Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 24 Nov 1937

Vol. 69 No. 8

Additional Estimate. - Fisheries Bill, 1937—Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1 and 2 and the Title agreed.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration."

Has this Bill got anything to do with the several fisheries?

No. It has to do with the rating of fisheries.

The Minister has repeatedly said, Sir, on previous Fisheries Bills—

The Deputy might take that on the Fifth Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

The Minister has said on several occasions, when discussing Fishery Bills in this House, that sooner or later, the Government intended to review the whole position in regard to the several fisheries, and that the lines on which their mind was running were the compulsory acquisition of those several fisheries, holding them for the State and using them under some board analogous to the Electricity Supply Board, or some arrangement of that kind. On each of these occasions I have asked him if he was in a position to say whether the Government intended, in the event of their deciding compulsorily to acquire the several fisheries, to make that compulsory acquisition with compensation retrospective, because the present situation is that we have still obtaining in the country a number of several fisheries, which, as the House knows, are very valuable properties, while at the same time at least one several fishery has, by judicial decision, been virtually confiscated and the proprietor left without any compensation at all. Now, it would be unbecoming to criticise a judgement of our own courts, and I have no desire to do so. I have merely a desire to comment on the situation which has arisen as a result of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Erne fishery case. There is a man who owned property which was worth I believe in the neighbourhood of £10,000 a year, and who woke up one morning to discover that that property worth £10,000 a year no longer belonged to him. Now, it was not a question of a person who had been made a grant, by some early British King, of property that did not belong to that British King when he granted it. It was a question of a man who, for valuable consideration within the last 100 years, had bought this property from a grantee, and when he bought the property there was never any question of the then owner's title being challenged. It was regarded as the soundest and most secure type of property. We can well imagine what he must have paid for that property if it did in fact yield £10,000 a year, and we can well imagine the grave sense of injustice under which he must labour when he realised that all that money had been lost.

I infer from what the Minister has said on previous occasions that he sympathises with the position of the owners of the several fisheries in this country now, and that without going into the legal question of whether their titles are challengeable, or unchallengeable, the Government proposes to intervene and, by statute, vest those fisheries in the Government and give their present owners fair compensation. When we do that, my submission is that the Government should make up its mind to deal with the case of the man whose title has been successfully challenged. Some people may say that that question might well be left over until the main question came to be dealt with, but I would remind the House of this fact, that where a man has suffered a staggering loss of this kind his mental anguish must be very considerable, and the difficulty of meeting commitments into which he has entered must be gravely aggravated by the fact that he has to provide for those commitments on the assumption that this immense property of which he was once the owner is no longer his. If he were now reassured that, when the time comes to deal with the whole of this matter, he would get the same treatment as every other owner of the several fisheries in Ireland, then with the aid of his usual financial advisers he could arrange his affairs so as to carry on until such time as this House reached the business of winding up the whole question of the several fisheries in Ireland. For those reasons I would ask the Minister to take this opportunity of saying that—whether he has made up his mind or whether the Executive Council has made up their minds as to the exact nature of the legislation they propose to sponsor in regard to the several fisheries—if the legislation contains a proposal compulsorily to acquire those fisheries, the rights of the proprietors of the Erne Fishery Company will receive the same consideration and the same treatment as the rights of any other several fishery owner in the country.

I am glad that Deputy Dillon availed of this opportunity to raise the question about certain rights that have been interfered with by the Government in respect of fisheries.

The Chair is not too happy' about allowing the debate to be widened in this way.

I do not intend to drift very far along the tidal waters any more than Deputy Dillon. I want to refer to the town of Killaloe. I should like to refer the Minister to the position in that particular district, where two Governments have succeeded in destroying the fishery industry which was there, and it was a very extensive industry. Those people, their fathers and forefathers had that as an industry for centuries. Now two successive Governments have succeeded in destroying that industry in the town of Killaloe. Those men were born fishermen, and their fathers before them. The industry was a source of income to the whole town; it brought many tourists there. No compensation by way of employment was found for those people. No attempt was made by either Government to find employment for them. The town is now practically without any industry of any kind. There is an increasing number of unemployed there, and no means of finding employment for them. That is the vested interest with which I am concerned, and I would ask the Minister whether approach has ever been made to him by any Department in respect of it, whether any attempt has been made to rehabilitate the fishing industry in that area, or whether there is going to be any attempt made to find employment for the men put out of work because of what the Government did in respect to the fisheries of that district. I think it is time something was done in connection with this matter. I am glad that the question of compensation has been raised on this Bill, because it is time that the unemployed fishermen of Killaloe and district got some attention from some Government.

I hardly expected that some of those matters would be raised, but, as I stated already, a more comprehensive Bill dealing with the acquisition of inland fisheries and the regulation of fishing on estuary rivers and so on will, I expect, be before the House in the next Session, in the Session after Christmas. When it is introduced, all these questions will come up for consideration. I am not in a position to say how compensation will be paid to the owners of inland fisheries. The Bill will deal with that matter and Deputies will get a very full opportunity of discussing the whole case.

There are three or four different classes to be dealt with. There are the owners of inland fisheries, where the ownership is not disputed, at least up to the moment. Then there are fisheries where the ownership is disputed and the matter is not yet decided by the court. There are also inland fisheries' where the ownership was held by the court not to exist and, lastly, there is the case mentioned by Deputy Hogan. All these cases will come under consideration when this Bill is being considered, with the exception of the one mentioned by Deputy Hogan. This House took the Shannon fisheries away from me and handed them over to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I do not see that anything can be done as far as that particular class of fishermen is concerned.

I would like to ask Deputy Hogan and other Deputies to try to be a little more precise and exact when they talk about the sufferings of different people. Whenever people talk about suffering as a result of legislation, they talk about Government action, not Dáil action. When things turn out well, we have Deputies going down the country and declaring "It was our Party got the Government to do this." That is when things go well; but when things go badly it is all the Government's fault.

Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—agreed to.