I want to be extremely brief also and to advert to one or two things that come to my mind. We have had an announcement that the Boyne is to be drained and initially, as is usual in matters of this kind, we have had an announcement from the Board of Works. That gives us a lot of information. Very often public representatives and other interested parties are excluded from knowing the details of such a plan until they see it in these documents. I can understand the administrative and the political difficulties and that it is necessary, when such a plan is produced, that it be produced in detail.
I should now like to advert to one thing which seems to me to be wrong. The River Mattock is a tributary of the Boyne. It flows into the Boyne at Old Bridge. It drains a small area of land which is of importance to the people who live there as it runs through an important part of this area. Complaints have been made by many farmers that the Mattock is not included as a tributary to be drained and that they are excluded from the main arterial drainage scheme of the Boyne. I have had representations from farmers in the area. As this only occurred within the past 48 hours, I have not had time to deal with it, but I should like to say to the Parliamentary Secretary that it is necessary to have another look at this. Failure to drain the River Mattock will exclude the drainage of the land in that particular area when the main arterial drainage of the Boyne is carried out.
There is another matter to which I should like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. In the drainage of the Boyne, if the flow of water is increased—and the Boyne is a river which has a fast flow with a scouring effect on the drainage that might be carried out on its bed—in heavy rainfall, there is a problem that has to be faced. This can be very expensive and it does not seem to have been covered by the hand-out given to various people and members of the Dáil. Drogheda quays are most important to the people of the town. Boats tie up within the town three miles from the sea. These quay walls are of very ancient vintage indeed and there have been cases of road subsidence over the past few years. Drogheda Harbour Board, when I was a member of it, were considering the danger of serious effects but since that nothing has been done. I am informed by interested parties in the area that the question of the Drogheda quays is one that would have to be seriously considered by the engineering staff dealing with the Boyne drainage.
I should also like to advert to something which may or may not happen. It has to do with Drogheda courthouse and possibly office accommodation for people who might be stationed in Drogheda during the drainage of the Boyne. We have had a situation in Drogheda where a Circuit Court judge left the courthouse because he regarded it as dangerous and the accommodation inadequate. Benjamin Whitworth gave Drogheda a town hall and this building, it was thought, might possibly be used as a courthouse. This is a lovely building and indeed if reconstructed, would be in excellent condition. But, we in the corporation have had a secret, which is that the Franciscan Fathers were interested in the Whitworth Hall for use as a church. We bought it for them from the trustees and during the credit squeeze, we bought it on the basis of paying a small sum with regular payments to the trustees. It has now transpired that the Franciscan Fathers have said that they are prepared to convert the Benjamin Whitworth Hall into a church. We are paying a large sum per week for the renting of a public dancehall and a function room for use as a courthouse and this, in fact, is also inadequate and not exactly what we need.
The other project in relation to the courthouse was the reconstruction of the existing courthouse and that the second courthouse, which has been disused for many years, be converted into offices on a lease basis or rented; and it would also serve as consulting rooms for litigants, solicitors and barristers. This was across the corridor from the existing courthouse until the judge refused to use it. I, as a member of the county council, will bring the situation to the notice of the council and the fact that it was suggested a few years ago that there would be an opportunity to lease accommodation from the Board of Works. I have no doubt the council will investigate the matter and we may perhaps get in touch with the Parliamentary Secretary. It would be a good thing if one were to use the courthouse on conversion into offices and perhaps have the other one reconstructed as a courthouse again.
There are two other matters to which I should like to refer. One is that for many years in rural Ireland the Board of Works have built almost identical schools, if not in size, in design, and they all have the water tower outside. The first one looked nice; the second looked nice; and the third looked nice; but by the time you had seen 40 of them, you were fed up looking at them. The famous one I remember is that one painted duck-egg blue. It was suggested that certain gentlemen who were imbibing the night before might become ill as they passed it by in the morning. There has been a breakthrough in my local parish. We have a different school with central heating, one of the first in any rural area in Ireland. We have a persistent manager who keeps hammering at the Board of Works and that is why we got this breakthrough.
I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary not to have these identical schools in every parish. We might use our inspiration and alter the appearance of the schools. I am sure that Mr. Boyd Barrett of the Board of Works knows the accommodation required, how much is necessary for wet clothes, how much teacher accommodation is necessary, how much pupil accommodation, and so on. Within limits, it should be possible to ring the bell of change now so that we will not have identical schools with identical windows and the identical water towers. To my mind, this is important. We should aim at preserving our individuality and I do not think it would cost so much to do so.
There is something which is not in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech on the Estimate about the building of certain regional technical colleges. A few years ago it was announced that the regional technical colleges, particularly one in Dundalk, would serve boys and girls from Deputy Dillon's and my constituency, and from as far away as Cavan. Louth County Council considered it seriously and made great efforts, as did Dundalk Urban District Council, in order to satisfy Louth County Vocational Education Committee on sites. We got a certain distance but there the matter stopped.
We all know how serious it is. Deputy Dillon spoke earlier of the expenses parents have in educating their children. The expense element means that a father and mother in Carrickmacross would be unable, if they had to send their son to Dublin, to have him educated as an architect or an engineer because of the cost of lodgings and so on. Instead, he could be put on a school bus to Dundalk. I notice that in Bolton Street boys are now coming out with degrees in central heating.