ACCOMMODATION AT DÚN LAOGHAIRE PIER.

I beg to move:

"That the Seanad requests the Government to improve the accommodation on Dún Laoghaire Pier for passengers crossing from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead and vice versa.

I have raised this subject before, and I shall raise it again, because the accommodation on the pier at Kingstown is inadequate. On February the 13th my wife crossed from Holyhead to Kingstown, coming from Euston, and the mail packet arrived at 5.30, rather before the scheduled time. There was a large mail on board. There were no porters to carry the passengers' luggage on the pier. The first train was missed, the second train was missed, and finally my wife and other ladies managed to get to Dublin by the third train. I think I am right there. During this long wait the only seats available for those ladies and others who had suffered in the same way was the ricketty table on which the Customs authorities examine our luggage. That is a table on trestles, and is not a pleasant one to sit on. As I said before, the crossing was a rough one. There was a hymn sung in my parish two Sundays ago which reminded me very much of what happened there on that particular winter morning:

"Calm amidst tumultuous motion and with wonder

They, on toils and dangers past——"

In the last verse is—

"Trouble ceases on that tranquil happy shore——"

The happy shore in the hymn is heaven, but Kingstown Pier is very far from heaven. After a rough passage it may be a haven, but not a haven of rest. To continue, Sir, this winter journey, the railway carriages in which the passengers are carried to Dublin may be described as Methusalean. They are exactly the same as my grand-parents sat in, or must have sat in.

The first-class is furnished with red plush, much worn, of an early Victorian stuff that is indescribable. The third-class is best left to the imagination. I have travelled in them very often. I admit that some new carriages have been made, but you must understand my meaning in regard to the third class. Imagine yourself, a bad sailor, after a bad crossing, and feeling for all the world like a worm on a vermifuged golf-link. I cannot imagine anything that describes it better. I have read the pamphlet that Senator Sir T. Esmonde has circulated. He is chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company. I am very sorry to see that he is not in his seat. He says, on page 14, "The directors have in mind only two interests—the interests of the community served by our line, and the interests of our own stockholders." That is to say, the interests of the community, comprising the public and ourselves. The truth of it is that we are so accustomed in this country, in passing to and fro from Holyhead to Kingstown, and Kingstown to Holyhead, and doing it with the utmost discomfort, that we really do not take any notice of it.

Since I spoke last something has been done, and I went down yesterday in my motor to see what had been done. There has been erected what may be described as a cow-shed, or, rather, a shed that you would not put up for bullocks to protect them against the stormy winds that blow in our beloved country. Somebody may ask: "What do you want done?" I will tell you exactly what I want done. There is no reason why, at the end of that shed that I have described a door should not be fixed which would open inwards, and when the wind blows from the east, that door should be shut after the passengers have passed in to have their luggage examined, and vice-versa on the other side. I may say in passing that it was a most lovely day, without a breath of wind on the sea. You could hardly imagine that Kingstown Pier could be such a disagreeable place on a winter's morning. There is at the other end what I might describe as a calf-shed. When you put up a shed for calves you put up a shelter at the end of it, and that shelter is there. I do not think it is for passengers; I believe it is for the porters and the other officials, because I am told by my wife that she was ushered into the shed I have described, and not into this shed. That is a very nice corner to shelter in. There are no seats anywhere. This is the journey. The passengers arrive a little before 5.30, and it took exactly two hours to get to the Hibernian Hotel, where my wife was putting up. Now, that is perfectly ridiculous. Why, you could ride there on a bicycle in that time. A smart runner might get there in the time, and certainly in one of these Dublin four-wheeled cabs you could get there much quicker. I have been asked to tell a story of what happened to myself. You will hardly believe it. I have told this to some members of the Seanad, and I should like to tell it to you, Sir, and the Seanad.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It will not be necessary to ask the strangers to withdraw?

No, it is quite proper, Sir. I was travelling in the early spring last year. I went down in a motor. It was a very rough, stormy morning, and I went along the pier, where the passengers were passing in. I had to take my luggage into what you, Sir, described on one occasion as a hen-house. The ladies were passing on board with band-boxes and hat-boxes in their hands, these kinds of paper things that you see them carry. I heard a cry on the gangway of, "Oh, my hat." I looked. I could see no headgear floating away, but what had really happened was that one of these large paper hat-boxes had fallen into the sea between the ship and the pier, upon which a sailor, with a long pole with a hook at the end of it, such as are used to rescue people who are blown overboard, fished it out of the sea. You may imagine the state of the hat-box. I, like many others, was looking at the unhappiness of my fellow-creatures on that winter morning. I just turned my head, and a gust of wind took my hat and off it went down the pier. I thought there must have been a demon in the wind, or in the hat. Off it went down the pier, rolling over and over, and landed in a large pool of thick motor oil which is used for the turbines. But that is not all. The first train came puffing in and another gust of wind again took my hat. I said: "Well, that is the end of the hat"; but the train stopped suddenly and out hopped the stoker. He began, like a football player who is dribbling, to try to stop the hat, but it landed in front of the engine. He very kindly picked it up and handed it to me, wiping it with his oil-squab. I thanked him very much and said: "For goodness' sake do not go on wiping my hat with an oil-squab." I went on board and met a very old friend of mine, and I asked who was the lady who lost her hat. He said: "That is my wife." I said "Gracious goodness me, how dreadful." It was a new hat. They were going on their honeymoon and the bride had bought this beautiful hat evidently to do a little shopping in London. A little later on there was an assembly of sympathetic stewards, and some of the lady passengers and I had a glimpse of the hat. It was a mass of soiled ribbons, and the paper thing was all in a pulp, and it was really quite a tragedy for the bride to have that happen.

It all amounts to this, that I hope the Government will see that better accommodation is provided. There is no doubt that this year a great many people will be coming to Ireland for the Tailteann Games. A great many Irish-Americans will like to come to see the old country under new conditions, and they will take in both the Tailteann Games and the Wembley Exhibition, and in all seriousness I really hope that the accommodation will be improved before that. Otherwise what will happen is that they will come once and they will never come again.

I second the motion.

Might I enter upon this interesting discussion, though really my contribution to it cannot be very practical. I had not the pleasure of hearing the noble Lord's opening remarks. If he would hand me his notes dealing with any particular point I would do my best to answer them if I can. May I see your notes, Senator?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think the substance of the Senator's speech was contained in his concluding remarks.

I was going to say that quite apart from what his opening remarks may have been, his concluding remarks were absolutely inimitable and I shall always congratulate myself that I have been present at the birth of a new edition of "The Innocents Abroad." It was a most pathetic and wonderful story of the misfortunes of travellers coming to these shores. I do sympathise very deeply with this matter of the hat— the two hats. The first hat was a most appalling tragedy but the second had afforded a little more diversion certainly to the gentleman who endeavoured to clean it with an oil rag. He really was not a most obliging man and I am glad that the noble Lord bore testimony to that fact. The question really is this. You cannot have a Customs examination without a certain amount of inconvenience. In the old days when one went backwards and forwards between this country and England there was no Customs examination, and people merely went out of the train to the steamer or from the steamer to the train, and they were not stopped in any way. They have to stop now and they have to stop upon both sides, and my experience as a very constant traveller, unfortunately, is that the arrangements are quite as good upon this side as they are upon the other.

As far as the Customs officials are concerned I do not think that anything could be said which would be strong enough to express our appreciation of the great courtesy and the great care with which they have discharged their duties.

The EARL OF MAYO

Hear, hear.

They certainly do the very best they can under somewhat awkward conditions. The whole trouble really arises from the fact that baggage must be examined, and we have not had sufficient experience on our side, or, indeed, at the other side. But I think, so far as the Customs officials are concerned, they deserve our warmest praise. The matter really is one of the construction of the pier, and the amount of space available for Customs examination. In other countries where they have been in the habit of doing these things for many years, they probably do them better than we do. I have had very considerable difficulties at many Custom offices in different parts of the world. Possibly the worst Custom House in the world and where the largest influx of passengers obtain, is in New York, and the Customs arrangements there are anything but satisfactory. So far as we are concerned, we have only to do the best we can. It is a matter of sheltering the people on the pier, and that conceivably could be arranged by the responsible Government Department which is in charge. They have done a good deal in that respect already.

I was there yesterday.

The noble Lord may have been unfortunate, perhaps, in his experience of the weather, as he certainly has been unfortunate in his experience of hats. There are certain proposals before the Company I represent. I am not responsible for the Customs examination, but I hope that it may be possible in the course of the summer to make things a little more convenient for passengers, as regards getting them away more quickly. A large number of people arrive there, very often at short notice of their coming, and it is not always possible at the last moment to make arrangements for their speedy transport. That matter has been looked into, and I think when the summer comes passengers will find, apart from the necessary delay and inconvenience of Customs examination, that arrangements will have been made to carry them away as quickly as possible, so that the noble Lord may reach his hotel whether on a bicycle, or in a growler, or whatever way it pleases him, more rapidly than at present. The whole question arises out of the Customs examination, and that examination is likely to continue, and we have only to put up with it. So far as those who travel much are concerned, they will sympathise with the noble Lord in the desire for a quicker examination of baggage there, and I hope when the summer comes there will be an improvement.

The discussion of this motion has furnished an amusing interlude, but I think we should not overlook the fact that we passed an identical resolution some weeks ago. I think Senator the Earl of Mayo has introduced the motion, because sufficient has not been done to improve what he considers are public requirements. It would, I think, make us look absurd to pass a similar resolution on this occasion, and consequently if the Earl of Mayo cannot see his way to withdraw the motion I shall have to move that the Seanad proceed to the next business.

I do not withdraw, sir.

I would second the motion Senator O'Farrell has said he would propose if this motion is not withdrawn. As an alternative, I would suggest, apart from the humour of the discussion, that discussions of this kind are not consonant with the dignity of this Chamber. I think that representations to the Government or the people concerned would be the best way of dealing with it, and if the Earl of Mayo would accept the suggestion I make that this matter be referred to Senators Burgess, Bagwell and Sir Thos. Esmonde for their consideration and report it would be better.

I have made representations to the proper Department. I brought it before them, and, as I have said, I have been passed on from one Department to another. When I take up a matter of this sort I can assure the Seanad I am not going to drop it, because I know perfectly well big crowds are coming. Senator Sir Thos. Esmonde admitted that the accommodation might be improved, and that they were going to get the passengers away quicker. That is the whole essence of what I was speaking about— that long wait in the cold and wet— and Sir Thomas Esmonde admits the principle I have enunciated, that the passengers must be properly looked after. He said in the summer, but I hope these arrangements will continue during the winter.

It is then that the misery and discomfort occurs at Dún Laoghaire Pier. I will leave the matter to the Seanad, and will not withdraw my motion.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I do not know whether Senator the Earl of Mayo will be satisfied with the suggestion made by Senator Farren, which seems to me to be a very sensible one. We have the advantage of having on the Seanad probably two of the most influential men to bring about the sort of changes that he desires. We have Senator Burgess, who has attained to the very highest position in the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway, that of General Manager. We have also got the Chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway, Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde. There are no two men whose influence would be greater or more powerful to bring about the reform suggested. It would seem to me that a committee consisting of these Senators, if they would be good enough to consider and report on the question, would be much more likely to produce what the Senator is aiming at than mere representation to the Government.

I think that the suggestion is a very good one. But what about the terms of reference?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

You might alter the resolution to say that the Seanad requests Senators Burgess, Bagwell, and Sir T. Esmonde to act as the committee and report to the Seanad as to the possible improvement of the accommodation at Dún Laoghaire Pier.

Might I suggest that the Board of Works should be associated with this committee because they have the last word in these matters? Would you mention Sir Philip Hanson's name?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

We can ask this Committee to work in co-operation with the Board of Works.

I suggest that Senator the Earl of Mayo be added to the Committee so as to bring some outside influence into the matter.

I should like to know what position we will be in if Senators Burgess and Bagwell, who are not here, refuse to be parties to such a Committee.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The Committee will not sit. This is simply a request.

I would prefer that we should try and ensure their acquiescence before we put ourselves in the position of making the request.

I suggest that Senator Burgess's name be left out, as he can hardly attend now.

He would certainly receive the correspondence and could appoint someone to act for him.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

It would be very desirable to have him. Would this meet the views of the Seanad: "That Senators Burgess, Sir Thomas Esmonde, Bagwell, and the Earl of Mayo be requested to act as a Committee with the co-operation of the Board of Works for the purpose of improving the accommodation," and so on?

Would it not be wiser to say "to consult and report to the Seanad," so that there would be no question of actually sitting as a Committee?

There is no reason why we should not sit as a Committee.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

This will not prevent you sitting if you find it convenient: "That Senators Burgess. Sir Thos. Esmonde, Bagwell, and the Earl of Mayo be requested to confer together for the purpose of effecting, with the co-operation of the Board of Works improvements in the accommodation on Dún Laoghaire Pier for passengers crossing from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead, and vice versa."

Motion put and agreed to.