Committee on Finance. - Vote 8—Public Works and Buildings (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration.
—(Deputy Harte).

I would just like to say a few words if I may—I do not intend to detain the House at all. However, this Vote has to do with the preservation of historic monuments, to some degree at any rate. I want, with your permission and perhaps with your kind consideration, Sir, to make a very brief reference to a matter of some national importance and to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to take it to his heart, as they say. I refer to the question of the Killymoon Hoard. This is spelled "h-o-a-r-d" in case there might be any doubt about the pronunciation and the general terms of the use of English in the House. This, I may say briefly, is the name given to a treasure discovered over 100 years ago.

I understand from what I read in the newspapers that it is on a private estate in this country and was discovered by a labourer, I think, in a bog. It is said to be the oldest example of handworked gold in Western Europe and it has been in this country for a very considerable time. It has been in private possession and now we are told it is to be sold next week at an auction in Christies. It is generally accepted by people interested in this thing, archaeologists and anybody interested in matters artistic or the interests of the country, that we should try to keep items of this kind here in Ireland and that we should try to obtain them for the National Museum. I do not know by what private rights of ownership individuals are entitled to take these historic objects—in this case I believe it is about 3,000 years old—and to export them, without by your leave, to another country and sell them there for private profit.

The whole thing is extremely dubious to me, but leaving that aside, I simply want to avail of this opportunity to say to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should have a word with the Minister for Finance to see if something can be done to ensure that this remarkable collection will not be allowed to go into the possession of some other country. That is all I want to say on this Board of Works Estimate, except to add that from my experience and knowledge of the work of the Board over the past year, it has been satisfactory and I have no complaints about it.

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.

The Deputy on this Estimate cannot advocate action which is appropriate to another Department. He may deal with buildings.

I was dealing with the building of technological colleges. I shall content myself by saying I shall be happy if the Parliamentary Secretary could give some information on this matter. If he cannot do it this year, perhaps it will be in next year's Estimate.

The plain fact is I have a very soft corner in my heart for the Board of Works. There are some Government Departments which labour over a very wide field, largely anonymously, and if anything goes wrong, rarely if ever is due credit given to the distinguished body of public servants concerned. One very sensible departure by the Board of Works during the past ten years has been the publication of an annual report entitled Oibre and in successive numbers of that publication, there has been a very succinct record of the history of the Board of Works and the kind of work the Board have done throughout the country during the years since they were originally established.

Now, it is no more than a skeleton story, but I submit that the Parliamentary Secretary should favourably consider the desirability of collecting these articles, when they are completed, and giving them permanent form, possibly not as an exhaustive record of the history of this whole Department of State but as a skeleton on which some future historian might put flesh and blood so that the full story of the work done for the nation by the Board of Works might be made known to the people who pay for it. If that record is adequately made, a great many critics of the Board of Works will come to realise that most of the money entrusted to their charge has been laid out to the great advantage of the people who entrusted them with their resources.

There is one item in the annual Estimates which you, Sir, as Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, will be familiar with but which other Deputies only too frequently forget, that is the provision for appropriations-in-aid. I wish to make a proposal to the Parliamentary Secretary which will stimulate these appropriations-in-aid and at the same time, discharge a most valuable function in protecting what is a very valuable national asset. Every Department of State have in their possession vast masses of obsolescent files. This applies particularly to the Land Commission but there are other Departments, like Local Government, in which the same criticism would apply.

At present a proposal that the Department of Lands should be transferred to Castlebar is being canvassed. This, quite frankly, I believe to be a gimmick: if there is to be a transfer, we shall have two Departments, one in Castlebar and one in Merrion Street. However, that proposal brings into high relief the matter which I wish to mention. If there is a transfer of that Department in part or in whole to Castlebar, one of the first problems that will arise is the matter of the files.

There are vast masses of documents in the Land Commission, going back through the last century. Many of the documents of title go back to the 16th century in this country. That constitutes a skeleton of the domestic history of the country and I am desperately apprehensive that, in preparation for any change there may be, a decision will be taken in the Department of Lands of an arbitrary character which will say: "Look; 20 years is the term of title arising from possession; let us take a decision to destroy all the files more than 20 years old in the Land Commission", and there will ensue a holocaust.

I wish to make a proposal that the Board of Works set up a central depot and say to every Department of State: "Destroy no more files through the incinerator. If you decide to dispose of all your files 20 years or more old, notify us and send them to us; if they are suitable for destruction, we shall arrange for their sale to paper merchants and thus derive a not inconsequential appropriation-in-aid. Instead of having them all burned at great cost, we can convert them into a source of revenue for the Board of Works and we can avail of the advice of the Records Office and the Manuscripts Commission and extract from the mass of material you propose to dispose of documents of permanent value, and these, in consultation with the Record Office and the Manuscripts Commission, we will preserve." But if the Board of Works were to undertake that assignment, what could be realised by the sale of the surplus wastepaper would more than pay any expense that might be involved in ensuring that valuable records were not indiscriminately destroyed as obsolescent or obsolete files.

I can see at once that experienced administrators may say that this is not a practical proposition, that it would mean that huge pantechnicons would arrive at the Board of Works. I think that is true in the initial stages but I can see from my own experience that if masses of obsolescent or obsolete files arrive at the Department of Agriculture, a very cursory review would consign them to the wastepaper merchant without extensive examination, whereas files coming from the Department of Local Government or from the Department of Lands would contain a vast mass of material which would serve to repair the lacunae which exist in the Record Office as a result of the disastrous fire of 1922. I trust, Sir, that you see the relevance of this?

So far, the Deputy has not been relevant as far as the Office of Public Works is concerned.

I am trying to suggest what should be a new division. He is responsible for ancient monuments. Are our ancient documents not as precious? Who else is to do it? One of the problems is that there is nobody responsible. Am I not entitled to suggest that we should urge the Parliamentary Secretary to accept responsibility for a job for which nobody else is responsible at the present time? I will not pursue the matter if you think it goes beyond the limits of relevance but there is not anybody responsible, and I think the Parliamentary Secretary will tell you himself that there has come under his attention the destruction of documents, not in the custody of any Government Department, but documents of incalculable value, simply because there was nobody whose business it was to salvage them and they just blew away on the wind and were largely destroyed, though in part recovered by some public-spirited individual.

The matter is of great urgency, as I think I can illustrate. I recently found a box of documents in my own house which, to my eyes, were rubbish, and yet I found in the old box, not the original document of title, but a recital from the Record Office going back to the original grant of land in the time of the Tudor Kings to the Earl of Galway and a subsequent grant by the Earl of Galway of a lease of those lands in the early seventeenth century, providing a right of title from the original Tudor grant of the Earl of Galway down to the present day in respect of certain leaseholds. The original document disappeared in the Record Office fire and the interesting thing is that when I was concerned to make these available, I did not find it so easy to find anybody to whom I could say: "Do you want these documents?"

However, I do not want to trespass on your indulgence, if you think it goes beyond the scope of the debate. My problem is that I do not know what debate I can raise it on. Yet, it is a matter of the utmost urgency because irretrievable damage may be done unless there is some central agency, which I think should be located in the Board of Works, in consultation with the Manuscripts Commission and the Ancient Monuments Commission, who would undertake the assignment of ensuring that precious material of the social history of this country should not inadvertently perish in the process of destroying obsolete files.

Now, Sir, I want to compliment the Board of Works. I suppose I should compliment the Board of Works and the present Ceann Comhairle's distinguished predecessor, Deputy Hogan, when he was Ceann Comhairle, on the removal of all the lumber out of the hall of Leinster House. By one sweeping gesture, the Board of Works have converted a doghouse which the front hall of Leinster House used to be into the kind of hall appropriate for the entrance to an Irish Parliament, and I do not think work of that kind should go unnoticed in this House.

Hear, hear.

I have no doubt that as they proceed to the decoration of the hall, they will recognise the beauty of what they have already done and not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar. I certainly will be proud to show the hall of Leinster House to visitors to this country, if it is ultimately made what I hope it will be by decoration suitable to its venerable structure. But, lest it appear that my affection for the Board of Works is vitiating my judgment in regard to their activities, I have a pejorative word to say now. It does seem to me to be a strange incongruence that they should show such vision in the hall of Leinster House while they stud the noblest Georgian facade in Dublin with white buttons on which to string electric wires. I do not underestimate the problem of wiring an old house for electricity. I have seen some of the wires, a hideous assembly of wires, entering the top window over the front door. I had hoped that when further wiring fell to be done, a more imaginative approach would be employed. To my horror and dismay, the more imaginative approach was employed, but it was even more hideous than the earlier effort. Has the Parliamentary Secretary noticed the white buttons?

No, I have not, but, speaking from memory, I think the whole House here is being rewired.

Maybe this is only a temporary expedient. Really, it is preposterous that the same body which could deal so handsomely with the hall should proceed to the destruction of the facade. I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary to have a look at the front of the house and to ensure (1) that the white buttons are removed and (2) that the miscellany of lead cables, which he is not responsible for installing there and which have been there for many years, should now be radically dealt with and the electric supply brought into the front of the house underground because this house has the peculiar distinction of having two distinguished facades, one on Leinster lawn and one on Kildare Street. It is, therefore, not open to us to have recourse to the usual precautions of bringing electric cables into the back of the house. Both facades are of great architectural merit. I cannot but believe that power can be brought in by some subterranean device beneath the foundations and then distributed discreetly through the House without wrecking the architectural quality of the structure.

On another occasion I have mentioned, with admiration, the placards the Board of Works put on ancient monuments they have taken under their care However, I mentioned that, at Jerpoint Abbey, I found a placard which not only declared the identity of the ancient monument but went on to give a short summary of its history. There are dozens of ancient monuments which have been taken under the care of the Board of Works but, beyond a notice that they are under the care of the Board of Works, no other information whatever is available to those of us who visit them. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that it would be quite easy to ask the Commission on Ancient Monuments, or some body of that kind, to prepare an inscription of, say, 100 words in respect of each monument and, as they are prepared and furnished to the Board of Works, they should be suitably engrossed and erected at a place where they would readily be available to visitors interested in the history of the monument concerned.

The Board of Works are responsible for the provision of embassies. As I understand the administrative situation, the Department of External Affairs inform the Board of Works that they want an embassy in Lima, Peru, in Paris or in some other place. The Board of Works, in consultation with the Department of External Affairs, proceed to examine the accommodation and make a recommendation. We are living in a changing world. In Victorian times, a country such as Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark or Norway would not have had any Ambassador: we should have had Ministers.

The diplomatic tradition was that great powers exchanged Ambassadors. Powers which did not claim to be international powers, in the "power" sense, exchanged Ministers. Accordingly, the great powers had embassies. The lesser powers had legations. A tradition grew up that if you had an embassy you had to have a palatial establishment. In Victorian days, the maintenance of palatial establishments was not an intolerable burden. Domestic service was then readily available and these great houses could adequately be maintained.

In the changing world in which we live, the most expensive commodity today is personal service. If you have a gargantuan embassy you will require ten to 15 servants to keep it. No sane person now keeps ten or 15 servants. You do not have butlers and house-keepers and all the retinue that used to be associated with the maintenance of these great establishments. Yet, in certain cities, we still maintain vast embassies. Now, there is nothing more depressing or, if I may use so harsh a word, more ridiculous than to visit an embassy of palatial proportions which manifestly is not maintained.

This matter would seem to be one for the Department of External Affairs. The Board of Works act as——

I understand it is the responsibility of the Board of Works to purchase them.

When requested by the Department of External Affairs, the Office of Public Works deal with it.

Yes. I am suggesting that when the Department of External Affairs request them to purchase embassy premises, the Board of Works advise them. When we are purchasing embassy premises, let us not forget that the operation does not end with the purchase of the house. There is the question of its maintenance. The Board of Works are responsible for that. I do not think I am trespassing. I feel that the Board of Works are the authority advising the Department of External Affairs. If the Department of External Affairs say: "We want an embassy", the Board of Works say: "We have premises suitable for an embassy". I am inviting the Board of Works, in the exercise of their expertise, to say to the Department of External Affairs: "But, remember, these premises may be ideal from the point of view of an embassy but do not forget that having an embassy does not end with the acquisition of a lovely premises because lovely premises, inadequately maintained, very rapidly become a diplomatic slum".

I want to suggest that, in the exercise of their special expertise in the matter of the acquisition of buildings and their maintenance and their furnishing, which is the work of the Board of Works, the Board of Works should say to the Department of External Affairs: "The plain fact is that this new situation ought to be recognised. All our Ministers have now become Ambassadors and the same is true of every country in the world. This old distinction between the embassy and the legation has disappeared. What we ought to recognise is that a modest establishment for an Irish Ambassador, adequately maintained, is infinitely more impressive than a vast palace which breathes, to any sophisticated visitor, the atmosphere of glossy inadequate maintenance".

Suppose I were pressing that these great embassies should better be maintained, I should agree at once that that is a representation which I should address to the Minister for External Affairs and say to him: "You ought to increase the allowances. You ought to extend the staffing. You ought to provide more money." I am not saying that. I am saying that the Board of Works, who are experts in this matter, should make representations as follows to the Department of External Affairs: "We advise you to review this whole question. We advise you that we should sell some of those vast mausoleums, at very considerable profit, and get suitable but more manageable establishments which would eminently be suitable for an Irish Ambassador and which existing financial provision would admirably maintain, whereas the existing places are becoming diplomatic slums."

I suggest that that is a matter which is within the immediate and direct responsibility of the Board of Works. They are the experts and it is their function and duty to advise in regard to this matter. The time is long past when they should take the initiative in saying within the financial provision the continued establishment and maintenance of these vast buildings is no longer practicable and the correct solution is not to make ambassadorial protio vision in the External Affairs Vote but to let us in the exercise of our expert knowledge acquire more than adequate establishments which will not overtax the available resources for maintenance in a proper style. Remember it is important that our Ambassadors should live in proper style and the emphasis is not on "style" but on "proper". It should be handsome but not ostentatious.

The last matter to which I want to refer is one which I know causes the Parliamentary Secretary to get cross although it is possibly just as well that for the time being his colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Deputy Lalor, is filling in for him. The matter I wish to refer to is the disposal of the spoil of arterial drainage work carried out by the Board of Works. I do not underestimate the formidable character of this problem. I know that you cannot have arterial drainage without spoil. I know also all about the problem that in order to make it possible for the machinery to operate the spoil has to be set back 12 or 15 yards from the verge of the new river bed. That does not alter the fact that where you are making rock cuttings, and these rock cuttings pass through relatively smallholdings, to deposit huge mountains of rock spoil on a relatively smallholding 12 or 15 yards from the river bed is to impose on the small farmer a very serious burden and it could operate to make his holding almost unworkable. In any case, it creates an atmosphere of bitter resentment and a deep sense of grievance. You will observe that I distinguish between these mountains of rock spoil and banks of clay spoil. Banks of clay spoil tend to get absorbed into the general contour of the holding.

Not blue quag.

Well, I admit that the blue clay presents a problem, but if you try to solve problems you want to try to be reasonable and on the whole the spoil is there and something has to be done about it. I do not think it would be beyond the ingenuity of the Agricultural Institute of the Department of Agriculture to help a person who has a pile of blue quag.

We call it blue jig.

Anyway, we will call it blue quag for the purpose of the argument. If farmers asked the Agricultural Institute, I am sure they could help and a tolerable solution could be arrived at. Possibly it could be used for the growing of grass or trees.

It will not grow anything.

Before Deputy Tully makes up his mind on that, I wish he would recognise that he supported a Government who had the foresight to establish an Agricultural Institute.

They decided it will not grow anything.

I venture to say that if I was Minister for Agriculture in the morning and approached Dr. Tom Walsh and said to him: "Turn our boys over to this problem and find a solution as to how this spoil can be incorporated in a smallholding", we might not find the ideal solution but we would find some solution. However, it is beyond their resources to deal with rock spoil. I venture to suggest in the old days before big companies like Roadstone established a virtual monopoly in the supply of road material for local authorities, it was possible to go to the local authority and ask the county engineer, in so far as circumstances would allow and the quality of the rock would permit, to use that rock spoil in the vicinity of the place of deposit for the repair of roads. I do not say that at any time that was a complete solution but it was an immense help to a man who had a deep sense of grievance if the county engineer said: "We will take as much of that as we can. We will not take it all this year, or perhaps even next year, but you can depend on it that whenever a road or a lane is to be repaired I will see that as much of it as possible is carted away and we will not be dominated by economic considerations in using that material in preference to other stone."

I do not think it unreasonable for the Parliamentary Secretary to say to firms like Roadstone: "You are now doing an immensely profitable business and the Oireachtas has determined in its wisdom to endorse the view of the county engineers that in the last analysis the economic considerations became so dominant that they had to decide to close down rock quarries which resulted in a good deal of unemployment in many areas where quarry employment was very valuable. Now the Oireachtas, and the local authorities, are all contributing to the very profitable business you are building up and they have made it possible for you to get into the export business and are you prepared to make some gesture to help us in so far as it is reasonable to tackle this problem of rock spoil?" The moment that that proposal is made, I know that the first answer will be: "But the quality of the stone is not suitable for our business at all."

But the answer is a lemon. Of course, it is not the ideal stone for this purpose. We all know that in a great many cases it is not roadmaking stone at all and if you were charged with the responsibility of delivering the optimum market to the local authorities for their roadmaking work the kind of stone removed from a rock cutting might be regarded from an engineering point of view as quite unsuitable for roadmaking. But this kind of problem can be resolved by reasonable men.

I remember when I was Minister for Agriculture, I was trying to collaborate with Bord na Móna about the possible user of cutaway bog. I provided the staff to do the job. After protracted inquiry, I discovered that the problem was that the Department of Finance would not sanction our buying shovels and wheelbarrows because there were shovels and wheelbarrows on the site and Bord na Móna would not allow the employees of the Department of Agriculture to use their wheelbarrows and their spades. Ultimately, I had to send for the then chairman of Bord na Móna, Dr. Andrews, and say to him: "Listen, Tod; is it conceivable that you and I can sit down on two sides of a table and hold up important work because you will not let our fellows use your spades and barrows and the Department of Finance will not allow me to buy duplicate spades and barrows?" Of course, in five minutes Tod Andrews and I settled the thing and the work went forward.

I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary should send for the chairman of Roadstone and ask him to bring with him his engineering experts. He should say to them: "If you cannot use the stone as I asked you to do, with all your expertise, you can help me solve my problem, that is, to get the stone off the land where it has been dumped in the course of the drainage operation carried out?" If my judgment goes for anything, I believe a firm of that standing, with their expertise, if they are not prepared to say they will take it and use it, will have some suggestion to make to the Parliamentary Secretary as to how it might be disposed of in one way or another. I suggest it could be that, if suitable machinery were employed to transfer it to an appropriate site, if it were not suitable for the making of main roads, or even of county roads, it might be suitable for the making of by-roads.

But do not let us underestimate the annoyance, the distress and the irritation that the piling of rock spoil on small holdings gives rise to. It may be disproportionate that this much time of the House should be taken up with the problems of so few small people. But it should be the glory of this Oireachtas that there is nobody in this country so insignificant that we are not concerned for his legitimate problems. I can assure Deputies and the Parliamentary Secretary from an intimate knowledge of smallholders, both in my constituency and around my home, that the deposition of rock spoil on their land, especially in modern circumstances when it has to lie 12 or 15 feet from the river bank, constitutes a very grievous distress to those who have to bear with it.

That is all I want to say about the Board of Works. I hope the suggestions I have made will be of value to the Parliamentary Secretary, with special reference to the wires and white buttons on the front of Leinster House.

I am pleased that in general the House has not a great deal of complaint about the running of the Office of Public Works for the last 12 months. Nevertheless, a great many comments of varying kinds have been made, and one of my problems is to know where to begin in replying to them. Perhaps the best thing to do is to begin with the remarks made by Deputy Harte, since he was the principal speaker for the principal Opposition Party. As I say, I am pleased that in general his criticisms of our operations for the last 12 months were rather superficial, peripheral, cursory and to some extent a bit inaccurate.

One of the first points raised by Deputy Harte was the question of the maintenance of drainage schemes. Speaking as the official Board of Works spokesman for Fine Gael, he seemed to me to suggest that it was his opinion and his Party's opinion that the cost of maintenance of drainage schemes should be borne by the State and that local responsibility for this matter should be abandoned. I do not know whether he meant it to be understood as expressing the official view of the Fine Gael Party. It would be very interesting to know as to whether or not that is the case. It would give rise to a situation in which people in many parts of the country, who themselves have been looking for drainage for decades, would be perforce obliged to contribute not only to the carrying out of drainage schemes in other parts of the country but also to the maintenance of such schemes.

I do not think it is unfair that people who live in areas where drainage has been carried out and the people who benefit by that drainage should be asked to carry the burden of maintenance themselves. I do not accept Deputy Harte's suggestion that this should be loaded on to people who may be up to their ankles in rushes and water themselves, who would be obliged to pay not only for the execution but for the maintenance of drainage schemes.

Deputy Harte also suggested that not a great deal of progress had been made in drainage. Indeed, he went so far as suggesting there had been a slowing down, that since the great days of the inter-Party Government drainage has been to some degree neglected. We only have to consider a couple of statistics to explode that suggestion. Since the beginning of the arterial drainage scheme under the 1945 Act about £20 million has been spent on drainage. More than half of that sum has been spent since 1960. Therefore, I do not think it is accurate or right to say that there has been any slowing down. Obviously from the figures there has been a great acceleration in arterial drainage and I would hope this would be continued. I do not suggest that the progress made in the last couple of years, in the stringent financial conditions in which we found ourselves, was as good as I would like to have. But I would hope in the future progress will not only be maintained but greatly accelerated.

Deputy Harte had another remarkable suggestion to make about the manner of execution of drainage schemes. Deputy Flanagan, when speaking last night, seemed to suggest the same thing. As the House knows, under the Drainage Acts the only way in which arterial drainage can be done at all is by means of comprehensive drainage schemes carried out in the entire catchment area.

I do not believe the Parliamentary Secretary at all. I think they have to be planned that way, but the right way to do them is to do the channel first and then the tributaries.

That is the way the operation is usually done, but what Deputy Flanagan and Deputy Harte seemed to suggest was that in the many areas throughout the country where there are local drainage problems— Deputy Flanagan referred to fallen trees and other obstacles of that nature causing flooding in areas as they do all over the country—the Office of Public Works should go in and do piecemeal jobs.

Since you did away with the Local Authorities (Works) Act, who else is to do it?

I think there was good reason for that.

Mostly financial.

No matter how prosperous we are, no matter how much we provide for drainage, whether it be £2 million or £20 million, it would still remain true to say that the correct procedure would be as it is laid down in the Drainage Acts, that is, to plan the drainage catchment by catchment, do the main channel first, as Deputy Dillon says, and then do the tributaries. However no matter how much money you had to spend it would not be wise or profitable to dissipate your available capital in doing little piecemeal jobs like the removal of local obstacles, because usually what happens where such jobs are done—and some very foolish work has been done under the Act to which Deputy Dillon referred, the Local Authorities (Works) Act— you remove the immediate cause of the flooding in a small local area and transfer it somewhere downstream. You aggravate the problem, and in the absence of any provision for maintenance, as there is no provision for maintenance in such cases, the situation recreates itself——

Just for the record, what Deputy Flanagan and I advocated was the point made by the Parliamentary Secretary speaking in this debate in 1962 or 1963. He made the very same point.

Which Parliamentary Secretary?

Deputy Gibbons.

Which point?

The point that Deputy Flanagan and I have made in this debate.

I do not remember what I said in 1963, but I doubt very much if I said that. Anyway if I said it, I was wrong.

That is a fair admission. There are very few of the Parliamentary Secretary's Party who would say the same.

The late Deputy Norton used to say that consistency was the hobgoblin of little minds. Deputy Harte seemed to suggest as regards the Boyne and other grandiose schemes, any practical farmer or any sensible person would work out a much more economical scheme with none of this nonsense about planning, examination, water supplies, streams, bridges and sources. It was all very simple.

That is not what I said.

Possibly it is not literally what the Deputy said, but drainage is an engineering job. Engineers know more about it than laymen do. The engineers of the Board of Works have shown repeatedly that they have this business of arterial drainage very well taped indeed, and the work they have carried out up to now under the Act is there in evidence for anyone who doubts what I say to see.

And they will do more work if the Parliamentary Secretary gives them more money. That is the point I was making.

Would Deputy Harte allow the Parliamentary Secretary to continue his speech?

I would suggest to Deputy Harte that he would look at the provision made for drainage over the past eight or ten years, and then he can tell me whether he can honestly say that the rate of progress is affected by lack of money. Any fool can say that if they had twice as much money they could do twice as much drainage. That is very simple to say, but there is a progressive increase in the rate at which money is being provided for drainage.

Deputy Dillon, Deputy O'Leary and several other Deputies mentioned spoil. I am told that in my absence Deputy Dillon suggested that I get cross when the subject of spoil is mentioned. I think Deputy Dillon is objective enough to see that with a problem as cussed and damnable as this question of spoil, one can be forgiven for getting a little bit cross about it. The Office of Public Works, in all cases where there is difficult spoil to be disposed of, have offered it to people like the GAA if they are building embankments around their parks, and they have in fact on several occasions got rid of rock spoil in this way. They offer it to county councils. It is a very hard seller. It is like trying to sell a beast at the fair with a bad cough and possibly only three legs. Nobody wants to talk to you when you are trying to get rid of spoil. It is a thing we do not despair about, although it is not a very encouraging thing to try to manage. As I say, rock spoil can be used for various things like embankments and sports fields. It can be used, possibly, for low-grade road-making material. Then there are more difficult types of spoil, difficult clays of various kinds that cannot be spread over land.

Have you ever asked the Agricultural Research Institute to look into the question of clay spoil and give advice?

That is what they are there for.

That is one of the things they are there for, admittedly, but I do know this that they have a system of priorities and one of the things to which they must give high priority is the matter of soil surveys not of spoil samples from drainage schemes but soil surveys of the agricultural land of Ireland.

They are doing that.

It is in progress but it is only in its initial stages. I should like to see the Agricultural Institute devoting a great deal of attention to this and I know very well I do not have to say this to them; they know it themselves, and possibly I am digressing from our subject. It may well be they might have some helpful suggestions. In fact I think we ought to ask them. However, our experience has been that spoil is a very difficult thing to place. I know, too, that in certain areas of the country it is very ugly to look at apart from the damage it does to small farms, the farms of people who cannot afford the area of land upon which the spoil is deposited. We are aware of all these things, and it is very easy to point out what difficulty it causes for people especially farmers whose land is effectively put out of action by infertile clay soils. Speaking from a hunch more than from actual knowledge, I should imagine that in the Boyne scheme the type of spoil ought to be of a kind that would lend itself to spreading on the land. This is purely speculation on my part. I would think that a valley so fertile would produce spoil of that kind: I hope it does. We will have to devote particular attention to the question of spoil in the Boyne because it is one of the most beautiful areas in the country and I should hate to see that area spoiled, as it were, by spoil.

What about the spoil where there are weirs in the river. It does not occur in clay.

I was speaking of an average run of spoil you get from the river bed. When there is a weir, it is made of stone. It was put there in the first place by carting the stone into it. Obviously, it can be taken away in the same way.

Deputy Harte mentioned a complaint he had about a sluice on the Swilly. My information is that all the sluices in this area are working properly. If there is any one he wants attended or examined, I should be glad if he would let me know about it.

I will have that information for the Parliamentary Secretary this evening.

Deputy Tully, speaking on the question of drainage, expressed anxiety about water supplies and how they will be affected in the Boyne drainage scheme. The position is that usually water supply schemes are adapted where interference with the normal water supply takes place. I do not anticipate any great difficulty in this way.

Deputy Tully also expressed anxiety about flooding particularly in the town of Drogheda. The main purpose of drainage is to prevent flooding. We know it creates a more rapid run-off but I am confident that our engineers give very careful consideration to this in designing the schemes. This scheme will be on exhibition in a matter of days and Deputy Tully, the local authorities and everyone else in the Boyne catchment area can examine it and we will be very glad to hear observations from all responsible people as to how the scheme affects them and suggestions as to how the scheme could be amended. All suggestions of that kind will be welcome and carefully considered.

Deputy Tully also mentioned a matter which might appear to be a small one on superficial examination but, nevertheless, it is important, that is, the provision of shelter for workmen on drainage schemes. This is normally provided but I want to tell Deputy Tully that we will consider it and try to ensure that adequate protection is available for the men on this and other schemes.

I think it was Deputy Tully who mentioned the incentive bonus scheme and felt it was in operation only on a small scale. That is not the case. In 80 per cent of the drainage schemes the incentive bonus scheme is in operation. The only reason it is not universal is that as yet adequate training staff for its implementation is not available. It will be in operation in the Boyne scheme.

Deputy Donegan mentioned a river called the Mattock, a small river in the Boyne catchment which has not been included in the scheme as it is being presented now on exhibition, because the area likely to benefit is very small in relation to its cost. We will be having another look at it and if Deputy Donegan has any suggestions as to how this very serious obstacle can be overcome we will talk to him about it.

Deputy Donnellan spoke of an area called Turloughcor in the Corrib area. This is a small area of 200 or 300 acres of wet land. It is not at the moment being drained. What is happening in that case is that the general question of its retention as a bird sanctuary is being considered. It would not be right for Deputy Donnellan to assume that it is completely scrapped as a potential drainage area. We were looking at it from the point of view of its preservation as a wild fowl sanctuary. Deputy Kitt has a question down and possibly I should not anticipate.

To whom does it belong at present?

I do not know. I think it belongs to several local farmers. I am not quite sure.

When the Parliamentary Secretary speaks of a bird sanctuary, does he propose to acquire it?

No. Representations were made by some people—in fact I do not know whether they were local people—about its retention and this particular question is being examined.

It is rather an alarming proposition to declare it a bird sanctuary and leave them up to their knees in water.

Is it a duck farm?

It is the first time I ever heard a proposal that we should define some man's holding as a bird sanctuary.

I do not know who owns the land or where the suggestion emanated from. I am depending on a note I got a few moments ago.

Bird sanctuaries are admirable but they should be maintained by the State and not by an unfortunate landowner.

We are not going to encroach on any people's private property and establish a bird sanctuary on their farms, as Deputy Dillon seems to be suggesting.

It would be better to do that than to leave these people up to their knees in water because you want them to maintain a bird sanctuary.

Deputy Coughlan and others mentioned Garda stations. I think Deputy Coughlan suggested that there has been a general slow-down on this question, but that is not the case either. A sum of £65,000 has been spent on improvements to over 100 Garda stations——

—and re-arrangements and matters of that kind.

The Parliamentary Secretary did not tell us where.

Limerick.

Deputy Coughlan spoke about Limerick. The difficulty in Limerick is the quest for a suitable site.

We will give you one in the morning.

We will be very glad if you do. May I remind the Deputy that the price would have to be reasonable?

Limerick Corporation will give one to you.

I will talk to the Deputy about that in the morning.

If you get one within a fortnight, when will you start work?

Deputy J. O'Leary spoke about Killarney and about the national parks. He urged the establishment of a special parks section to deal specifically with national parks. I am glad to tell Deputy J. O'Leary that we are doing that, we are establishing a special parks section because without it it would not be sensible to expect that any positive approach would be made to the development of our national parks. Deputy J. O'Leary was very rightly concerned with the rather static situation that existed in the great national park in Muckross over a couple of decades I suppose. I feel myself that it is time that orderly development of this area as a great national park should begin. In order to handle this job specifically, we are establishing the parks section in the Office of Public Works.

Deputy J. O'Leary said that a model farm should be retained in Muckross. I am inclined to agree with him because among the things that I would like to see preserved in Killarney, as well as the red deer and the great collection of rare plants and animals that are to be found in the Muckross Park—some of them, I believe, are unique in the country—is the very fine herd of Kerry cattle. Kerry cattle are becoming a rather rare type of cattle and it would be unfortunate if we could not maintain a herd of Kerry cattle in Muckross. I must disagree with Deputy J. O'Leary about the farm yard. He said there was a magnificent farm yard in Muckross. I do not agree at all. I think that the farm yard is picturesque possibly but it certainly is not a good farm yard and thereby probably hangs a tale. I would think that better farm buildings will have to be provided in Killarney.

Deputy J. O'Leary also mentioned the position of the Forestry Division in the Muckross Estate. I think it was the Leas-Cheann Comhairle who felt that he was being a little bit out of order and discussing matters that properly concern the Forestry Division. My sympathy lay with Deputy O'Leary because the situation in Muckross is that while the Forestry Division have their considerable plantations there, they have them in the National Park for which the Office of Public Works is responsible. I would like to say to him, and I am glad to say it, that we are co-operating very closely with the Forestry Division and I am confident that any new development, any new planting that will be done by the Forestry Division, will only be done after consultation with the Office of Public Works and in conformity with the plans that will be made for the development of the park by our office.

Some Deputies made different remarks about the provision of restaurant facilities here in the House. I do not think this is a matter for us. The Board of Works function ends when the diningroom and the facilities are provided. It is for the House itself to decide the uses that they will be put to.

Deputy Harte, in a rather odd way raised the question of shell-pink bathroom suites and I think he also mentioned duck-egg blue.

That was answered at the Ard-Fheis.

Yes, the Taoiseach himself dealt adequately with that at the Ard-Fheis.

Unfortunately we did not attend the Ard-Fheis.

Thanks be to God you did not.

Did you ever see a bathroom?

Deputy Harte used a new technique. It seems to me to be a new technique anyway for, like a man holding a tongs in his hands and handling a very distasteful thing, he quoted, I think, the chairman of the Labour Party speaking at an election meeting in Cork and saying something very heart-rending about the extravagances of Fianna Fáil Ministers and Taoiseachs providing themselves with shell-pink bathroom suites and duck-egg blue bathroom suites while the poor of Cork and West Limerick had to do, I suppose, with other colours or the absence of such facilities. The only thing to say about that is I think that Deputy Harte should not handle Labour Party lies when he is speaking as the official representative of Fine Gael. I always thought that Fine Gael could produce their own lies, but it was like the rebirth of Coalition, the wholesale production of dirty little bits.

Leave the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party alone and answer the two questions.

The Labour Party seem to retail the stuff to the Board of Works spokesman in Fine Gael and he peddles it across the House.

Is it a fact?

He will come to it.

In the Fine Gael Party this time 12 months I remember the main theme of the discussion was corruption.

Before we get away from the bathroom suites——

He will come back to it.

We will give the Deputy a conducted tour.

Does the Deputy want to go to one now? We will conduct him there.

There is a smart answer to that.

Corruption was the theme at that time. The Taoiseach himself invited the Leader of the Fine Gael Party to put up or shut up and fair play for Deputy Cosgrave he shut up. Now, having failed on this line they are going into the bathroom suite business with the chairman of the Labour Party and as the Taoiseach told the Ard-Fheis and the public and the country—and it was most regrettable that he had to do this but the blame must lie fairly and squarely with the Chairman of the Labour Party and his retailers the Fine Gael Party—there is not a vestage of truth in it, good, bad or indifferent. That is the position about it and for such guardians of high standards in public life Fine Gael should be heartily ashamed of themselves for retailing stuff like this. They will even handle other people's muck as well as their own.

I gave the Parliamentary Secretary the opportunity to either confirm or deny. He must be fair and admit that when I was speaking I said that the only information I had was what I read, and which had not been contradicted. The Parliamentary Secretary should not lose his head on this issue.

It was not heads the Fine Gael Party lost.

My faith in my colleagues in the Dáil, even in the Opposition, is shaken a bit by this.

I presume you are talking about your own back benchers.

Of necessity the question arises of how low can you get. Can you get any lower than this? I do not think you can. This is a matter for the Opposition Deputies to consider for themselves.

The Parliamentary Secretary will get an answer from his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil back benches.

I do not want to say any more about that. Fine Gael try to take up something as an excuse for their losses in the Cork and West Limerick by-elections and all the other by-elections as well. Just as in the West Kerry and Waterford by-elections last year it was complete collapse. This time they have changed their tactics. Can you not get this message across?

We have accepted your statement. I have never had occasion to visit either of those centres.

This is not serious political opposition.

I accept what you said. You should thank me for giving you the opportunity to reply.

I do not thank you.

The Parliamentary Secretary never thanks anybody.

I want to deal with the national monuments. I do not want to delay the House unduly. One of the main topics that arises under the heading of national monuments concerns the recent question of the Rosc Exhibition and the display of the four monuments in the National Museum. Deputy Flanagan said he was against it and he had something very positive to say. There is a volume of opinion in relation to disapproval of this undoubtedly. Deputy Flanagan said that there were stones taken out of churches. I made a note of that. Those were his words. He said it was the desire, especially of myself and the Office of Public Works, to ransack and rob the sacred places. That is one opinion. Deputy Harte merely confined himself to asking what was the general position about it.

That is what we are more interested in.

The first thing to do in relation to consideration of this question is to try to get the facts and dispose of the smokescreen of distorted truth and misrepresentation which shrouded this question since its beginning. In a series of letters to the press it was almost suggested that round towers, the Rock of Cashel and such monuments were to be put on trolleys and carted off to Dublin forever. That was the first piece of misrepresentation. In fact, there were five monuments involved— two small stones from Clonmacnoise, the Killinaboy Cross, the Carndonagh Cross and the Turoe Stone. It reminds me of what Churchill said about General de Gaulle during the war: "Of the many and grievous crosses I have to bear in this cruel and terrible war, not least is the Cross of Killinaboy". At any rate, those were the five stones which it was proposed to remove. When the Carndonagh Cross was examined, it was discovered that it would be unwise to remove it and our people very properly left it in position.

Because the local people demonstrated against its removal.

No, Deputy. I can assure you that was not the case.

The cumann was beginning to break up. That is where the cracks were.

Like the Rock of Cashel and the stones of Clonmacnoise, they all belong to the nation. That is a point which escapes you and your Party. You are misrepresenting the position.

I did not misrepresent it. Had it been my duty to remove the cross at Carndonagh, I would not have done so without consulting the local people first. If there is a wrong way to do it; leave it to Fianna Fáil.

The Deputy cannot proceed like this. He has already spoken.

When the Carndonagh Cross was inspected by our people—at one time it was found by our people lying on the side of the road in the clay—they found some cracks in it. The Donegal County Council removed the cross then.

They did not. That is not true. The Parliamentary Secretary is not correct in that matter at all. It was one of the biggest embarrassments the Donegal County Council had but, fair play to the county engineer and the county manager, they handled the case in the correct manner.

On a point of order, is Deputy Harte entitled to speak on every possible occasion? Has he not spoken at length already?

I am only correcting what the Parliamentary Secretary is saying. He is not correct.

If Deputy Harte cannot control himself, I will have to ask him to leave the House.

Hear, hear.

The Parliamentary Secretary must be allowed to speak without interruption.

The last time it was done it caused a rumpus.

Deputy Harte has said here that it was a source of embarrassment to the Donegal County Council. They had no right at any time to interfere with the Carndonagh Cross. This was a matter for the Office of Public Works. At any rate, there was no protest or storm, not even from the National Monuments Advisory Committee and but for the vigilance of the Board of Works in discovering the cross on the side of the road and re-erecting it, it would have been lost.

Deputy Flanagan suggested last night that the two Clonmacnoise stones have been objects of veneration for thousands of years. This is very peculiar because a couple of years ago our inspector of national monuments took one of those stones out of a wall where it was used as a building stone. It was carefully restored and installed in the open air museum at Clonmacnoise. Nobody knows how long it had been in the wall or who put it there. Another stone was excavated at the same time. I know Deputy Flanagan's sanctity is a thing of very high voltage, but I never knew it penetrated the ground before. He said they were objects of veneration for thousands of years and I have never known Deputy Flanagan to venerate a stone that was under the ground until two years ago, when it was found by our inspector of national monuments, Mr. Le Clerc, who discovered it. Those two stones are on exhibition, as is the Turoe Stone from Loughrea. County Galway. Before Deputies come to any conclusion at all about this exhibition of national monuments, I think they should go out to the National Museum next door, have a look at the exhibition for themselves, and remember the hysterical storm that was created. One of those national monuments, in fact, was in very great danger. I am referring to the Killinaboy Cross which was being trundled about by inexpert people and it has been trundled about because irresponsible people by kicking up such a row created a farcical situation when the Killinaboy Cross was removed from its site. They did so in order to prevent its removal. This is the type of thing that developed as a result. It was suggested that the Government were removing these architectural relics from their undisturbed original sites. From what I have said in relation to the Clonmacnoise stones, none of these is being removed from its original undisturbed site. It is certain they will be returned after the Exhibition.

What about the ones from County Meath? Will they be sent back?

Those excavated by Professor O'Kelly will be on permanent exhibition. I saw Professor O'Kelly on television one night discussing the removal of the soul of Ireland. This is a rather vague expression. I do not think it is an architectural expression. It does not sound like it, but those stones which he removed from County Meath will be retained in the Museum. Professor O'Kelly had the permission of the Office of Public Works.

It is a pity to keep them if you are to complete the excavation and the renovation in Newgrange.

That would pose a problem of some delicacy for Professor O'Kelly.

I am quite sure the Parliamentary Secretary does not mind about the professor's feelings.

People who have inspected the stones on exhibition in the museum will grasp the idea. I think it is a good thing that those monuments should have attention directed to them and that carvings of such great beauty as are depicted on the Clonmacnoise stones, recently discovered, should be displayed in public. I am certain, and absolutely satisfied actually, that because of their very small size they can be displayed with advantage by expert people. If this can be done the governing interest at all times is the public interest. I see no reason at all why it should not be done. I can see several good reasons why it ought to be done.

The great mass of the people have not the opportunity to go to places like Clonmacnoise. What is more interesting is that this Exhibition, small and all as it is, shows a progressive development from pre-Christian times to the time when stone-carving was influenced by Scandinavian styles. This in itself, even for laymen like us, is most interesting and they could not be seen together even by travelling from Loughrea to Clonmacnoise and Killinaboy. When the reasons are sufficiently good, I see no reason why displays of this kind should not be put on.

There were sensible and wise people who were concerned and worried about the creation of a precedent. The Commissioners of Public Works act as guardians in the interests of the nation and they have our national monuments in their care and they can and ought to be trusted to decide on the merits of any request in relation to them. It was suggested frivolously that national monuments could very well be displayed at Beer Festivals, Fleanna Ceoil and celebrations of that kind. That simply is not a serious suggestion. It is frivolity and should be treated as such.

I thought the heavy-handed attack made on the Rosc Exhibition in general was very unfortunate. The Rosc Exhibition was extremely important to this country. It was an important international exhibition of art. It so happened that in my own constituency there was recently established a Córas Tráchtála design centre. This design centre was established because we suddenly came to realise how poor we were in matters of this kind. There is no use in saying it any other way. There is a big gap in our development in this matter of artistic standards and design. It is closely related to the instruction of young people in art. I think we should be conscious of the need to instruct, especially our young art students and secondary students generally, that at one time we Irish produced works of exquisite beauty, and for historical and other reasons while we excelled in other fields and while we produced writers and poets in extraordinary numbers and of extraordinary quality we were deprived of this means of creativity. Possibly our creativity was channelled in the other direction. We can do something about it now. We have begun to recognise this problem. For that reason the Rosc Exhibition should not have been treated the way it was. It was a tragedy in my opinion. In a way it got a lot of publicity, but that it should be treated with such suspicion and contempt and that the organisers of it should be treated with such scorn is a thing that disgraces us again.

Your preliminary public relations work was not very good.

I had nothing to do with the public relations aspect of the Rosc Exhibition. The only way I came into this was that I certainly heartily supported the idea that the specimens of our national monuments should be given publicity and displayed.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that his public relations failed him in relation to Carndonagh? Does he not think that it would be better policy to consult local feeling first? No doubt he would have received assistance.

How could the mechanics of this be managed? Does the Deputy suggest that we should ask some local person's permission——

I protest at the dictatorial attitude of any body or group in Dublin dictating to people in the country who have never neglected to protect these monuments. They resent the fact that the Office of Public Works can take them to Dublin.

The whole point about the National Monuments Branch has been stated. It is they and not the local people who are the custodians of the national monuments and there was no suggestion that the people in the localities concerned were being deprived forever of their monuments——

I agree.

——because they were in their areas. It was intimated to me by Professor O'Kelly that an effort would be made to incite local people to action of this kind and we may count ourselves fortunate that nothing untoward happened.

By whom?

By Professor O'Kelly.

Who would do the inciting?

He warned me of the possibility that people would incite local people to protest.

Who would incite them?

I had occasion a short time ago, Sir, to request you to reprimand Deputy Harte for speaking several times on this Estimate and I am afraid I must ask you again.

The Parliamentary Secretary must be allowed to conclude.

I do not wish to labour the point any more. I have said all I wanted to say about it. As usual, Deputies mentioned the question of office accommodation. This is a perennial problem. A great many of the offices used by Government Departments in Dublin at present were not built as offices. They are unsuitable, and in the main, old buildings, completely unsuited to the use they are being put to. The ideal solution would be that the Government would build offices for themselves but, unfortunately, the capital that would be required for an operation of such enormity is required for other more pressing purposes. The only alternative is to rent office space at market prices. It has been suggested numbers of times that prices paid by the Office of Public Works for floor space are not competitive. This simply is not the case.

Deputy Dillon mentioned the facade of Leinster House. I am told the white buttons are purely a temporary arrangement. I went out to the front to see the white buttons, and, as Deputy Dillon said, they were unsightly. However, they are purely temporary and will be removed when the job is finished.

Deputy Seán Dunne referred to the Killymoon Hoard. Primarily, this is the business of the Department of Education. The National Museum and the Ulster Museum are interested in purchasing at the auction in order to keep the hoard in the country. Deputy Dillon mentioned—I am sorry I was absent temporarily from the House— our embassies abroad. They are not all that magnificent.

The Parliamentary Secretary had better study what I said before dealing with it.

Possibly I had better read it. One of the problems of the Office of Public Works is to get accommodation at all in foreign cities. I agree there is no obligation on a country of our size to maintain grandiose establishments abroad but nobody needs to worry unduly about over-lavish spending on embassies. Deputy Flanagan raised a point about additional accommodation for the Land Registry. The accommodation required should be completed next year.

Deputy Dillon raised another question about records, especially those of the Land Commission. I do not know precisely on whose shoulders this responsibility should fall but I agree it is a question worth examining. Possibly Deputy Dillon and I will have another conversation about it some time. If important documents should be destroyed because it did not happen to be somebody's business to look after them, it would be a matter to be regretted and if any expedient can be found to prevent that happening it will be sought.

There were other matters raised by Deputies but I do not wish to detain the House any longer except to say I am grateful to Deputies for what was in the main a constructive debate and to add that if there is anything I have not dealt with either in my opening statement or my reply I will be glad to meet Deputies.

Am I right in saying that the Manuscripts Commission consult the Parliamentary Secretary from time to time about their affairs?

I do not think so.

These questions are difficult to answer off the cuff. However, he might ask the Manuscripts Commission to come and see him.

Motion, "That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration", by leave, withdrawn.
Vote put and agreed to.