Vote 53—Fisheries.

I move: —

Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £10 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí i dtaobh Iascach Mara agus Intíre, maraon le hIldeontaisí-i-gCabhair.

That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1938, for Salaries and Expenses in connection with Sea and Inland Fisheries, including sundry Grants-in-Aid.

There are just three or four items in this, which are not of very much importance financially. First of all there is Sea Fisheries Protection. We did not know at the time of bringing in the main Estimate that we would succeed in getting a second cruiser. We did succeed in that, and the extra cost under that heading is £5,050. Under the Whale Fisheries Act there is an expenditure of £705 which we did not anticipate, but if Deputies will look at Appropriations-in-Aid they will find that we take in £2,100 under the same Act by collecting fees for the registration of ships. Those ships are now whaling somewhere in the Pacific, and we had to put officers on them to look after our interests. There is an extra cost of £705 and income of £2,100. The other item is a small one of £108. The Government owns fishery rights on a small river, the Owenea, in Donegal. There was a small erosion on that river which had to be repaired at a cost of £108.

I am sorry the Minister did not give us a little more information about the nature of the fishery cruiser which he has hired. For instance, what speed can it attain, and what armaments does he propose that it should carry? Now that he has two cruisers, does he propose to leave one, say, on the Donegal-Galway station, and the other on the Kerry-Cork and Waterford station?

What about Wexford?

Well, I assume Waterford would take in Wexford.

Not always.

Well, those are things which I think the Minister ought to tell us, so that we may foresee what the future holds. I see there one of my erstwhile colleagues, a Deputy from Donegal, who has succeeded me in the representation of Donegal, and I remember the glorious old days when he used to tell the people in West Donegal — as I have no doubt he himself was told before he became a candidate — that if the Fianna Fáil Government got into office we would chase every foreign trawler 50 miles away from the coast of Donegal, but from what I hear from Donegal the foreign trawlers are still camped on the coast of Donegal just as snugly and as homely as ever. Perhaps the Deputy will intervene to tell us of his experience. If he consults Deputy Brady, he will tell him that in those early days he was quite convinced that the moment Dr. Ryan became Minister for Fisheries there would not be a foreign trawler within 50 miles of Donegal. I think both my friend from West Donegal and Deputy Brady have learned a lot of sense since then. I should like to know if the Minister for Fisheries would be prepared to repeat to-night the undertakings that were so eloquently given by his predecessor in office, Senator Connolly, in West Donegal. He used to have torchlight processions over this. I remember Senator Connolly coming with a brass band down into Annagry to announce that he was about to deliver the fishermen forthwith.

The Deputy is his own brass band.

I do not require brass bands in Donegal. I am known there; Senator Connolly was not. He had to be introduced by somebody, and they thought a brass band was the best way to put him over.

You did not chance going back to them.

Is that the reason you had to leave them — because you were known?

Not at all. I think that is a matter we can go into on another occasion. I should like, however, to hear from the Minister for Fisheries to-night whether he is prepared to adopt and repeat the promises that were then made, and whether this additional cruiser will implement those promises. I very much doubt that it will, and I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister. Anyone who knows anything about fisheries knows that those cruisers are all codology. They will no more chase the trawlers than they will chase the flies off Nelson's Pillar. A great percentage of those trawlers are equipped with wireless, and warn one another when the fishery cruiser is coming. Would it not be possible to make some kind of a deal with the British Government whereby, instead of acquiring one sea fishery cruiser from a private owner as in this case, the sea fishery service of Great Britain would undertake for an annual payment to protect our territorial waters against invasion by foreign trawlers? I do not know whether that might be done by the British sea fisheries patrols or might be done by the employment of destroyers. I presume the destroyers of the British Fleet have to manoeuvre somewhere.

What about the Strabane fleet?

I am not as familiar with the Strabane fleet as the Deputy. I suppose that is the fleet of Irish trawlers now fishing in Lough Foyle since Fianna Fáil got in.

There is not a word about it here.

No, nor a whisper, but I am not so sure that there is not a word about it later on in another subhead. I will make a submission in regard to that later if I want to speak about it. I do seriously suggest to the Minister that if we are to protect our own fisheries, two fishery cruisers cannot do the job. If we could make some arrangement with the British Government that, for a stated sum, they would undertake effectively to patrol our fishery grounds with destroyers or fishery cruisers, that is the only way in which the invasion of those grounds by foreign trawlers will be put an end to.

Did they protect the fisheries when they had the responsibility?

Do not clatter. If you want to get up and talk, do so, but do not clatter like an old magpie on a bush.

Mr. Walsh

Answer the question, if you can.

We have an Irish Government now!

I seriously make that suggestion to the Minister and I think it is worth looking into. An opportunity may arise in the immediate future of discussing it with experts who will be able to speak on its feasibility. I do not suppose sub-head-F (3) does permit of a reference to the waters of Lough Foyle, seeing that the money is to be exclusively spent on the Owenea, but I would call for the whole-hearted assistance of the Deputies from Donegal in the early future when we raise the question of Lough Foyle and assert the rights of the Irish fishermen on that lough. They will, of course, remember that they publicly claimed to sweep the Six Counties' Government clean off the waters of that lough the moment Eamon de Valera was crowned King of Ireland.

I should like to ask the Minister a little more about the State-owned weir. What is its work? Is it a salmon weir? If it is a State-owned salmon weir, I certainly consider it is a strange thing that the State should enter into competition with fishermen who have to earn their living, and who are already suffering sufficiently under disabilities which have restricted the living they at one time enjoyed. The salmon fisherman now is certainly not reaping as much as he did when there was greater liberty. The question of those men and the restrictions they are under has been gone into at the Inland Fisheries inquiry, and I do not know whether the Minister is prepared to deal with that question or whether he is going to introduce any legislation giving legislative effect to the report of that inquiry.

With regard to the foreign trawlers, I can see from my hall door the foreign trawlers anchored in Ballycotton Bay—often 25 or 35 of them— and it is a very moot question whether these trawlers do not fish in prohibited waters when any coastal protection is absent. I am afraid that the unfortunate fisherman who is dependent on a State Department for help cannot regard the particular vessel that is supposed to protect their interest as a very great means of helping them to continue in their occupation, and the number of foreign trawlers that prey upon our coast—because prey they do, and deprive our fishermen of their means of living—certainly must be taken as a menace to the industry, and it would be far better to close down the Department altogether than to continue the pretence that the protection supposed to be afforded by the State is any real help. There is the Sea Fisheries Association, of course, but while those fishermen got loans in the past, they now have to pay a substantial sum by way of a deposit for any particular article they require, whether a boat, a net, or anything else. They have to pay a deposit, and a very substantial sum, which very often they have not got, and that certainly is not making for an improvement in the position of the fishermen. The Minister should discontinue that system of a deposit before he embarks on any other activity connected with fishing. That is the one thing that is restricting fishermen who have no capital.

I do not think that arises here

I think, Sir, it arises in connection with the question of the trawlers.

As an alternative to Deputy Dillon's suggestion, I should like to suggest that, as there is at the moment a number of fast motor boats on the market that are capable of doing 40 knots, it might be well to consider the advisability of making use of them, as they would be more serviceable as a fishery protection service than the existing two boats. I take it that this figure here is an annual figure for hiring, and I should like to know what is the advantage of hiring over purchase outright.

In connection with the last Estimate, Sir, I asked the Minister whether the German cattle trade was to be continued. I should like to know from him if that is so, because it is important to the farmers to know it now.

Yes, that is so. Deputy Dillon asked me a few questions in connection with this new cruiser. Amongst other things, he asked me what was her speed. She has a speed of 11 knots.

What, 11 knots! A creamery car would be as fast as that.

Deputy Dillon also asked me questions with regard to the arms which were to be put on this cruiser, and its location. Well, I think that if the Deputy wants this cruiser to be really effective, he should not ask these questions.

Where did you get that cruiser?

I really could not answer the question with regard to the arms at the moment, because we have not actually decided on the size of the gun or where it is going to be placed. I could not say where the cruiser is located, but at any rate we will try to get the best protection that we can for our fisheries. I am sure it will be understood that it would not be advisable to give the location now, because if these people got the information it would hinder the usefulness of the cruiser. We have already considered the alternative of using motor boats, and we have also considered the possibility of air protection, but they have been ruled out after a great deal of consideration both by people who could give us advice from other Departments and by our own Department, on the ground that they would not be as effective as the old type of cruiser we had.

Why? Is there not the question of speed to be considered?

Well, I cannot go into that now. At any rate, they have not been considered to be as effective as the old type of cruiser. Deputy Benson asked whether this was an annual figure and why we do not purchase outright. It is an annual figure. Again, it is, perhaps, because we were not altogether decided as to what was the best type of boat, and also because we were trying to make up our minds as to whether we should build the type of boat we want ourselves, because we have not been able to get the type we want— a type of boat that could keep out in rough seas and that would be at least as fast as the boat she would be up against. It is rather hard to get these types of boats either by purchase or any other way.

Why not turn over the defence of our fishery fleets to the Army instead of the navy, and use aeroplanes?

As I have already said, we have considered that.

Would the Minister say whether he has any information as to what the average speed of trawlers is? What would he consider to be the required speed of a cruiser to enable it to exceed the possible speed of any trawler which it would be up against?

Well, our Muirchú is able to catch any of these trawlers. She does about 14 knots and she is able to catch any of them. This other, however, will not be as speedy.

Is this only a year to year arrangement?

Yes, 12 months.

With regard to this matter of a weir to which I referred, I should like to know from the Minister what kind of a weir is it?

It is a mill weir.

Vote put and agreed to.