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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 12 Jul 1962

Vol. 196 No. 13

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Muinebheag (Carlow) Trade Dispute.


asked the Minister for Justice the number of Gardaí normally stationed in Muinebheag, County Carlow, and the number at present stationed there; what are the extra duties carried out by Gardaí in the Muinebheag area since the beginning of the trade dispute at present going on in the town; whether Garda escorts are provided for vehicles bringing goods, etc., to the factory involved in the trade dispute; if so, what type of escorts are provided; how far from the town of Muinebheag such vehicles are escorted; and how many vehicles have been thus escorted since the beginning of the trade dispute.

The normal strength of Muinebheag station is one Sergeant and four Gardaí.

I do not consider that it would be in the public interest to give any details with regard to the additional members assigned to the area recently, other than to say that their duties are the protection of persons and property against unlawful attack or interference and their numbers are those which are considered to be reasonably sufficient to enable them to carry out these duties.

Will the Minister say what is the objection to giving the numbers? It may not be the normal practice but what is the objection?

It is not usual in cases of this sort to disclose publicly details of the Garda strengths that may be required.

Would it not be better for the Minister to say how many Gardaí are down there?

I suppose any reasonably intelligent person who wanted to do so could count them for himself.

Can the Minister count? Or is that the reason why he will not give the number?

Could the Minister say what is the nature of the escort given to vehicles bringing goods into this factory?

The only thing I can say—and I am sure the Deputy will agree with me—is that when a trade dispute of this nature takes place, the objective of everybody concerned should be, first of all, to endeavour to have it brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible and, secondly, that as long as it lasts, all concerned should conduct themselves in a lawful manner and that there should be no violence or unlawful interference with persons or their property. The Gardaí in Muinebheag are doing their best to secure that that second objective is attained and most reasonable people will admit that they are doing a very good job.

Is the Minister aware that these lorries are being escorted 60 or 70 miles to and from the town and is he satisfied that all this public money should be spent to assist a firm which has refused to avail of the machinery set up by this House to deal with this particular kind of dispute?

The Deputy is endeavouring to draw me into territory into which I am not going to venture. I have no function as to the merits of the dispute, except, like any other Deputy, to sincerely hope it is brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible. I want to rebut any suggestion that extraordinary amounts of public money are being spent or that the suggestion the Deputy made about the escort of vehicles over long distances is correct. I want to reiterate that the Gardaí in Muinebheag have a difficult job to do and an onerous duty has been placed upon them. They are responsible for the protection of property and for peace and order in the town. They are taking whatever measures seem to them to be appropriate to do that and no more, and all concerned admit they are doing a very good job in difficult circumstances.

Would the Minister agree that if the Gardaí did not go out 60 miles to meet these lorries and bring them in, they would not come there and it would remove the cause of a lot of uneasiness in the town?

That seems to be a separate matter.

The Gardaí do not do anything of the nature suggested by the Deputy, but they have a duty to protect any vehicle or person going about their lawful occasions and they are doing that—no more, no less.

Can the Minister give an assurance that the influence of his Department will not be used to break the strike?

I want to assert categorically that my Department does not enter into this dispute in any way, good, bad or indifferent, nor is its influence being made felt in any way. The only function I have as Minister, and which the Gardaí have in relation to this dispute, is to ensure that public peace and good order are preserved and they are doing that and no more than that and I resent any suggestion that they are doing otherwise.

The overall effect will be to try to break the strike.