CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - ELECTION OF CONSERVATORS (BALLYSHANNON).

asked the Minister for Lands and Fisheries whether his attention has been directed to irregularities alleged to have taken place in connection with the recent election of conservators for Ballyshannon District (No. 13); and whether, in view of the dissatisfaction existing amongst the fishermen in connection with same, he will issue instructions for a sworn inquiry to be held at Ballyshannon in regard to the matter; and if, after investigation, it is proved that irregularities did take place, he will order a new election to be held.

Allegations have been made that the recent meeting for the election of conservators for the Ballyshannon District was conducted in an irregular manner. I have no power to order an inquiry of the nature suggested, but it is open to any aggrieved person to seek a legal remedy in the courts.

Is the Minister aware that for the tidal electoral area of the Ballyshannon district not even one nominee of the fishermen was elected; furthermore, that there are serious allegations made that no proper notice was given in regard to the election; that licences were taken out by certain people who voted on the 30th September, which is in the close season; that it is alleged the election took place before the hour at which it was advertised; that people took licences in order to defeat the legitimate fishermen, and that people voted who never knew anything about fishing and who never fished in their lives? Should not the Minister's Department, which should be concerned in the matter, in the interests of the fishermen, have a sworn inquiry into the question and, if it be proved after investigation that there were irregularities, order that a new election take place? The Minister says that he has no power to order an inquiry, but I think it is the duty of his Department, seeing that it should be interested in the fishermen.

That is a whole series of statements. I had already heard some of the allegations mentioned, but I had not heard some more of them until now. The position is that I have no power to order a new election The power of deciding these matters is in the courts and not in the Minister.

The Minister knows the actual position and he knows that the fishermen are in very poor circumstances. Injustice has been meted out to them owing to the manner in which this election was conducted, and seeing that the fishermen are in poor circumstances, and realising the fact that they are not able to fight the matter through the courts, I submit that the Minister's Department should come to their aid.

The Deputy seems to suggest that I should try to override the law in the matter.