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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Jul 1940

Vol. 24 No. 23

Local Government (Dublin) (Amendment) Bill, 1940—Second and subsequent Stages.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Bill proposes to make certain amendments in the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930. It is also proposed to provide for the incorporation of the Urban District of Howth in the County Borough of Dublin.

Section 101 of the Act of 1930, which it is proposed to repeal, provided for the appointment of a tribunal to report on boundaries and joint public health services within five years after the passing of the Act and for a further investigation of these problems by a tribunal to be appointed not later than ten years after the passing of the Act. The first tribunal made a very extensive investigation into the problem of joint services for Dublin City and County and submitted a comprehensive report on these matters towards the end of 1938. In their review of the conditions in Dublin City and County in the years 1935 and 1936 the tribunal had before them a record of development in the previous 10 or 15 years which was unprecedented in the history of the metropolis. Development in those years proceeded at a very rapid rate. There is no need for entering upon a second investigation of the same problems, and it is proposed to repeal the provisions of Section 101 of the Act of 1930.

The tribunal in their report did definitely establish the need for bringing the Howth Urban District within the county borough for administrative purposes, and their opinion was subsequently endorsed by the Howth Urban District Council. This Bill, therefore, proposes to give legislative effect to its inclusion in the county borough. The urban district is a favourite pleasure ground for the citizens of Dublin, and the future development of the area and the preservation of its amenities should have an important place in city management. The financial effect of the merger will be slight both for the city and the urban district. The rates for the present year are 22/6 in the urban district, inclusive of a water rate of 2/4 in the £, and 20/9 in the £ in the county borough. The incidence of the rate on agricultural land in the urban district is likely to be higher when it is incorporated in the county borough, as it will then be rated as other agricultural land in the county borough to a municipal rate on one-half the annual rateable valuation.

Section 5 of the Bill incorporates the relevant portions of the Act of 1930, which are considered necessary by reason of the inclusion of the urban district in the city. The Bill incorporates provisions relating to the transfer of property and liabilities; the preservation of continuing contracts; the continuance of bye-laws, of resolutions of the council, and of any legal proceedings pending; the collection of rates due or accruing to the urban district; the transfer of officers and employees; the award of compensation to officers by reason of abolition of offices, and the application and adaptation of enactments.

The Bill also repeals sub-section (3) of Section 53 of the Act of 1930. It makes provision for the appointment of Dublin City Manager in the manner laid down in the County Management Act for the appointment of county managers. On a vacancy occurring in the office of city manager the Minister for Local Government and Public Health shall request the local appointments commissioners to recommend a person for appointment, and the person so recommended shall become thereby appointed by virtue of such recommendation to the office on a date to be fixed by the Minister. When the office becomes vacant the Minister shall also appoint a person to be city manager until the permanent appointment is made.

I should like to say a word or two about a matter that may have come to the notice of Senators. In a sub-leader in a Dublin morning paper, the suggestion was made that, in putting this Bill before the Dáil, I tried to slip something through with regard to this tribunal. I thought I made that matter perfectly clear in the Dáil. The person who wrote that article fell into the error of thinking that there was to be a revision of a tribunal every five years. That is not so. What the 1930 Act provided was that a tribunal to inquire into the position in Greater Dublin should be set up within five years after the passing of that Act, and that, in not less than three years after the appointment of the first tribunal and not more than ten years after the passing of the Act of 1930, another tribunal should be set up. That would mean that the second tribunal would be set up in this month. That was to be final. No provision was made, as the writer of this article seemed to think, for the setting up of a tribunal every five years to review the position in Greater Dublin. I made that matter perfectly clear in the Dáil. A tribunal was set up in 1935. It took a great deal of evidence, and it made its report in 1938. I am proposing to repeal in this Bill the provision that a further tribunal should now be set up. In the County Management Bill we provided machinery which will help to implement the findings of the tribunal which was set up in 1935, and which reported in 1938.

There is no purpose, I suggest, in setting up another tribunal when we have got only so far as we have got in implementing the report of the commission that was presented in 1938. That is why I am repealing this provision to set up another tribunal in this month. Then, again, the present is not a suitable time, not only to set up a tribunal, but to implement the findings of the previous tribunal.

This Bill, as it stands, is all to the good, but what puzzles me is why it should be confined merely to the introduction of Howth into a Greater Dublin. Since the last extension of the city boundaries there are many peculiarities and irregularities, and I think it is a pity, instead of confining the Bill simply to bringing in the urban district of Howth, that these peculiarities in relation to the existing boundaries were not rectified. There are districts that are rapidly being developed as housing areas, and they are on the outside of the existing city boundaries, although at the same time they are subject to such facilities as exist in the city in regard to light, water and sewerage. I think that entails a considerable amount of difficulty between the existing Dublin authority and the authority functioning in the county outside. It is a pity that this measure was not made more comprehensive, so as to cover such districts as these.

There is one portion of land in the north of the county, pretty near the boundary of Howth, which might be regarded as a sort of island. It is a portion of County Dublin completely surrounded by Dublin City. It is a pity that matters like that have not been rectified in this Bill. In Inchicore there was not even the extension of an inch when the boundaries were being extended in 1930, and in relation to that particular case it is a pity something was not done in this Bill. The area outside the city has been considerably developed since 1930 and, unless we are to have another Bill further to extend the city boundaries, I think it is regrettable that these matters to which I have referred were not dealt with in this measure.

One would be inclined to think that the body which will now have to undertake the liability, because positive liability there will be, would have been given some opportunity of considering this matter. Dublin City already has had experience of the taking in of urban authorities, such as Rathmines and Pembroke, and it is a great pity that the corporation did not get some opportunity of expressing their views for or against this measure. So far as I know, this Bill has not come before the corporation. If there was any indication given of the introduction of such a Bill as this it is quite possible— I am not saying they would not, but it is quite possible—that the Dublin Corporation would not have gone to the terrible expense of purchasing the St. Anne's estate. As we are all aware, there was a huge amount of money expended in that connection. By taking in the Howth area, presumably there will be sufficient space for any extensions that may be contemplated. I do not know that the Dublin Corporation were anxious—I am speaking now as an individual member—for the liability they have incurred by the taking in of such a wide district. I am merely expressing the same opinion as was stated by Alderman Kelly in the Dáil, that it is only reasonable and fair that the corporation should have been given some opportunity of discussing this matter.

As a member of the Dublin County Council who happens to be elected for the particular area concerned, I must say that I am quite satisfied that this is a good Bill and that it is necessary. There is more in common between the people and the conditions in Howth and the people and the conditions in the City of Dublin than there is between Howth and rural Dublin. I welcome this Bill and I regard it as satisfactory. I do not agree with Senator Healy that there is going to be any burden. I feel that there is far more in common between Howth and the city than between Howth and, let us say, Garristown.

There is one portion of land at Howth in which I am interested, and I should like to know from the Minister what arrangement will be made with regard to it. It is at Howth Junction, and the people there are nobody's children, as it were. They cannot get work in the county because of certain conditions, and they cannot get work in the city because they are not in the city. There are 30 families there, and really they often have to wonder where they are. Can the Minister say what way Howth Junction is going to be fixed? The people are not in a good way, because they are, as I have indicated, nobody's children.

By way of correction, I did not exactly indicate that it would be a burden on the city; I said that possibly it may be a burden. Senator Tunney is a member of the county council, and it is perfectly clear that he welcomes the new arrangement. Possibly it will relieve him of a burden.

That is the other way of saying it.

I should like to explain to Senator O'Donovan why we did not bring in other areas. We brought in Howth because Howth applied and the Greater Dublin Commission recommended it. That is why we are bringing it in at this time. I agree it would be more satisfactory if we could go further and get the Greater Dublin report implemented, but it would be a very big problem and I am afraid that this is not a suitable time to go ahead with it.

With regard to what Senator Tunney referred to, there is a portion of land at Kilbarrack cutting in between Dublin City and Howth. That portion of land cuts in between the Dublin City boundary and the Howth Urban District, and I was under the impression for some time that it belonged to the county. I am now informed that that is not so, that the City and Howth Urban District do join there.

As to the question of a burden or liability, there is not going to be any question of a burden. The rates are practically the same, and, of course, there are certain joint services. The water is taken by the Howth Urban Council from the Dublin Corporation under an arrangement. There is also an arrangement required with regard to sewerage.

Howth is a place that the Dublin people have always been looking to see developed. It has a population of 4,500. The valuation is about £26,000. You cannot expect a small area like that, adjoining the City of Dublin, to develop as it should or could be developed when you take into account its population and valuation. It is an area that would not, I imagine, be able to bear the burden of the development that should take place, certainly not over a short period at any rate. The people of Dublin avail of all the amenities which Howth possesses, and it is for them to make it better than what it is. That, of course, will be a matter entirely for the Dublin Corporation. So far as the present liabilities of Howth are concerned, no one, I think, need worry. It will be a matter for the Dublin Corporation to decide what development should take place in Howth in the future, whether they should add to its amenities and so on. Howth is certainly an area that should be under the control of the Dublin Corporation. If the water supply and sewerage system there are to be improved, and if many other things in Howth which are not perhaps in a satisfactory condition at the moment are to be attended to, then I suggest that it is the people of Dublin, who avail of the advantages of that area, who should say whether it is desirable or not that these improvements should be carried out.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed: That the remaining stages of the Bill be taken now.
Bill considered in Committee.
Sections 1 to 14, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.