Go ndeonfar suim nach mó ná £4,140 chun íoctha an mhuirir a thiocfas chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú Márta, 1952, chun Tuarastal agus Costas Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng.
Vol. 128 No. 1
Go ndeonfar suim nach mó ná £4,140 chun íoctha an mhuirir a thiocfas chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú Márta, 1952, chun Tuarastal agus Costas Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng.
De bhun ítim 6 den ráiteas beartais d'fhoilsigh an Rialtas mí Meithiamh an bhliain seo, bunaíodh Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng d'fonn iarrachtaí a stiúradh agus a chomhoirniú chun an Ghaeltacht agus na ceantair chúnga d'fhorbairt ó thaobh eacnamaíochta agus comhdhaonnachaís. Fágadh an Oifig nua faoí mo chúram mar Rúnaí Parlaiminte an Rialtais. Ar an 3ú lá d'Iúil shocraigh an Rialtas ar Choiste Eadar-Roinne a bhunú chun cabhair agus comhairle a thabhairt dom san obair. Tá ionadaí ar an gCoiste sin ó Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng agus ionadairthe, nach isle grád na céim Phríomh-Oifigigh, ó gach ceann de na Ranna seo a leanas den Stát-Sheirbhís:—
An Roinn Talmhaíochta,
An Roinn Tailte, lena n-áirítear Seirbhísí na Gaeltachta,
An Roinn Tionscail agus Tráchtála,
An Roinn Oideachais,
An Roinn Rialtais Aitiúil.
An Roinn Airgeadais, lena a-áirítear Oifig na Scéimeanna Fostaíochta Speisialta.
Cé go raibh staidéar déanta agam ar an gcuid is mó dá bhfuil foilsithe i dtaobh cás na gceantar atá faoi réim na hOifige nua, agus cé go raibh géariniúchadh déanta agam ar stair Bhord na gCeantar gCúng agus ar thuarascáil Choimisiúin na Gaeltachta, gan trácht ar a thuilleadh, chonnacthas dom go mb'fhearr, sara gcuirfí tús i gceart le hobair na hOifige, fiosrú pearsanta a dhéanamh i dtaobh staid na ndaoine sna ceantair a fágadh faoi mo chúram. Rinne mé fiosrú dá réir sin.
Toise a mhéid iarratas a fuaireas as gach aon aird, amh, thóg an turas fiosrúcháin sin in bhfad níos mó ama ná mar a mheasas a thógfadh sé agus cé gur éirigh liom an chuid is mó de na háiteanna d'fhiosrú fhaid is a bhí an Dáil ar laethanta saoire, is baolach go bhfuil corr-áit anseo is ansúd nár éirigh liom freastal uirthi fós. O thárla ag trácht ar an turas sin mé, ámh, ba mhaith liom an chaoi seo a ghlacadh chun mo bhaochas a chur in iúl do na daoine agus do na heagrais a raibh teangmháil agam leo, lena linn —agus go háirithe do na cumainn forbartha áitiúla, do na hionadaithe ó Mhuintir na Tíre agus ó Mhacra na Feirme agus do Theachtaí Dála agus Seanadóirí ó gach taobh den dá Thigh —as ucht na cabhrach a thugadar chomh fial flaithiúil sin dom, gach áit ar casadh orm iad. De dhroim na cabhrach sin go léir a fuaireas, d'éirigh liom eolas agus taithí d'fháil a bheidh mar threoir agus mar thaca agam ina dhiaidh seo nuair a bheidh ionsaí á dhéanamh againn ar na deacrachtaí éagsúla.
I bhfurmhór na n-áiteanna a dtugas cuaird orthu, ba léir go raibh méadú as cuimse tar éis teacht ar an ráta imirce le tamall de bhlianta anuas, agus cuireadh ina luí orm ná féadfaí an imirce sin a chose murá gcuirtí tionscail ar bun chun fostaíocht a chur ar fáil do na daoine. Creidim go ndéanfaidh an Bille um na Límistéir Neamh-fhorbartha cuid mhaith chun an scéal sin a leigheas, agus beidh caoi ag an Tigh, sara bhfad, an Bille sin a phlé go mion. Rud eile a ndearnadh tagairt do go fíor-mhinic, a riachtanaí atá sé úsáid níos iomláine agus níos éifeachtúla a bhaint as saibhreas aiceanta na tíre. Más mian linn an cuspóir sin a bhaint amach caithfimíd, dar liomsa, aird faoi leith a thabhairt ar leathnú agus forbairt na n-iascach agus, maidir leis na cúrsaí sin, is féidir liom a rá go mbíonn teangmháil dlúth agam le Rúnaí Parlaiminte an Aire Talmhaíochta— an téa bhfuil an Brainse Iascaigh den Roinn Talmhaíochta faoina chúram—agus go bhfuilimid ag comhoibriú lena chéile chun na críche sin.
Tá aird speisialta á thabhairt agam ar fheabhsú torthúlacht na talún agus, chun go dtabharfar é sin i gerích, tá comhoirniú á dhéanamh ag an gCoiste Eadar—Roinne ar scéimeanna áirithe atá faoi láthair dá riaradh ag Ranna agus eagrais eagsúla. Mar shompla, tá géar-ghá le hathshocrú a dhéanamh ar thailte áirithe i gConamara agus i gContae Mhuigheo chun go bhféadfaidh na daoine a bhfuil gabháltais roinndála acu úsáid cheart a dhéanamh den talamh agus tairbhe iomlán a bhaint as Scéim Thionscadal na Talún agus scéimeanna feabhsúcháin eile. Tá fo-choiste speisialta den Choiste Eadar-Roinne ag gabháil don ghnó sin le tamall anuas agus tá comhoirniú á dhéanamh acu ar an obair i dtreo go mbrostófar athroinnt na talún agus go mbeidh scéimeanna feabhsúcháin eile ullamh lena geur i bhfeidhm i geomhthráth le hathshocrú na talún. Táthar ag súil leis, chomh maith, go bhféadfar cuid mhór oibreacha atá fióntach agus riachtanach agus atá dá mbreithniú le tamall ag Oifig na Scéimeanna Fostaíochta Speisialta, a bhfostú agus a chur dá ndéanamh go luath. Tá roinnt mhaith muiroibreacha imease na n-oibreacha sin.
Léiríodh dom le linn mo thurais go bhfuil suim an phobail i geúrsaí foraoiseachta ag méadú agus fuaireas go leor moltaí maidir le talamh a measadh a bheith oiriúnach agus ar fáil chun a cheannuithe le haghaidh foraoiseachta. Tá an Roinnteán Foraoiseachta tar éis socrú a dhéanamh chun na tailte sin a scrúdú agus chun iad a cheannach má bhíonn siad oiriúnach.
Fuaireas amach, chomh maith, go bhfuil éileamh ar an leictreachas ag dul i méid sna ceantair sin, agus go bhfuil go leor daoine á iarraidh go ndéanfaí an Scéim um Leictriú na Tuaithe a leathnú amach go dtí an Ghaeltacht agus na ceantair chúnga. Tá aire faoi leith á dhíriú agam ar an gceist sin toise a thábhachtaí atá an leictreachas mar shás cumhachta i gcúrsaí tionscail agus toisc a mhéid a chabhraíonn sé le saol na tuaithe a dhéanamh níos taithneamhaí. Táthar ag breithniú an scéil, leis, féachaint an bhféadfaí cumhacht uisce agus móin san iarthar d'úsáid chun leictreachas a ghiniúint.
Níl sna nithe éagsúla sin ach roinut bheag de na habhair is mó tábhacht a cuireadh os mo chomhair le linn dom bheith ar mo thuras fiosrúcháin sa Ghaeltacht agus sna centair chúngas agus níl iontu ach roinnt bheag de na nithe a bhfuil obair dhícheallach á dhéanamh ina dtaobh ag m'Oifig-se agus ag an gCoiste Eadar-Roinne. Seacht gcruinuiú, ar fad, a bhí ag an gCoiste sin ó bunaíodh é, agus ba mhaith liom anois mo mheas ar chomhaltaí an Choiste a chur in iúl as ucht na suime a chuireadar sa ghnó ó thús agus as ucht a dhúthrachtaí d'oibriodar chun na fadhbanna éagsúla a réiteach agus chun na scéimeanna a bhí dá mbreithniú a chur i gcríoch. Tuigfear, ar ndó, go bhfuil tograí eile dá scrúdú seachas na cinn atá luaite agam ach bheadh sé ró-luath agam an taca seo, cuntas beacht a thabhairt ar aon cheann acu sin.
Faoi mar d'fhógair an Tánaiste an tseachtain seo caite, táthar tar éis Seirbhísí na Gaeltachta a chur faoi mo chúram agus mé a cheapadh mar Rúnaí Parlaiminte an Aire Tailte, i dtreo go bhféadfar an t-údarás a dhílsiú ionam is gá chun na críche sin. Is é mo thuairim féin gur féidir na seirbhísí sin d'fheabhsú agus a leathnú. Tá clú agus cáil tuillte ag earraí Ghaeltarra Éireann d'ainneoin na hiomaíochta is géire ar an margadh oscailte, agus tá dóchas láidir agam go bhféadfar táirgeadh na n-earraí sin a mhéadú agus, dá réir sin, tuilleadh fostaíochta a chur ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng.
Mar fhocal seoir, ba mhaith liom a mheabhrú do chách go mbeidh sábháilt na Gaeilge, maraon le caomhnadh agus leathnú na Gaeltachta, mar chuspóir bunaidh ag Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng sna himeachta sin uile atá luaite agam.
Tá cóip den ráiteas sin foilsithe mBéarla. Níl fhios agam an gá an méid atá ráite agam a rá arís i mBéarla?
Ba mhaith liom an ráiteas atá déanta ag an Rúnaí Parlaiminte a chlosint agus uaim féin déarfainn gur maith an rud é gur cuireadh Roinn Seirbhísí na Gaeltachta ina chúram. Ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Rúnaí Parlaiminte, fiosrúchán a dhéanamh ar cad is ciall leis an bfhocal "Gaeltacht". Má chuireann sé an cheist ar an Roinn Poist agus Telegrafa, ar an Roinn Talmhaíochta nó ar an Roinn Tionscail agus Tráchtála, ní hé an freagra céanna a gheobhas sé ar an cheist: cad é an ceantar is dóigh libh gur bí an Ghaeltacht í?
Le roinnt blianta bhíos á íarraidh ar an Aire Oideachais a bhí ann romhamsa cigireacht fé leith a chur ar bun i gcóir na Gaeltachta i dtreo go mbeadh cigirí ann nach mbeadh mar chúram orthu ach scoileanna a bhí i lár na Gaeltachta, agus nach mbeadh ar súil sa cheantar sin ach an Ghaeilge amháin, beagnach. Cuireadh ar bun iad i gContae Dhún na nGall, i gContae Mhuigheo agus i gContae na Gaillimhe ach, ó tharla go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht scaipithe i gContae Chorcaighe agus i gContae Chiarraighe níorbh fhéidir scoileanna sa bhFhíor-Ghaeltacht amháin a chur fé chúram na gcigirí ansin ach meascán de scoileanna sa bhFíor-Ghaeltacht agus sa mBhreac-Ghaeltacht fré chéile. Caithfear aire fé leith a thabhairt do na ceantracha san. Mholflainn don Rúnaí Parlaiminte eolas a chur ar na tuarascála a cuireadh isteach ag na cigirí a bhí i mbun na scoileanna sin sa Ghaeltacht. Tá a lán eolais ansin ar shaol agus ar staid na ndaoine sna ceantracha sin.
Má táthar le haon obair fé leith a dhéanamh caithfear eolas a chur ar ghnó eacnamaioch mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus a shocrú cad iad na ceantracha ar fearr tosach a dhéanamh iontu.
Tá ráiteas ann "ná leath do bhrat ach mar is féidir é a chonnlach". Deir an Rúnaí Parlaiminte gur thaistil sé mór-chuid den tír, ach níl an pháire ar fad súilte aige fós. Is leathan iad na ceantair chunga agus is dóigh liom go bhfuil brat an Rúnaí Párlaiminte leata beagáinín thar mar is féidir é a chonnlach. Tá súil agam go dtuigfear go bhfuil obair fé leith le déanamh sa Ghaeltacht agus tá súil agam go ndéanfar an obair, go dtabharfar tosach éigin don obair sin.
Generally I would welcome personally these arrangements under which the Parliamentary Secretary is given responsibility for Gaeltacht services. With the inclusion of the congested districts the areas that have been mentioned in connection with his responsibility are spread very wide and place a very heavy responsibility in front of him. Inevitably, he must decide on certain focal centres for development arising out of the circumstances of certain of these districts and I would particularly commend to him those parts of the Gaeltacht which have been included in the purely Irish inspectorate under the Department of Education. There have been concerntrated there some 70 odd school areas in Donegal and 90 in Mayo and Galway in districts that are purely Irish speaking. Quite a number of parishes are involved, I think either 11 or 14 in Donegal. A very considerable amount of information lies in the general reports made by the inspectors of these areas as to the general economic and social conditions of the people and the Parliamentary Secretary will find there a very considerable amount of information which will be helpful to him.
In Donegal, Mayo and Galway the areas included in the Gaeltacht inspectorate under the Department of Education are purely Irish speaking districts. Concentrated examinations in Donegal show that it has been possible to bring in additional schools from the breac-Ghaeltacht to the purely Irish speaking inspectorate, demonstrating that with a concentration of minds and work it is possible to extend the purely Irish speaking areas and carry the work to even wider areas than those which were first selected.
To some extent the same is true of Mayo and Galway. In the Munster area, while an Irish inspectorate has been set up, the area covered by it is a mixture of fíor-Ghaeltacht and breac-Ghaeltacht because of the way in which the Irish speaking districts are scattered in Munster. The Parliamentary Secretary will find in Dunquin a first-class example of how the concentration of services of even one Department of State can be made most fruitful from the educational point fruitful from the educational in how best to make use of the economic resources of the district—and for the general building up of the area. A special examination was made by an inspector of the Department of Agriculture of the small area there consisting of about 59 farm holdings. It is a small concentrated purely Irish speaking district where the people are dependent almost entirely on the land for their subsistence.
The most detailed examination of their resources and income was made. Then an assistant agricultural overseer was sent to that area to bring to the people generally information as to every single type of service that was available from the Department of Agriculture. After less than 12 months' work in the area, the progress of the work and the general disposition of the people to the work was examined by an inspector of the Department, a man very qualified, a man who had spent a very considerable portion of his departmental life working in the West of Ireland and on schemes connected with the Congested Districts Board. When he looked at the Dunquin area after 12 months of supervision by the assistant agricultural overseer he reported that that area showed itself to be a model of what could be done in other parts of the country.
The new Bill, An Bille um Limistéirí Neamhfhorbartha, will, I hope, be an instrument in the Parliamentary Secretary's hands that will enable his Department to bring assistance in the industrial development of some of these areas. These areas have shown themselves in the past to be able to produce a very high standard of workmanship and craftsmanship and very many parts of the Irish-speaking districts have got a name for themselves in craftsmanship that is very valuable and is particularly valuable in days in which we want to keep craftsmanship and all that comes from craftsmanship alive in our rural areas.
The Parliamentary Secretary has gone through a very considerable part of the country and has met a large number of people. I hope he will be able to avoid the shoals and the rocks of the grab of Party politics in his visitations. I saw with a certain amount of misgiving that in at least one area, Cong, he had visited a Fianna Fáil Comhairle Ceanntar.
That is not true.
He disported himself at Magheragroarty with Deputy Breslin.
There was no single occasion that I availed of to visit any Fianna Fáil cumann.
I think it would have been advisable if that was corrected in the Press, because the Parliamentary Secretary will get very many worthwhile suggestions from every political Party throughout the west and the political Parties are very often the people who are widest awake to the possibilities of a particular area. It would be a great pity that a work that might be fruitful and that, at any rate in the Dunquin area, was able to bring the whole of the population enthusiastically together to support the work of the Department and to take advantage of these schemes, instead of being a unifying effort in those areas for improving the economic and social atmosphere, would be a cause of antagonism, jealousy and spite.
The Estimate that we have before us indicates that this is just a co-ordinating machinery. That may perhaps be the best type of machinery to set up. At any rate, some kind of machinery is wanted to inform these areas as to the services that are there, very often at a great distance. There will be certain aspects of the concentrated work that cannot be done by such a body as is contemplated in this. That is a matter for another type of discussion, perhaps, or it may arise on this question here, but I do not wish to raise it. I just want to say that, in so far as there is machinery there for bringing knowledge to the various out-of-the-way areas, and particularly to the Irish-speaking districts, of the services that are available, machinery of that kind can do very valuable work.
Ba mhaith liom comhgháirdeachas a dhéanamh leis an Rúnaí Parlaiminte as an Meastachán seo a thabhairt os cóir na Dála. Tá súil agaínn uilig go mbéidh sé na chuidiú leis an Ghaeltacht agus le muintir na Gaeltachta agus go dtiocfaidh ré úr, agus mar a deirtear sa Bhéarla, go mbeidh "New Deal," ag Muintir na Gaeltachta agus ag an Ghaeltacht uilig.
Tá seans againn anois ceist na gceantracha geúng a réitiú agus saol na ndaoine a dhéanamh níos fearr agus níos slachtmharie sa Ghaeltacht. Tá muintir na Gaeltachta den bharúil nach ndearnadh go leor don Ghaeltacht ag aon Rialtas a bhí i bhfeidhm sa tír seo go fóill.
I ndiaidh an méid a dearnadh, d'ímigh na buachaillí agus na cáilíní óga go Sasana agus go hAlbain agus táim ag déanamh gur ceart rud éigin a dhéanamh a choinneochas na daoine seo sa bhaile. Ba cheart obair a thabhairt dóibh sa bhaile le sin a dhéanamh.
D'imigh tusa ach tháinig tú ar ais.
Tá daoine eile a d'imigh agus nár tháinig ar ais. Táim den bhairúil go bhfuil ré úr á bunú ag an Rialtas agus go mbeimíd ábalta fén Mheastachán seo tionscaíl a chur ar bun sa Ghaeltacht a choinneochas an chuid mhór de na daoine sa bhaile ó Albain agus ó Shasain.
Sílim go dtaispeánann an Meastachán seo go bhfuil an Rialtas ag déanamh a ndíchill le saol na ndaoine a dhéanamh níos fearr agus chun teanga na nGael agus cúltur na nGael a choinneáil beo agus go bfhuil siad dáiríre fán Ghaeltacht.
Ním comhgháirdeachas leis an Rúnaí Parlaiminte as an obair atá déanta aige ó ghlac sé an post seo. Táim cinnte go rachaidh an obair sin ar aghaidh fén a stiúrú agus go bhfaghaidh sé gach aon chuidiú le cás na Gaeltachta a chur ar aghaidh. Tá sé de dhualgas orainn, le tús a chur ar obair sa Ghaeltacht, leictreachas a thabhairt do na ceantair chúng a, le tionscail a chur ar bun agus tá súil agam go mbeidh rath agus bláth ar an obair.
I want to reassure the Parliamentary Secretary, if I may, that any strictures I may have to pass on this general set-up have no personal application to himself. So far as I am concerned, I wish him all the luck in the world and I hope he will have great success in the position to which he has attained at so early an age.
Since Eusebius the Eunuch put up the provincial prefectures of the Roman Empire of the East for sale I do not think any more indecent proposal has been brought before Dáil Éireann than this Estimate coupled with the Bill. Fianna Fáil lost seats in nine counties in the last election.
None in Donegal.
They beat you in West Donegal and it is smarting still, at the by-election.
We won it again.
What are the undeveloped areas? The nine constituencies that Fianna Fáil lost a seat in. Can you imagine the dirty fraud of identifying Connemara, the Rosses and West Kerry with County Roscommon? Look at me. I am a congest. There is only one area in Roscommon that bears any relation to the congested areas and that is that part of the old Swinford Union which extends into the County Roscommon, and I am a resident of that. When I was born, close on 50 years ago, you might say that the activities of the Parliamentary Secretary could have been used in that part of the country; but that is a long time ago. I ask any reasonable honest Deputy by what operation of a rational kind are the circumstances of County Roscommon identified with the circumstances of people in Sneem and Carna.
The Deputy is anticipating the discussion on the Undeveloped Areas Bill.
It is very hard to separate these two things. That Bill is the Bill which gives the Parliamentary Secretary power.
The Deputy must not anticipate the discussion on the Undeveloped Areas Bill. He will have his opportunity when the Bill comes before the House for discussion.
I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to bear in mind my opening observations. Can you picture that well-intentioned man co-ordinating the Tánaiste, Deputy Paddy Smith, the Minister for Local Government, and the three Ministers for Agriculture, Deputy Corry, Deputy Walsh and Deputy Smith, in his spare time? Can you picture him telling the Tánaiste to line up, that he is out of step with Deputy Aiken, who is now Minister for External Affairs, but seems to be Minister for everything else? Can you picture the reception he would get? He would hop off the payment in Kildare Street. Can you picture him going into the Custom House and telling Deputy Paddy Smith, the Minister for Local Government, to pull up his socks, that he was not keeping in step with the Tánaiste? They would have to bring the fire brigade to get him out of the Liffey. I remember when the Taoiseach came before the House with a nomination of a Parliamentary Secretary to the Government. I said: "What does that novelty mean?" The Taoiseach said it was no novelty, that it was done under the Constitution.
Under the Ministers and Secretaries Act. The Deputy will talk about matters without knowing anything about them.
The Taoiseach found that that would not work and the Deputy was made Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands, and, of course, that is where he will function. He will be tucked into the establishment down in Westland Row somewhere or in Upper Merrion Street. I know well where he is going to function and I pity him. He is to follow ex-Deputy O'Grady, who held the post in the former Fianna Fáil Administration of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands.
Surely this does not arise on the Estimate before the House.
Is the Ceann Comhairle aware that Mr. O'Grady was the Parliamentary Secretary for the Co-ordination of Patronage?
I am perfectly well aware——
This is what this unfortunate person has to do.
I am well aware of what is before the House.
This is an Estimate to finance the Seirbhisí na Gaeltachta.
How Senator O'Grady comes into it I do not know.
I will tell you. When I took up office as Minister for Agriculture the first vacancy that presented itself was that of charwoman in Athenry. An officer of my Department asked me what was my pleasure with regard to the appointment of a charwoman in Athenry. I said: "What do I know about that? There are officers in my Department who can appoint a charwoman without asking me." He said: "Heretofore Ministers usually gave instructions for these appointments to be submitted for their approval." I said: "I know nothing about a charwoman in Athenry. How can any Minister sitting in Upper Merrion Street be in a position to deal with vacancies of that kind? In any case, is it not provided that if the vacancies in the Department are not filled through the Appointments Commissioners they are supposed to be filled through the Labour Exchange?""Yes," he said, "and it is going to be filled through the Labour Exchange." I said: "Why do you ask me about it?" He said: "When a post of this kind is notified it was the duty of the officers of this Department to inform Mr. O'Grady, who was then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands."
That is not correct.
This is the co-ordination.
I do not understand what this has to do with the Estimate before the House. I cannot allow the Deputy to proceed along that line, telling us a story about what happened in connection with a vacancy in the position of charwoman in Athenry.
I am describing what co-ordination meant. I was told that ex-Deputy O'Grady brought back the following week the name of the person to be appointed and there was a system whereby the manager of the Labour Exchange was notified of the name and told to send that name up, and it was sent up and there was perfect co-ordination. When I see a proposal brought forward that the Parliamentary Secretary is going to coordinate the members of the Government dealing with the services, not in the Gaeltacht, but in the undeveloped areas, and when I ask what are the undeveloped areas and I am told they are the nine constituencies where Fianna Fáil lost seats I say: "Has the public life of this country no depths below which this House is not going to be asked to sink?"
Not as long as Deputy Dillon and his like are here.
Do not be doing the old soldier. I know what the Taoiseach is up to. It is not the first time he sought to buy those he could not beat, but he is not able to buy them. The Taoiseach is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks that during this generation he can play that trick again. He need not think he can buy them.
The Deputy has done more harm to Ireland than anyone in my time.
That kind of cod cuts no ice. I know the Taoiseach too well. Twenty years of looking at him has taught me a lot. There was a time when he could fool me.
The Deputy's knowledge of the Taoiseach does not arise on this Estimate.
If he keeps quiet, he will not draw me out and I advise him not to.
Tell us about the land reclamation scheme.
I will, and about the genesis of this work which is being prostituted now to a contemptible and despicable political racket. The genesis of this matter was that I made a statement to the Government of which I was a member about 15 months ago that anyone who tried to deal with Connemara would find oneself confronted with the situation that there was a considerable part of our people living in an area of the country where the hardest work they could do would not give them even a reasonable living; and that, in those circumstances, it seemed clear to me that any decent Government had only two alternatives: one was to evacuate the people out of the area into a part of the country where their labour would give them a greater return and the other was to ameliorate their circumstances where they now worked in so far as it was possible to do so.
I said that no rational Government would claim the right to go to the people in Connemara and order them to clear out of their own homes if the people do not want to go. I know that no people in Ireland are more passionately attached to their homes than the people of the Rosses, the people of Connemara and, indeed, the people in the poorest parts of this country. Therefore, it seemed to me that the duty devolved upon the Government of facing the almost impossible task of removing in so far as it was humanly possible to do so the handicaps under which the people in the Rosses and Connemara live. I said that the job was of such appalling magnitude I would not represent myself to the Government at that time as being fit to tackle it throughout the whole Gaeltacht but that if the Government would permit me to try to discover what could be done in Connemara, I believed we could get out of the public services by careful searching and choosing a few men who would be prepared to turn their backs on the ordinary prospects of rapid promotion and urban amenities which that kind of promotion usually brings with it and who would take their exceptional qualifications down to an area like Connemara simply because they loved the work.
I said there were such persons— they were very few in number—to be found in the old Congested Districts Board, the Land Commission and the Department of Agriculture. I warned my colleagues that when I made my proposals I would be exposed to every kind of slander, jeer and gibe. I said that if they could not face that it would be better not to embark on the venture at all because every instrument of calumny, insult and perversion would be used in order to denigrate what I proposed to do. I said that what I proposed to do was to try to move every rock that rests on the surface of Connemara. There is a great volume of glacially deposited rock, which is distinct from the geological rock formation underlying the area. The lives of the people in Connemara are largely conditioned by the presence of glacially deposited rock lying on the surface of their holdings which makes their lives a continuous struggle because there one can never get a straight run of ridged potatoes or anything else without running into rock.
I proposed to shift that rock. I proposed to make the land project available to them and I warned my colleagues that some of the land we would do in Connemara would be the most expensive land to reclaim in the whole of Ireland. But I told them, too, that it would be land in respect of which we would charge less. I warned them that we would have blockheads from the Midlands and the eastern counties saying: "Imagine laying out money on a blooming clump of heather like that." That would be the comment because they do not know the providence of God nor the West of Ireland. They do not understand that while they would die of starvation if they were put to work on a farm of that kind, there are to-day men raising families of eight and ten children on them.
The Government of which I was a member gave me that discretion. I think I found the right type of men. This is not the place to bring individual members of the public service into discussion and I dismiss the identity of any officer of that division from the discussion. But, speaking to the administrative head of the Department over which I presided, I said: "Whoever I get to do this job, the very essence of it is that he will reside himself in the Gaeltacht and will not reside here; if I go down to Connemara and start throwing my weight around, 90 per cent. of the Connemara people will say to themselves: ‘Ha-ha, he is getting very interested in Connemara; it is not because he loves our lovely blue eyes that he is down here; he knows we have the right to put a paper in the ballot box; that is what brings him here."' I wanted to keep out of it in person, but I wanted to know what was being done. I told the administrative head of my Department at that time that I proposed to direct the whole business very closely, but that it was not possible for me to go around and direct it on the spot, because I had neither the detailed knowledge, nor, indeed, the language.
I always think, with great respect, that if Deputy General Mulcahy has one fault it is an excess of charity. He always seems to believe that a man in the Parliamentary Secretary's position can go down to Magheragroarty strand and prance round there with Deputy Breslin. Deputy Lynch, Parliamentary Secretary, may do that in the foolish belief that he is meeting the neighbours coming together on the strand. Deputy Breslin and I know blooming well that he is telling the islanders out in Tory: "Toe the line, boys, or there will be no sailings from Magheragroarty to you." Deputy Breslin and I know quite well that Magheragroarty is the strand from which you go out to Tory. I know that if you want to cock snooks at or give promises to the Tory islanders the place you go down to meet them is Magheragroarty strand. That kind of wrinkle runs all through the Gaeltacht, and in the Gaeltacht we are up against people who are as quick on the uptake as the blade of a knife.
There are some of us here who know about the rundale that would never be settled except by a man with a red coat. An experienced officer from the Department of Lands got wind of the word that that was the general impression and he came up here and got his sister to knit him a red waistcoat. Lo and behold, when the man with the red waistcoat came, the rundale was settled in a few weeks. Nobody said anything, but there was a satisfactory job. A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse in the Gaeltacht. They are so much accustomed to being addressed as "A Cháirde Gael" and then with a long speech in English, that they very often pick up a good deal when a man says nothing at all. They generally put it down to the fact that he is not fit to say it. They get his name.
This whole business is a dirty, political, fraudulent stunt. The Taoiseach has come here, and he is going to cry like a child at the violent and detestable misrepresentation of the noble purpose which inspires his soul. He was 17 years sitting where he is now, and until I started the Connemara project, nothing was done. It is all very well to be grunting and snorting. For 17 years you were sitting there. Is that true or is it false? I started the Connemara project. There is Deputy Bartley from Clifden who, when he was standing where I am now, got up and said that the people of Connemara revolted with nausea against the Minister for Agriculture's fraudulent pretence that he was going to shift the rocks off the lands of Connemara. One poor devil, who has been working for Deputy Bartley for the last 20 years in the parish of Cashla, bet a man £5 that Deputy Bartley was right, and that there would never be a rock blasted in Connemara. I will give Deputy Bartley the name of the townland, Derrysallagh, which he can visit, where a man made that bet of £5. When the five acres of his land had been cleared of rock, he went to Deputy Bartley's supporter and said: "Give me the £5," and the fellow had to cough it up. He said: "Thank you for clearing my land." If Deputy Bartley has any doubts about that, he can go to Derrysallagh and find out.
I will tell you what they have been saying about it.
Now, that is a fact. I never went next not near Derrysallagh until, by God's providence, I lost my job. I went down then as a private individual, and I saw the work going on. I saw what I did not think I would ever see. I saw five acres of land in one field in the parish of Cashla without a stone on it, and a seven-foot wall of rocks around the five acres.
I know that, to the mind of Deputy Walsh of Kilkenny, or of Deputy Ó Briain of Limerick, the idea of spending a hat full of money on five acres in the townland of Derrysallagh is a daft kind of thing to undertake, but they do not understand that these five acres to the man who owns them are his life and his home. The Limerick farmer or the Kilkenny farmer would sell his farm and flit to wherever it suited his purpose, but, so long as he landed in Limerick or Kilkenny again, he would never think that he had left his home at all. But let them try and take one rood from a man who has only seven acres, and they will learn what that rood of land in the Rosses or in Connemara means to him.
I suggest that, instead of having a political figure for this work of co-ordination, we should effect the co-ordination of Government services at Civil Service level. Now, to suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary can co-ordinate Ministers is the purest cod. He would not get in to see Ministers. Do Deputies think that if Deputy Lynch strolled over to Kildare Street to see the Tánaiste that he could see him? He would be told that the Tánaiste would see him when he was free, and that might be two days later. Do Deputies imagine that if Deputy Lynch went to see other members of the Government, or the Taoiseach, that he would be allowed to ramble in through the door? You might as well try to get in to see the Pope as to see the Taoiseach. I remember going a couple of times to see the Taoiseach. I went through a number of ante-rooms before I got to him. Of course, I was not a member of the Government nor a Minister. I was a member of the Opposition, but I must say that when I did go in I was received with the most gracious courtesy.
I do not know whether all the Fianna Fáil Deputies are in on this racket. If they are, then I am just wasting my breath. But this business of getting Deputy Lynch to co-ordinate services is the purest cod. If there is co-ordination to be done it should be done by a Minister at Civil Service level. The only reason it can be done in that way is because of the high tradition of the Civil Service. You will get the administrative head of any Department of State in this country to treat his Minister as if he were the Lord's anointed, and that is because the Minister carries the authority of Oireachtas Eireann. The Minister may have a head as thick as this bench, but, if he is invested with ministerial authority by this House, he can bring the permanent heads of every Department of State together, and they will work under his direction as loyally as if they were working for the greatest statesman in Europe, and will make sense out of his folly. Why try to get the Parliamentary Secretary to co-ordinate Ministers?
It is going to wind up with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Gaeltacht Division of the Department of Lands, largely because Deputy Derrig is too lazy to do the work himself, as general dispenser of Fianna Fáil patronage in the Gaeltacht areas with Roscommon, Clare and Cork thrown in. Why is it necessary and why have you done this? That is what disgusts me. I do not deny that there was romance and adventure and, as it seemed to me, worthwhile effort in facing the problems of Connemara, the Rosses and West Kerry. To people from many parts of the country it seemed impossible, as, indeed, it appeared to myself, but just because it seemed impossible, it was worth trying. Why have Fianna Fáil chosen to take the Fíor Gaeltacht as their alibi in a dirty attempt to buy back the seats they lost in the nine constituencies where they experienced an electoral reversal in the last three years? Why do not the Deputies representing the Gaeltacht have the decency and the courage to say: "If you want to do that dirty job, do not use our people as the alibi?" To me it seems very disgusting to act in such a fashion. Few Deputies in this House, or the people outside knew of it until Deputy Mulcahy told the story here. There was no need to pull the House down around us simply because I, as Minister for Agriculture, was offered the chance to do what I was paid to do, and wanted to do, and did when I got the chance to do it.
It so happened that there was somebody interested enough to get the people together in Dunquin and to offer me an opportunity of bringing to bear on that area the resources of the Department of Agriculture which were accessible to anybody else if they would only ask for them, and if they would only come and say to the Department: "Tell us what you can do for us so that we can take advantage of it." Representatives from the Department of Agriculture went to Loop Head, West Clare, not to solve a general problem, but to solve a specific problem which happened to be one of veterinary disease. We did not regard it as anything more than part of our job but we were delighted that there was somebody in Loop Head who had organised the people in such a way that they came to us and told us of their difficulties and also informed us that if we could provide a remedy they would be willing to collaborate. The Veterinary Section of my Department went down there and gloried in the fact that there was, at least, a deputation of the people from the district saying that they were prepared to allow my Department to serve them.
I feel that we have started something in Connemara, and I would like the House to consider what I have to say. Messrs. Bowaters, a very famous firm, operating in Athy, who manufacture paper board and so forth, happened to come and see me, when I was Minister for Agriculture, in regard to the supply of straw, for a paper board industry which they operate in Athy. In the course of the conversation, I said to them: "Now gentlemen, you represent a very wealthy and powerful corporation, with great research resources at your disposal. You have come to work in Ireland and we make you welcome. Are you prepared to lend a hand in the solution of a problem which we find calls for a solution?" I must say to the eternal credit of that firm that the answer was: "Certainly, Minister, we will help, if we can." I said: "the Dutch Minister for Agriculture has told me that there is a process by which newsprint or brown wrapping paper could be manufactured out of turf. We do not know of any such method. You are the greatest research firm in the world in matters concerning paper. Would you look into the matter and see if you can find any method?" I take this opportunity of thanking them publicly because it seems to be a very precious thing to have that kind of co-operation. Their reply was this: "We will charge ourselves to seek for that and if we do not find it we will undertake to you to put the problem before our research division. If they can find a solution-we will convey it to you."
I asked the Minister for Agriculture some months ago if he had received any report in that regard from the firm. We have their word, and I want to make it as clear as crystal that they said they had never heard of such a process and that if there was one they would probably have heard of it. Had they been members of the Fianna Fáil Government, or if they were like Deputy Bartley they would have said: "You poor gom. There is no such process and only fools like you would look for it." Instead, they said: "We will charge ourselves to seek for that, and if we do not find it we will undertake to you to put the problem before our research section, and if they can find a solution we will make it available to you. There is only one way of settling the question and that is to look for a solution. We are not optimistic that there is a solution, but we are very glad that you have asked us to look for it when you say that it is for the purpose of helping the people in the congested areas."
One of the most famous mining engineers in the world came to take up his residence here. I wrote to him and said: "I have no claim on you whatever except to tell you that you can do a great service, if you want to do it, for your adopted home, and that is to help me in making a practical mining engineering survey of Connemara to determine whether there are any exploitable mineral deposits there." Within 48 hours I had a message back saying that the entire resources of one of the greatest mining engineering firms in the world which had opened the Rhodesian copper field were unreservedly at my disposal and that they would consider it a privilege to make a preliminary survey and a report at their own expense. When the chief engineer travelled to Connemara I wanted to provide him with a car and escort and he, thanking me, said: "Well, Minister, I am not accepting anything. My chairman said to me that this survey was not to cost the Irish Government a penny and that my firm would pay all the expenses." He would not allow me to pay even for a gallon of petrol.
In due course, he came back from Connemara, and naturally, he looked at the records in the Geological Survey attached to the Department of Industry and Commerce and said that it appeared to him that there were three deposits worth investigating, molybdenum in Roundstone, copper and lead in Maam and copper and lead in Oughterard. The molybdenum was certainly there but I believe, in their judgement, not workable. The copper and lead had not been investigated up to the time I left office but I understood, though I did not see the report, it was in when I left office. The advice was that on a very superficial survey it appeared to them to be a deposit well worth investigating. I cannot tell you what their opinion was on Oughterard.
I do not think the members of this House or anybody else knew that any of this work was proceeding. There was no necessity to bring in a Bill about it and there was no necessity to bring in an Estimate. There was no need for a flare headline in the Sunday Press saying: “Blitzkrieg on Development of the Gaeltacht.” From 1931 to 1948, the krieg was going on. Then they got a kick in the pants in nine constituencies and there is to be a blitzkrieg. There would be a tornado if they got two kicks in the pants in those nine constituencies. But what revolts me is that the people of Connemara and the Rosses—I do not mention West Kerry; I do not pretend to know the people in West Kerry as intimately as I know the people of Connemara and the Rosses—should be used as the alibi for this Party racket —that a staff of public servants should be built up consisting largely of men who want to serve their own people but who find themselves prostituted to maintaining the dirty farce that Strokestown is a depressed area. There is not a farm within 40 miles of Strokestown under 50 acres—Roscommon, the richest grazing land in Ireland! Have you no shame?
That does not come under the scope of this Estimate, Deputy. You are referring to the Bill that is not before the House.
I understood that this Vote relates to Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng. Cad a chiallaíonn "ceantracha cúnga"?
The only definition I know of is that rendered in the Act, "undeveloped areas".
Tá sé i gCuid III den Bhille.
Ní headh. Sin "undeveloped".
Níl an ceart agat, Féach alt (3), "the congested areas are:".
This Bill is not being taken in conjunction with the Estimate.
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will observe the Estimate is for "Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng". Cúng is one of those revolting words that have been invented in the Department of Education. They are too Gaelach down there to speak of congested districts. It has to be na Ceanntair Cúng. I never heard of the Ceantar Cúng until to-day and I started looking it up to see what is "na Ceanntair Cúng". I discovered that the Department of Education has worked out this elaborate name for what we know as the congested districts. Then we are told that these are not the congested districts that were the congested districts under the Congested Districts Board. These are the Fianna Fáil congested districts and those are the counties named in the Bill with the addition that they may hereafter include any other area to which by Order of the Minister the Act is for the time being declared to apply. If there had been a by-election —and I hope there will not be—in Laois-Offaly and that dashing young T.D. who is so welcome in our midst put his foot on a banana peel and got defeated, I wonder would the Minister make an Order declaring Laois-Offaly to be a congested area. In fact, the country will come to be divided thus: in the constituencies in which there is a Fianna Fáil majority we will have na Ceantracha Nea-cúnga and in the districts in which there is a Fianna Fáil minority, na Ceantracha Cúnga.
That does not arise on this Estimate at all.
I am trying to find out what is the ultimate sphere of the Parliamentary Secretary's authority. There is no present definition I know of. "Na gCeantar Cúng" is meant to imply that in the Bill we are about to discuss——
We are not discussing the Bill.
Surely I am entitled to find out to what area his co-ordinating activities extend, and I think I am entitled to press that inquiry home. I am suggesting to the House that his job is to co-ordinate Fianna Fáil patronage in any area where there is a Fianna Fáil seat in danger. I am saying: "Shame on you". Shame on the Deputies from Donegal, Deputy Breslin and Deputy Cunninghim, to allow their neighbours to be used as an alibi for a dirty political racket like this. I am not surprised at Deputy Bartley because he got too grand to live among his neighbours, and when he became Parliamentary Secretary he shook the dust of Clifden off his feet and took up his residence in Rathmines. It does not touch him; he is no longer a resident of Connemara. He moved to the aristocratic suburbs of Dublin, but that men like Deputy Cunningham and Deputy Breslin should allow people that they know, and that I know, to be used as a shield—their necessities, their difficulties, their gallantry in face of adversity—behind which rotten political patronage is to be doled out in Roscommon because ex-Deputy O'Rourke lost his seat, in Clare because ex-Deputy O'Grady lost his seat, or in Cork because Deputy Moylan was put to the pin of his collar to keep his job——
We are not discussing the elections.
I am discussing the reason for this proposal. Surely I am to be allowed to argue that the reason for this scheme is, not to relieve the Gaeltacht, not for the purpose of doing the work that was being done before this Government came into office, without any hullabaloo, without any claim to the gratitude of the people we were proud to serve, work that was being done in spite of Deputy Bartley, work that was being done in spite of ex-Deputy Lydon who announced to this House that the people of Connemara repudiated and condemned the rock removal programme under the land project? When I think of the people of Cashla and Ballyconnelly being used as alibis for ex-Deputy O'Rourke, in order that his disgruntled constituents of Roscommon may be greased to make them more receptive for his next electoral appeal, it makes me physically sick. Everything that Fianna Fáil touches it corrupts. I do not mind those who do not know our people in the west. I excuse Deputy Bartley, for he is a renegade from Connemara. I excuse those who found the Gaeltacht too heavy a burden to bear and quit it. Their neighbours had no right to expect better from them but that Deputy Cunningham——
Did you not leave Donegal, too?
——that Deputy Breslin and that those who live amongst those people should know that, and should be a party to their being used for this dirty scheme, is shocking. I believe that in his heart Deputy Brennan is ashamed. He knows damned well that there is no nexus between the Rosses and Roscommon except that there were Fianna Fáil candidates who lost their seats in West Donegal and in Roscommon.
They got the seat back in Donegal.
Let us not go into that. They got it back.
Due to the failure of the land project in Donegal.
They got it back and want to keep it now.
Due to the land project which was applied in Donegal on the eve of a by-election.
Here is the guarantee that they will keep it. How low are we going to sink in this country? When I think of the men in Falcarragh and in Gortahork who, if they gave you their word, would keep it——
Why did you leave them?
Do not worry about that. They understand that very well. Fianna Fáil hopes to buy them and, as if that were not enough, to use them as a cloak, to hold them out as the poor, as the problem, to hold them up to public ridicule in this House as so much of a burden upon us that we have to have special Estimates and Acts of Parliament. These Estimates and Acts of Parliament are designed, not primarily for the Gaeltacht at all, but for the constituencies where Fianna Fáil lost seats. Which was better, this scheme or that one unworthy Minister of a past Government had authority to call on all his colleagues and every public servant in the State to lend him a hand in doing for our neighbours in the Gaeltacht all that we could do without making any fuss about it, without ever sending a politician into the area, without ever indicating to any living creature in the area that anyone associated with politics would have the power of meddling with them and to get done what was done? What was done was very little, so little that I was ashamed I had not been able to do more. Still I invite any Deputy in this House or anybody else to go down to the parish of Cashla and Roundstone and I will stand or fall by their verdict of what has been done since 1st June in those two parishes. I will stand or fall by the verdict of the people—Fianna Fáil and every one of them—in these two parishes. I offer this challenge to Deputy Bartley. He looks down his Rathmines nose——
Keep out the personal note and say what you have to say.
Is it not true?
I will take any damned challenge you want, but keep out the personal note.
You tried to stop the land project in Connemara.
I will answer anything you want to put to me but keep out the personalities.
Try and stop the project in Connemara, I dare you.
I will tell you what you did.
Try to remember the time you were standing on this side of the House declaring that it was designed to deceive the people and that the people did not believe in it——
And to increase their rates of valuations.
——and that it was a scheme to press down on them a new imposition of rates and taxes to defraud them. Let us get this business in its true perspective. Let us compare what was done and what could be done by men who thought it a privilege to serve and what is proposed to be done by men who vainly hope to cover up. The record will be there, and it will be read. There is nothing in the record that I am not proud to remember. I wonder will Fianna Fáil be able to say the same in 12 months' time.
Tá fhios againn go léir gur ceist an-deachair í ceist seo na Gaeltachta. Is trua liom nach gcloisimid níos mó Gailge á labhairt ag daoine a bhfuil sí go pras acu, nuair a bhíonn ceist na Gaeltachta agus na gceantar gcúng a plé sa Tigh seo. Ón méid ráiméis a chualamar i mBéarla ón Teachta Diolúin mar gheall ar an nGaeltacht, is féidir linn a mheas cad iad na tuairimí atá aige ar scéimeanna a bhaineann le hath-bheochaint na Gailege agus le sábháil na teangan. Ar feadh na mblianta fada a raibh mise ar an taobh seo den Tigh seo mar Aire Oidéachais, rinne sé beagnach gach ní dob fhéidir leis a dhéanamh chun masla agus drochmhisneach a chur ar obair na Gaeilge agus ar na daoine a bhí ag iarraidh an teanga a thabhairt thar n-ais 'san áit a mba chóir í a bheith. Níl fhios agam cad a bhítaobh thiar de sin ach is chuimhin liomsa é. Chuirfeadh sé droch-mhisneach ar aoinne, an méid bolscaireachta a bhí ar súil mar gheall ar "racket na Gaeilge" agus mar gheall ar dhaoine a raibh an Ghaeilge acu a bheith ag iarriadh slí bheatha a bhaint amach de thairbhe an eolais sin—daoine a bhi ag iarraidh gairm beatha níos fearr a bhaint amach dóibh féin ná saol i mease na gcarraigreacha. Duradh faoi mhúinteoirí, nó aoinne eile a raibh an teanga aige, agus a raibh intinn aige dul ar aghaidh sa tsaol, gur "racket" do bhi i gceist aige. De thoradh na cainte sin agus an obair i gcoinne na teangan a rinneadh i rith na mblianta ag daoine ar an taobh eile den Tigh seo agus ag daoine lasmuigh a bhí ag iarriadh a dhéanamh amach gur daoine údaráscha iad ar cheist an oideachais, agus mar sin de, coimeádadh siar obair na teangan go mór. Na daoine a raibh an méid sin cainte acu faoin "racket," sin iad na daoine a bhfuil sé de dhánaníocht iontu teacht isteach sa Tigh seo inniu agus óráid a dhéanamh mar gheall ar an nGaeilge. Cad a rinne siad-sean ar son na Gaeilge i rith a saoil? Níor chuala mise go ndearna siad dada ar son na teangan ach dul i gcoinne pé ní a rinne an Rialtas ar a son. Aoinne a bhfuil suim aige idteanga na Gaeilge, tá fhios aige gur cheist mór a mhol Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, bórd do chur ar bun i gcóir na Gaeltachta. Is dócha go gceapani an Teachta Diolúin agus daoine eile gur géag de Fianna Fáil an Comhdháil. Sé mo thuairim gur daoine neamh-spleácha iad nach bhfuil aon chuspóir acu ach rud éigin a dhéanamh, lasmuigh den meíd atá á dhéanamh ag an Rialtas, ar son na teangan agus ar son na Gaeltachta. Le tamal fada anois, ó bhí an Rialtas seo ann cheana, tá siad ag déanamh a ndícheall chun a chur os cóir ár súl gur ceart bord a chur ar bun le haghaidh na Gaeltachta. Nuair a cuireadh an chéad choimisiún ar bun ag Rialtas Chumann na nGaedheal, is dóigh liom go raibh sé i gceist bord den tsórt sin a chur ar bun agus gur dhiúltuigh an Rialtas sin é a dhéanamh. Sinne a bhí ar an taobh thall an am sin, cheapamar in ár n-am mar Rialtas ná raibh gá le bórd a chur ar bun; go mb'fhéidir go bhféadfaí gach rud ba ghá a dhéanamh sna Ranna Stáit a bhí ann. Do bhí tuairimí eile ag daoine eile.
Mar gheall ar Sheirbhísí na Gaeltachta, chonnaic mé féin go bhfuil ceangal orthu sa scéim fé mar atá sí: go bhfuil sé an-deachair do Roinn Stáit dul ar aghaidh agus déantúisí a chur ar bun fhaid is tá siad ceangailte le rialacha agus leis na nósanna imeachta a bhíonn ar súil idir an Roinn Airgeadais agus an Roinn atá i gceist. Bhí ceist ann, mar sin, an mbeadh sé níos fearr an obair a thabhairt do dhream éigin lasmuigh— private enterprise—nó ar cheart don Rialtas tuille a dhéanamh. Támuid ag dul ar aghaidh, ar aon chuma, sa tairiscint atá os cóir na Dála. Sé sin le rá, níl sé ar intinn ag an Rialtas bord a chur ar bun ach—laistigh den chomhcheangal a bheas ann idir na Ranna Stáit atá ag obair ar leas na Gaeltachta agus na gceantair gcúng agus an Rúnaí Pharlaiminte—má tharlaíonn sé san am atá le teacht go gceapfaimid nó go gceapfaidh pé Rialtas a bheas ann gur féidir bord, cosúil leis an Industrial Development Authority, mar shompla, a chur ar bun chun obair déantúísí d'fhorbairt, nó aon obair speisialta a chur ar aghaidh beidh nios mó eolais againn.
Tá fear óg anseo go bhfuil clú air, ag tabhairt faoin obair sin mar Rúnaí Parlaiminte. Gheobhaidh sé gach cúnamh is féidir a thabhairt dó agus tá socraithe ag an Rialtas go bhfaighidh sé gach cabhair a bheas ag taisteal uaidh ó gach Aire. Is féidir leis an Rúnaí Parlaiminte dul go dtí pé Aire is maith leis chun ceist ar bith a phlé leis mar gheall ar a chuid oibre agus mura bhfuil sé sásta, is féidir leis dul go dtí an Taoiseach, nó is féidir leis pé tairiscint is maith leis a chur faoi bhraid an Rialtais.
Sa tslí sin, cé nach Aire é, beidh cuid mhaith den chumhacht atá ag Aire aige féin agus beidh ar a chumas tairiscintí a chur os comhair an Rialtais. Níl sé i mbun Roinne Stáit ach gheobhaidh sé aon chabhair is gá ó lucht an Rialtais. Ní mian leis an Rialtas Roinn mhór a chur ar bun go bhfeice siad conas mar oibreos an scéim seo.
As I have been saying in Irish, the problem of the Gaeltacht is an extremely difficult one. In our minds in the Government the question of the preservation of the Irish language where it is spoken is associated with and is one of the main reasons for the establishment of the office of the Parliamentary Secretary.
In reply to Deputy Dillon's strictures and abuse, I need only recall to the House what the Leader of the principal Opposition Party has stated with reference to the question of co-ordination. He said that he carried out a scheme of co-ordination within his own Department so far as the education inspectors were concerned. When we were in office before there was an inter-Departmental Committee, but an inter-Departmental Committee of civil servants is not the best way to get work done for the Gaeltacht or, perhaps, for other things. They can advise but they are not in a position to take the necessary decisions. They have not the executive power. They are very valuable if a particular proposal comes up for consideration, and they can give their opinions and those of their Ministers and their Department.
But, if the position should arise that, let us say, the representative of the Department of Finance or the representative of another Department disagrees strongly with a proposal or a point of view and wishes to veto it and is not in a position to do that, it is obvious that the inter-Departmental Committee cannot achieve the results which can be got where you have either a Parliamentary Secretary or a Minister who is responsible to the Dáil and who must give an account of himself and put his proposals before the House. Such a body is in existence as an advisory body but the suggestion that at a particular point when important decisions involving, perhaps, large expenditure or changes in policy are involved they can be made by civil servants, no matter how high, how eminent or how experienced, is one that, I think, Deputies will recognise as not being feasible.
It is suggested also by Deputy Dillon that it would be impossible for the Parliamentary Secretary to co-ordinate the work which is allocated at present to the different Departments of State. The position, as I have just said, is that the Parliamentary Secretary has the right of access to each Minister who is concerned with this matter. He has the right to discuss any matter which the Parliamentary Secretary considers it necessary to discuss and if he is not satisfied he can, after discussions with the Minister, go to the Government so that he is in a position, although not a member of the Government, of being able to put proposals before the Government. Of course, I need hardly remind the House that these proposals have to be examined in the usual way that proposals for Ministers are examined—at least in this Government.
In a former Government, the Deputy —he has just left the House—unfolded this tremendous land project scheme of his at a meeting in Tullamore or somewhere without ever going through the procedure by which proposals have to be put forward for close examination to the authorities responsible for examining them to see what their implications are from every point of view and for the purpose of putting their views before the Government. It was by pronouncements in Tullamore and articles in the Sunday Independent rather than by following the usual procedure that has been adopted in this State over a long period of years for bringing proposals to a fruition after proper consideration and careful planning that Deputy Dillon depended on producing his schemes. He has given the House a fairly good picture of the way in which he approached these matters. He suddenly had an idea—a brainwave —as the Tánaiste pointed out last night. He had this brainwave the following week or the week after and how his poor brain could suffer all these things inundating it at the same time is more than I can understand.
Of course, Marshall Aid money was there. I leave it to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture to make a little inquiry as to the date this scheme was promulgated in Connemara. If my memory serves me right, it is very close indeed to the announcement of a by-election in that constituency. May I remind Deputy Dillon and the House that Fianna Fáil always had two representatives out of three in Connemara? They still have. In West Donegal we had always two Deputies out of three. We lost a seat in a by-election and we regained it in the last general election. The Gaeltacht areas outside West Donegal and West Galway are very limited indeed —a few parishes here and there which are not even completely Irish-speaking——
The Dingle peninsula.
——so that the future of the Irish language depends on the two longest Irish-speaking areas of West Donegal and Connemara, and to a certain extent, perhaps, on West Kerry. When I say it depends upon these areas, I mean it is only in these areas that you have a sufficiently large, homogeneous population to enable the language to be used as the ordinary medium of intercourse of a population which will be employed in different occupations over a certain geographical area and so on.
It is quite obvious that when the area becomes restricted to a few parishes, as happens in another part of the country, entirely surrounded by English, it is only a matter of time until these areas go. In these two areas of West Donegal and West Galway we are enabled to hold the position. I do not say that there has not been a fall in the number of Irish speakers and Irish-speaking households. There has been a fall, unfortunately, in the rural population throughout the country generally and this is much more marked in the western areas. Of course, that is the position in the West Donegal and West Galway areas. As to the extent that Fianna Fáil is trying to bribe the people in these areas, we will leave that to Deputy Dillon, knowing what the political opinions of the majority of the people in these areas have been over a very long period of time.
It was Deputy Dillon who first brought the word "corruption" into Irish politics in recent times. He availed himself of the occasion of the unveiling of a bust to a great Irish patriot, Thomas Davis, in the town of Mallow, to make a speech in which he made allegations about corruption in Irish politics, a campaign that he has sedulously pursued over all the years. I wonder, making all allowances in charity for Deputy Dillon, whether in making these attacks there is not sometimes at the back of his mind the feeling that he is vindicating some past leader or some past movement in Irish history against those who brought this nation—thank God—as far as it has gone up to the present, because these charges are made not against the individuals who are concerned but against public life in general. When these charges are made against public men or against Governments, they tend to lower the whole standard of the country. They tend to make people believe that men are in politics only for what they can get out of them and that they seek, by bribery and corruption, to retain their place in public life.
The Minister ought to let the dead rest and deal with the living. Let him deal with those who are living.
Deputy Morrissey was not present to listen to Deputy Dillon's speech. I had to listen to it and I have had to listen to him for a great many years blowing and thundering. When he got into office, he told the Sunday Independent that the files would be opened. Why were the files not opened? When Deputy Dillon had this unique opportunity, why did he not publish to the Irish people the scandalous corruption going on under Fianna Fáil? Why did he put the Irish people in the position that they took Deputy de Valera when they got the opportunity and got rid of Deputy Dillon and his colleagues? If Deputy Dillon was in a position to impeach Deputy de Valera and his administration, he had every opportunity of doing it during the past few years. Perhaps he did not do so out of some sense of charity, but, if it was out of a sense of charity, let him shut up. If he is able to tell stories about Fianna Fáil corruption, let us have them.
We had one this morning.
We had, and what about the people who got their own lands drained under the land reclamation scheme?
What about them?
What about the people who got their own lands drained under the previous Government?
Who were they? Give us the details.
We heard something about this scheme last night. Deputy Dillon tells us he introduced it into Connemara. Yes—the bulldozer he had in Roundstone was the laughing stock of even that poor village away in the West of Ireland. It was a bulldozer in the middle of rocks, left on the side of the road for weeks and weeks as a laughing stock.
The people of Connemara take a poor view of those who took it out.
We were told that it was for the benefit of the Gaeltacht and the nation that that type of work should be carried on at a cost of perhaps £150 per acre.
I thought it was £500, according to the Irish Press.
When I was formerly in the Department of Lands, I asked the experts in that Department why did we not do more reclamation and I was asked: "Why should we pay more money for reclamation than we can buy good land for up in the Midlands to which to transfer these people?" The Coalition achieved two remarkable successes. They were not satisfied that the price being paid for lands was sufficient, with the result that at present, before a sod is lifted on that land or a stone raised, there is a loss to the State in the resale of the land of about 25 per cent., and we have to add on to that loss of 25 per cent. the cost of all the improvements, of making roads, of building fences and houses, with the result that, from the financial point of view, it has become almost impossible to carry out migration on any scale that would help to solve this problem of congestion in the west. Side by side with that, money was being spent up to £100 per acre. What was the purpose of it? There was a scheme, as the House was told last night, by which land could be improved and farmers recouped to the extent of 50 per cent. There was also an excellent scheme in the Department of Agriculture, a scheme of reclamation. The Land Commission had been doing reclamation, but that was not sufficient. It would not do Deputy Dillon, this wonderful business and financial genius with his American training to improve on the schemes already there with the Marshall Aid moneys. He told us he was going to blast rocks and glacial deposits. What was it to cost and where was the end to be if Deputy Dillon had remained in office? Is it any wonder that the people in Connemara were laughing at the tomfoolery that was going on?
Do you repudiate Deputy Dillon's work in Connemara?
That this gentleman who denounced the use of the land in this country for the production of wheat and beet, who denounced the beet scheme and denounced the airport which has made this country a transatlantic crossroads on the air routes, should come along and spend money on these schemes is really too much.
Are we not discussing the Estimate for this office?
That is what is before the House.
If we are to continue to wander away into personal attacks, we will never get anywhere or get any business done.
Will the same latitude be allowed to every other speaker as has been allowed to the Minister?
The Chair has no authority whatever to allow any Deputy to go outside the rules of order. The Chair must endeavour to keep everybody on the matter before the House and that matter now is the Estimate for Gaeltacht Services.
We have heard and will hear more about the Deputy's experiments in the industrial field. If anything were necessary to show the complete lack of co-ordination in the state of affairs with which Deputy Dillon was associated, the examples of the limestone, the arterial drainage and various other examples can be given, but I do not intend to go into them further at present. We are not going to be put in the position of having to go around and answer Deputy Dillon and anybody else who wishes to take up the charges he is making. We will answer them here and now so far as possible. For that reason, I make my apologies to you, Sir, if I have transgressed the rules of order, but I submit that it required the exercise of great patience to listen to Deputy Dillon. He spoke as if he had never heard of the congested districts.
Does he not come from a congested district?
He does, and he surely knows that the congested districts were set up away back in 1890. The schedule was altered on a few occasions, but, broadly, they comprised the counties west of the Shannon, with Donegal, portion of Cavan at one time, Kerry and West Cork. We may vary those boundaries from time to time, but they are known as the congested districts. The Gaeltacht itself, excepting two areas, is so small that it is impossible to treat it as a sufficiently large unit for economic or social development for any worth-while schemes. You have to take fairly large units; and over a long period of time it was the congested areas that were the basis geographically of certain Government schemes.
If Deputy Dillon wishes, he can put down an amendment to have County Roscommon or any other county excluded from this Bill, or he can press the point of view that that county or any other county should be excluded from the operations of the office for which the Parliamentary Secretary is responsible. We know very well that there are parts of South Roscommon that claim they are just as congested as the adjoining parts of Mayo, for example. Therefore, if the Government were to attempt here and now, in putting through this urgent measure, to define very strictly as between one parish and a neighbouring parish, there would obviously be a feeling that areas were being excluded which were no better off than areas which were being included, if there were some new definition of congested areas. The expression "congested area" is well known, the territory it involves is well known, and it has been taken as a basis for the Bill. In the same way that that Minister can add—if I may be a little irrelevant—to these areas, he can exclude certain areas if anyone has the temerity to argue here that those areas are sufficiently well off and do not require special treatment.
Would the Minister not consider it better not to specify any particular area?
I am not discussing the Bill at present.
That is what has created a doubt.
My experience of the Gaeltacht Industries Branch is that if it were to do more valuable work, the work we should like it to do, it would more properly be associated with the general industrial drive that is going on. That drive is under the direction of the Tánaiste, the Minister for Industry and Commerce; he is in close touch with the Parliamentary Secretary, who will have ready access to him on all these matters. In his absence, I think I can safely say that he is very much interested in the work the Parliamentary Secretary is doing and will give him every possible support.
I do not care whether the Gaeltacht industries are associated with the Department of Lands or not. It is not the amount of work that is being done in that particular branch that matters: it is the fact that—as the Parliamentary Secretary himself desired it and as every member who was interested in this matter could see—in order to carry out his duties he must be entrusted with certain executive responsibility. He should be in a position to say that as well as being responsible for co-ordination he would have definite and specific responsibility for certain branches of work. As a first instalment, at any rate, of the Government's good intentions in that direction, we are handing over to him the Gaeltacht Industries Branch.
Could the Minister indicate what kind of industry the Government intends to undertake or develop?
That will arise on the next item on the agenda. The discussion I have been led into is in an endeavour to reply to some of the points raised by Deputy Dillon. With regard to his slanderous attack on Senator O'Grady, that the Senator concerned himself as Parliamentary Secretary with the appointment of charwomen, I do not believe a word of it.
We will leave it aside.
I do not believe it is possible to have cases where some person made application to a Deputy, a Parliamentary Secretary or a Minister for a post as charwoman. I have never heard of Ministers interfering in these matters. I have heard of representations being made to Ministers on behalf of Old I.R.A. men and so on, for appointments as porters and such like in the Government service. These matters are determined by interview boards. This is simply another example of Deputy Dillon's tactics, when he is endeavouring to persuade the House that Ministers are so much concerned with the exercise of patronage and bribery—that is what it amounts to— that they spend part of the time for which the people are paying them, in trying to get posts for people as charwomen. It is only Deputy Dillon's brain that could conceive such a thing. The Deputy showed complete ignorance of the matter in accusing the former Parliamentary Secretary. In the first place, he referred to him as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Lands. He has not been in the Department of Lands for some years. As far as I remember, he was in the Board of Works before the change of Government.
He was in Lands also.
But not for a good many years. Whether he was in the Department of Lands or the Board of Works, in what way it came within his scope to have to deal with the appointment of charwomen is beyond my understanding. However, if Deputy Dillon is reduced to that type of argument to make his case as a successful Minister for Agriculture—and in fact the greatest Minister for Agriculture in Europe—and if that is the kind of tosh he treats this House to in making that case, we can leave it at that.
The only thing I am sorry for is that when the Deputy was in the position of Minister for Agriculture and was getting those beautiful pictures we admire in the Lobby, of the places where the machinery has been operating—and, mind you, it has been operating rather more for the benefit of the big men in this country than for the small men in Connemara or anywhere else—it is a pity he did not add to the collection of museum pictures some up-to-date photographs or perhaps have had a film taken. Our predecessors were extraordinarily good at that and had nearly arrived at the point of getting television installed to show their achievements. Why was it never thought of to get a film made to show the work done by the bulldozer in Roundstone and elsewhere, so that the Irish people might really begin to appreciate and understand the marvellous achievements obtained under Marshall Aid and the splendid return the people have got for it?
I am sorry the Minister did not use the time well when he was on his feet to tell us exactly what it is that the Government hopes the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to accomplish, now that he is appointed to this position and is being given fairly wide powers of co-ordination, to use his own term. I would be more interested in hearing what it is proposed to do than in hearing a diatribe on various charges made against the previous Government. I would like to take this opportunity of saying that I think the Minister degraded himself and his position by trying to cast a slur on some of Deputy Dillon's ancestors. I will not dwell further on that low attempt than to say that, by the time the Minister or his family have contributed as much to the welfare and freedom of the Irish people as Deputy Dillon's family have, I will listen to what he has to say, but not until then. Deputy Dillon has his faults, perhaps—there is no one in the world who has not—but there is one thing that Deputy Dillon will go down as: the greatest friend the Irish farmers ever had. While I hope that a better man will come along, I do not think that it is possible that there will be a better Minister for Agriculture in this House. It would be too much like good luck for the country if a better Minister for Agriculture came along even in three generations' time.
To come down to brass tacks, the Parliamentary Secretary has not told us what he hopes to do. I want to preface my remarks by wishing him God speed. He will be wished God speed and receive every assistance on this side of the House so long as he carries out the work we hope he carries out, but I can assure him of a very rough and stormy passage if he devotes his time to building up Fianna Fáil's strength in the areas where they have lost so heavily. I am just hoisting a red light. However, I know the Parliamentary Secretary for some time and somehow I cannot find it in me to believe that he will allow himself to be used by the Government for that purpose. Both he and his newly recruited staff will get every assistance from me and from my Party so long as he makes an effort to carry out the work without caring who gets the kudos. So long as he devotes himself to improving the Gaeltacht areas as he has set out to do, I say God speed and good luck. Certainly he will get no obstruction from us. He will receive help and assistance so long as his motives are correct.
You will not do what they did on the Local Authorities (Works) Bill.
No. I think that they are genuinely ashamed of the tactics they employed then.
That does not arise. The Deputy might get back to the Estimate.
With all due respect I would point out to the Chair that it is within our power to use the same dirty obstructive tactics against the Vote at present before the House as were employed against us when we were trying to bring in measures beneficial to the Irish people.
I am asking the Deputy to confine himself to the Estimate and not to allow himself to be misled by interruptions.
I will do my best. I presume that the general desire of all sides of the House is to stop the flight from the land because that is the root problem in the congested and Gaeltacht areas. In other words we must if we possibly can stabilise the present population and achievement of that is the work which the Parliamentary Secretary will have to undertake. I hold that one of the ways to do that is to give employment and employment of a productive nature. I do not believe that it is employment of a productive nature to use public money to pay men to dig holes that other men are going to fill in to-morrow. I want to see productive work that will be of benefit to this nation now and in the future. If we want to hold the fast thinning remnants of the population of the Gaeltacht, the way to do it is to give them work, improve their lot and make life in these areas as attractive as we possibly can. Let the Minister for Lands say what he likes about Deputy Dillon's speech, there is no gainsaying the fact that for 17 years the Gaeltacht was poverty stricken, neglected and used only as a political plaything, but if even in the year 1951 we get down to the work of trying to do something for it then we will be doing a good day's work.
I want to tell the Parliamentary Secretary not to allow—that is if it is in his power to do so—the Minister for Lands to continue on a certain line that I think he started on with regard to afforestation. If he walks down to No. 88 Merrion Street and looks at the map of the survey I caused to be made in, I think, the first year I was in office, 1949, he will see what my plan was. I had absolutely spattered the West of Ireland with as many afforestation centres as possible, not close together but as scattered as possible. The stabilisation of the population in the Gaeltacht where the land is poor depends entirely on the proper utilisation of our land and I want to give the Parliamentary Secretary my views on the matter for what they are worth to him. The land of this country is our primary asset and no part of it should be disregarded in the way the Minister for Lands a few minutes ago suggested it should be. He was travelling in what I consider to be very dangerous country.
The utilisation of our land should be the first concern of any Government. There is no need to tell the Parliamentary Secretary or any member of this House how to use good arable land. That is absolutely essential to good food production, whatever type of food production the land might be peculiarly suitable for. We must come to the marginal and submarginal land. The inter-Party Government employed the land reclamation scheme, the Local Authorities (Works) Act and the implementation of the Arterial Drainage Act all of which were to dovetail into one another because they could not work without one another. We come to the type of land in Connemara, the Rosses and Kerry, land that certainly cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as land suitable for agricultural production but because it is unsuitable for agricultural production I want to impress as hard as I can on the Parliamentary Secretary that that is no reason why that land in these areas should be depopulated or left to the snipe and the grouse. Remember that we can use that land—and the officials of the Forestry Department will confirm what I am telling him—to maintain in perfect comfort as heavy a population, as thick a population, by afforestation as could live in an area of similar size of the best land in another part of the country. That may seem to Deputies an extravagant claim but I can assure them from my experience that it is not. This country pays for timber and timber products £8? million mostly to countries that do not buy 3d. worth from us in return. Afforestation is a long programme. It will be 20 or 25 years before even the first little returns come from it but how thankful we would be if 25, 30 or 35 years ago the then Government had left us a legacy of afforested land.
The key to the whole problem is the proper utilisation of the land. The Land Commission has a certain job to do to ease off overcrowding in some of the congested areas to areas where big farms still remain that can be easily and economically divided from the point of view of the national welfare. The Minister for Lands a few minutes ago said that he deplored some of the work the inter-Party Government had done in spending money on reclaiming some bad land in the West of Ireland. I took his whole line of talk to be that. He even deplores the fact of reclamation because when reclamation is carried out in those areas it means more work and difficulty for the Land Commission inspectors. I want none of that talk. I want to see the West of Ireland as populated as it is at present. I want to see no further depopulation. I do not want any of that damned nonsense from the Minister for Lands or from any other Minister. I admit that for millennia past nature has left the quality of our land very poor because of the high rainfall, but we are not a crowd of beggars in the West of Ireland. We are not coming with our hats in our hands to ask the Government for anything. We will hold our heads as high as the people of any part of the country. We do not want any damned charity. We only want the right to live and get back something from the taxation which we have to pay as well as the richest and the wealthiest in the country. That is the position in the West.
I do not want to bring any heat into the debate but I want to impress on the Parliamentary Secretary that if he wants to get down to the job the proper utilisation of the land is the key to the success of the whole scheme and that the proper utilisation of the land in these areas is afforestation. Let him delve into it. I can promise him after my experience of three and a half years with the Forestry Department that he will get the fullest and most loyal co-operation that any Minister could get from any section of the Civil Service. The officials in that Department are the keenest and most awake to their job in the whole Civil Service and that is saying a big word.
The Land Commission has a job to do but no matter what the Land Commission does, no matter how they put the land together in order to save the running and travelling which happens in rundale and inter-mixed areas, the Land Commission can never change the nature of that land into arable land. That is beyond their power. To try to use that land for agricultural purposes is all wrong. There are areas in which it is well worth while. No matter what the Minister for Lands may say and no matter what dirty water he may try to throw on Deputy Dillon's bulldozers in Roundstone there are pockets of land even in the worst areas that can and should be reclaimed. I want to say that there are pockets of land, even in the worst areas, that can and should be reclaimed. Deputy Dillon, the Parliamentary Secretary, I and anybody with any sense or knowledge of these areas, know quite well that you can never reclaim the side of a mountain. We all know the ghastly failure the work of the Land Commission was in the Cloosh Valley or Shannafeistean 20 years ago. You can never convert peat which is mainly composed of moss and grass into soil because 1,000 tons of it would not yield a shovel of soil if it were decomposed. That kind of land, if properly treated, in the way that I established while I was in the Forestry Department, treated by the machinery that I left to the present Minister, will grow timber successfully and give as high a volume of employment as a similar area of the best arable land would give.
Attention must be paid to housing. There is the necessary legislation to enable the Gaeltacht Services Department to attend to housing. The Government will get the backing of, I think, most people on this side of the House should they desire to amend the Gaeltacht Housing Act so as to give a chance to what are known in the Department as the 50-50 Irish speakers to build a house. If a native Irish speaker in a Gaeltacht area happens to marry a girl who does not know Irish, immediately he is debarred, because Irish is not the spoken language of the home. That is a discrimination that was forced on me, under the 1949 Gaeltacht Housing Act, by the Fianna Fáil Party and I am intensely sorry. It was what I must call class distinction, which certainly was not good law. It was not a proper thing for this House to have passed.
There are two other things to which the Parliamentary Secretary could usefully turn his attention. One of them is the development of sea fisheries. The other is to continue the investigation that Deputy Dillon had commenced as to whether there are any useful minerals in the Gaeltacht areas or not.
The Parliamentary Secretary has a good, smooth-running machine in Gaeltacht services for the establishment of industries and home crafts in these areas but I want to point out to him that the employment of girls alone will not stabilise the population of the Gaeltacht areas. While human nature is built the way it is, the Parliamentary Secretary will find that the proper thing is to give the men good employment. Let it be constant. Let good wages be given. Where the men are fully employed, there the women will be, because woman's place, naturally, is the home, in most cases at least. If you want to stabilise the population, if you want to nail it down and prevent further dwindling of the population in the Gaeltacht, the way is the one that I have described. That is the manner in which I was proceeding from the time I assumed office until the change of Government.
These are some of the points that I want to give the Parliamentary Secretary for his benefit.
The Irish language, despite the best endeavours of all Governments, is dying. The Minister for Lands said, a moment ago, that it was receding further and further in the Gaeltacht areas. It is. Why? Because, I am afraid, we neglected these areas for the greater part of the time that we have had a native Government.
You are afraid? You know we did.
Very good. I will say that they were neglected. There is no getting away from that. The first real attempt that was made to do anything for the Gaeltacht was done by me.
This thing that is going to be done now is only eyewash.
Perhaps it may be eyewash but I would not like to say that offhand. We will wait and see.
The House should know that it is eyewash.
I would be more inclined to take it at its face value and to see what will emerge in a month, or two or three months.
It is an election machine.
It may be an election machine but my opinion of the people of the West is that, if it is an election machine or a vote-catching machine, the people of the Gaeltacht areas will see that quite plainly. They gave Fianna Fáil a kick in the pants at the last general election and they are getting £2,000,000 out of it now. My view is that they will give them two kicks in the pants in the hope of getting £4,000,000 afterwards.
Like the free beef scheme.
I want the Parliamentary Secretary to cross swords with his Minister, the Minister for Lands. It is his duty to do so. He comes into this House to ask for money to establish a small nucleus of what I hope will be a Department some day, and what I hope will be elevated to the level of a Ministry one day, as I think it should. The areas mentioned in the Bill represent a huge slice of the country and the quality of the land in those areas is the poorest in the country. It is no use shedding crocodile tears about the flight from the land. Some positive action is needed.
The Minister for Lands threw out a very dangerous hint when he said that he deplores spending money on it because we could buy land much cheaper elsewhere for the amount of money that is being spent on reclaiming or improving land in these areas. That is true. The same argument was put to me in my time—why spend £40 or £50 an acre in improving land in Connemara when land can be bought in the east of the country for £20 an acre which the Land Commission could buy for these people.
He was simply recounting what someone had said, years prior to his coming into office.
I know that but he seemed to have been completely taken by the argument. I want to say that there will be very serious trouble of a dirty kind if there is any attempt to depopulate the western areas. I want to impress on the Parliamentary Secretary that I am not saying this through bitterness or anything else. I want to give him the benefit of my experience and knowledge of these areas. You can maintain the same population there, acre for acre, as you can in the best land in the Midlands. It is by proper utilisation of the land that that can be done, not by any other means, and the proper utilisation of the land in those areas in afforestation.
I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to ask for particulars of employment in some of the new forestry centres that I had set up in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry and parts of Clare. There were forestry centres in some of those areas before. Let him meet the people and see what they think about it. The people see at once that two things are necessary—constant work at decent wages and fairly decent houses.
I submit that the home of the Irish language is the Gaeltacht, where it is spoken in the homes and where the people can speak English only badly. If you want to save the Irish language, you must try to nail down the present population and not allow it to dwindle further. You will find it a stiff job, a hard job to do. You will not accomplish miracles overnight. I want to put that on the records of this House. But, if you want to do it, remember, employment for the male population is required, above all things. If you can develop further factories under Gaeltacht services, for the employment of the young girls who may be inclined to go to England, and succeed in keeping some of them at home, you will be doing a good day's work. Employment for males is the principal thing. They have not employment at the moment. Regardless of the price of wool and agricultural produce, they have not a decent living at the moment in those areas. These areas should be used as the timber store of Ireland. The congested areas, particularly those mentioned in the Bill, should be the future timber yard of this country. It is sheer madness to plant timber on good land.
There is a fully developed forestry division, thanks to what I did in three and a half years. I developed it according as I saw the country's needs and according to what experts, home and foreign, told me should be done. You have a nursery acreage of 740 as against 240 when I took office. You have a land acquisition staff. When I took over there was only one man there, and I increased the staff to 12. I advise the Parliamentary Secretary, if he has any say in the matter, to increase it further. You have a fairly big pool of land and a pretty steady flow of good planting land coming in. Do not allow politics to enter into the matter if you want to make your name and do something worth-while for the congested areas during your term of office.
I should like to say a few words on this Estimate mainly because I come from one of the counties principally concerned. I thought that this Estimate would have met with the unanimous approval of the House as it is a new attempt to ameliorate the lot of the people in the congested areas. When Deputy Mulcahy spoke in terms of complete approval of the Estimate, I felt that we were going to get the co-operation of the entire House in order to make a success of what this Estimate is intended for. But, when Deputy Dillon attacked it and alleged that this Estimate was to be utilised for corrupt political purposes, then one could easily see that there was going to be opposition for the sake of opposition to the Estimate. But perhaps the greatest omen for success is the fact that Deputy Dillon does not approve of it. So far as I am aware, any project which Deputy Dillon has ever tackled never met with success.
Has the Deputy any useful ideas to offer the Parliamentary Secretary to help him out?
We shall hear that, I dare say.
I hope they will be more useful than any suggestions made by Deputy Blowick.
It is a shame for Deputies to waste the time of the House with the kind of stuff that the present Deputy is giving us.
Let us hear what the Deputy has to say.
I apologise for encroaching on your duties as chairman.
The necessity for something to be done in a serious way to ameliorate the lot of the congested areas is evidenced by the decline of the population there over a long number of years and the flight from the land. Simultaneously with this depopulation of the western seaboard, the cities and towns are increasing in population. There is a drift to the cities. In the City of Dublin one gets a false impression of prosperity, but you are quickly disillusioned when you go back to places like Donegal, Connemara and Kerry. In order to change that state of things, it has been found necessary to do something which will give employment to the surplus labour in those areas. I have listened to Deputies who have spoken, particularly Deputy Blowick, who asked that people should make a useful contribution to this debate. I do not think that I heard one constructive suggestion from him.
You probably did not understand what I was talking about.
We must remember that the reclamation of land alone will not solve the problem of the congested areas. Every Deputy knows that sometimes there are families of 12 or 14 brought up in a small cottage with a few acres of land in the Gaeltacht. Even if that land is made like the land in the Golden Vale, it cannot employ the surplus labour. The land will be inherited by one member of the family and the others have to find employment elsewhere. The reclamation of small uneconomic holdings will not absorb the surplus unemployed. The only suggestion that Deputy Blowick made was that he had done something in the way of afforestation. There has been an afforestation scheme going on for some years in Donegal and on 1,500 acres only eight men were employed during the past three years.
You should know the answer.
Because, during 17 years of the Fianna Fáil Administration, the area was virtually depopulated and the people are as rare as the houses.
The fact remains that many people are unemployed in these areas. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said last night that the afforestation programme was tackled in such a manner as to give the impression that something wonderful was being done while nothing was being done. As a Deputy stated, it was all eyewash. Afforestation will now be tackled in a serious and practical manner and it will be utilised for the purpose of absorbing as far as possible the unemployed in the congested areas. The new scheme envisaged under this Estimate brings the greatest hope that has yet been brought to the people of the congested areas. They will have hope and confidence in the future. There is little use in bringing in temporary schemes or giving temporary employment to the people in these areas. If the young men and women in these areas have not hope and confidence in the future, there is very little use in providing employment for them by special employment schemes or land reclamation in a particular area which only gives employment to a few people at tremendous cost to the country.
I understand that this Estimate will be used for fostering industry in the congested areas and giving certain concessions to people who will start industries there. These industries will be of a permanent and productive nature which will not merely give direct employment to the people concerned but hope and confidence to the entire area and enable people to look forward to the future and say: "This is not the desolate place which it has been and we can settle down in the knowledge that something is being done seriously to bring about prosperity for the western seaboard and the congested areas."
There has been tremendous industrial development in this country over a number of years. The western seaboard has a right to share in that development just as well as Dublin City. But the industrialist who has money to spend on an industry will naturally establish it in a centralised area where he has the facilities necessary for a successful enterprise. Without some concession or inducement being offered to him he is not likely to go to the congested areas to start his industry. This Estimate is for the purpose of giving the necessary inducement and concessions to these people who are prepared to go to the congested areas and thereby give these areas a chance of having the facilities which for too long have been the monopoly of centralised areas such as Dublin, Cork, etc. We have just as much right to these facilities as the people in the cities have. As a matter of fact, the influx of people to the cities has created a false impression of prosperity and a problem which the local authorities are hardly capable of dealing with.
On occasion this House is turned into what amounts to a meeting of the Dublin Corporation discussing the question of differential rents, housing and transport as appertaining to Dublin City. If people were not flocking into this city from the rural areas and if they could find suitable employment in their own areas these problems would not exist in Dublin and the corporation would be quite capable of solving the existing housing problem. The people in the country believe that because the amenities provided in the city are far in advance of anything we have in the congested areas they will never be happy until they see the city lights, find employment in it of some kind or other and live there under any circumstances they can. But they soon discover that the cost of living in the city is much higher than it is in the country. They may be lucky enough to find regular employment. They may have something coming in every week. They may eventually get married and live in a flat for years before they find a house. When they get a house it is so costly they can hardly afford to pay the rent. But they struggle on because they have no desire to go back to the place they were born and reared in. The young men and women of to-day naturally want the amenities the city can provide.
In the congested areas we want better housing. We want a Gaeltacht Housing Act which will make more generous provisions for the erection of new houses and the reconstruction of existing ones. We were disappointed in the 1950 Act because it did not make adequate provision for housing in the Gaeltacht areas. In the near future I trust we will have a housing Act which will make proper provision for these areas.
Housing and roads are the main essentials in any area. We want better roads in the Gaeltacht. We want better by-roads, back roads and county roads. Our main roads are quite good, but the people living on the hillsides and along the sea coast are just as entitled to good roads as are those who are fortunate to live on the main trunk lines at the present time.
With better housing and roads and land reclamation by way of farm improvements much can be done in the Gaeltacht. The farm improvements scheme is the type of land reclamation the people want in the congested areas. We have seen these plots undertaken under the land project and we know that several hundred pounds have been spent in reclaiming an acre of bog land. We know that machinery was brought in from far distant lands; we know that officials attended almost daily at this work. Eventually oats, or some other crop, was sown on the land that had been treated with machinery for months and the cost of the crop was as high as £400 I believe in some cases.
You are talking bosh.
That acre of reclaimed land has been spoken of by some Deputies as if it were the panacea for all the ills existent in the congested areas. We who live in these areas, and who have lived in them all our lives, know that the reclamation of land alone will never solve the problem of keeping the people at home in the Gaeltacht. Land reclamation may be very good in its own way. The improvement of any holding is a good thing. Land reclamation in so far as it affects drainage and improvements in the amenities of the small farmer is all very well. The real problem which confronts us is the employment of eight or ten members of a family. Unless that problem is solved we are not making any serious effort to improve the lot of the people in the congested areas.
I think the Estimate before the House to-day is the first serious effort ever made towards the improvement or amelioration of conditions in the Gaeltacht. For 30 years the Congested Districts Board did much good work, but that board concerned itself mainly with agriculture and fisheries. Under British rule the establishment of industries anywhere in Ireland was not popular. All the industrial development that took place under the Congested Districts Board was the establishment of cottage industries, home crafts which at the time were tantamount to slave labour and which, I think, would not have been found anywhere else in the world.
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present,
I was discussing the work done by the Congested Districts Board, but I want to digress now to deal with a point raised by one of the Labour Deputies. A figure has already been given for the cost of land reclamation in relation to some of these plots and I intend to put down a question to elicit information as to the price of particular plots I have in mind.
A single acre.
I understand that the figure given does not include the cost of machinery or the wages of officials, so that the figure given for the reclamation of these plots might easily be doubled.
The work done by the Congested Districts Board during its 30 years in existence was all very well, but it was mainly concerned with agriculture and fisheries. Admittedly, they divided holdings, built houses and trained the people in cottage industries, but they had not at their disposal the money to undertake any serious development of industry because the establishment of industries was not popular under British rule.
Over the past 20 years there has been a tremendous industrial development. I am convinced that we are now going forward to an even greater development notwithstanding the ground lost during the last three years. I believe that the congested areas are entitled to share in that industrial development. The only way they can share in that development is by giving some inducement or some concession to the people to establish industries in the Gaeltacht areas under which the unemployed will be given some gainful occupation at home and will no longer be under the necessity of emigrating or flocking into our cities and towns.
The Estimate before the House to-day proposes to initiate that important work. I believe it should have the blessing of every Deputy. Perhaps the Deputies from the areas which are not concerned in this Estimate may be a little jealous.
You are trying to carry on Deputy Dillon's scheme.
Remember that we have contributed money towards projects outside our own areas. I think it is now time that other sections of the community should come to the aid of the people in the congested and Gaeltacht areas by subsidising, or by giving financial assistance, in the way of concessions, for factories and the other things proposed in the Bill which is to come before the House in the next few days. For these reasons, I think every Deputy should seriously support this Estimate.
Now, it has been alleged by Deputy Dillon that this Estimate is merely for the purpose of political bluff, to use his own words.
It looks awfully like it.
Perhaps he himself is an adept at that kind of thing, and so is inclined to suspect his neighbour of it. The land project, when brought into being, was applied to a few counties. It was dangled before the people in such a way that it could be applied to a particular county at any time. We noticed that, on the eve of a by-election in Donegal, we had it applied to that county. The same happened in other areas where by-elections were pending. Immediately a by-election cropped up in a county, the land project was applied to that particular county. That probably is accountable for the allegations which were made by Deputy Dillon and other Deputies here to-day that the Bill which we are to have next week is to be used for the same purpose.
Look up the Kilkenny figures.
Those Deputies have insinuated that it is only to be applied to counties in which Fianna Fáil lost seats. Now, one of the principal counties concerned is Donegal, where we have the biggest Gaeltacht area in Ireland. That was one of the counties in which not merely did we not lose a seat but we won a seat. If the scheme was to be applied on the lines suggested by those Deputies, Donegal would be the last county in which the scheme would be applied.
Will the Deputy put down an amendment to the Bill to keep it to the areas in which Fianna Fáil did not lose a seat?
Donegal would be the last county in which the scheme would be applied if Deputy Dillon's suggestion were true—that it was to be applied on a political basis. Of course, people who are past masters in that art are likely to be suspicious of any benefits which may be applied in the future.
Deputy Blowick said that the land in those areas was not suitable for agricultural purposes, and then later said that the proper utilisation of the land was our only hope. How he can reconcile these two statements it is difficult to understand. He said the land was not suitable for agricultural purposes.
For a particular purpose.
He then went on to say that the utilisation of the land was our only hope. I believe that any Deputy who tries to convince this House that the utilisation of the land, or the reclamation of the land, will in itself solve the long-standing problems in the congested and Gaeltacht areas is talking through his hat. It will improve the lot of the man on the land.
Give us your solution then.
I failed to get one from you during the three years you were a Minister.
The fact that you lost nine seats in the west proves that I did my stuff. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The fact that we won a seat in Donegal is to be attributed more to your blunders as Minister for Lands than to anything else—to your lack of interest and lack of attention. The Deputy may have attended to his own area, but I certainly say that his failure in Donegal contributed towards our gaining a seat at the last election.
We have been asked for a solution. The Estimate we are discussing is for the purpose of providing a solution. I claim that it is the first serious attempt that has ever been made towards ameliorating the lot of the people in the congested areas because anything done before was merely by way of improving the means under which the people had to live. This is an Estimate for a new scheme of things. It will give the congested areas a chance to participate in the industrial development which, heretofore, may have applied to centralised areas such as Dublin City. There is no reason why these industries should not be brought to the western seaboard. Even if they do provide problems for private enterprise, then let those problems be overcome by way of a cash concession in the Bill to be introduced next week.
I hope that no Deputy will seriously oppose that Bill or attribute its introduction to any political wangling or say that it was introduced for any ulterior motive, because there is a problem there which must be faced by every Deputy. No matter what Government may be in power in this country in the future, it cannot afford to ignore the type of plan which is now being introduced. The only fault which I have to find with the Bill is that, in my view, the financial provision in it is not sufficient. It is a beginning, and I hope that financial assistance will be extended as time goes on. I have no doubt that, in spite of any opposition which the Bill may meet with, it will be a success eventually, and that we can point to a great improvement in the lot of the people in the Gaeltacht areas, along the western seaboard and, particularly, in my own County of Donegal.
It is rather surprising that so much heat should have been generated in this debate, especially by some of the Deputies supporting the Government, including the Minister for Lands. When the Supplies and Services Bill was being debated during the last three or four weeks, those Deputies were as quiet as mice. Their seeming earnestness now would lead one to believe that, perhaps, there is some political motive behind the Estimate we are discussing and the Bill that we are to have next week. However much one may be tempted to think in that way, or the reasons that may exist for so thinking, so far as I am concerned I shall try to believe that everything is being done in good faith.
During the tour which the Parliamentary Secretary made in South Kerry he certainly gave those who met him to understand that there was no political motive behind his tour. Efforts were certainly made by Fianna Fáil keymen to cash in on his visit, but, on the whole, he acted in such a gentlemanly way that his tour became a great success, and we were all very pleased with the outcome of it.
We are told that this office is being established to co-ordinate efforts for the economic and social development of the Gaeltacht and congested areas. I desire to find out from the Parliamentary Secretary how this co-ordination is to take place. It certainly appears to be a very difficult matter. We find mention of nine Departments which will be concerned with this special work.
These nine Departments are already carrying out the work in their own way in the Gaeltacht and congested areas. For instance, the Department of Agriculture is carrying out the land reclamation scheme as far as possible. You have other works being executed by the Department of Industry and Commerce, which would include the setting up of factories or industries. The Department of Education would deal, of course, principally with conditions in schools. I would like to state in passing that Deputy Mulcahy, when he was Minister for Education, made a very important departure from the usual method of inspection of schools, because he appointed special inspectors for Gaeltacht areas. That in itself should be a means of helping to preserve the language in those areas. Then we have the Department of Local Government dealing with housing in the usual way; Finance; Special Employment Schemes Office; the Department of Lands, Gaeltacht Services, Forestry, and so on.
What difference will be made in setting up this office by which the work in those various Departments will be coordinated? What power will the Parliamentary Secretary have to carry out the two propositions that will be put to him and to his Department, if I may call it a Department? Can he force the Ministers or the officials of the various Departments concerned to carry out the schemes? Will he have a special office or Department and where will it be? When people in those Gaeltacht and congested areas are making representations—we will take, for instance, in connection with land reclamation—is it to the Department of Agriculture or to the office of the Parliamentary Secretary that the communication will be sent or with whom the interview will take place, and so on with the other Departments?
In future are the people from Gaeltacht areas to depend on the Parliamentary Secretary for everything which is required for their wellbeing? As far as I am concerned I fail to see how this co-ordination can take place successfully. I think that instead of co-ordination there will be overlapping. I suggest that the £4,140 concerned is merely an additional tax on the people because I believe that the people living in those areas must still rely on the Departments concerned. I cannot see how that co-ordination will help in any way to improve conditions in the Gaeltacht areas. That is why I would suspect a great deal of camouflage or eyewash in this. I hope that I am wrong because it is about time that some serious effort was made to improve the life of the people in these remote and undeveloped areas. I believe that at the time of the foundation of the State it was a pity the old Congested Districts Board was abolished at least until such time as some kind of board would be set up to take its place. I do not know if this new office that is being created is meant to carry out the work of that board. I doubt if it can be so successful because of the peculiarities of its make-up.
You have here the different works or improvements that will be carried out. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to fish. Everything is being done for the fishing industry, but it is not sufficient. One of the first acts of Deputy Dillon, as Minister for Agriculture, was to reduce the contribution of those who required boats and gear. The deposit was reduced from 50 per cent. to 10 per cent. That was a great advance and it is by virtue of this 10 per cent. deposit system that fishermen requiring large, 50-foot boats can acquire them.
If the Parliamentary Secretary can carry out the work with freedom and if he succeeds in this co-ordination that is mentioned, there is a wide field for him in connection with fishing, the supply of boats, the protection of the fisheries, the improvement and extension of piers and also some system of setting up coast-watching stations, by which foreign trawlers may be kept outside the territorial water limit and also for the protection of fishermen when out at sea.
In regard to land drainage there is certainly a great deal that can be done in Gaeltacht areas. I do not know if it will be possible in the type of land we have in Gaeltacht areas to use the machinery we have seen being used in other parts of the country. I agree with Deputy Blowick when he says that the land is really the foundation of the success of carrying out the scheme in the Gaeltacht. If every possible acre of potentially arable land could be drained and fertilised and if the holdings could be made economic, it would solve a great deal of the trouble in Gaeltacht areas.
On the subject of afforestation, it is remarkable that a survey was one time made on behalf of the British Government of the western seaboard areas in connection with projected afforestation. It was stated in that report, for some reason that it is difficult to explain, that all the land along the western seaboard, including a great part of South Kerry, was not suitable for afforestation. Yet when we are cutting turf in the bogs we find every relic and every sign there to show that away back in ancient times the whole western seaboard appeared to be a forest. Surely the climate and soil of the country have not deteriorated to such an extent that we can no longer produce trees along the western seaboard.
Afforestation would be one big scheme which, if carried out to its full extent, would prove of special help to these Gaeltacht areas. It would be a scheme which would provide permanent employment for the people. When we speak of employment, and of giving employment in undeveloped areas, we should bear in mind that the type of employment which has been provided so far has been in the form of minor relief schemes, such as drainage and work on the bogs. The turf industry is not permanent but merely seasonal. I say that unless something is done to give the people permanent employment and to provide them with a decent wage, we will never succeed in getting them to settle down in these remote areas.
The roads in all Gaeltacht and congested areas are notable for their bad condition of repair. Such is the position in my native County of Kerry. We blame the county councils but, after all, it is unfair, where there is such a big mileage of roads, to expect that the ratepayers of these poorer areas could maintain the roads in a proper condition. Therefore, I hope, when the Parliamentary Secretary is dealing with matters concerning local government, that he will see that special grants will be issued under the local authority or under some authority for the purpose of making decent roads available for the people.
In these remote mountain areas many of the people have neither roads serving their houses nor access to their houses by bridges over the rivers which they must cross. Unfortunately, up to the present at any rate, there is no scheme under which a bridge, leading to one house only, can be erected over a river. In my area of Kerry over 100 people find themselves in the situation I have described—people who are anxious to stay in their native districts and to make a living on the fairly good mountain land. I hope that some measure will be brought forward by the Parliamentary Secretary providing money, including a contribution from the local person concerned if possible, for the provision of roads which will give proper access to people's holdings, thus obviating the necessity of crossing dangerous streams and rivers.
I will now touch on the question of housing. The difficulty about housing in those Gaeltacht areas at present is that the grants made available under the local authority schemes or under the Gaeltacht scheme are entirely inadequate for the purpose of building a house. The position is that the recipients of the Government grant have really no money to add to the grant. The result is that they can build only the type of house which is not conducive to comfort and which does not entice them to stay in their native districts. In that connection, I would like to say that increased grants should be made available so that people can build bigger houses and provide themselves with the amenity of running water. After all, if we want to entice the people to stay in remote, neglected areas, we must make their home life as pleasant as possible. We should consider the position of the women who have to work in the homes and we should endeavour to do away with the drudgery that exists, in such large measure, for them in those remote neglected areas.
The inhabitants of these neglected areas hate to remain in them because they cannot use machinery owing to the necessity for drainage and for the removal of scrub and rocks. I might say at this point that we have not as many rocks in Kerry as are to be found in Connemara. People are not encouraged to work in these areas because they cannot make use even of the ordinary horse and plough; whatever they plant or sow they must use the spade and shovel. In these days of progress it is not proper that the people should have to eke out a livelihood along the western seaboards in the way I have described. They should be supplied with every up-to-date method.
During the term of office of the last Government the Electricity Supply Board, which works under the direction of the Department of Industry and Commerce, were developing a scheme for the purpose of introducing rural electrification even to the remotest areas of South Kerry. There is certainly a necessity to provide proper light for the homes of the rural dwellers, and it is about time electricity was brought to them so that they could do away with the old-fashioned oil lamp and the candle.
Suggestions have been made that, because of the great quantity of turbary areas in South Kerry, turf generating stations should be erected there. Might I press the view that, before any such project is undertaken, there should be a complete and minute survery made to ensure that, in years to come, the only local fuel available to the people in those Gaeltacht areas will not have been entirely consumed by those generating stations, thus leaving the people worse off than ever before through a lack of fuel? At least, in all those remote, seaboard districts the people have this great comfort that they have the fuel close to their doors and can at least have a decent fire.
I would like to refer now to the question of education. There is a provision by which children in Gaeltacht areas will be entitled to a grant of £5 under certain very strict conditions. In fact, if a household had six, eight or nine children and if one child happened to fail the oral and written examination given by the inspector, such a household would lose the grant. I feel that there is no use in carrying things this far. There must always be some kind of understanding. I know of cases like that where families have been deprived of these grants—grants which would have meant a great deal to them. I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary, if possible, to get the Minister for Education to double these grants. I think it was the Minister for Lands who said that the principal reason for setting up this Department was to preserve the Gaelic language. One way of ensuring that would be the provision of good schools.
I would like to interrupt the Deputy for a moment. Would he mind explaining the reason for the giving of these £5 grants? Is it to encourage the speaking of the Irish language or is it to ameliorate the economic conditions of the people concerned?
These grants are obviously given for the preservation of the language.
Then I say that it is a bad day when we have got to pay the Irish people to speak their own language.
There is another way of looking at this. Children from poor areas sometimes have to go a long distance to school and are probably badly clad and these grants would be some inducement to them. They are not really being paid to learn the language.
It must be one way or the other.
Is not any special help which will be given to the Gaeltacht and to the congested areas under this Estimate and under the new Bill for the purpose of preserving the Gaeltacht, and that includes the Irish language? We are making special provision for that, to enable people to live in those areas and to induce them in every way possible to remain there. That is what we were doing while we were responsible for the Government and that is what Fianna Fáil were doing when they were in office previously.
It is a wrong approach.
Nobody seems to have made a great success of it.
That is why it is a wrong approach.
The Deputy can tell us later what his approach is.
We are not now discussing the pros and cons of the measure to be introduced.
Provision should also be made to brighten the lives of the people living in these areas. A certain type of provision is, I am sure, made by the local authorities but steps should be taken to erect parish halls where not only people could assemble for dances, concerts and functions of that kind but in which a branch of the county library might be established. I know it is very expensive to erect those buildings at present but if we are to induce the people to remain at home we must provide them with all the amenities of life to encourage them to live in those areas and to prosper. So far as I am concerned, no matter what may be said as to the political significance of this scheme, I am prepared to give the experiment a chance and I am glad that the Deputy at the head of the Department is one who is likely to carry out his duties without interfering in any way with the people or trying to make the scheme a political racket. I have that confidence in him.
I think it was Deputy Blowick who suggested that a Minister should be at the head of this Department but if we are to accept the latest statement of the Tánaiste I am afraid that he would not like to have a member of the Bar in his Cabinet. If, however, it is thought desirable to have a Minister as the head of the Department, I hope that will not prevent Deputy Lynch from continuing with the work. I am sorry that I had to speak at such length and I am afraid I have been delving into matters that should be discussed in the debate on the Bill but seeing that the speakers who preceded me referred to such matters, I thought I also might give a summary of the requirements of these areas. We can go into these matters in greater detail at a later stage. I think I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that, so far as this Party is concerned, we shall co-operate with him in every way possible so long as we are satisfied that a genuine effort is being made to improve conditions in the congested areas.
O bheith ag éisteacht leis na Teachtaí a bhí ag caint ar an Meastachán seo, shílfeá gurbh é tuairim na dTeachtaí nach mbaineann an obair atá le déanamh faoin Meastachán le rud ar bith ach obair na Roinne Tailte. Gan amhras, ní fíor sin. Mar dúirt an Rúnaí Parlaiminte, ag tabhairt an Mheastacháin isteach dó, bunaíodh Oifig na Gaeltachta agus na gCeantar gCúng d'fhonn iarrachtaí a stiúradh agus a chomh-oirneadh chun an Ghaeltacht agus na ceantair chúnga d'fhorbairt ó thaobh na heacnamaíochta agus an chomhdhaonnachais. Sílim go bhfuil sé sin leathan go leor chun gach a mbaineann leis an Ghaeltacht a thabhairt isteach sa díospóireacht seo. Tá faithchios orm nár thuig na Teachtaí an méid adúirt an Rúnaí Parlaiminte. Dúirt an Teachta Palmer nár ghá an díospóireacht a bheith teasaí. Is truaigh nár thug sé an chomhairle sin don Teachta O Diolúin. Bhí níos mó na teas ina chuid cainte. Do chaith sé síos a chóta agus thug dúshlán gach éinne satailt air.
Bhí deabhlaíocht ann.
Bhí níos mó ná deabhlaíocht ann. Maídír liomsa, do caitheadh a lán achasán liom. Ní hé seo an áit le freagra a thabhairt air ach tabharfaidh mé freagra air san áit cheart.
Dúradh a lán mar gheall ar an scéim seo do Chonamara, go rabh lucht Fhianna Fáil ag iarraidh sochar a bhaint as an scéim seo ar mhaithe leo féin. Níhé sin ár gcuspóir, ní hionann agus scéim úd an Diolúnaigh. Ní haon díobháil an méid seo a shonrú, gur ar lá na n-amadán an chéad lá d'Aibreán, a tugadh steach scéim an Diolúnaigh.
Dúradh nach raibh sa scéim seo ach "political racket." Ba mhaith liomsa a rá nach "political racket" ar chor ar bith an scéim ach is cosúil gur "political racket" a bhí sa scéim a chuir an Teachta O Diolúin ar bun i gConamara. Is minic a chuala mé gearáin i dtaobh togha máistrí oibre nó "gangers," agus sa scéim a thug seisean isteach nárbh fhéídir le duine post d'fháil mar sclábhaí féin mura raibh sé sásúil i súile lucht Fhine Gael agus na ceannairí polaiticiúla ansin.
Ar ndóigh, sa cheist seo tá dhá cheist—ceist forbairt déantús agus ceist forbairt talmhaíochta. Sa mBille seo, nílimid ag chur ceann acu i gcoinne an chinn eile. Sé tá beartaithe againn sa mBille seo ná, mar adeir an ráiteas agus mar léadh amach é, comh-oirneadh agus comhstiúradh a dhéanamh ar na scéimeanna le haghaidh leas na Gaeltachta. An Teachta adúirt go raibh leas na Gaeltachta ag brath ar an talmhaíocht, tá sé ag dul amú go mór má tá aon tuiscint aige ar an scéal. Dá mba rud é go raibh an talamh go léir i gConamara nó i nDáilcheantar Thír Chonaill Thiar roinnte idir an ceathrú cuid nó an cúigiú cuid de na daoine atá ann agus gur cuireadh na trí ceathrúna nó an chuid de na daoine a bheadh fagtha go dtí Contae na Midhe nó go dtí áit éigin eile—fiú amháin ansin ní bheadh slí bheatha cheart ag na daoine a bheadh fágtha mar níl a ndóthain talún fónta san áit. Má tá a leithéid de thuairimí láidre ag daoine mar gheall ar fhorbairt na talmhaíochta cuimhnídís ar scéim na dtrátaí a chuir Rialtas Fhianna Fáil ar bun do Conamara agus do Thír Chonaill—an scéim dob fhearr dos na daoine sna ceantair sin—agus ná déanaidís dearmad ar na daoine sa Tigh seo a bhí i gcoinne na scéime Ni raibh aon sclámhaíocht ag baint leis an scéim sin agus dob fhéidir fiú amháin leis na leanaí cabhair a thabhairt. An rud dob fhearr ar fad faoin scéim sin dob é gur thóg sé isteach sna ceantair chúnga agus sa nGaeltacht bia nua—áit go raibh géarghá lena leithéid. Do chuirfeadh sé gliondar croí ar éinne go raibh meas aige ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta chomh ceanúil is bhí páistí na Gaeltachta ar na trátaí nua sin.
Do luaigh Teachta cur na gcrann agus dúirt go ndéanfadh sin an tairbhe ba mhó do na daoine sna háiteacha sin. Sinne ar an taobh seo den Tigh, táimid go láidir ar thaobh na foraoiseachta. Is ó cheantar cúng domsa agus do bheinn i gcoinne talamh maith sna ceantair sin do chur faoi fhoraoiseachta—talamh den tsórt atá chomh gann sin sna háiteacha sin. Ní fhéadfainn aontú le pé talamh maith atá le fáil sa nGaeltacht nó sna ceantair chúnga do chur faoi fhoraoiseachta in ionad é do thabhairt do dhaoine go bhfuil talamh maith de dhíth orthu. Ar an talamh maith sin, féadfaí torthaí, fataí, coirce agus mar sin do chur. Ba chóir pé talamh maith atá le fáil sna ceantair sin do thabhairt do na daoine ansin agus is féidir crainnte do chur sa chuid eile den talamh atá ann, áit nach féidir barraí, mar fataí coirce nó mar sin, a bhaint as. Sin tuairim gur thug an Teachta O Blathmhaic—tar éis a chuid cainnte go léir—drochmhasla di. Nuair a bhí sé ag caint do thagair mé do scéim a chuir sé ar bun in iarthar Chonamara áit a bhfuil bailte fearainn atá an-chúng, áit a bhfuil na daoine ag clamhsán agus ag béicíl le fada an lá le haghaidh fairsingeacht talún. Tagraim do thalamh i nGleann a' Mháma. Nuair a tharla go raibh talamh san áit sin ar an margadh—cad a rinne an Teachta O Blathmhaic nuair a bhí sé ina Aire? Do cheannaigh sé an talamh maith sin sa gceantar cúng sin chun crainnte do chur ann— agus d'fhág sé na daoine a bhí ag súil go bhfaighidís an talamh maith sin—talamh maith atá an-ghann sa gceantar—mar bhí siad, agus gan aon mhuinín acu go leigheasfaí a gcás. Má tá aon fhíirinne sa méid cainte a bhíos ar siúl ag na daoine adeir gur fearr na daoine d'fhágáil sna ceantair sin agus gan iad d'aistriú go dtí ceantair eile in Éirinn, cad ina thaobh go ndéanann siad rudaí mar sin? Cad ina thaobh ná roinneann siad pé talamh maith a thagann ar an margadh ar na daoine sna ceantair sin in ionad é a cheannach le haghaidh foraoiseachta? Táimid den tuairim gur fearr gan na daoine d'aistriú ó na sean-áiteacha—más féidir—ach ní hé sin le rá go bhfuilimid i gcoinn imirce ó na ceantair chúnga go dtí na tailte bána. Sinne an chéad dream a tháinig isteach anseo le scéim chun roinnt daoine ó na ceantair chúnga i gConamara d'aistriú go dtí Contae na Midhe—agus bhí rath ar an scéim sin agus ar na daoine sin. Bíodh sin mar atá do bhí briseadh croí ar na sean-daoine ag fágaint na sean-áiteacha ach mar sin féin déarfadh siad leat anois ná bhéadh siad sásta, ar leas a gclainne, dul thar n-ais go dtí na ceantair chúnga. Caithfear an obair sin do dhéanamh, a bheag nó a mhór, má theastaíonn ó Choimisiun na Talún dul ar aghaidh lena gcuid oibre. Tá súil agam agus tá mé cinnte go gcabhróidh an Rúnaí Parlaiminte don Rialtas chun an obair seo do chur ar aghaidh i riocht is go mbeidh deireadh le "Rundale", agus go mbeidh talamh dhuine ar bith in aon phíosa amháin agus go mbeidh ar a gcumas tithe nua d'fháil. Cuireann sé déistean orm an Teachta O Blathmhaic a chloisint sa Tigh seo ag caint mar gheall ar an nGaeltacht agus ag caineadh teanga na Gaeilge. Dúirt sé go raibh an Tigh seo ródhian maidir le caighdeán na Gaeilge. Bhí sé féin ina Aire agus bhí cúram na Gaeltachta air.
Ar feadh trí bliana.
Nuair a bhí sé ina Aire Tailte d'iarr mé air go mbeadh deontas tí le fáil ag aon iarrthóir bíodh is ná beadh fothrach tí ann cheanna. Cad a rinne sé? D'fhág sé an scéal díreach mar a bhí sé agus ní fhéadfadh aon iarrathóir teach nua a thógaint, bíodh is go raibh cuid mhaith talamh aige, an fhaid is nach raibh fothrach sean-tí ann cheana. Do bhí an oiread sin mí-thuisceana aige ar an Acht a bhí á stiúradh aige sa Tigh seo nár dhein sé an pointe sin do leasú bíodh is go raibh sé féin ina Aire agus go bhféadfadh sé é a réiteach.
Do chuir mise ceisteanna chuige agus ní raibh sé i ndon iad do réiteach.
I want to say, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that I agree entirely with Deputy Palmer when he asked that no heat should be introduced into the debate, but it is a pity that he did not give that advice before Deputy Dillon spoke. If Deputy Palmer thinks that people are to sit on these benches and to take insults lying down from Deputy Dillon, he is making a great mistake.
Deputy Dillon is an Independent Deputy.
That does not entitle him to insult people.
Nobody has any control over Deputy Dillon.
Why, then, should a member of the Fine Gael Party want to save him from the come-back to his own remarks? He called me, for instance, a renegade.
You do not expect that everybody approves of that. He is a free lance.
He chooses well the arena in which he uses the lance.
Like the Tánaiste last night?
I am concerned now with a personal attack made by Deputy Dillon.
I did not hear that.
He made some reference to my looking down my suburban proboscis. Whatever that means I do not know, but I am prepared to look down something else. Deputies on the far side are endeavouring to make this a competition between agricultural and industrial development. We, on this side of the House, are making no such distinction. When the Deputies opposite say that the welfare of the Gaeltacht depends upon land reclamation, they are making the biggest mistake possible. Anybody who ever went through Connemara will never say that the welfare of the people of Connemara depends on land development, be it afforestation or even the tomato scheme, which is a very good scheme. That the welfare of Connemara depends upon land development or reclamation or anything else like that is not true.
When Deputy Dillon announced this reclamation scheme at a committee meeting of the County Galway Committee of Agriculture, he was asked his opinion in regard to some industrial development. He said he was not going to turn Connemara into a little Birmingham.
Would the Parliamentary Secretary indicate what industries he has in mind so that we may be able to talk on the subject?
Every conceivable type of industry that ministers to the needs of man in the production of everyday consumable commodities no matter what they are. I am in favour of as many of those industries as can be brought into the West.
What about the alcohol factory?
Deputies will have an opportunity of discussing these matters on a Bill which will come before the House very shortly.
Having regard to the fact that some £4,000 is sought, I would like to know for what that money is to be used?
For every conceivable type of development, whether agricultural or industrial. The industrial development, as the Deputy knows, is to be under the direction, the control and ownership of private enterprise. In my opinion, that is the best feature of the whole thing.
I am glad to be able to say that the biggest town in the West of Ireland, which is in my constituency, reacted almost immediately to the announcement of these schemes. In that town they have collected a fairly considerable industrial development fund as a gesture of their willingness to cooperate with the efforts that are being made.
Galway City, is it?
Yes. Does the Deputy think, in the prevention of emigration, that we are going to keep all the people who grow up on the Aran Islands on the Aran Islands and find industrial employment for them there? When Deputies opposite talk about the flight from the land, do they not know that that is all eyewash and that there is no flight from the land? The real flight from the land is in regard to those surplus boys and girls who cannot find employment in this country. That is the flight we want to check. We want to give our people the choice of an Irish town rather than that of an English town.
I hope you will be successful. You will have my co-operation.
There is nothing like trying in any case.
Up to now your efforts have been a failure.
We have been denounced for introducing the political angle into every scheme that is put forward. The land project scheme for Connemara is cited as an example. I want to point out that the man who designed this scheme said that he was aiming at the moon and would be satisfied if he hit a star. We are not doing anything so fantastic. We are getting down to practical proposals which we know can work.
Why did you not do that from 1932 onwards?
We did do it.
You had a clear majority.
We did do it from 1932 onwards and that in spite of an economic war in the first half and a world war in the second half of the 16 years.
You are only starting now.
We will do more of it now. Are you aware that in Galway City the population increased from 14,000 to 20,000 over that period? This charge of politics requires an answer. It has been said of us that we want to rub politics into everything we do. I want to put it on record that whatever can be said about the appointment of gangers under a county council or the Board of Works—and every T.D. and county councillor has always given recommendations in regard to these things—we have had to fight a scheme in which there was discrimination in the employment of labour. When the land project was put into operation a man could not get work even if he had five children unless he had a docket from some political boss.
There were the rock scheme and the reclamation scheme. It seems that a lot of people think there was no reclamation work until the work was actually begun under a new title. It was called the land rehabilitation project instead of the land reclamation scheme. Some time, when the Minister for Agriculture has the opportunity, I hope he will give us particulars of the number of acres that were reclaimed on the £5 grant or the £10 grant. It will surprise a great many people when they see how much was done.
He is in Rome at the moment.
He will come back, please God.
Kilkenny figures are illuminating.
As to criticism of this rock scheme, I want to say that the use of the term "rock" was a misnomer. It deluded the people from the start. Whoever decided to call that scheme a rock scheme should have known, if he knew anything about it, that it was going to be an immediate subject for jokes. A week after the scheme was announced I was asked by a certain individual in the vicinity of the Twelve Pins whether I had come back to have a last look at them. The only sort of rocks intended to be removed were rocks with soil under them and glacial rocks. I want to say that the glacial rock problem in Connemara is about the 1,000,000 part of the whole problem. There is no glacial rock in Connemara that causes any problem. It is quite easy to remove them.
When it comes to the removal of the loose rocks beneath the surface of the soil, I want to tell Deputy Dillon that Mr. Kennedy, the late county surveyor for Galway, had a scheme of this sort west of Spiddal over 20 years ago. He made contracts with small farmers along the road. These farmers took out the loose rocks, whether on the surface or under the surface, and put them on the road. They broke them up and sold them to the county council and so two jobs were done in one operation without a penny of Government grant—the cleaning of the land of rocks and the supplying of road metal to the Galway County Council. There is nothing new in it at all. No bulldozers were brought in and none was required.
It is not the doing of this work that has ever been questioned; it is the cost. A great deal of play has been made by Deputy Dillon with this very scheme and he has put Fianna Fáil on the wrong foot with regard to it. He did not even know the names of the places in Connemara where his two rock demonstration schemes were carried out. He knew one of them, but he gave the House the idea that one was carried out in Costello. In any event, the salient fact about the rock scheme is that it was only demonstration work and nobody could follow the example given, because it was quite impossible for every smallholder in Connemara to get bulldozers and compressors in on his patch of land. A scheme which cannot be taken up by every smallholder is not a practical scheme. We know that it is possible to remove rocks—nobody denies it. An acre of ground in Roundstone, without including any item for purchase of machinery or for general administration expenses, cost £100.
Was that a single acre?
I think it was less than an acre.
Was it one acre out of 20?
One small patch of land on a small holding—£100, without any item for purchase of machinery or general administration expenses. The people there said to me: "Why can you not repair this road for us—there are so many people going in there?" but nobody could follow up the demonstration because it was merely a demonstration. We all know that the removal of rocks can be carried out, if you are satisfied to spend an enormous sum on it and that is the genesis of the criticism of the scheme. In other words, it was not a practical scheme.
There is another class of reclamation going on and I admit that the best part of Connemara, the Renvyle area, was chosen for it.
Are you opposed to machinery, bulldozers and the like, on these works? From what you say I understand that you are prejudiced again the use of bulldozers or any modern equipment in the removal of rocks or obstructions.
That cannot be deduced at all from my remarks. What I am saying is that you cannot remove bedrock and that any type of scheme that cannot be adopted by every smallholder is not a practical scheme. It is not possible, as the Deputy knows, to put bulldozers and other costly machinery on every holding. The thing simply cannot be done.
Not every holding, but so far as practicable.
The cost of it is so prohibitive that I believe that, in my own area, the money can and should be spent to better purpose. That is my objection.
That, to me, is an admission that you are opposed to machinery.
Machinery is useful and use it by all means, but whatever you do, let it be practical.
But do not spend much money on it.
If Deputy O'Hara, who represents North Mayo, an area very similar to Connemara, believes that you can get a commensurate return from that land for an expenditure of £100 per acre for reclamation, I leave it to himself to answer the question.
I have 30 acres of land with quite a number of rocks in it, and, if I wanted to remove them tomorrow morning, I can say from experience that it would pay me to get a compressor on the job and would also pay me, if a bulldozer were available locally, to get it for a couple of days to remove a certain type of rocks. I am convinced from past experience, having engaged in that work, that it is more economical to use bulldozers and compressors for the boring of rocks than to start at it with crowbars, because that method is outdated.
The Chair feels that if Deputies want to go into details, it would be better if they left them over until the Undeveloped Areas Bill is before the House, when they can have a complete discussion on these points.
We seem to be rather overlapping it.
I simply want to emphasise that the Deputy said it would pay him—it certainly would. There has been a clamour in my area by applicants to get their own schemes put forward, for the very reason that the Deputy gives, that it would pay them, and they have added, of course, that the scheme, in their opinion, is so costly as to be fantastic and that it cannot last—"but please get my scheme on before it finishes". It would pay the Deputy certainly and everybody else who can get it done, but the point is—can it be done? Can every farmer get that service? Will you have as a result increased tillage, which, in my opinion, is about the best test?
I have it on reliable authority that a firm in this country were anxious to get costings, and so on, from various Departments, having in mind the removal of rock, but they could not get the facts and figures they sought in any Department. I should say that that was before the Parliamentary Secretary entered on his term of office.
The Deputy is confusing two things. In so far as machinery is necessary for drainage and that type of work, it is quite obvious that it has to be used, and I do not see any reason why—as we are talking about co-ordination — there should not be co-ordination between the Minor Employment Schemes Office and the Department of Agriculture to ensure the most economical use of machinery for the purpose; but I have been talking about the use of bulldozers in an attempt to remove bedrock, or what the geological department calls sedimentary rock. That is what was attempted in the two places mentioned by Deputy Dillon and which produced the jokes and mirth in Connemara and remarks about shifting the Twelve Pins. The Deputy will realise that there is a distinction between the two classes of work. In this regard I am not talking through my hat.
I do not suggest you are.
I am really representing views which have been expressed widespread in the area. Deputy Dillon, as I have said, stated that he was aiming at the moon and would be satisfied if he hit a star. He himself started off on the wrong foot with regard to this work.
If we could forget the name Dillon and the fact that this was a Dillon scheme we could, perhaps, have it discussed on its merits.
Why could he not have done so without all the personal stuff he brought in?
I do not agree with it.
With bringing personalities into it.
I thought the Deputy meant that he did not agree with my references to it.
Could we discuss it, leaving out all reference to the name Dillon?
It was called the "Dillon scheme" down there.
That is the trouble.
And he seemed to be pleased with the idea himself—just as the poultry are called "Dillons" down there. Because I personally offered some, as I thought, constructive criticism of that scheme, he said we were attempting to damn it with faint praise. That attempt to produce better poultry in those areas was a well-intentioned and well-meant scheme and was a practical scheme, but, in the working of it, regard should have been had to whatever drawbacks were shown. Because this was mentioned, again we were charged with political bias and trying to damn the scheme.
Could it be called the "Donnellan scheme," as it was he who bought the bulldozers?
Could we get back to the Supplementary Estimate before the House?
Deputy Dillon, when referring to minerals, said that he had got an expert from, I think, some part of the Antipodes and that he had had the molybdenum deposits at Erris Beg, Roundstone, examined and that it was found that they were not there in sufficient quantities to encourage an attempt to work them economically; but what this expert who came from the other side of the world did not know was that our own geological department had that knowledge years ago and that it was actually on the records of the House here. There is scarcely any of these deposits that was not brought to governmental notice at some time or another during the past 20 years. Reference has been made to the saving of the Gaeltacht and it was said that the land project was calculated to improve the economic conditions of the Gaeltacht and preserve the Irish language. The land reclamation scheme is the only scheme in which I have had a complaint about the refusal to use Irish. I got a complaint from Carraroe. Apparently all the stock documents, such as acknowledgments, were in the English language only. It is the first scheme in which anything like that was done.
I have a special responsibility in relation to fisheries. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government pointed out, there is close collaboration between his Department and this Department in this matter. The question of fisheries will come under discussion in the Dáil in the very near future, when a Sea Fisheries Bill will be introduced.
I think the Deputy on the far side who referred to the turf industry not being permanent could more decently have remained silent, because it was the turf industry that suffered on the coming into office of the Coalition Government.
If the Parliamentary Secretary wants to start a row, he can take that line. It is there on the record that it was the Minister for Local Government, then Deputy MacEntee, who stopped the hand-won turf scheme.
As Deputy Sweetman has intervened, will he answer one question? Were the staff, who were to carry on this hand-won scheme in Connemara, appointed by the Fianna Fáil Government before they went out in 1948, and were they dismissed three weeks after the Coalition Government came in?
I do not know how Comhairle Ceanntair carries on its business, but the circular was sent out by Deputy MacEntee.
Let the Deputy go down and stand outside any church in Connemara and state that it was Fianna Fáil who stopped the hand-won turf industry and he will see what will happen.
Is it not true——
I have given way to Deputy O'Hara before and he must be reasonable now.
The Deputy will have an opportunity to speak.
I was replying to the statement made by Deputy Palmer, who said that the turf industry was on a permanent basis. The reply I give is that it was put on a permanent basis by the Fianna Fáil Government, that the supervisors and gangers were actually appointed, that they were assigned to their stations in the West Galway constituency; and three weeks after the change of Government they got notice to go home, that their services were not longer required. That is the test in my constituency. Let Deputies go down to Connemara and test the accuracy of my statement, and they will find that it is unchallengeable.
The circular was sent out by Deputy MacEntee.
I do not mind what Deputy MacEntee said. I know what happened in West Galway. It is obvious from most of the speeches, and particularly from that of the man who attacked me personally, that this scheme is looked upon as a Fianna Fáil racket. The best reply to that in my opinion is that the very best possible part of the scheme, that is, industrial development, is not going to be operated by Fianna Fáil. Industrial development will be under the aegis of private enterprise and private enterprise already has reacted in no uncertain way and this scheme, in so far as industrial development is concerned, will be free in spite of any effort or attempt to put any political label on it.
Ní dóigh liom gur cheart dom a thuilleadh a rá faoi seo. Sé seo an chéad rud fiúntach a rinneadh riamh le himirce a stopadh. Ní féidir imirce a stopadh, mar is eol do gach duine, ach ar aon bealach amháin, forbairt tionscal. Chomh fada agus is féidir talmhaíocht a thabhairt isteach ann, déanfar é, ach brathann an cheist seo ar fhorbairt tionscal agus ar fhorbairt tionscal amháin.
I wish to state that I am in full agreement with this Vote of £4,000 to give permission to the Parliamentary Secretary to prepare a scheme for the sufficient development of industry in the West of Ireland. When I was in this House in 1943, on every occasion I had the opportunity I tried to impress upon the Government the necessity for industrial development. Over a period of years since the establishment of this State in 1919 and since we took over responsibility for administration in 1922, successive members of Parliament from my constituency have tried to bring home to the Government the need for industrial development in the West of Ireland, but it has taken about 30 years to get the Government to realise that necessity. I am glad that a step has been taken which, I hope, will be in the right direction.
I do not intend to question the motives of the Fianna Fáil Government or to suggest that they have any motive other than the provision of of suitable employment for young men and women who would be anxious to avail of that employment if it were provided. I do hope, however, that that employment will be of such a kind as to provide decent wages, security and permanence. If you have not got security and permanence in employment and decent wages, then this is a mere waste of money and time.
The Parliamentary Secretary has made it quite clear that afforestation, land reclamation, tomato growing, land rehabilitation or any employment of that type is not sufficient to ease the situation, to keep the young men and women at home and to enable them to secure a livelihood on the land. Then he must have something else in his mind but I have failed by interjections or questions up to the present to get from him or from any of his colleagues the nature of the industries they have in mind. The things I have mentioned will give a certain amount of employment, but what else has he in mind? Are the industries to be of every and any kind? Are we to have aeroplane building, steel manufacture and coal-mining? If the Parliamentary Secretary does not tell us, then we are entitled to withhold money as we do not get information as to what it is to be spent on and the purpose for which it is to be used. He has condemned these schemes which have been in being over a number of years as not being sufficient to employ the surplus labour which exists in these places which the Bill intends to deal with.
It is an Estimate, not a Bill.
Deputy Bartley, who has just resumed his seat, gave us a long speech in the Irish language and then availed of the opportunity to make another speech in English. I think that is unfair. One speech should be sufficient.
Two speeches should not be essential. It would not be fair for me to stand up and entertain the House with a speech in Irish and then entertain Deputies with another speech in English. It is a pity that the Deputy did not use French for any Deputies who know French or German.
You object to the use of Irish?
No, but I think that when a Deputy has addressed the House in Irish that should be sufficient.
Are you denying the right of a Deputy to speak?
No, but when a Deputy makes mistakes in Irish he takes the opportunity to correct them in the speech in English.
I am very disappointed with the Minister for Lands who is now sitting opposite me because of the way in which he dealt with the Estimate. I am also disappointed with Deputy Bartley. I had not the privilege of hearing Deputy Lynch. He is the man who will be responsible for the administration of the Estimate and he has supplied us with what he calls an explanatory form about what he intends to do but there is nothing in it. He talks about co-ordination between various Departments. He has told us that we will have access to these Departments, the Departments of Industry and Commerce, Lands, Education and so on, but he has told us nothing that has not been done over the years. We have been told by Deputies opposite that no effort was made over the past three years to provide employment. I am very concerned about the development of forestry. We are told that no matter how land is drained or reclaimed it will not add anything to the wealth and comfort of the people living on it. That is wrong. It will add to their comfort and wealth. A man will be able to get a lot more out of a small holding as a result of its being reclaimed and drained. It will bring it nearer than it was before to an economic standard.
In the field of forestry I doubt if any Minister since the establishment of the State did more than Deputy Blowick as Minister for Lands. Deputy Blowick set a headline for his successor to follow if he were capable of following it, but his successor has already indicated that he is not following it. Deputy Blowick made it possible to plant 20,000 acres this year while under his successor the area has dropped to 14,000 acres.
That is absolutely wrong. I made no such arrangement.
The Minister got his opportunity to speak ——
The Deputy got plenty of opportunities to interrupt.
—— and I seek the protection of the Chair.
That statement is quite wrong.
Not alone that, but Deputy Blowick opened nurseries in various counties—two in the county I have the honour to represent. One was at Moore Hall, near Belcarra, in the Castlebar area employing over 80 people and a wage packet was paid of £4,700.
Was that Deputy Blowick's doing?
Something like 80 people were employed but I believe that the Minister has sacked a number of them.
I am not aware of it.
If the Minister is not aware of it he can query it in his office and he will discover that a number of these men have been sacked. More than half, over 40 men, have been laid off. That is a poor sign of the development of afforestation under the guidance of our new Minister, Tomás Ó Deirg.
We would like very much to know how this Estimate which the Government are asking for will be used. Drainage, afforestation, tomato growing, reclamation and rock removal are being thrown aside. Then what are we going to have? They have refused to tell us. Deputy Dillon, therefore, is correct when he says that it will be used for another political stunt. He is justified in that statement because the Parliamentary Secretary has refused to indicate to the House what his intentions are. He has denied that it is to be used in any of the ways I have mentioned and has refused to give us any of the information we have asked for.
I have not said a word yet.
Your colleague, Deputy Bartley, and the Minister for Lands have spoken. You are Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands and surely he knows what you are going to do and what you want the Estimate for. If he does not know, I do not know who does know and he has not enlightened the House. That leaves us in the position that we are entitled to assume that this Estimate is going to be used as an election machine for the purpose of codding the people, as you have been doing for a number of years, in the West of Ireland that you intend to do something but that it will be in the future. The people in the areas we hear so much about, in Mayo, Galway, Donegal, Sligo and Roscommon, turned Fianna Fáil down in 1948 and again in 1951 and it is quite natural to assume that you are just playing a little game with them and trying to lead them to believe——
I am not trying to lead anybody.
The Parliamentary Secretary is trying to lead them to believe that he is going to create a kind of paradise in the very near future. I move to report progress.