office of Public Works is a good one. The Minister should have the power to make decisions without having to refer them to the Minister for Finance. The officials in the Office of Public Works are as good as any other officials in the Government service. They are experts in their field and they should not have to be told what to do by people in another Department who have not got their expert knowledge.

Apart from wishing the Office of Public Works well, I wish they would do something about the accommodation for Members of the House. I was in this House in 1954 when we had not got the new building and there was more accommodation for individual Members then than there is now. Maybe there is an explanation. It is ludicrous that six Members operate in one room facilitated by one outside telephone line and perhaps a few inside lines. If civil servants were asked to work under those conditions they would object very strongly and their association would complain about conditions. Somebody should take a hard look at the situation to find a way to provide additional or alternative accommodation for Members of the House. I remember hearing a junior member of the staff in this House saying that elected Members of the House were only birds of passage and that civil servants were the only permanent people here. I have respect for the staff here and for all civil servants but elected Members of the House are not getting the consideration they are entitled to. If it is necessary to move other people out of the House across the road, where it has been suggested we should move, that should be done. The electorate will remove us from this House and until they do we will be here.

I congratulate the Minister on his appointment and wish him well in his office. I am glad to note that this Estimate has increased by 36 per cent this year. The Office of Public Works contributes in no small way to many aspects of our environment. No matter what amount of money is allocated, more will be needed.

The Office of Public Works greatly contributes to our tourist industry. There has been an increase and there will continue to be an increase in the number of tourists coming here. People coming here are mainly interested in the beautiful countryside, our old buildings, national monuments and parks. Americans and Canadians are particularly impressed because everything in their countries are relatively new and nothing is older than about 200 years. Recently I brought an American visitor to Glendalough. She was amazed at the beauty of the countryside, the old round tower and so on. She will go back to her country and will encourage people to come to Ireland on their holidays.

The Office of Public Works have done tremendous work on our national parks. Quite a number of them have beautiful nature trails which are beneficial in relation to the education of children. Children are encouraged during nature trail walks to be interested in wildlife, flowers, plants and trees and when they return to school they often write essays about the nature trails. I would urge the Minister to include these nature trails in the new parks which he is contemplating.

The Minister stated that the Office of Public Works will purchase sites and buildings but did not state what type of buildings. I assume they are some type of old buildings in Dublin city. If they are being restored or refurbished I would ask the Minister to ensure that, as far as possible, their facades be maintained so that we will not have the appalling situation of our beautiful old buildings being knocked to the ground as has happened recently not too far from this House. I would hope that the Office of Public Works would encourage people to look after these old buildings. I know they have to be refurbished. A lot of them are very old and, of necessity, must be repaired but we should at least endeavour to keep as many of them as possible so that our heritage will not be destroyed.

I do not see much mention of inland waterways, merely one short one near one particular lake. The Office of Public Works should encourage much more activity for tourists along our canals. The development of our inland waterways is a wonderful method of increasing tourist revenue. The inland waterways in England are utilised to a much greater extent than they are here.

The River Shannon has been mentioned also. I do not know very much about drainage or that aspect of the Office of Public Works but I do know that the tourist attractions of the Shannon are a tremendous boost to the people of the west and bring a great deal of much-needed revenue into that area. Indeed, it makes for a lot of mixing of peoples; people from all over the Continent go boating on the Shannon. They really love the countryside there and we must encourage it as much as possible.

Coming a little nearer home as far as I am concerned, to the city of Dublin, I see that the Minister is seeking ways and means of improving the traffic through the Phoenix Park which has become a great problem in recent years. There are new housing estates at Chapelizod, Castleknock and so on, which have increased the traffic through the Phoenix Park considerably in the last few years. This is a great pity. It is probably not practicable or possible but I should like to see most of that traffic routed through some other area. Possibly a new ring road could be built that would syphon off a lot of the very heavy traffic at present using the Phoenix Park. Is it a park or a highway? It is becoming a highway. Certainly I agree with the Minister when he says it would be a great pity to instal traffic lights and road signs in the Phoenix Park. I would hope he would make sure that that does not happen. The next thing we would have would be zebra crossings and all the other terrible road signs in our beautiful Phoenix Park.

I should like to mention also the maintenance of the hockey pitches in the Phoenix Park in respect of which the Board of Works have fallen down considerably. There are numerous pitches there not properly maintained by the Office of Public Works. I would like the Minister to examine what he could do about that. I understand there has also been an application made to the Office of Public Works for public tennis courts in the Phoenix Park. I should like to ask the Minister also if he is examining this matter.

I listened to Deputy Callanan say something about telephone exchanges. I am under the impression that the Office of Public Works actually build the telephone exchanges. Perhaps I am wrong.

The Office of Public Works are responsible for the buildings. Deputy Callanan was referring to the delay in installing telephones.

I am talking about the building of telephone exchanges. After all, we cannot get telephones until we have exchanges. I would appeal to the Minister to build more telephone exchanges. I have had the experience of trying to get a telephone for myself. I know the reason I cannot get one is that I am living in a new housing estate and, like everybody else in new housing estates, I will probably have to wait three or four years for a telephone, not that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs do not want to instal telephones but there is no telephone exchange so one cannot get a line back to what is not there. I would hope that the Office of Public Works would allocate as much money as possible for the building of the maximum number of telephone exchanges in ensuing years which, in itself, would give additional employment. This would constitute a great outlet for extra jobs and, simultaneously, help the general public in obtaining telephones as quickly as possible.

I might mention also the area of Ballyfermot, Dublin—I know it is not mentioned in the Estimates—where they are now seeking a new post office, and have been for as long as I can remember. The population of that area is practically the same as that of Galway city. Why cannot there be a proper post office for the people of that area? There are a great number of families living there with a lot of children. There are women trying to obtain their children's allowances. The post office is housed in a tiny corner of a shop where there are always queues of people. It is an absolute disgrace. I would appeal to the Minister to include in his Estimate as soon as possible provision for a new post office for the Ballyfermot area.

I note that the Minister is responsible also for employment exchanges. Again, I would appeal for an employment exchange in the Ballyfermot area. The estimate for employment exchanges has not been mentioned. If it has not yet been allocated perhaps the Minister would include money for the building of an employment exchange in Ballyfermot. Under the aegis of the Department of Labour we are at present carrying out a survey of the unemployment situation in the Ballyfermot area. Perhaps when this survey is completed the need for an employment exchange there will be seen. After all, one cannot expect people who are drawing unemployment benefit to pay vast sums of money on bus services in and out of the city. It is essential that such an exchange be provided in the area.

Nobody has mentioned our embassies abroad yet. A very important aspect of the overall responsibility of the Office of Public Works is that our embassies be properly maintained, decorated and furnished. I know a lot of people may say "Why spend a lot of money on buildings and premises abroad?" But we liaise with people in these countries, with various departments in those countries and with our own people when they go there. Any money spent on embassies abroad is well spent. I remember once being in the embassy in Paris. It was one of the most beautiful houses in the whole city but had been let get into a really deplorable state of repair, needing a lot of money for its restoration. Subsequently, the Office of Public Works did restore and maintain it, which added greatly to the value of that building. That is what we must do. We must maintain our embassy buildings abroad, see that they are kept in good condition, are properly furnished, preferably with Irish carpets, curtain fabrics and so on, so that we may create a good impression in the country in which the embassy is located.

I compliment the Minister on his Estimate. I know he will do his best for our old houses and buildings and our national monuments. That is a very important aspect of the work of the Office of Public Works. This is something they can do best. This is something they must continue to do, namely, preserve our heritage so that tourists will be impressed with what they see and will be encouraged to come back again and again to view our beautiful old monuments and our parks. I know the Minister will be very successful and I wish him all the best in the many years we all hope he will be there.

I congratulate the Minister on increasing his Estimate by 36 per cent on last year's figure. Considerable employment must result from sensible spending by the Office of Public Works.

I represent the Roscommon-Leitrim constituency where drainage is of vital importance and I hope the proposed discussions will bring about a significant investment from the EEC in drainage in the west. The ability of our farmers to be productive, to improve land and leave it in a condition in which it can be worked for 12 months of the year is most important. At the moment drainage is a major factor in prohibiting that development of our most important industry. I would exhort the Minister to ensure the expenditure of the maximum of allocation on drainage in the west. In north Roscommon we have the Lung and Breedogue rivers which affect thousands of acres of land because of flooding. Drainage of these rivers must be commenced as soon as possible. I understand a study and cost-benefit analysis has been completed. I would make the point that any suspicions certain sections have about the integrity or credibility of our Government would be allayed by a firm commitment to the carrying out of this work. Suggestions have been made that areas were examined which might not justify the cost of drainage. I should not like to think reflections were cast on the officials of the Minister's office in carrying out this study. I am sure they carried it out fairly and honestly and in accordance with any economic guidelines that had to be taken into consideration.

Drainage of the Shannon is a major and complex task because of all the interests involved. I join my voice in support of the farmers who demand alleviation at least where the Shannon is causing very severe flooding over an area of ten miles on either side of the river as it travels through Roscommon and Leitrim. It is important that during those months in which flooding can be very heavy something is done by way of agreement between the Office of Public Works and the other interests involved to ensure the levels are reduced in order to minimise hardship and economic losses to the farmers in the affected area.

I note that £150,000 is being provided for berthing and harbour facilities. A new harbour is to commence this year at Portumna. This is a welcome development. I hope that traffic on the Shannon will increase significantly. It is most important that this traffic should have proper berthing facilities. Boats are expensive. Access to roadways and amenities can only be made through proper berthing facilities located at suitable points. I do not see any mention of improved facilities for the area between Carrick-on-Shannon and Knockvicar which is on the navigable route to Lough Ree. There is considerable density of traffic there and that will continue over the next several months.

The estimated cost for the extension to the quay at Shannonbridge is £40,000. The Minister is providing £20,000, just 50 per cent. I congratulate him on that. The sum purovided for Hodson's Bay new jetty is £55,000. The Minister is providing £15,000. Only £700 was provided last year. The cost of the new harbour at Portumna is estimated to be £50,000. The Minister is providing £30,000. The provision last year was only £18,000. The estimated cost of Shannon Navigation, Lanesboro', £10,000. Last year the sum was half that, £5,000. The Minister intends to finish the work this year. Shannon Navigation, Albert Lock, new jetty, £6,000 is the estimated cost. Last year £1,000 was provided. This year the Minister is providing £4,000, a significant and massive increase. Shannon Navigation, Lough Allen Canal restoration, £42,000 is the estimated cost. The Minister is providing a balance of £1,000 to complete that work this year and I am glad to note it is expected the canal will be opened shortly because that will bring the tourist industry right into Leitrim proper. It is a county of considerable beauty, one that has shown hospitality and welcome to tourists. Acres Lough is located beside the town of Drumshanbo in south Leitrim which nestles under the Arigna mountains and Slieve an Iarainn and is one of the most beautiful little towns in the catchment area of the north Shannon region. The Minister must be congratulated on opening the canal. I hope it will benefit the area during the coming years.

A total sum of £14,000 has been estimated for a new quay at Lough Key. A sum of £300 was provided last year and this year the Minister has provided £10,000. Those statistics are indicative of the will and commitment of the Minister to bring about significant developments in improving the Shannon waterway and in providing better amenities. The tourists who have come once to the area have always returned because they like the area and the people. The Minister has made provision for £10,000 to complete the dry dock at Roosky and a further £10,000 has been provided for extension of the harbour at Lecarrow. I am very glad to note that the Minister has provided the considerable sum of £15,000 to commence work on the new harbour at Dromod. The development association and people of the area will appreciate what the Minister is proposing and I take this opportunity to thank him.

The Minister has provided a sum of £6,000 for a survey on the Ballinamore and the Ballyconnell canal. This will be a further extension of the navigable network into the far reaches of County Leitrim and into County Fermanagh. It will be significant in many ways if this development is carried out. I congratulate the Minister on providing money for the survey which has been long sought by people in that area. They have a definite interest in the tourist industry in a county that did not have in the past the same opportunities for industrial development as other counties.

It is important that buildings that are used constantly by the public should give a proper image. Conditions should be suitable for the employees. When people are given suitable office accommodation they can work in good conditions and they can be assured that their interests are being protected. They will be able to give the service of which they are capable. Too often that service may be restricted by the fact that staff have not proper facilities in which to work.

The provision of £1,256,000 for Garda stations throughout the country is important. The gardaí have an unusual job to do and they have to face considerable hazards. They must be given suitable accommodation and the surroundings should be congenial to good humour and good temperament. This is important for the gardaí. I am very glad to see that the Castlerea Garda station is being completed and that a new district headquarters will be provided at Boyle where the present building is in very poor condition. Despite many representations in recent years nothing was done about the matter until now.

In providing facilities for our civil servants it is important that we do not forget to provide adequate facilities for public representatives and I should like the Minister to give serious consideration to the conditions that obtain in this House. I consider them most inadequate and I am sure this view is shared by many other Deputies. If a public representative is to properly serve the needs of the people he should not be handicapped or restricted. I am sure the Minister will appreciate the importance of this matter and will examine closely the conditions that obtain in Leinster House and ensure that the problem of overcrowding is rectified. Members cannot give of their best when there are three or four people working in one room. At times certain things must be said and this is an appropriate moment to make a comment on conditions here. I am confident the Minister will examine the matter.

With regard to our national monuments, I would ask the Minister to ensure that they are restored and maintained. I should like to refer to one such monument, namely, the Kilronan Abbey in Roscommon, beside which is the burial place of O'Carolan. His music is now attracting considerable interest and it is being equated with some of the best classical music not only in Ireland but in Europe and the United States.

Debate adjourned.