SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - REPORT OF JOINT COMMITTEE ON TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION OF OIREACHTAS.

I beg formally to move the adoption of the Report.

I second.

This is a very interesting topic, and one cannot allow it to pass without some expression of opinion on the various issues that are raised. I take it that the Report means that the Oireachtas is to be housed for some indefinite period here in the premises of the Royal Dublin Society. At the outset, I would like to say that I recognise, very fully, the great indebtedness which the Royal Dublin Society has placed the Seanad under in allowing us to avail of their hospitality so long. I am sure we would all like if the period of our enjoyment of that hospitality could be short, because we recognise the inconvenience and the difficulties we are placing them under so far as the carrying out of their splendid public services are concerned. But these are not pleasant times, and one has to put up with a certain amount of inconvenience. The Royal Dublin Society, unfortunately, has to put up with that state of affairs like a great many other people. All we hope is that the day is near at hand when we shall be able to restore the buildings and amenities to the Royal Dublin Society. We are certainly grateful to them for their hospitality both as members of the Seanad, members of the public, and members of the Society. I had hoped that the time was coming when we could have said good-bye to the Royal Dublin Society, and allowed them occupy their own premises, thanking them, as we certainly would do, for their hospitality during these very difficult years. I would have thought that we might have come to some more permanent decision on this matter. No member of the Committee will, I hope, imagine that I am finding fault with the report. In the circumstances they could not report otherwise. They were limited by their instructions and by the terms of reference, and could only consider the question of the temporary housing of the Oireachtas.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I am afraid I cannot allow any discussion of this report on the question of the permanent accommodation of the Oireachtas. We did not consider it. It has no relation to our report and did not touch it.

I bow to your ruling, and I have nothing more to say as far as the report of the temporary housing of the Oireachtas is concerned. As far as the future development of this question goes that, of course, will be a matter for individuals to act as they think best.

Am I to accept that ruling as definite that no discussion can now take place with regard to the future of the Royal Dublin Society? Is it assumed that the occupation by the Oireachtas of these premises is permanent?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

No, that does not arise at all. We were strictly confined by the terms of reference to reporting as to the best location for the temporary accommodation of the Oireachtas. In recommending the retention of the premises of the Royal Dublin Society we have strictly confined ourselves to that.

In recommending the retention of the Royal Dublin Society's premises, we have done so entirely and exclusively on the basis of temporary occupation. Therefore, any discussion on the contrary assumption, namely, on the assumption of a permanent occupation, would be irrelevant to this report.

That very much cramps anyone who wishes to discuss this question. I quite understand the point you raise—the Committee were only contemplating a temporary occupation. It was very difficult for the Society not to look upon it more or less as a permanent one. I believe that the Government look with sympathy towards the Society as other Governments have done. They have been most kind and the Minister for Agriculture especially has been very kind in regard to the Society's shows and so forth. It is unnecessary to say that even the continued temporary occupation of the building is a very serious matter for the Society as there is a danger that the Society may gradually disappear. A large membership is required. Very large funds are distributed every year and we have always tried to work the Society on a generous scale. I hope that the Government with that sympathy which they have afforded the Society will endeavour to do what they can to lessen this temporary occupation of the building.

As regards the report I should think that it would be easier for the Government to find the necessary room than to put the Royal Dublin Society to the trouble of finding alternative accommodation.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That is put in at their own request.

Could we get any information as to where the Society will be able to go?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That would depend upon which of these alternatives was adopted. If the alternative was adopted of the Government providing accommodation one might speculate about their going to certain Government buildings, but if on the other hand the Society should prefer to provide the accommodation themselves we could not speculate upon it.

I do not know if it is relevant to suggest an alternative to the Royal Dublin Society buildings. There is an edifice in Molesworth St., the Masonic Hall, which is very central and which can accommodate about 400 people. As this is not occupied all the week perhaps it would be possible to secure it for the purposes of the Society.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That is a matter we cannot discuss. It was not referred to us and we did not report on it. This is a matter for arrangement between the Society and the Government.

Question: "That the Report of the Joint Committee on the Temporary Accommodation of the Oireachtas be adopted"—put and agreed to.