Cuirimse fáilte roimh an mBille seo. Níor chóir gur ghrá Dé bheadh sa tseirbhís seo. Tá mé a cheapadh gur go faillíoch a rinne an Comhlucht ar a bhfuil cúram na seirbhíse seo a gcuid oibre agus i ngeall ar sin, bhí súil ar muintir na hOileán go gcuirfí an tseirbhís seo faoi chúram Chóras Iompair Eireann; ach do réir ailt a 4 den Bhille seo is cosúil go bhfuil sé ar intinn na Roinne gan bacadh leis sin agus an comhlucht a bhí i mbun na seirbhíse fhágáil ina bun. Dá mbeadh an tseirbhíse faoi Chóras Iompair Eireann bheadh búntáiste amháin ag muintir na nOileán, sé sin, ní bheadh táillí costasacha ar earraí ón stáisiún go dtí an bád; agus, rud eile dhe, bheadh seirbhís rialta acu. Ar chuma ar bith, ní ceart aon dream a cháineadh mar gheall ar ar thárla le linn an chogaidh. Tá a fhios ag gach duine gur ganntanas guail ba chionntach leis an tseirbhís sin a bheith go hole agus chruthaigh an tAire agus an Roinn go rí-mhaith agus an oiread sin ghuail a chur ar fáil agus a thug deis don ghaltán seoladh uair amháin sa tseachtain agus bhí muintir na nOileán an-bhuíoch dá bharr san.
I welcome this Bill also, and I think it was not quite fair of the last speaker to refer to the inadequacy of the service during recent years. That was not due to any fault either of the Galway Bay Steamship Company or of any other authority in the country. The service was reduced to one sailing a week, but at the beginning of the emergency when coal first became very scarce, I think the people did not expect that the coal situation would permit of even one sailing per week. However, co-operation between the company and the Department resulted in sufficient coal being available to guarantee one sailing per week, and the people have been, on the whole, in view of all the circumstances, very appreciative of the joint efforts in that respect.
I note, however, that the Minister proposes to authorise his Department to waive their right to take over possession of the boat. They have, as he pointed out, a mortgage on the vessel, and in the ordinary course it was expected that the vessel would come into full possession of the Department, because I do not think there is any prospect that the company will be able to redeem this mortgage. If the service were to come completely and fully under the Department or, say, under Córas Iompair Éireann, such an arrangement would be welcomed by the people, because in their opinion there would be a better guarantee of a regular service and certain disabilities from which they suffer at present would be removed; for instance, charges in respect of goods coming from other parts of the country to Aran. At present, there is an extra charge from the local station to the boat, and that adds to the cost of goods going to the island. I am sure the Minister knows that in respect of two of the islands there are additional charges because there is no quarterage or any place in which the boat can berth.
I do not like to offer any extra suggestions in regard to this service. I appreciate the fact that the Minister is doing all that can reasonably be expected in present circumstances but it seems to me, in view of the fact that people sometimes have to spend a fortnight, and very often have to spend a week, when they come to Galway to do business, particularly at fairs, that an arrangement should be made either with the Galway Bay Steamship Company or with other owners of boats, either in Galway, along the coast, or in Aran, to provide some sort of subsidiary service to what is proposed in the Bill whereby people returning to Aran could go out on the ordinary bus service along the Galway-Carraroe Road and by arrangement with a boat owner, be able to get back home and not have to spend a whole week waiting for the boat. Having to spend a week in Galway is very costly on them and it is a cost which they can ill-afford. This Bill, of course, makes provision for a shipping service between the City of Galway and the Aran Islands and such an arrangement as I suggest might not be possible within the terms of the Bill. However, I make the suggestion to the Minister and I ask him to consider it in conjunction with the Galway Bay Steamship Company, because I presume the contract will be made with that company. Of course the Dun Aengus is quite obviously the best boat available for the service.
I also think that the Bill is an improvement in respect of the change with regard to the subsidy. I think it was better to leave the Department free in that matter to decide from year to year as to what the amount of the subsidy should be. With closer co-operation between the company and the Minister's officials and a tightening up of the control of the service. I believe that the loss can be very considerably reduced. I know the Minister's difficulty in dealing with the payment of a subsidy to private companies. I know it is not a satisfactory arrangement, but in this case I think it is inevitable.