Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Drogheda Harbour.

9.

asked the Minister for Communications when he will make available the £300,000 already promised to the Drogheda Harbour Authority so that the authority can engage consultants to prepare plans and costings for the restoration of Ballast Quay and Welshman's Quay, Drogheda, County Louth.

15.

asked the Minister for Communications when he will grant sufficient funds to restore Ballast Quay and Welshman's Quay, Drogheda, County Louth.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 15 together.

An allocation of £300,000 was made in 1985 for a State grant to be paid to Drogheda Harbour Commissioners in respect of remedial works on Ballast and Welshman's Quays. Payment of the grant was subject to my Department and the Department of Finance being satisfied that the project was financially viable.

Subject to the approval of the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Communications will make grant assistance available to Drogheda Harbour Commissioners for remedial works on Ballast and Welshman's Quays when he is satisfied that the project is financially and technically viable. He hopes to make a decision in the near future on the financial viability of the scheme.

Is the Minister of State aware that the quays in question are in a deplorable condition, that they are deteriorating rapidly and that the money is needed immediately?

I am aware that, as the Deputy says, the situation there is very serious. The latest material from the harbour commissioners on the proposal was received in September. Those data are being examined by the Department at present with a view to reaching a decision as to the financial viability of the scheme. When this examination is completed, Department of Finance approval for the scheme will be necessary, assuming that my Department are satisfied as to its financial viability. The difficulties that have arisen there are well recognised.

Can I take it that the harbour commissioners have received the final letter for a request for information from the Department, in other words, that the information supplied in September that the Minister of State has referred to will be the final information necessary?

All the indications in my briefing are that that seems to have answered the questions. There is no indication that it is unsatisfactory or that further communications have to go forward. Some technical points may arise.

The Minister of State will be aware that the harbour commissioners have been inundated with letters from his Department looking for information, that the information has been supplied not once but many times, and that the most recent letters from the Department had deteriorated to the level where they were asking the number of ships which double berthed at the quays which are in operation, the length of the ships and other nonsense of that ilk. I hope we will have no more requests for further information from the Department but that a decision will be made very quickly on the basis of the information already supplied.

I will be pressing for an early decision. I am aware of the great detail into which the Department go in these matters, having just witnessed the completion of a very successful dredging scheme in my own port of Sligo. I have no indication here that any further information is being sought.

Is the Minister of State aware that, should these quays, which are in a deplorable condition as I have said, collapse they will drag into the river much of the good work which has been done already to other quays as a result of the money which I made available to the port of Drogheda when I was Minister for Transport?

I am not so aware but I will take note of the Deputy's position on that. I am sure full details of this are in the technical data.