Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 11 Jun 1970

Vol. 247 No. 7

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

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £10,599,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1971, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for expenditure in respect of public buildings; for the maintenance of certain parks and public works; for the execution and maintenance of drainage and other engineering works; and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.

Before introducing the Estimate, I should like to congratulate Deputy Henry Kenny on his appointment as shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the shadow Minister for Finance. I am quite sure that the co-operation that existed between Deputy Barry and myself will continue with Deputy Kenny.

The 1970-71 Estimate of £10,599,000 is almost £300,000 greater than the amount voted for 1969-70 which was £10,308,000.

Subheads A, B and C cover administrative expenses. There is an increase of about £30,000 on this groups of subheads due mainly to increased rates of remuneration.

The provision for subhead D includes a sum of £250,000 for payment of the balance of the State's contribution towards the cost of the new office building to be erected in Kildare Place, to which I referred last year. Demolition of the buildings on the site has commenced and it is expected that construction work will begin in a few months time. When this building is completed, the entire staff of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Dublin will be housed under one roof which, of course, is a most desirable step.

Money is provided under this subhead for the purchase of sites for Garda stations and other public buildings and acquisition of some national monuments. Steps by my office to acquire 56 acres of land at Tara are at present the subject of proceedings in the Supreme Court.

A list of the works for which provision is made under subhead E has been given to Deputies. I will refer briefly to the more significant items.

As usual, the greater part of the money is required for the building of primary schools. Last year the allocation was £3 million. Fifty-six new buildings were erected and major improvements were carried out at 39 other schools: 19,200 pupil places were provided, apart from 6,000 places made available in prefabricated units. This year's allocation is again £3 million.

A substantial part of the expenditure is incurred on providing large new schools to cater for extensive housing estates in the cities and towns. The policy of amalgamation and centralisation of small rural schools into large central units is continuing and has resulted in the total number of primary schools in operation being reduced from about 4,800 to about 4,200.

I mentioned last year that the Minister for Education has authorised managers to make their own arrangements to install heating and sanitary facilities in any school which is likely to continue in use for at least five years. This scheme has continued to work well with the co-operation of the local staffs of the Office of Public Works.

Three more schools for mentally and physically handicapped children were completed during the year. These schools have a much lower pupil-teacher ratio than the ordinary schools and, because of their purpose, they have to be given extra attention in design and equipment. Plans are being prepared for other new schools of this kind.

The new curriculum for primary schools being introduced by the Department of Education will require some new thinking on school buildings. Among other things, facilities for group teaching and extra paved areas for outdoor recreation will need to be provided. Teaching of some subjects under the new curriculum has been introduced in pilot schools throughout the country and my office is engaged in carrying out the necessary adaptations to the school buildings.

The improvement works at Leinster House are now nearing completion. The rewiring should be finished by October and the new annunciator system will be installed during the summer recess. This consists of a closed circuit television system with monitor sets at 26 points throughout the House.

Under the general heading of Department of Finance a total of £467,500 is provided mainly for office accommodation for various Departments. More than half of the provision is for the new stamping branch for the Revenue Commissioners at Dublin Castle. Difficulties were encountered with foundation works but, despite this and the cement dispute, progress is satisfactory and the project is expected to be completed on target in 1973.

Provision is made for a central computing unit for Departments which do not have their own computers. A site has been tentatively selected in the Inchicore area and is at present the subject of discussion with the Dublin Corporation. Planning of the building is in hands.

A total of £33,000 is being provided this year for three State memorials— Garden of Remembrance, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall and the Roger Casement Memorial in Glasnevin Cemetery. A contract for the casting of the sculpture which will be the central feature of the Garden of Remembrance has been placed and it is hoped to have the sculpture ready for unveiling about the end of the year. Good progress has been made on the Roger Casement Memorial and it is hoped to place a contract soon for the casting of the statue.

The plans for the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall are now ready for invitation of tenders and an up-to-date estimate of cost will be prepared. The provision of £20,000 in this year's Estimate is for payment of consultants' fees.

Under the heading of Department of Justice, we are providing for the erection of new Garda stations and for imtracts are in progress for 12 new stations, five in Dublin and seven in the provinces. Many other stations are being planned.

Alternative accommodation is being provided for the gardaí who are at present in sub-standard accommodation in Dublin Castle. This is expected to cost about £60,000.

I am proposing £227,000 for six projects for the Department of Education apart from primary schools. The major items are the preventive centre at Finglas and additional accommodation for the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies at Burlington Road. I hope that these works will be completed before the end of this year.

The Government's decision to transfer the Departments of Education and Lands to Athlone and Castlebar necessitates the building of new offices in these towns. Sites have been acquired and building plans are being prepared. Construction works are not expected to start this year and the amounts provided are for consultants' fees only.

A sum of £104,000 is included for various architectural projects to provide new and improved facilities for research, training and advisory services for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

A sum of £137,000 is required for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. As well as a new sorting office at Ballyfermot, provision is made for new post offices at Cahirciveen, Cavan, Donegal, Dungarvan, Listowel, Longford, Mullingar, Nenagh and Portlaoise and for extensions to the post offices at Clonmel and Phibsboro.

The Office of Public Works will also carry out works for the telephone service to the value of about £450,000 this year. This money will be provided from the telephone capital account. A sum of £700,000 for general engineering works is being provided of which £500,000 is for major fishery harbours.

Work at Dunmore East harbour has been completed apart from boat-lifting facilities and harbour buildings which will be provided this year. Good progress is being made at Castletownbere and Killybegs harbours.

It is hoped to start work on the Galway scheme this year. With a view to preparing an overall development plan for Howth harbour, a hydraulic model investigation is being carried out.

Improvement schemes are being carried out at a number of other harbours including Skerries, County Dublin, Kilmore Quay, County Wexford, Killala, County Mayo, and Reen, County Cork.

A sum of £40,000 is being provided for the first stage of a scheme for improving landing facilities at Roonagh Point and Clare Island, County Mayo. The plans are being discussed with the county council engineers.

Other harbour works estimated at £130,000, being carried out by the Office of Public Works in Gaeltacht areas, are paid for from the Vote for Roinn na Gaeltachta.

Subheads F1 to F4 provide for the cost of servicing State premises and property including the costs of maintenance of parks and the Shannon navigation.

Last year, I referred to the establishment of a new branch within the Office of Public Works known as the National Parks and Monuments Branch. The object in setting up the branch was to enable the commissioners to co-ordinate their work in relation to the management of national parks, the preservation of national monuments and the control of navigation on the River Shannon. These three services have been merged to develop their cultural, recreational and educational aspects so as to provide for the ever-increasing public demands which will be made on them in the years ahead.

The commissioners intend to work towards the establishment of further national parks in suitable places throughout the country. That does not necessarily involve large-scale land acquisition. What is primarily required is the formulation for a selected area of a comprehensive and co-ordinated policy relating to the conservation, management and development of its scenic, scientific, historic, archaeological and recreational resources. I think it is time we had suitable legislation to enable this approach to be formalised but, before preparing positive recommendations for consideration by the Government, the commissioners decided that a pilot study of one area should be made. This study is at present in progress in County Kilkenny with the co-operation of An Bord Fáilte, An Foras Forbartha, the Forestry Division, the local authorities and many local voluntary organisations. A preliminary report was recently issued by the commissioners which gives a general picture of the character of the area and what it has to offer. From the results of the studies, the commissioners are satisfied that the idea could well be extended to other areas. It is not difficult to think of areas which should be considered for national park status.

Because of their responsibilities in relation to the River Shannon, the commissioners have a special interest in the River Shannon basin as a recreational waterway which could offer an extensive and wide range of recreational, archaeological and scenic attractions.

Deputies will be pleased to learn that two research studentships have been awarded by the commissioners for work on different aspects of the ecosystem in the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park, Killarney. This research will influence the long-term management and development policy for the park. Arrangements have been made for the creation of a nature trail in the park. This will be in operation shortly.

Conscious of the need to improve visitor facilities, the commissioners are arranging for the construction of public toilets at Torc, Muckross Abbey Gate and Muckross House and are co-operating with their tenants in Muckross House in improving the folk museum there. Adequate heating and lighting are being installed in the house. Restaurant facilities will be provided soon.

Development proposals for Derrynane National Park were announced a few days ago. This park, which is the most recent addition to our national park system, comprises an area of 300 acres of some of the most beautiful scenery in the Iveragh peninsula. It contains a mile long stretch of splendid sandy beach backed by delightful wooded slopes. Proposals to improve visitor facilities include the construction of car parks, provision of picnic sites, drinking water outlets, nature trails and pony trails. The feasibility of establishing a small wildfowl sanctuary on about 20 acres which are now swamps will be examined and plans for the development of a water-garden will be formulated. Problems of conservation, security and access will get early attention.

Children's playground facilities will be provided within the next few weeks in Saint Stephen's Green park and consideration is being given to the provivision of similar facilities in the Phoenix Park.

Notwithstanding large-scale industrial development and urbanisation in its immediate vicinity, the Phoenix Park still retains its character as an area of popular recreational activity. When this Vote was last under discussion, the possibility of locating a public golf course in the Park was mentioned. While I am convinced of the need for such a facility in the Dublin area, there are many strong arguments against the proposal. A firm of architects and landscape consultants have been appointed to advise on the treatment and development of the area to the south of the Park known as the Inchicore North-Longmeadows Estate and becoming popularly known as the Phoenix Park Extension. This area, of about 300 acres, was acquired in 1905 to preserve the amenities of the Phoenix Park and the River Liffey which flows through it. A preliminary report submitted recently by the consultants has been favourable to the idea of locating a golf course there. I am having this matter followed up as one of urgency. Since I first referred to this matter when speaking on the Estimate for 1969-70, some hundreds of letters in support of the proposal have been received by me.

As I have already mentioned, my Office is also responsible for the maintenance and management of the River Shannon navigation. The commissioners are co-operating fully with An Bord Fáilte and the local authorities in the development and promotion of the navigation as a recreational waterway. The immense potential of the Shannon as a recreational centre cannot be overestimated. From a national point of view, its location gives urgency to its development. At this early stage of development, private investment is of the order of £1.75 million and the annual income generated by the boat hire industry is approximately £400,000. The commissioners, as agents of the Electricity Supply Board, are about to undertake a comprehensive scheme of improvement works on the navigation channel between Lanesboro' and Tarmonbarry. When completed, this scheme will ensure that, except in times of exceptional drought, all vessels will be able to ply up and down this reach of the navigation. As an aid to visitors and with a view to making boating on the river safer, I hope to have an official navigation handbook published before the 1971 boat hire season opens.

I will refer to the national monuments part of the work of the branch later when I come to discuss subheads K1 and K2.

The increase in subhead F3, which provides for rent and rates, et cetera, is mainly due to the leasing of additional space in office blocks in Dublin to house the expanding staffs of the Departments of Education, Health, Finance, Labour and Social Welfare.

Substantial economies have been effected by the reorganisation of the labour force employed on the maintenance of public buildings in the Dublin area. Modern management techniques are being applied in the central building maintenance workshops and further economies are expected. This reorganisation could not have taken place without the fullest co-operation of the maintenance staff involved and I am sincerely grateful to these men.

The G group of subheads provides for expenditure in connection with the arterial drainage programme.

Subhead G1 provides for the surveys which must precede the design and preparation of drainage schemes. The amount proposed is the same as was provided last year.

The preparation of major schemes for the Erne, Corrib-Mask-Robe, Boyle, Mulkear, Suir, Nore and the Owenmore, Sligo, and of minor schemes for the Bonet, Dunkellin and Lavally is proceeding. The possibility of schemes for the Finn sub-catchment of the Erne in Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh and the Bradoge in Counties Donegal, Leitrim and Fermanagh is being examined in co-operation with the northern authorities. A small scheme for the Ards Flats in County Donegal is also under consideration.

Subhead G2 provides for expenditure on works in progress. Work is proceeding in three major catchments, the Boyne, Corrib-Headford and the Moy. It is hoped to complete the Moy this year. Provision is also included for the Maigue but, because of the recent High Court decision, this scheme will be delayed. The matters arising from that decision are being considered.

Provision is also made for embankment works at three areas on the south bank of the Shannon Estuary, from Ringmoylan to Foynes, Newtown to Tarvoe and in the Polefield near Limerick city. All these embankments are well advanced and may be completed within the current year. This will bring the total expenditure on embankment restoration in the Shannon Estuary, since the storms of October, 1961, caused extensive breaching, to about £1½ million.

It is hoped to complete a number of small drainage schemes, the Carrigahorig, Counties Tipperary and Offaly, Owenavarragh, County Wexford, Burnfoot-Skeoge, County Donegal and Kilcoo, Counties Fermanagh and Leitrim, in the current year.

Subhead G5 provides for the maintenance of completed drainage schemes. The amount requested represents a considerable increase, £168,000, over the amount provided last year, due to the many schemes completed and coming under maintenance.

I am asking for £430,000 for subhead H for the purchase and maintenance of engineering plant and machinery, the purchase of stores and the payment of wages to the workshop staffs. This year it is intended to replace some of the fleet of drag-line excavators with more modern and more efficient hydraulic excavators which will reduce working costs.

The provision under subhead I for coast protection works has been increased this year to £50,000. The Minister for Finance has recently confirmed a scheme for The Murrough, County Wicklow. Works there and at Youghal will commence this year. Provision is included under this subhead also for maintenance of protection works at Rosslare Strand.

Twelve thousand pounds is provided under subhead J for minor marine schemes sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

I referred above to the parks and waterways activities of the National Parks and Monuments Branch. The activities of the branch in regard to national monuments are mainly maintenance and conservation works at the monuments in State care and the presentation and interpretation of the monuments to visitors. The commissioners have direct responsibility for over 900 monuments or groups of monuments, and have statutory functions under the National Monuments Acts in relation to monuments generally and in relation to archaeological exploration. A work force of about 70 men is employed directly on a regional basis to carry out regular conservation and preservation works. This part of the organisation is being extended.

Economic growth, social progress and development too often result in the neglect or destruction of monuments of unique interest and antiquity. For the preservation of monuments not in their direct care, the commissioners depend on the goodwill of the owners of the lands where the monuments are situated, on the powers vested in the local authorities and on the interest and vigilance of local historical and archaeological societies. These interested parties expect the State to give the lead in regard to conservation not alone of monuments but of other aspects of our national background. The State, however, is limited by legislation which in the circumstances of today no longer fulfils the purpose the Oireachtas intended it to serve. I am considering the question of extending our statutory authorities to meet this situation.

In 1965, the commissioners began an archaeological survey which has recorded scientifically virtually all monuments up to 1200 A.D. in Counties Louth, Monaghan and Meath. The survey has now been extended into Counties Cavan, Westmeath and Longford. From this survey we expect to record some 150,000 to 200,000 separate archaeological items for the whole country.

Public interest in archaeological exploration has increased considerably in recent years and has been stimulated by many important discoveries. Among the well-known sites where archaeological explorations, approved and financed by the commissioners, are in progress, are the pre-historic passage graves at Newgrange and Knowth, County Meath, Behy Court Cairn and neighbouring sites in County Mayo, the mediaeval urban sites at High Street and Winetavern Street, Dublin, the ancient Royal Site at Dún Ailinne, County Kildare, and the important hill fort at Rathgall, County Wicklow. For the better presentation of our monuments to visitors the guide services introduced at Newgrange and Cashel last year will be continued and extended as opportunity permits.

Deputies will recall that legislation was enacted early last year to enable the commissioners to carry out the restoration of Holycross Abbey, County Tipperary. The cost of the restoration will be borne by the diocesan trustees. Certain conservation works to the fabric of the monument and the preliminary archaeological investigation which is in hands at present will be paid for by the State.

Subhead K2 provides for a grant-in-aid towards the expenses of a survey of provincial museums, great gardens and historic houses throughout the country. This is an area of our heritage which has great potential not only for the benefit of our own people but also for tourist development and it is necessary to assess our resources. The survey work has been nearly completed and the report of the survey team will be published as soon as it is available.

Subhead L covers the annual grant-in-aid for the operation and maintenance of the yacht Asgard. The Asgard is in charge of a committee of competent yachtsmen and is being used for training young people in the art of sailing.

I have dealt with the main activities of the Commissioners of Public Works. There may be items which I have not specifically mentioned in which Deputies may be interested. If any Deputy desires further information on any item, I shall be glad to provide it.

I move:

That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.

First of all, I should like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his congratulations on my appointment to my present position and also for his felicitations and his good wishes for my political health. He was appointed just over a year ago and already he is a veteran on the front bench because, in the short space of a year, for various reasons other ministerial appointments have been made. This is his second presentation of his Estimate and, strangely enough, it may be his last in his present capacity. I say this in no tone of prophetic gloom or impending doom. I mention it because, in my belief, if the suggestions and proposals in the Devlin Report are adopted and implemented by the Government, certain functions of the Office of Public Works may be transferred to other Departments.

It is logical to assume that, if the Department of Lands and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries are amalgamated, the function of arterial drainage may be transferred to the new Ministry because lands, agriculture and arterial drainage are so closely interrelated. The Department of Education might be responsible for the provision of their own school buildings. The Department of Justice are also deeply involved in the activities of the Office of Public Works and, in turn, would be able to provide the various buildings, office accommodation and domestic accommodation for their personnel.

It seems extraordinary that the Office of Public Works should be responsible for so many diverse operations such as works involving harbours, internal navigation and national monuments. At present that is the reality of the situation. Every Deputy knows how difficult it is to deal with one Department but when two or three Departments are involved with the same problem it is even more difficult. The Office of Public Works have a dubious reputation for speed. This is not the fault of the officials or the staff. It arises because they are involved with other Departments; very often three sanctions are required for a single project. How often have we heard: "It is a Board of Works job", signifying the delay which occurs but this is not the fault of the Office of Public Works.

The Office of Public Works need restructuring and if the Devlin Report is implemented the Parliamentary Secretary may be introducing an Estimate next year for a new Department with a more compact structure and more definite and precise involvements. It may well be that the Parliamentary Secretary will not be introducing that particular Estimate. I might be doing it in his place.

The Parliamentary Secretary has given a brief outline of the various sections of his Estimate. The functions of his Department cover a wide range of activities. He has given us an account of what has been done and what it is intended to do in the coming year.

Subhead E deals with new work, alterations and additions. I want to comment on some of these activities. The main complaints of parents in rural areas is about the condition of primary school buildings. Matters are not as bad as they were a few years ago because I can remember that not a week would pass without a picture of some dilapidated rat-infested rural school appearing in the paper. Although progress has been made there are still many schools of that type. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to eradicate those eyesores with all possible haste.

The Office of Public Works are now taxed with the further responsibility of providing schools for underprivileged and mentally retarded children. This is a work of charity. No task could be more important and no effort should be spared to accommodate and facilitate these children not only for their own sakes but for the sake of their parents whose anguish it was to have to keep them at home when no such schools were provided. I want to commend the officials of the Department for the expeditious way in which they have designed, planned and built these schools.

The provision of new Garda stations is also included in subhead E. No body of men have given such sterling and honest service to the country than the Garda Síochána. The State should do all in its power to repay the Garda Síochána for the services they render the country by providing facilities and conditions above reproach. I know of some Garda stations which are unfit for human habitation. The gardaí work in very, very poor conditions.

The Garda station at Newport, County Mayo, was adapted from a CIE storehouse. Newport has a population of 600. It is on the direct route to Achill to which thousands of tourists go every year. These tourists come from all over the world and when they call at this station to ask for directions and instructions they can see the conditions under which these men are working. It is terrible that such conditions were not rectified years ago. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to do what he can to alleviate their distress.

When gardaí marry they are either moved away from the station or left to live in flats or rooms. Domestic accommodation for married gardaí should be improved. Unmarried gardaí live in stations. In some cases the accommodation is good but I should like to see houses constructed by the National Building Agency for the gardaí.

Also included under this heading are alterations and additions. I should like to quote from Oibre, uimhir 6, the official organ of the Office of Public Works. At page 3 it is stated:

A complex scheme of alterations and additions at Leinster House, undertaken in 1962 and briefly described in the first issue of Oibre, was designed to meet the problem of inadequate accommodation and poor working conditions affecting the Members and staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the press and the public. With the changing and increasingly complex pattern of Government, there was a pressing need for better accommodation for Ministers, Members, committees, press and public ...

The scheme of alterations has been completed and there are few causes for complaint but one is the central heating system. When we go into one room it is cool enough but in other rooms it is tremendously warm. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to have the heating system examined so that this situation can be rectified.

Another matter for complaint not only from the people inside the House but from the public is the gate lodge at the Kildare Street entrance. To my mind it is too small and badly arranged. There is only room for one person to make inquiries at the window at a time. If it is raining everyone else in the queue has to stand outside and get wet. One needs to be a contortionist to get in the front door and into the waiting room if there is a person in front of you.

One could find no more set of courteous and efficient officials than the superintendent, the captain and the ushers. We all have discovered that they are eager and willing to help at all times. Today is a warm day but it is cool enough inside so far but outside the heat is oppressive yet we have these men going around the corridors with heavy uniforms on. Dressed in such heavy uniforms in this hot weather they are as incongruous as grizzly bears at the Equator. These men are far too courteous to complain but I would ask the Office of Public Works to supply them with a light textured uniform similar to that provided for the gardaí.


Hear, hear.

If this is not the responsibility of the Office of Public Works I am sure our good friend the Parliamentary Secretary will get in touch with the relevant Department to ensure that they are dressed properly for the weather.

The Parliamentary Secretary referred to rents and rates for public buildings. It is astounding to find recorded on page 22 of the Estimates that the country pays £923,000 per year for rents and rates on office accommodation, almost £1 million a year. I am glad to hear that the Minister's Department has purchased a site in Kildare Place for office buildings. I think it is very foolish to pay out almost £1 million each year: we should build the offices ourselves. The Parliamentary Secretary has at his disposal architects, engineers and men to do the job. If this task were completed it would handsomely repay the Exchequer in a few years. The Parliamentary Secretary will argue that they want to conserve the capital to build instead schools, houses and other accommodation. This is reasonable but over the past five years the renting business has gone too far. When the former Minister for Finance on the last occasion was questioned by Deputy O'Leary he replied that he was of the same mind as Deputy O'Leary that the business had gone far enough in the last five years and that they were not open for any more renting of office space. I suggest the Parliamentary Secretary should build in Kildare Place as quickly as possible because if you rent offices forever you do not own them while if you build, the building becomes State property. I understand that money such as this paid in office rents goes out of the country and is a serious drain on our economy and is generally detrimental to our financial position.

I come now to a pet subject which is causing concern and uncertainly in my own constituency. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to decentralisation of Departments. The Department of Lands was to be transferred to Castlebar, according to a decision some years ago, but since then, in view of conflicting statements by the former Minister for Justice and the present Minister for Lands, I was constrained to ask a Parliamentary Question about the transfer. I was given an assurance by the former Minister for Finance that the transfer would definitely take place and that there was no change in Government policy in regard to it.

Last year when introducing his Estimate the Parliamentary Secretary said, as reported in the Official Report at column 895, Volume 242:

The Government's decision to transfer the Department of Education to Athlone and the Department of Lands to Castlebar will require the building of modern offices in these towns. Sites have been obtained, sketch plans have been agreed and detailed drawings are being prepared. The amounts in the Estimate are for consultants' fees—

This is the point I want to emphasise. It is only a small point but it is an indication.

—with provision for tree planting which it is desirable to get done at this stage at both sites.

I come from Castlebar and the site is just beside the football field. As far as I can find out not one tree has been planted yet. You cannot plant trees in summertime so that it will be at least next winter before a tree can be planted or anything done. I am glad to know now—I only got this information this morning—that there is a sum of £35,000 provided for the operation of the transfer of the Department of Lands to Castlebar. I am glad that something has been done because there was doubt and uncertainly in the minds of the people there. The urban council incurred financial commitments because of this transfer. They bought building sites and land for development and so on and it would be a very serious matter if the transfer did not take place.

Some years ago I understand the former Deputy Dillon said the proposal was a gimmick. I hope he will be proved wrong and that it will really happen. This £35,000 provision this year seems to indicate that it will happen but I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to commit himself by giving the House and myself reassurance on this issue that the Department of Lands will be transferred to Castlebar.

Arising from the transfer there will be the question of the disposal of the Land Commission files. These constitute a background for history Those documents go back to the last century or the century before that and include various titles to estates. It is the policy of Departments when moving, as it is the policy of Ministers when leaving office, to dispose of their files and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to arrange to have some section in the Department in which these files can be preserved and safeguarded because they contain the skeleton of history and may be used by future generations in ascertaining facts.

Subheads G 1 to G 5 include operations that are vitally important to the rural community. They deal with arterial drainage and one has only to travel anywhere in the country at certain times of the year to see the flooding and damage caused by inundation, choked rivers and streams and low lying arable land completely covered by water. The depth of the water does not matter; if the land is covered it is useless. Yet, the farming community must pay rent and rates for such land. This is a penalty and burden on those with very small farms such as we have in the west. The financial loss sustained by farmers can only be measured by the amount of land covered and the loss is in direct proportion to the weather. If the weather is wet in September the land is rendered useless until the following May and the owners pay rent and rates for six months during which their land is unusable. The loss they sustain, the inroads made on fodder and grass—they cannot keep livestock in the open—mean that they must reduce the volume of their livestock which naturally means a reduction in agricultural exports. Drainage of any kind is most important to the individual farmer and the nation as a whole.

Much has been done to alleviate the plight of these people and in the past we have had the Brosna, the Glyde and Dee, the Feale, the Maine and the Corrib-Clare, the Inney and the Deale drainage schemes completed. The Moy, after a revised estimate, is almost complete and up to the present we have spent the colossal sum of £5,600,000 on it. This year it is intended to spend £100,000 to finish off operations. After all this expenditure it would be a pity if the Office of Public Works pulled out of the catchment area too soon and before the remaining streams and small subsidiary rivers were drained to the satisfaction of the people interested. Very little remains to be done compared with what has been accomplished and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give favourable and sympathetic consideration to the pleas of the deputations that he has received and the correspondence I am sure he is getting from various parts of the county. All that is involved is a few yards here and there but it will be of inestimable value to the people concerned. It would be a pity if the Office of Public Works left some complaints behind them.

Last year the Parliamentary Secretary, replying to a question by Deputies Donnellan and Hussey regarding the Corrib, made the following statement at column 1595, Volume 242 of the Official Report of 20th November, 1969:

Deputy Hussey and Deputy Donnellan were concerned about the Corrib. Work is proceeding, as the Deputy knows, and will continue. The estimate for the total work is £1 million and about half that amount has been spent.

He then refers to the Corrib-Mask-Robe scheme which is the one in which I am concerned because it refers to my own constituency, and I hope I am not digressing and being too parochial.

The Corrib-Mask-Robe scheme will be completed, we expect, in 1971.

That is next year, and I hope this scheme will be finished within a year or two. I should like to emphasise the importance of this scheme. It drains the best lands of south Mayo and will prove of inestimable benefit to landowners in the catchment area. I trust that the Parliamentary Secretary's prognostication will come true and that the scheme will be completed in 1971.

Before every election reference is made in the west to the Shannon drainage scheme. This will be a stupendous engineering feat and the catchment area will embrace a great part of the Central Plain. It will include various Connacht counties, and I am glad to note that at long last a contract has been placed with the cementation company since last year and that preliminary work and hydrological investigation of the Shannon is now taking place. It would be far better to leave alone the internal navigation schemes and do the drainage. These people in the Shannon catchment area are often inundated with water and if there is any money available it should be spent on benefits to the rural community instead of on the Shannon navigation scheme, on boats, loughs, sluices and so on. The necessaries of life are far more important than luxuries.

Farmers who had their lands drained have voiced grievances about various matters connected with arterial drainage. These are the common complaints I hear, and if these complaints are to be heard in Connacht they will be heard in the catchment area of every river that will be drained by the Office of Public Works. Some farmers are not aware that there is a time limit of one year imposed on applicants for compensation for spoil damage. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give favourable consideration to applicants who may plead extenuating circumstances. These people do not know the regulations and the Office of Public Works do not make these regulations public. If they do not do it in the Moy area they should do it in every other area in which they will be working.

Another complaint is that the compensation for spoil damage is not big enough. In small holdings you must have spoil and you must have the tract parallel to the river on which the machine works, the spoil damage thrown back 15 or 20 yards off the bank of the river. That means there is double the width of spoil damage and people complain that they get only £60 or £70 for half an acre in an elongated tract. I would ask the Office of Public Works to treat these people more favourably. Perhaps people in Leinster do not realise that a perch or a rood of ground is more valuable to these poor-class farmers than ten acres of land in County Meath or County Carlow.

Other complaints I have heard are in relation to the provision of drinking slips for cattle and the fencing of the land along the streams that are drained. In some cases cattle have been lost and there has been no compensation for these losses from the Office of Public Works.

Another edition of Oibre, uimhir 7, describes this wonderful landscape between the town of Ballina and Castlebar along the shores of Lough Cullin and Lough Conn. This new bridge erected by the Office of Public Works at Pontoon is a wonderful structure and I want to compliment them on it, the design, the carriageway, the parapet and everything else, and it blends with the landscape. It is a magnificent job but there is just one defect. It appears that when this bridge was being built there was some blasting done on both sides of the channel between Lough Conn and Lough Cullin. Those two lakes are a paradise for anglers and in the tourist season there are hundreds of fishermen there. They cannot get from Lough Cullin under the bridge to Lough Conn without sometimes damaging their boats, because there are semi-submerged rocks lying there which were blasted from the sides and pitched into the channel. This is a dangerous situation and does not create a very good image if a fisherman comes back to find that his outboard engine has been damaged by these rocks. I would ask the Office of Public Works to remedy this. One week's work with a machine would remove these rocks.

Subhead K deals with our national monuments. The Office of Public Works have done a tremendous job in preserving these monuments. I am glad to note that the sum allocated has been increased by £12,400 to £145,000. We have, all over the country, landmarks, historic ruins and other relics of our ancient past of which we can be justly proud and which are of such absorbing interest to tourists. Where these ruins have not been taken over by the Office of Public Works we usually find that they are overgrown with weeds, blackthorn bushes and so on, and not alone is this a shame to ourselves but to the nation. However, we just have not got the money to look after them all. Where the board have taken responsibility they have done a very reasonable job. In some cases, however, certain facilities are lacking. If guides are not available— I understand they are now available in Cashel and a few other places—then some sort of guidebook should be issued which could be sold from a nearby house at the behest of the Office of Public Works or else, as Deputy Barry suggested last year, some kind of vending machine could be installed so that for the payment of 1/- or 2/- visitors could procure a guidebook, so that they would get an idea of the historic background of these places.

Another complaint which one hears from visitors to national monuments is in regard to the lack of toilet facilities. I was glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say that such facilities would be provided in some places. They should be provided in every place where it is possible to do so. I should like also to refer to the restoration of Ballintubber Abbey, County Mayo and to compliment the officers and staff of the board who carried out this work on "The abbey which refused to die". It is one of our greatest tourist attractions and some 25,000 visitors go there each year. Magnificent restoration work has been carried out on this masterpiece.

Since the Office of Public Works were established in 1831 they have struggled valiantly to do their work. Credit is due to the board for their efforts because theirs is an almost impossible task. The Board of Works are a huge body based in Dublin and their tentacles reach out to almost every phase of life, to all sections of the community and to the remotest village. The board have an interest and are involved in every Department under the Constitution. It is impossible to deal satisfactorily with such a huge range of activities. If the recommendations of the Devlin Report are implemented it is to be hoped that at some future date the Office of Public Works will become an independent Department, detached from the Department of Finance and free from contact and involvement with any other Department. If such a Department is established then this derisive phrase "it is a Board of Works job"—signifying delay—will have a new interpretation, that of speedy and expeditious implementation of any given assignment.

I should like to offer my congratulations to the Parliamentary Secretary on his Estimate. I do not think he will become depressed over the suggestion in the Devlin Report that this board should be absorbed in and assimilated with some other Department. Whether the report is adopted or not I would suggest that the Office of Public Works should get a new name. People usually refer to them as "the Board of Works" and there is an opportunity now to give them a new title which would be explanatory and which would mean something. It may well be said that this is a Department in search of a name. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will give some thought to this.

I have little criticism to express of this Estimate. By its very nature it must be all things to all Departments and it may, therefore, lack a certain definite purpose as to other Departments. At the same time, this is the most interesting Estimate to come before us each year because it covers such a vast and varied scheme of operations. There are few aspects of national life which are not touched by this Estimate. The most important aspect of it is the school building programme. The figures given in this regard by the Parliamentary Secretary are most heartening. He did say that, perhaps, we ought to bring some new thinking to this matter of providing school buildings.

In this city we have seen the migration of population to the outer suburbs and we have been left with many old school buildings, many of which were built 100 years ago or more and are not suitable for modern educational needs. The Parliamentary Secretary should place more emphasis on the provision of the prefabricated and module type of building because education will change so much in the next decade that it may bear little resemblance to what we have today. A suggestion made in this House some years ago was that with the change of population in rural areas it would be a good idea to shift schools around to follow the population. This would save money and also save delays in providing proper buildings for the children; it would give us time to decide on the ideal type of school building in the light of educational development.

Every Deputy will join with me in welcoming the advances made in the provision of schools for mentally or physically retarded children. However, despite the excellent progress made there is still a long waiting list for these schools. Parents who have a retarded child have to carry a great burden. The vast majority of them never willingly allow their child to go into an institution but they do allow them to go in because they realise that the child's future prospects will be improved if the child receives the maximum amount of education which the child's brain can absorb. We require more money for the provision of these schools and I do not think any Deputy would cavil at the extra cost to be borne by the taxpayers—which means ourselves among others—if increased provision were to be made in this regard.

The improvement works in Leinster House are now nearing completion. I join with Deputy Kenny in criticising the entrance to the House. It is completely wrong that citizens should have to stand in groups at the gate because the waiting room is too small. Despite the work of the ushers they just cannot cope at times. I would ask the board to take a look at this question of the entrance to the national Parliament and to provide accommodation for visitors who have to wait at the gate to see a Deputy or a Senator. In the summer-time it is not too bad but it is not right that people should have to stand at the gates in cold, wet weather because the waiting room accommodation is too small. I emphatically endorse everything Deputy Kenny said in this matter.

The rebuilding of part of Dublin Castle is also mentioned. I would suggest that people interested in the preservation of ancient buildings should take a look at the work that has been carried out in Dublin Castle during the years. The buildings were in bad repair and had to be demolished but they have been restored in excellent taste and the architects and those associated with the work must be complimented. There is an object lesson here for developers in other parts of the city and if the example set by the people connected with the restoration of Dublin Castle was followed there would be much less controversy and we would have a far more beautiful city.

The John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall is mentioned in item 15. The fact that the site proposed is in my constituency is purely coincidental. We will have to show more progress in this project. I fault the Department for buying some houses at Northumberland Road and allowing them to fall into almost total ruin. We approached the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, regarding this matter and, thanks to him, the houses were restored, even if only for a temporary period. I am glad to say that we have 14 people living in those houses as corporation tenants. Apart from that, the appearance of the road—it was one of the finest in the city—has been improved. I had a question down last week about the proposed Memorial Hall and I am told now that the plans are completed and estimates will be invited. However, the cost is increasing all the time and, perhaps, the Parliamentary Secretary might consider the erection of even a temporary hall. We need a concert hall in this city; it would be evidence of our sincere intention to honour the memory of the late President of the United States and would also fill the long-felt need for such a hall. The site chosen is an ideal one and, pending the construction of a hall, perhaps, a plaque might be erected stating it is our intention to build the Memorial Hall to the late President Kennedy.

I am glad to see that the Roger Casement Memorial will soon be cast and erected. I am sure the sculpture, which will be the central feature of the Garden of Remembrance, will add to the beauty of the Garden. The area is not very extensive and, perhaps, the sculpture might not be too large as otherwise it might have an overwhelming effect.

Items Nos. 22 and 23 refer to the provision of new Garda stations. In Irishtown, which is part of my constituency, we have a station which was built very many years ago. The forbidding appearance of the station certainly does not help citizens who may have to call there. It is impossible to have a confidential conversation in this station. As Deputies are aware, much of our time is spent in trying to help young people who may get into trouble and frequently it is necessary to go to the Garda station to explain particular circumstances about each case. In such conversations privacy is essential and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to inform me if the Irishtown Garda station will be replaced.

I do not know how much involved the Department is in the telephone services; it is probably not appropriate to this Estimate even though it is mentioned here. However, anything that can be done to speed up the installation of telephones will be much appreciated by Deputies.

Dunmore East is not in my constituency but I have seen the work carried out there and I should like to congratulate the Department. The work has been completed with the exception of boat-lifting facilities and harbour buildings which will be provided this year and the Department deserve full credit for this work.

Subheads F1-F4 deal with national parks. Recently I saw a proposal by a member of Dublin County Council that the whole county of Wicklow should be regarded as a national park. This is a large undertaking and there may be major obstacles. Where possible, parts of the counties surrounding Dublin should be preserved as national parks. The population of Dublin in the next decade is expected to be one million. People will need recreational areas and unless we do something on this line this will be a most difficult city in which to live. Nowadays most people have cars and, consequently, they are not restricted to remaining in the cities. I would ask the Minister to consider the provision of national parks throughout the country and particularly in the counties adjoining Dublin.

I should like to bring to the Minister's attention the condition of the old walls of Dublin. It may be said that they are the concern of the corporation but some remnants of the walls remain and they should be preserved. They are probably more than 1,000 years old and are a part of the history of this city.

I am glad to learn that improvements are being carried out to the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park. It is also noted that, conscious of the need to improve visitor facilities, it is proposed to construct public toilets at Torc, Muckross Abbey gate and Muckross House. The arrangements there are fairly primitive and this will be money well spent.

The provision of playground facilities in St. Stephen's Green is something I applaud. Six years ago, when the late Donogh O'Malley was in the Office of Public Works, I discussed the matter with him and he acted very quickly, indeed, in providing facilities. Would it be possible to have a small open-air natural history museum sited in the playground depicting wild life in Ireland? It would help to educate the children. Wild life is still to be found in many parts of the country and such a museum could play an important part in visual education.

The Deputy appreciates that this would be a matter for the Department of Education.

I do not question your ruling, but there is reference to the playground in the Estimate. The Parliamentary Secretary will, I am sure, respond to my suggestion. This could be simultaneously an educational and a recreational asset.

One sees evidence all over the country of the care taken by the Office of Public Works in the preservation of national monuments. There are some instances in which litter is left by visitors to these monuments. Someone should be installed at these monuments to cope with this problem and to prevent careless people despoiling the area. Our national monuments should be treated with the reverence they deserve. I compliment the Office of Public Works on what they have done and are doing to preserve this important part of our heritage.

Under subhead J, £12,000 is provided for minor marine works. Would it be possible to have an aquarium provided in Dún Laoghaire? That would be a tremendous attraction both for our own people and for tourists. The Parliamentary Secretary should prevail on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to allocate the money necessary for this purpose. An aquarium would result in arousing interest in our fisheries.

The Parliamentary Secretary says that economic growth, social progress and development too often result in the neglect or destruction of monuments. Someone once said that affluence destroys idealism. As we become more affluent we do not necessarily become a better society. The Office of Public Works is doing a great deal to preserve our ancient heritage. I sincerely hope the Office of Public Works will not, as a result of the Devlin Report, become absorbed in some other Department.

I welcome the steps taken by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance in regard to Hume Street. I hope the object lesson provided by the Office of Public Works in the preservation of Dublin Castle will be taken to heart by all and particularly by those who want to see this city not alone preserved but improved. The Institute for Advanced Studies is being sited at Ballsbridge. Ballsbridge is the mecca of all prestige building. I think the Office of Public Works has lost a glorious opportunity in not siting this new building on the north side of the city in the Bolton Street and North King Street area. The King's Inns is the only prestige building on the north side, apart from the College of Technology.

In providing new premises in the future the Office of Public Works should insist that these be sited in the rundown areas of the city. There has been too much development on the south side. I represent a south side constituency. I represent Ballsbridge. The Government should take a firm line with the local authority. When I was a member of a local authority I tried to insist on building on the north side but we had no statutory powers to compel developers to go to any particular part of the city. Most prestige development has taken place on the south side. I hope the Office of Public Works will do nothing to encourage this trend. I could name many places on the north side where buildings could be put, buildings which would change the whole aspect and atmosphere of the area. It has been said that buildings influence human beings to a great extent. I believe that this is true. I shall not be very popular in my own constituency for advocating this policy but, as a Dubliner, I believe we should develop all sides of the city equally and I believe money could be saved by building in these areas.

Once again, I compliment the Parliamentary Secretary and record my appreciation of the work that has been done since last year by the Office of Public Works. I feel very strongly about development on the south side of the city and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to give us some glimmer of hope that the emphasis in future as far as the Office of Public Works is concerned will be on development on the north side.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary give us some more detail about the Kennedy Memorial Hall? Would he be receptive to a suggestion that this memorial should be sited in an area in which it might serve a more humanitarian purpose than a concert hall would? That would be further proof of our sincerity and our resolution to go ahead and provide a memorial with the greatest possible expedition. We owe this to our people in Dublin: we also owe it to the memory of a great man.

I should like to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary on managing to keep the increase in the Estimate to £300,000 at a time of spiralling costs and inflationary tendencies. I join with Deputy Moore and Deputy Kenny in urging that this office be put in the charge of a Minister. Probably the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lemass, would be the ideal man in this Government for the job.

The work of the Office of Public Works affects many facets of our life from the drainage of the Moy to the looking after of harbours and the preservation of historic buildings. In this respect, it is inclined to spill over into the field of Bord Fáilte, tourism, which is not a bad thing in some ways. I feel that more attention should be given to this very important Department.

One of its primary functions is the building of schools. I say this not merely because it takes the biggest single amount of money from the Estimate but also from the point of view of the quality of the buildings and the general environment in which our children are being educated. The architectural design and the general standard, appearance and environment of the buildings in which our children are educated will have an effect on them for the remainder of their lives. If the influences are favourable, the children will be more critical later in life of the house they intend to live in, of the buildings provided by the public authority, and so on. For this reason, the Department should be very critical of the designs of schools and should ensure that the services of the best available architects are used.

I am not sure whether the Department have their own architects who design school buildings or whether they get outside architects to do so. If outside architects are employed for this purpose, I should like to see these jobs put up for competition. Young architects who are not conservative in their approach can have a lot to offer and their views and ideas deserve very serious consideration. If some of the older, more conservative architects discover what the Department is looking for in the design of a school for a certain area it can happen that they are content to supply designs which they know from experience have proved acceptable to the Department. Surely it would be possible in every financial year to allow a competition for the design of one school? The young architect would then have an opportunity of submitting his ideas and fresh outlook on this very important aspect of the life of the community.

From time to time, we throw many stones at the Church in this country but, from the point of view of architectural design, the Church seems more adventurous than our public authorities. I have in mind the Dominican church in Athy, County Kildare. It is very interesting to go into a small town in Ireland and to see there, off the main road, a piece of architecture such as this church. The Office of Public Works could do the same with schools and even with Garda stations.

The average Garda station in Ireland is painted in pink or yellow distemper, has flagged stone floors and deal counters behind which the garda is sitting listening to a transistor radio on the shelf and there is a turf fire burning in an old-fashioned grate. If we have not enough respect for the gardaí to put them into decent buildings, we cannot expect respect for the law. I might mention that I have been in police stations in two other countries and they were not any better than our average one here.

At the moment, the Department is demolishing an old Garda station in my constituency preparatory to building a very big new one to cater for half the city. The temporary quarters provided for the gardaí on the site are probably infinitely better, as a temporary building, than the original building in which they were housed from the foundation of the State.

The married quarters for Garda officers are appalling. I suppose there are not many of them left now but they are really hovels. The Parliamentary Secretary and the Department should make arrangements with local authorities that, for instance, one house in every 100 or 1,000 would be available to Garda officers at subsidised rents. This would have the dual advantage of housing the Garda officer and his family and at the same time removing from the Department the necessity of building houses for Garda officers. The gardaí would be living amongst the people rather than living and working amongst themselves. There would thereby be less fear of and more respect for them.

On the subject of the heating in Leinster House I shall content myself by saying that I think it could be controlled better than it is because it is too hot all the time.

The Parliamentary Secretary said, in relation to item No. 6:

Under the general heading of Department of Finance a total of £467,500 is provided mainly for office accommodation for various Departments. More than half of the provision is for the new stamping branch for the Revenue Commissioners at Dublin Castle. Difficulties were encountered with foundation works, but despite this and the cement dispute progress is satisfactory and the project is expected to be completed on target in 1973.

I do not know whether he was being consciously or unconsciously humorous about difficulties encountered with the foundation works: I am sure there were.

Mention has been made of three State memorials—the Garden of Remembrance, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall and the Roger Casement Memorial in Glasnevin. The John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall is taking far too long to come into being. A committee was set up very shortly after the death of the late President of the United States—almost seven years ago. We are told now that the plans for this memorial hall are ready for invitation of tenders. I do not know the reason for the delay. It was postponed. This matter must be undertaken without delay for two reasons—(1) as a nation, we feel we should erect some memorial to this statesman and (2) our capital city needs a concert hall. It does not matter when we erect the memorial so long as the intention is there to do so but it is essential and urgent to erect a concert hall in Dublin city. No further delay should be tolerated if only for the very practical reason that building costs are going up 8 to 10 per cent every year so that the longer we wait the more it will cost.

The Parliamentary Secretary referred to the provision of public toilets at Torc, Muckross Abbey Gate and Muckross House. I appeal to him again to employ architects to design them to fit in with this area which is one of the most beautiful in Europe, and not just to put up four cement walls with "Mná" written at one end and "Fir" at the other. These things can be hidden away. I do not mean they should be out of sight, but they can be so designed that they will fit in with the natural amenities of the area. It is very important that we do not unconsciously desecrate these beauty spots by allowing buildings to be erected which are not in keeping with the area.

Killarney is one of the most beautiful parts of this country. The State has acted very wisely in regard to the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park. I should hate to see that standard whittled away where these toilets have to be erected. The fewer of these buildings that are put up the better. This place does not need any embellishment. It is a beautiful place. God did the work there and the Office of Public Works will not add anything to it. Where it is necessary to provide public toilets we should not encroach too much on these beauty spots.

I should like to congratulate the State on the national park at Gougane Barra. It is a great addition to the west Cork tourist industry. It shows what can be done in a very limited area by somebody with imagination and somebody with a clear eye for what can be done. This is a very beautiful drive and I would recommend any Deputy who gets as far as Macroom to take this drive. Indeed, I would recommend all Deputies to come south for their holidays.

Deputy Davern reminds me of the Rock of Cashel. Every time I come around the corner outside Littleton I see it standing there. It is floodlit at night. It would thrill you to see this magnificent rock.

It was Guinness who floodlit it not the Office of Public Works.

More power to Guinness. It is a marvellous job and a most thrilling sight. I have not been there now for about three years but I was very impressed with the condition in which it is kept and with the quality of the guides. I am told by visitors who went there last autumn that the guides are extremely pleasant and courteous and most informative. Are they relations?

Somebody had to appoint them and they did a good job.

I am told they are extremely good. As Deputy Davern knows, I have some interest in that place.

I am sure that in every constituency and in every parish there are little loughs on which there is wild fowl life, like the lough in the parish of St. Finbarr. It is very important that they should be preserved because apart from being of benefit to children and adults, they are tourist amenities. The Office of Public Works has, to some extent, slipped over into the field of tourism. There are local committees who would look after these amenities if they had even a small amount of money. The Office of Public Works should consider encouraging these committees by way of finance. This would be most welcome and it would help to preserve whatever wild life is in the area.

This office is responsible in relation to pollution. There are some natural wild fowl sanctuaries which are being polluted. Most rivers are polluted where they enter the sea. This is ruining another amenity. I do not know whether this comes under harbours or local government, but it must be kept in mind. I suppose three years ago nobody in this country had heard the word "pollution" and now it is on all our lips. I am glad that we have woken up to this problem and I hope it is not too late.

I should like to refer to a very topical point before I finish, that is, the Hume Street-St. Stephen's Green complex. St. Stephen's Green is another lovely little park. In weather like this the Office of Public Works could arrange to have outdoor art exhibitions there for the benefit of the citizens of Dublin. This would raise standards. The more you expose people to these standards the higher their standards become.

The preservation of buildings of historical interest and architectural worth is very important. There are so few of them left that it behoves all of us to spend some public money and some of our own private time on seeing that they are preserved. It is regrettable that people broke the law. As regards the Hume Street-St. Stephen's Green complex, possibly they have won their battle. I do not know. If people were so dedicated that they lived in a deserted house for six months, we should help them in every way to see that these buildings are not knocked down for the sake of providing bigger office accommodation. These are worthwhile things and they should be preserved.

Looking through this estimate I notice that £3 million has been provided for primary schools. The Parliamentary Secretary said the greater part of £3 million is required for primary schools and that the same will be provided for this year as for last year. We know that there is a great need for more and more classrooms in our primary schools, especially in the very big housing areas. I wonder if the amount provided is adequate. I also wonder if there is any close liaison between the Office of Public Works and the Department of Education with regard to the numbers who are in need of accommodation in these schools.

The Deputy will appreciate——

——that it comes under the Department of Education. I appreciate that. We are voting £3 million, the major part of which is required for the building of primary schools. The Parliamentary Secretary said:

A substantial part of the expenditure is incurred on providing large new schools to cater for extensive housing estates in the cities and towns.

I think I am entitled to comment on this. There is a need for more money to be provided for this very important work.

The Office of Public Works is a building agency so far as the Department of Education are concerned. The Department of Education must provide the moneys for this work.

The Office of Public Works undertake the work. I am surprised that only three schools were completed last year for mentally and physically handicapped children. There is a great need for these schools because there is such a waiting list. I had hoped that the Office of Public Works would have been able to do more than that in one year.

I come now to the question of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall. This has been talked about for a number of years. I am interested in the provision of £20,000 in this Estimate for consult-ants' fees. We have not had any up to date information about the John F. Kennedy Memorial. As far as I can remember houses were compulsorily acquired for this purpose but they were taken over by Dublin Corporation to provide housing accommodation for families.

I am surprised to see that only five new Garda stations are being provided in Dublin city, despite the increase in population and the vast new housing schemes which are being built, and seven are being provided in the provinces. I realise some of these building projects are held up by the cement strike but this has been going on and on without much progress being made.

That comes under the Department of Justice.

Is the Office of Public Works not responsible for these buildings?

It is only the building agency for the Department of Justice.

Marlborough House in Glasnevin comes under the control of the Office of Public Works. It is a very dangerous and formidable looking building supported by props. I would like to know what the Office of Public Works are going to do about it.

With regard to Hume Street I am pleased that the agents of destruction have withdrawn. We only have to go down Lower Fitzwilliam Street and look at the ESB building to see the result of this process of destruction. The ESB building is made all the more ugly by the adjoining gracious looking Georgian buildings. We should be ashamed of the new architecture being produced. The decision of the Government to intervene is another step in their policy of appeasement which became obvious during the past few weeks when they decided to meet the various pressure groups and agree to their demands. There was a public outcry about the proposed demolition of these buildings in Hume Street. Many people have learned from the example shown by those dedicated students. I trust a little more reason with regard to these houses will prevail in the Department of Local Government in the future. If a situation like this arises again I hope it will not have to reach the eleventh hour before the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance, as the case may be, is compelled to step in. From what I have heard, this matter may not be over and we may be having only a respite now.

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary about the need for providing a public golf course. We should not infringe on the Phoenix Park to provide this golf course; we should leave the Park as it is. I hate to see places such as the civil defence unit being established in the Park because the Park is for the public.

The Royal Hospital in Kilmainham comes under the aegis of the Office of Public Works. A few years ago I wrote to the Office of Public Works asking them what their plans were for the Royal Hospital. It is completely closed to the public and I do not see any mention of any money being provided for it. The Office of Public Works some years ago made a statement that rot had set in and that it was costing a lot of money. It is very difficult to see the hospital but from the glimpse I caught of it it seems a very nice building. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can give us some details about the hospital.

The public do not have access to many of the buildings under the aegis of the Office of Public Works. I wonder if it would be possible for these buildings to be opened on Sunday so that the public could visit them. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will give us his views about that suggestion.

There is an urgent need for a Garda station in Ballvfermot and I hope the Office of Public Works will expedite this matter.

The first item I want to mention is the Clogheen Garda station. I have written to the Department about it, and I have asked questions in the House about it but I have received no satisfaction to date. Recently a murder occured in Clogheen. Detectives came down from Dublin to investigate the matter and the people who gave statements and the suspect himself had to be interviewed in the sergeant's sittingroom at the barracks. As far as I know, the only accommodation availabale is one room with a table and two chairs in it and that room has to be used by the Gardaí.

That would seem to be a matter for the Department of Justice rather than for the Parliamentary Secretary.

The Parliamentary Secretary is in charge of the Office of Public Works and that Department is the building agency for the Department of Justice.

The Parliamentary Secretary carries out the work sanctioned by the Department of Justice, the Department of Education or the Department of Health. He has no responsibility for putting the work in hand until it is sanctioned by the various Departments.

I am referring to the men who investigate these matters when queries are raised.

If the work has been sanctioned the Deputy is in order in mentioning it.

While I know that most of the present Garda stations are old, probably dating back to RIC times before our own force was established, I think that in building new barracks more imagination in design could be used. The exterior of the present buildings often lacks paint and when redecoration is in progress surely some colours other than blue and white, which are recognised internationally, could be used. I do not know what material is used but it is like whitewash and it is completely inadequate and inferior.

Eight months ago sanction was given to add two classrooms to the original structure of Knockavilla school, Dundrum, Co. Tipperary. If it takes eight months to add two classrooms I should hate them to build something like the Ballyfermot complex of schools as we would be waiting until the year 2001. As far as I know, these classrooms are not yet up for tender. I was told in January that it would be two months before they would be up for tender. It is now June and we are still waiting. Meantime, conditions in the school are disgraceful; it is really time that a new school was built.

The school for mentally handicapped children at Cashel is a credit to the designer and to the efficiency of the Board of Works. I was disappointed that only three such schools were built last year because at present waiting lists for schools for the mentally handicapped are far too large. I trust that as soon as the Parliamentary Secretary has funds and sanction from the Departments concerned he will give priority to the building of such schools. This is one area in which we are very lacking.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that recreational facilities in schools will be considered. In the older schools gravel or concrete yards were provided and probably this was dictated by economic considerations. It appears to me that money controls design because ideas are confined by the amount of money available. I agree with Deputy Peter Barry in regard to younger architects. The most modern and advanced architecture must be employed because in ten years' time today's standards will probably be regarded as old-fashioned. I do not know how the Parliamentary Secretary operates but I think he could employ young designers, whether he uses Board of Works architects or individuals outside. He could perhaps have a competition or a panel of designers from whose designs he could make a selection.

Everybody has complained about the heating in Leinster House which should be controlled much better in wintertime. If the system was as successful in warm weather as it should be in cold weather we would not have anything to complain about at this time of year. There are many plaster cracks visible throughout the House which are probably due to the fact that they are waiting to finish the job but I think they could be looked after more effectively. It gives visitors a bad impression. This is the House of the Government and it should be in better condition. The Visitors' Bar is more like the inside of an institution. The walls are bare and white and the general atmosphere would drive one to drink. If there were even pictures on the walls it would help. I do not know if Deputy O'Connell goes there but if he does, and if he sat there on his own and studied the four bare walls he would understand what I mean. The bar space is very small and I do not know how the barmen work there. There are far more people in the Visitor's Bar than in the Members' Bar because there are naturally more visitors than Members. The seating is reasonably adequate but the Parliamentary Secretary should do something about the design.

The lifts are too slow in this House. As the Parliamentary Secretary is aware we nearly missed a Division because of them last night. Two more lifts could be added. If there are 20 Deputies on the fifth floor and also 20 on the second floor all wanting to get down in the lift they will miss a Division. I hope it will not be our side that will be caught in the lift when this happens. The Parliamentary Secretary should consider the installation of two more lifts, perhaps nearer the stairs where there is room.

The Kildare Street entrance badly needs cleaning and the Museum is in the same condition. I presume the Board of Works is also responsible for the GPO where a fine job was done recently and, as a result, the building looks much better. The same applies to the statues in O'Connell Street for which I think the Board of Works is also responsible. I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary should have this work done on the Kildare Street side of Leinster House.

As regards national monuments my pet subject is the Rock of Cashel. I should like to thank the Board of Works for everything they have done there in the past couple of years and particularly for appointing local guides this year rather than people from outside the area. I think they will get better service from people who have a local pride and personal interest in this magnificent monument. As far as I know, the Church of Ireland Representative Body own the Rock of Cashel and it is in trust to the Board of Works. The position about people trying to erect headstones or even curbs around graves presents a problem. People in the town who have graves there without headstones and who would like to erect them have complained that they have been told that they may have flat slabs only. Some of these graves are only four or five feet deep and less in some cases because of the rock base, and it will be be impossible to have the place levelled and put in proper cemetery condition unless they are allowed to erect small headstones and curbs. What they want is an area less than two square feet to put a name on, to ensure that the graves will be protected from people walking over them. There are flagstones all over that cemetery which the tourists walk on and, while it is not desirable, these people are long dead; they have no relatives left and it does not really hurt anybody personally, but it is wrong that newer graves should be walked on and that the Board of Works would not allow headstones or kerbs to be erected. This is a very personal and touching problem for many people and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to look into this matter personally.

I am glad to see that progress is being made in regard to the Roger Casement Memorial. I hope it will not take as long as his return. I trust the Office of Public Works will do their utmost to give this man a fitting monument in some way to compensate for the terrible and wrongful accusations that were made against him during his lifetime. I hope people will be consulted and their opinions sought about the design of this memorial.

It is to be hoped also that the most modern and advanced architecture will be used by the Board of Works for the preventative centres. These people must be treated according to their age and not like children. Neither should they be put behind bars. More glass and other such items would help to make young offenders feel they were being treated as responsible persons starting to rehabilitate themselves to a straight life.

I saw St. Enda's school some months ago and also more recently when it was handed over. The work around the grounds and in the school itself is a credit to the Board of Works. There is a great deal more to be done and I am sure this will be executed in due course.

I should like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary and the Board of Works for the tremendous co-operation and assistance they have given, and I feel sure they will take note of the many points that have been raised here. It is one of the branches of the Government service that listens to suggestions and indeed implements them if they are suitable.

I wish to speak about the Hume Street situation and in particular about the houses there which are under the control of the Office of Public Works and in respect of which the Office of Public Works has a function as regards their disposal should they no longer remain in Government hands. Up to a day or two ago I should have expressed myself on this subject in very strong terms. While I still think the record of political decision-making in the Board of Works by the Parliamentary Secretary of the period is not a good one and does not stand up to examination, my comments will be in a more muted tone in view of the remarkable intervention by the Minister for Finance in this affair in the last 48 hours, for which we owe him a great debt of gratitude. He acted with great promptitude, vigour and skill and succeeded in preventing further damage being done to the property there. He also succeeded in preventing a possible breach of the peace and of serious injury being done to people there. He succeeded in defusing the situation and has given hope that the area will be retained. Therefore in commenting on the record of the Board of Works in this respect I shall speak with much less emotion that I would otherwise have done.

However, I have some questions to ask the Parliamentary Secretary. I should like to retrace the history of one aspect of this matter which has not received the attention is deserves. I do not wish to go over the ground with which everyone is familiar, But I am concerned to trace the pattern of the relationship between the Office of Public Works and the Irish Society for Design and Craftwork. When the decision was taken originally to sell these buildings certain people applied for tender forms and tendered. Among the tenders submitted an 14th December, 1966, for an assignment of the lease in respect of 46 St. Stephen's Green was one from the Irish Society of Design and Craftwork. They tendered because the then Parliamentary Secretary, the late Deputy O'Malley, had said that the Government could not continue to carry the burden of maintaining these houses, that they were not suitable for civil servants, although some staff of the Department of Education were subsequently rehoused in one of these buildings.

This society submitted a tender offering to take over this responsibility, to guarantee the preservation of these buildings, and to relieve the State of all liability in connection with them. That tender of 14th December, 1966, was followed by a letter of 24th February, 1967, with enclosures, in which the society made it clear they would give an undertaking to comply with the requirements of the Dublin Corporation that the premises must not be demolished and that they would accept any provisions made to enforce this.

On 6th September, 1967, the Minister for Finance was informed by the society of their urgent need of a building for their headquarters and asked for a decision on this tender. A reply came on 11th December, 1967, in which it was stated by the Minister for Finance at that time, Deputy Haughey, that:

.... part of this house is occupied at the moment by some staff of the Department of Education. It is not therefore available for leasing at present. There are a number of unresolved problems affecting the future of both this house and the adjoining house of No. 1 Hume Street. Accordingly, it is not possible at this stage to accede to your request.

The tender therefore was left on one side. The next relevant development that I can trace in this matter is a statement by the Minister for Finance of 27th November last year in this House, and it is on this I want to rely in regard to the future pattern of events. He said:

I do not think it would be inconsistent with my responsibilities if I were to lean somewhat in favour of an offer for these premises which would have a social content as distinct from a purely commercial one.

Following that the society wrote to the Taoiseach on 9th January, 1970, recapitulating the events and referring to their tender and enclosing a copy of a letter of the previous day to the Office of Public Works setting out the reasons why their tender should be accepted and pointing out that the Government in doing so would at no cost whatever to public funds provide for an important cultural activity and also ensure the preservation of a corner of Hume Street. A letter was addressed on 4th March, 1970, to the Minister for Finance by the society seeking his sympathetic consideration of a request that the society should be granted a caretaker's lease or a lease of temporary convenience until 31st August, 1970, in connection with a request they had submitted previously which arose out of a conference here for which they wanted to have an opportunity of preparing. This was a biennial international congress of the World Crafts Council to be held in Dublin from 16th to 21st August, 1970.

This was acknowledged on 10th March by the Minister's secretary and after a further reminder was replied to in rather remarkable terms on a very significant date. On 28th April, 1970, a letter from the secretary to the Minister for Finance came in the following terms:

I am directed by the Minister for Finance, Mr. Charles J. Haughey, T.D., to refer to your recent request for the use of 46 St. Stephen's Green by your society until 31st August, 1970, under a caretaker's agreement or lease of temporary convenience.

actually it is "conveyance" that is there, but I think that is a mistake——

It is regretted that——

and the next three words are at least ironical and one could use other descriptions——

for security reasons it is not possible to accede to your request.

It is a very interesting letter coming from the Minister for Finance of that time. The House will recall the situation of that Minister on 28th April, how he stood poised in a situation in which his resignation was being sought and in connection with a matter in respect of which subsequently he was arrested.

That matter is sub judice.

I am merely stating facts. I am not making any allegations. The fact is he was under suspicion, according to the Taoiseach, in this matter and subsequently was arrested for it. Here the Minister, in that situation, addresses a society of 60 years' standing concerned with design and craftwork and says that he could not permit them to have the building in Hume Street for security reasons. One would be interested to know what kind of security reasons were in mind.

Since then the society have written to the Taoiseach, on the 10th June, recapitulating the position. They pointed out that the Government, in accepting their tender and making the premises available to the society, would do so at no cost to public funds and be availing of a unique opportunity to provide exhibition, meeting and library facilities for design and craftwork and also ensure the preservation of the corner of Hume Street which Dublin Corporation, An Taisce and other bodies regard as very important for the preservation of the architectural heritage of Dublin. They set out in detail the reasons for this in one of their letters: that the premises were eminently suitable for the society which would undertake the liabilities which the Government had incurred, pay the rent for which the Government are liable, give an enforceable undertaking not to allow the premises to be demolished, and that they would maintain the premises and the architectural character of the premises.

That is the present state of the play in this matter. I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister when the decision is taken to sell these premises—and that apparently will not be for at least six months, according to the Minister's statement—that the assurance given to the House by the former Minister for Finance, when he said it would not be inconsistent with his responsibility to lean somewhat in favour of an offer for these premises which would have a social content, as distinct from a purely commercial one, will be taken into account. The fact is that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have a choice to make. They can sell these premises for their speculative development value, subject to whatever limitations may be imposed on that by the conditions as to the preservation of the exterior of the premises. Alternatively, they can dispose of them in a manner that removes the burden on the Government to which Mr. O'Malley referred four years ago and do it in a manner which will ensure the preservation of the buildings and assist also the work of this society.

It seems to me that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have a duty not to attempt to make, for the benefit of the Exchequer, a speculative profit out of this; instead they have a duty to help to preserve the premises. The argument has been made, speciously, by a former Minister—one of the many former Ministers at the moment—that the Government and the corporation cannot take on at public expense the maintenance of large areas of Georgian Dublin at high cost. This argument is specious because I am not aware that anyone ever suggested to the Exchequer that they should incur any such expense either by continuing to keep in their possession houses which they find a burden, and for which they have not got a use, or by financing in any way the preservation of these houses. Although no such suggestion has ever been made, and although it has been repeatedly pointed out that no such suggestion was made, there was a tendency by a former Minister to keep stressing this fact, endeavouring to cloud the issue. There is no such suggestion here.

We are merely concerned that, if the Government feel these buildings are no longer of use to them and if they wish to be relieved of the burden involved in maintaining them, they should not feel it necessary or feel that in this House there is any expectation or wish that they should make a speculative profit out of them at the expense of the architectural character of the area, or indeed the social character of the area, because that is another factor on which I want to dwell.

In these circumstances the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister may find ways of disposing of the premises other than to this society. I do not suggest that the society have any prior claim, although they were first in the field in seeking to preserve it and in making the offer. I should like to point out that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary are in the position where, should they wish to secure the preservation of the building, there is no obstacle in their way. They cannot say, and I do not think they would wish to say, at this point, that they had to sell the premises to a particular development company or for development purposes because nobody else will look after them.

There is an offer now of four years' standing to take them over and look after them. If the Government are concerned that they should be maintained, and I believe the present Minister is deeply concerned that they should be preserved and has shown by his actions that he is, then the Government have a way open to them. The Government may find some other and better way. It may well be that the Government could get a better offer to take them over and maintain them in the present form without demolishing them, as the corporation have required, from some other source. If so the Government should take whatever is the best offer within the limits imposed by the need to maintain these buildings in accordance with the wishes of Dublin Corporation.

At any rate, we know there is one offer and that there will be no question of the buildings having to be sold for speculative purposes. The argument about the burden which the buildings impose on the Government is no longer valid. When the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary come to take the decision about selling the premises not alone should they insist on the maintenance of the character of these buildings, which seems to be the intent of the Minister's statement of the night before last, but they would act in accordance with the spirit of the statement made by the former Minister on the 27th November last, in leaning in favour of an offer for these premises which would have a social content as distinct from a purely commercial one. If there is an offer which will relieve the Government of all the financial burden in respect of these buildings, then that offer should be accepted. Indeed, I believe it will be because the Minister is concerned to secure a happy ending to this affair.

In the agreement reached the other night through the Minister's efforts it was agreed that in any development plans put forward by the Green Property Company for the properties they own, or any other properties in the area for which they wish to put in development proposals whether they own them or not, such proposals should be submitted to a committee of the Dublin Corporation and the Department of Local Government whose requirements as regards the maintenance of the facade and of the appearance of those buildings would have to be adhered to before any proposal of this kind would be submitted for planning approval. We have the situation now where there is a stage operation: the committee have to approve of the facade and only after that is done will the proposal go for planning approval, at which point of course objections on those or other grounds may be made by anyone who has an interest in the matter.

In regard to the present facade it appears from the statement that it will be open to the committee to say that the present exterior should be preserved and if in any instance, and there may be such instances, there is a defect in the present facade the facade will be taken down and reconstructed, using the existing bricks. Personally I hope that this committee will, in pursuance of the corporation's attitude, which is that the building should not be demolished, insist that the facade should not be demolished except where this is necessary for reasons of safety, if this should arise, or to ensure that the building will have a longer life in future. In any case where part of the facade has to be removed it should be insisted that it be replaced by using existing materials, which I think are in perfectly good condition. This would be the proper answer and would be in keeping with the corporation's decisions in the matter.

When that has been done the project will be submitted for planning approval and at that stage objections may be made. I presume that the facade issue would have been settled at that point and that objections would be primarily concerned with the interior of the building. The building which the students occupied and restored contains many notable features; they have restored and painted most effectively one of the ceilings which appears to me to be a work of art.

The case for maintaining a residential element is strong. The social aspect of Dublin has been eroded by purely commercial pressures which are eliminating residential living in the city, leaving it a dead area at night so that it ceases to be a community. One can see this very clearly if one moves from one area to another. Last night I walked by Pembroke Street and Lower Baggot Street and found it was a hive of activity. It was not just that people were going into restaurants but they were living in the area, thereby making it a real community. Seeing this activity I thought if I ever had occasion to move from my present house this is the area in which I would choose to live.

However, in the areas which have been converted into office blocks there is no such activity. Once 6 p.m. comes the area is dead and its whole character is changed. We must ensure that the centre of Dublin does not gradually die, that it is not extinguished by the activities of developers who are only interested in making a profit. This will require that in any planning permissions given for development if office accommodation is being provided there must also be a requirement that part of the area will be available for residential purposes. I hope when these houses are sold by the Government the planning permission will have this requirement attached to it. Indeed, it would be proper for the Minister to make conditions of this kind in connection with the sale.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what happened to the tenders and are they still valid? Is it a case that the tenders which were submitted are being held for action at the point where the buildings will come to be disposed of, or are the tenders now dead and, if so, can we be told about them? If the tenders are still valid, will the buildings be sold on the basis of the tenders, subject to any conditions the Minister may like to impose and subject to taking a decision in the context of the statement of the former Minister for Finance on 27th November, 1969?

I do not wish to press a difficult question at this stage but this is an answer we are entitled to get. Why did the Office of Public Works not object to the application for planning permission originally made? One can apply for planning permission in respect of buildings one does not own but if the owner of the property objects the planning permission cannot be given. This was established in a recent case and was accepted by the inspector in charge of the inquiry. Therefore, why did the Office of Public Works not object, in accordance with that procedure, to this impertinent proposal to develop an area, including Government offices, which the property company concerned did not own? The correct procedure would have been to object to this so that the attempt to erode the character of the area, contrary to the wishes of Dublin Corporation, would be prevented.

In fact, the Office of Public Works did not act. Was this a neglect of their duty to the public or was it a political decision? At this point I have no wish to recriminate over the past because I think with the new Minister we are making a fresh start but we are entitled to some information about this peculiar non-event, the objection that was not made by the Office of Public Works to planning permission at that time.

We now know that the external facade of the buildings which have been the centre of controversy for some time past will be preserved. It is to be hoped that the interior features where they are worthwhile will be saved but that has yet to be settled. All this is due to the activities of many people. The society I have mentioned did their best from 1966 onwards; perhaps An Taisce did not act as quickly as they might have done but they have done their best to retrieve their mistake by working day and night to save this part of Dublin. The Dublin civic group have been active as have many other groups and individuals. It has been remarkable to see the extraordinary gathering of distinguished people who have come to Hume Street in recent times to give their moral support to an activity in which, in the ordinary way, people of distinction would be reluctant to be involved. Even though the action taken was outside the normal method of achieving such an end people were prepared to associate themselves with it.

However, the primary responsibility for saving the buildings, without which it could not have happened, was the action of the students concerned. My colleague, Deputy Barry, when making this point referred to acting against the law. Another collegue said the students acted outside the law. I should like to make a point which I think is important. The students did not so act against or outside the law: they acted in a manner which involved a potential civil offence, not a criminal offence.

May I recall in another field an action which I consider perfectly legitimate although it was a civil offence? When the late Mr. Gladstone was slandered by somebody after his death his family had the difficulty that slander is not actionable when the person so slandered is dead. In order to clear his name they adopted the device of slandering the slanderer. He was, in fact, referred to by Mr. Gladstone's son as "an unmitigated scoundrel". Incidentally, it is interesting that these words were recently echoed in a certain statement, perhaps deliberately, because in the Gladstone case they had a particular effect——

Is it the law that slander directed against a deceased person is not actionable?

Yes. However, you can slander the slanderer and try to force him to sue you for slander. By proving that what he said about the deceased person is untrue you can clear yourself of the slander of which you are accused. In acting in that way you are guilty of a civil infringement and doing something for which you can be sued. I do not accept that Mr. Gladstone's son by his action was acting against or outside the law; he was using the law for a legitimate purpose. He was committing a civil infringement because he was prepared to be sued in the civil courts for his action as he wished to achieve a certain objective. To my mind, that is a perfectly permissible procedure in certain circumstances.

The action the students took was an act of trespass—an offence committed by everybody in this country. Is there one Deputy from rural Ireland who does not every day, when he is in the country, commit an act of trespass by walking across somebody's land without the owner's explicit permission? Tresspass is the commonest of civil offences and trespass is, in fact, only an offence if those on whose property one is trespassing object to the trespass and take appropriate action to stop it. If I am in the country and I walk across someone's land and the owner does not object to my doing so, then that is all right; but if, he tells me to stop and issues a civil——

There must be a notice.

If there is a warning notice—actually I do not think such a notice has any legal effect, or so I have been told—and if the owner objects he has a course of action open to him and he can take action and get damages if damage has been done to his property.

The Deputy is welcome to walk across my property any time.

I am grateful. In a sense this is true also of the Green Property Company because for six months they took no action of any kind against these so-called trespassers. It was open to them to take civil action and they did not do so.

Is the Deputy in favour of trespass?

No. Trespass is something people may technically commit if they go into property without explicit permission. In fact, it is only an offence if the owner of the property notifies the trespasser that he is trespassing and takes appropriate action.

If someone occupies the Deputy's house tomorrow he will be in favour of that?

No, certainly not. I shall develop that particular point.

Any man who is brought up in court is summoned for trespassing.

That is a wider issue. It goes a little beyond the debate on the Estimate for the Office of Public Works. To come back to the point I was making, there is no crime committed against the law so the students have not acted outside the law. This is a peculiar use of the word "law", in my opinion. The people involved did not consider it apparently an appropriate offence in regard to which to take action; in fact they were very pleased at one time that the students were there because they kept out squatters.

Then I can occupy the Deputy's house tomorrow?

The Deputy will be very welcome as a guest but not as a squatter and, if he did occupy my house, I would take civil action to have him removed; if he remained on he would be committing an offence.

I was very anxious to know and I am glad the Deputy does not support the breaking of the law and disorder.

On the contrary.

If Deputy Esmonde had been listening to the argument he would realise that Deputy FitzGerald is not advocating that at all.

I would condemn absolutely any attempt to disturb the peace, any breach of law or order, any provocation. I would condemn any squatting in people's houses in order to get priority for housing purposes, or any action of that kind. Such action is objectionable. I make the point in regard to this particular matter that the action taken was potentially a civil offence. In fact, it never became a civil offence because no action was taken against these students. It was not a crime. It produced a most desirable result and the example given by these students could provide a precedent for any action that may have to be taken against those who would try to keep others out of their own houses. That would be a most undesirable offence. To occupy empty buildings to prevent them being demolished, in pursuit of a disgraceful action by a Minister in overturning a decision of Dublin Corporation, and doing no harm to anybody except holding the company up until other action could be taken to prevent demolition was quite legitimate in the circumstances. I do not extend the argument beyond that.

I do not care for other forms of activity. Having been close to these students throughout this period—they are in my constituency and I visited them to see what they were doing and if they were acting responsibly—I found them the most responsible group I certainly have had to deal with for years past. Every single decision was taken after careful unemotional discussion amongst themselves. Every action was constructive. The work they did was designed to repair and restore the house. They spent weeks during which they had to keep out undesirable people and go through the mental agony of refusing admission to a family who had nowhere to go and who had to spend the night on the street in most inclement weather. They had to face— these young people of 19 and 20—the appalling position of preventing destruction or any suggestion of squatting or association with illegal activities of any kind. They had to face the appalling decision of turning people away. You can imagine what it cost them with their great social consciences. They had to out-argue all kinds of people who urged on them forcible or violent action of various kinds. They argued their case. They never used force against anybody and they managed to persuade everybody who came in, and acted wrongfully, to leave. The example they gave is an example from which public authorities could learn something. They have achieved their objective and they deserve great credit.

I am glad Deputy Esmonde gave me the opportunity to assert that there is no precedent here for squatting in other people's houses, jumping queues, or causing civil disorder. All these are things we must deal with firmly, but always with minimum force. In this instance there was a particular objective and the action taken was appropriate. The people concerned deserve great credit for it. No criminal act was committed. They went to great trouble at all times to act properly within the context of the act of trespass involved had the owners wished to take action against them which, in fact, they did not.

I am relieved to know the Deputy supports law and order.

I do, and I think the Deputy knew that all along, but he was right to seek to clarify the position.

I have always been an upholder of private property myself and I am glad to know the Deputy is the same.

I am an upholder of both the rights and the duties of private property.

I hope Fine Gael are not having a row.

It has not spread over here yet.

Actually we say it spread from there over here.

That is all I want to say on this particular issue.

An excellent contribution.

I wanted to air the matter and clear it up. I congratulate the Minister on the action he took and I urge him now, when he has to take a decision about selling the buildings, to make sure, as he has already arranged, that the buildings are sold only on condition that the facades are preserved and that he will take the line taken by his predecessor in this respect —it is only fair to give credit to his predecessor in this—and ensure that the houses are used for a social purpose as distinct from a purely commercial one. If that can be achieved then this is an unqualified victory for the citizens of Dublin and people generally will be deeply grateful.

There is only one other point. In a speech last night I made a statement which was correct at the time I made it but was later vitiated by a change of heart: I stated that the Honourable Desmond Guinness was prepared to put a cover on the house to prevent further deterioration and that that offer had been accepted by the Green Property Company. This was due to the intervention of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance. It is stated in this morning's paper, and I believe it to be true, that subsequent to representations the Green Property Company changed their minds and I think they have refused to allow this generous action to be taken.

I trust this is simply a momentary aberration and that there is no question of their trying to undermine the agreement reached by any attempt to make it necessary to demolish the houses merely by allowing them to deteriorate to a point at which they become dangerous. If there is any attempt to evade the agreement in that way then the Minister for Finance can properly reopen negotiations with them and I believe that, in those circumstances, he will do so. I think the Green Property Company could concern itself with the spirit as well as with the letter of the agreement and not leave itself open to criticism on this particular point. I hope they will today agree to accept this offer and have a temporary covering put on so that the property will not deteriorate further. The deliberations of the committee and planning procedure will take some months. During those months there could be very heavy rain which could damage the structure to such a degree that, not alone would the interior be destroyed but the exterior might well become so damaged as to call for demolition. That would be clearly a breach of the agreement. I trust that will not happen. I trust the Minister will take further action to ensure that the assurance given yesterday will not be repudiated but will be acted on at once before there is any break in the fine weather we have at the moment.

I wish to pay tribute to the Commissioners of Public Works, with whom I have had many dealings down through the years, for their unfailing courtesy and consideration. They have always done their job most conscientiously, no matter what Government was in office. I cannot mention his name in this House but I understand that one of the senior commissioners will be retiring soon. I had a lot to do with him over the years and I should like to say that he is leaving with the goodwill of every Member of this House for his courtesy and help in the many problems which public men have from time to time.

I wish to pay a tribute also to the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lemass, who is a young man and is a short time in charge of this important Office. He has been most helpful to me and I am sure to other Deputies also.

The Office of Public Works is a vast organisation with widespread ramifications throughout every area of the country. I feel that this important Office is not getting the recognition it should get and that it should be a special Department with a Minister in charge of it.

Let me deal now with coast erosion; I shall deal with harbours later. Believe it or not, part of my constituency in north Dublin is being washed away. There are stretches in that area along the coast without rocks and gradually the sand is being washed away. I wish to thank the Parliamentary Secretary and the Commissioners of Public Works and their engineers for the inspection of the area of Portrane where the position has been exceptionally bad for the past ten or 12 years. If the coast is eaten away to a depth of another 100 yards it will clear away hundreds of residences there of one type or another. We have a large amount of summer residences there— all kinds of everything.

The erosion at the North Strand, Skerries, is very bad. Dublin County Council were forced to take action some time ago in this matter. We were all delighted with the legislation piloted through this Parliament by the late Donogh O'Malley when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and expect great progress under it. The sad fact has emerged that the Office of Public Works are not getting enough money to cope with this problem. I got a special subhead for coast erosion inserted into the Dublin County Council estimates. The resources of the State would not be sufficient to cope with this dire national problem but it could be dealt with in phases. If we do not press this urgent matter very strongly then the legislation will be utterly useless.

My fear is that coast erosion is being put on the long finger. I realise there are many important national problems but surely the insidious and relentless washing away of the national territory is something that should concern us all. Suppose each county council, in its turn, was prepared to devote, say, £5,000 a year towards the arresting of coast erosion in its area, surely the Office of Public Works could also provide some financial help. By phasing the work over a number of years, it should be possible to tackle this national problem effectively. That is one reason why I should like to see a Minister in charge of this Office. When the national cake is being divided, he would be in a position to make a strong claim for a slice of it for this very necessary work.

It is unfortunate that County Dublin has not benefited as a result of the legislation piloted by the late Donogh O'Malley to deal with coast erosion. We had to do the job in Skerries ourselves. A previous Parliamentary Secretary said that this job would be finished and that Dublin County Council would get back some of the money we had to spend in this connection but we did not get back even a shilling. Houses were undermined in Skerries and we had to undertake emergency work ourselves but we did not get back one shilling. We got approval all right from the Office of Public Works but what use is approval without money to put the work into effect? Let each area look after itself in the way I have suggested.

Some years ago, we got a supplementary grant for work in the Donabate/Portrane area where the road was being affected. It was decided to put down steel piling which proved a wonderful job. It was put down for about 4,000 yards and the coast erosion there was stopped and land was actually reclaimed. Further down along the coast, however, the position is really bad. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to see to it that an effort is made to deal with it in the immediate future. When the Estimate comes up at the end of the year I hope to see a certain amount of money provided in it. In Wicklow and Wexford and various other places they are dealing with it themselves. I am dealing strictly with coast erosion in County Dublin. I have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction over any other area at the moment and I do not presume to acquire it.

I come now to harbours. I am grateful to the Office of Public Works and to the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, for starting work on Skerries harbour. We are held up now because of the cement strike. I hope commonsense will prevail and that the strike will be ended. If the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is in Dublin at the time we would be delighted to see him at Skerries harbour when the work is finished. We will entertain him there. We are doing a good job. We have gone out about 200 feet. It was a pleasure to see the boats there yesterday. They came in at low tide with fish. The other day I was at a funeral in Skerries and I went over to the harbour to see what was going on and to see the boats lying there at low tide. That is a great advantage. Previously they would have to stay out for three or four hours longer. I am very pleased about this and I want to thank all concerned.

We have intermediate arterial drainage schemes in north Dublin. Two intermediate rivers have been drained saving hundreds of acres of land and a number of families from being flooded out. In my estimation, the Ballyboughal river is responsible for the flooding of hundreds of acres of land. It is causing grave inconvenience. Its source is in the north west of County Dublin very near Garristown. It causes an immense amount of trouble, especially during rainy seasons. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary and the commissioners to carry out a survey of that river. It is called the Ballyboughal River, but I do not know whether it has any other name. It goes through Ballyboughal and comes from near Garristown. It may have some historic name. We must try to help the people whose homes are being flooded and especially the people in the Roscaul-Ballybough area. I have been pressing for this for quite a long time.

With regard to Garda stations, I know the Office of Public Works will do their job. The Department of Justice will have to provide the money. I should like to see all Garda stations modernised. Times have changed and we should change with the times. Most of them are just barracks. I should like to see the ordinary facilities provided in all Garda stations, facilities such as bathrooms and proper toilets. I do not like to see gloomy buildings. The architectural design of some of the modern Garda stations is very good. There are very good architects in the Office of Public Works. I had the pleasure of dealing with them in connection with schools. Some of the old Garda stations could definitely be modernised. Even the people who have council cottages—good luck to him or her as the case may be—want to modernise their homes through grants and with, economic prosperity, to improve their places. We should give a lead in these matters.

The Office of Public Works have no authority to deal with the old courthouses. Some of them are used by councils as offices. A number of old courthouses all over the country are most dismal looking. Their architectural beauty is nil. They are a relic of the old penal days. I do not like them at all. We should also move with the times in this connection.

I raised the question of St. Patrick's Island off Skerries before. Tradition tells us that St. Patrick landed there and stayed on the island. I had a paper at one time in north Dublin known as the Fingal Fingerpost. For many years I studied the history of north Dublin. Fingal, the land of the fair stranger, was first invaded in the seventh century and the monasteries were pillaged in Lambay and Ireland's Eye. No war is fought in which a soldier does not survive. Thirty years ago I picked out some of the great traditional story-tellers of north Dublin. Between doing research here and in the National Library I got conclusive proof that St. Patrick did land on St. Patrick's Island.

I should like to see that small island treated as a national monument. It is only a small island and there is a small building on it. I believe it is part of our Christian heritage. I might be asked why I do not want Croaghpatrick declared a national monument but the people of Ireland have declared it themselves because they go there often. St. Patrick's Island is a keypoint. I should like to see it preserved for posterity. At one time the Hippies wanted to take it over. I went to a protest meeting in Skerries at which there were about 500 or 600 people. We dealt with that end of it. In our time that island should be preserved as one of the great national monuments. It is part and parcel of our heritage. I know it takes money to do these things. I should like to see the Office of Public Works buying it and keeping it as national property. I want to compliment the Office of Public Works on the job they are doing in relation to national monuments. Long before the Hippies thought of coming to St. Patrick's Island I was interested in seeing that it was preserved as a national monument.

The work carried out by the Office of Public Works for the preservation of our national monuments is a source of pride and pleasure to all of us. A country without a history is a country lacking in something. My colleague, Deputy Kenny, who is opposition spokesman on this matter, made a very fine speech here this morning during which he spoke about the possibility of producing a history book on all our national monuments. It is a great thing for tourists arriving in a country to be able to buy a book about the history of that country. I realise that the publication of such a book would be a huge task but I feel sure Bord Fáilte and the various organisations interested in the preservation of our national monuments would help. I realise that not every detail could be written up but the details of important monuments in each county could be included.

When the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and I were in Strasbourg a few years ago we always found it interesting to hear the French talking about the various phases of their history. We were shown round historical places by people who knew the history of the area. Of course, this did not happen every day because most of the time we spent doing our work as parliamentarians. A few years ago Bord Fáilte compiled a history of various interesting places. I had a hand in compiling the history of north Dublin. I should like to see a complete history of our national monuments published. It may be apt to quote the old line about the chieftain: Can he now behold his lordly tower a shepherd's pen?

We are all proud of our national parks. People come from all over the world to enjoy the Phoenix Park. I should like to see more parks provided.

During the 27 years I have been a Member of this House we have made tremendous progress in providing schools. There is no excuse for a bad school in any part of the country today. As far as the county of Dublin is concerned I want to pay tribute to the Office of Public Works, the Department of Education and the ecclesiastical authorities for all the help they have given. I know assembly halls cost a lot of money, especially in a big school where there may be 1,100 or 1,200 pupils, but it is a wonderful thing to be able to bring the whole should together under one roof. I should like to see more assembly halls being built.

The Office of Public Works affects the lives of all of us. They deal with harbours, roads, drainage, national monuments, schools, Garda stations and even Leinster House. I should like the Office of Public Works to provide more up-to-date furniture in the visitors' lounge in this House. We have to bring diplomats from other countries into the lounge and I do not feel the present furniture is a tribute to this national Assembly. I do not know who would be responsible for this but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to make a note about it. I have raised the matter before but nothing has been done about it.

I want to end on the same note on which I began by saying that I feel it is time this important Government Office was raised to the standard of a Ministry. I should like to thank the Chair for its courtesy and thank all those concerned with this office for the work they have done.

One of the matters which I want to raise is connected very closely with the Department of Local Government and that is the question of drainage. I feel the Office of Public Works would be better able to carry out this work. This matter is dealt with in the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1949. That Act enabled the Department to give grants to county councils for drainage. The Act no longer operates and instead there is a scheme under which drainage is carried out by the farmers who must contribute to the cost of the work themselves. Thousands of acres of land require immediate drainage. It would transform completely unproductive and unprofitable land into productive and profitable land. It is an urgent matter with which the Board of Works should be competent to deal. If we go into the EEC, as I believe we shall, agriculture will help the country through a period when industries may have difficulties. It may take them some time to adapt to free trade conditions. I am certain our industries will not only encounter difficulties but will overcome them and that we shall make progress in the future but in the interim agriculture will provide the economy with a necessary boost. Because of the importance of agriculture it is vital to have as much land as possible made productive.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Department of Local Government, to which he rightly referred, is the Department which deals with local improvement schemes which cover drainage and so on and the Office of Public Works have no responsibility beyond arterial drainage or intermediate drainage.

In view of the importance of the matter and the fact that I believe this matter should come under the Board of Works, would one not be entitled to make the case that I am making?

It would require legislation to transfer such a function and the Deputy may not advocate legislation on an Estimate.

In that case I shall just say that I am of opinion that some steps should be taken by the Parliamentary Secretary to discuss this matter with the Departments of Local Government and Finance to see if grants can be made available to county councils to carry out drainage. The scheme initiated in 1949 was very successful and was responsible for the reclamation of some excellent land.

The Chair does not wish to interrupt the Deputy but wishes he would not pursue this line of argument as it would be out of order.

The drainage of the River Shannon has been a platform in many political campaigns and has been studied for many years by various bodies. It would be of great benefit to the people if some improvements were carried out in regard to drainage of the Shannon which passes through a large slice of my constituency. It affects so many counties that if it were properly drained it would be of great assistance to many farmers in the surrounding areas.

In the western part of Offaly many farmers are flooded out every year if the Shannon overflows and these farmers have suffered severely. We tend to forget that at this time of year but I have passed through west Offaly and I have seen the plight and predicament in which these people find themselves when the river overflows. If a complete drainage scheme cannot be carried out, the people in west Offaly and Galway who are particularly affected should get special attention.

In regard to Hume Street which has engaged national attention, as somebody not particularly interested in architecture but with the views of an ordinary person who has made on intensive study of the matter, I recognise that in regard to Hume Street, parts of Fitzwilliam Square and Fitzwilliam Street——

It is in order to refer to Government property, property for which the Board of Works are responsible at present in Hume Street, but anything else would be a matter for the Department of Local Government.

When considering houses such as those that are the subject matter of the present controversy we must remember the value of such houses from an historical and architectural point of view and at the same time we must think of the future and we must not impede progress. We must make progress without forgetting historical values. The loss of such buildings must be weighed against the progress achieved by their removal.

We must consider if these buildings are replaced how it will affect the whole area. The Stephen's Green buildings have some beauty and if we allow them to go we shall see other buildings, perhaps, in Fitzwilliam Square or Fitzwilliam Street, being torn down and lost to the city, and this city would be all the poorer for that. There has been a great deal of excellent development in this city and throughout the country. Looking at parts of O'Connell Street——

An Leas-Cheann Comharile

The Deputy is getting completely away from the responsibility of the Office of Public Works. This would be a matter of planning which would be the responsibility of the Department of Local Government.

I have called up to Stephen's Green and have seen the people in these buildings. I know a few of them and I admire their courage and their generosity in giving up their time to preserve these buildings. I do not believe they have done this for unworthy reasons but because they believe what they are doing is correct. I should also like to compliment An Taisce who have played a great part in this matter. In speaking on the Estimate for Industry and Commerce the other evening I referred to an attack on An Taisce and on the Guinnesses as belted earls by the then Minister for Local Government, Deputy Kevin Boland.

The Deputy is again becoming irrelevant in regard to the Vote before the House.

An Taisce has been dealing with the buildings in Hume Street and I do not think it is out of order to make these remarks.

The buildings to which the Deputy now refers are not Government property but private buildings.

Is the principle not the same?

The Office of Public Works have responsibility for certain buildings. The Department of Local Government have responsibility for planning, demolition and so on. We cannot so widen the debate as to deal with these issues.

On a point of order. The previous speaker, Deputy FitzGerald, when the Ceann Comhairle was here, dealt at length with the Hume Street situation and it was accepted by the Ceann Comhairle.

That is why I thought it was in order to deal with it.

Matters can only be judged as the occupant of the Chair sees them. As far as the present occupant of the Chair is concerned, the Office of Public Works have responsibility for Government property. If the Deputy keeps the discussion to the Government property in Hume Street for which the Office of Public Works have responsibility the Chair will not intervene. However, the Chair cannot allow the debate to be widened to deal with demolition and other matters which are the responsibility of the Department of Local Government.

I find it hard to agree with that ruling, Sir, and I believe I would be correct in pursuing this point. An Taisce and all such bodies deal with buildings and the Board of Works have some say in the type of buildings that will replace buildings to be demolished.

Perhaps, the Deputy misunderstands the Chair's instructions in this matter. The Government property on the opposite side of Hume Street is contiguous to the buildings of which the Deputy is speaking. The buildings to which he is referring are private property for which the Office of Public Works have no responsibility. In so far as that is the case, the Chair cannot allow a discussion on them.

Again on a point of order. The Board of Works have responsibility for coast erosion, and the land belongs to people along the coast. The Board of Works, while they have responsibility for coast erosion, do not own all the coast.

The Deputy will recall there was a Bill passed in this House which dealt with coast erosion and which placed responsibility on the Office of Public Works to do that work.

It did not place ownership on them.

But it placed responsibility on them to carry out works to prevent coast erosion.

Have the Board of Works no responsibility in regard to buildings?

They are responsible for their own buildings but not for private buildings.

All right. I shall abide by your ruling. But let me say that the attack made on the Guinness family was completely unjustified. They are excellent employers and have taken a great interest in architecture and other matters of benefit to the community and I should like to compliment them on that. They have ploughed back into the country a large proportion of their profits which other companies might not have ploughed back. Could I inquire if pollution comes under the Board of Works?

The Office of Public Works have responsibility for harbour works, arterial drainage and so on. If the Deputy can relate pollution to these matters he will be in order.

Everyone is taking a great interest in this matter at the moment. I have spoken on it at different times and it is a subject which requires close study. I realise that the heads of quite a number of Government Departments are studying the problem of pollution and I presume there is a representative from the Board of Works on this body. As it affects our harbours, our rivers and our drainage it is one of the major problems facing us. It is a problem which is not going to lessen but one which will increase and will be continually with us particularly in view of our growing population. It is a problem in which the Board of Works should take an increasing interest. It would be advisable if a commission, working in conjunction with other Departments, was set up to study the problem. The Office of Public Works could play a large part in helping such a commission in their studies. The Parliamentary Secretary should recommend to the Government that such a commission be set up.

Since last February, or thereabouts, a commission has been studying this problem in Britain. I do not know if we are in touch with this commission but in view of our proximity to Britain and the similarity of our problem any results produced by that commission should be of great interest to us here and for that reason the Government should get in touch with it. This is a world-wide problem. It is not confined to Ireland, England or France, but is common the world over because of increasing populations, increasing industrialisation and mechanisation. It is something in respect of which we would require to be geared for action because it is a problem which will affect us for years to come.

My last point is in regard to the National Library. I understand steps are being taken to improve the library, to provide space for filing books and manuscripts and so on. As one who as a students availed of the facilities of the National Library frequently, I should like to pay tribute to the staff for their co-operation and help and also pay tribute to them for the interest they take in literature and the arts. At present the staff are working under a strain particularly in regard to the filing of books and papers which I believe is a long way behind.

As Deputy Kenny mentioned, it seems to be fashionable to decry the Board of Works. This has been handed down for years. The general impression is that the board are some kind of second-class body. They try to be servants of so many Departments that it is difficult for them to escape criticism. They are essentially an agency department providing constructional work for other Departments. Under these difficulties the board have given a worthwhile service. I do not see why criticism should be levelled against them. The board cover a huge field of operations, in many cases with an inadequate staff. They have to service every Department and are open to criticism from them. If the Department of Education are not getting what they require promptly they criticise the board. Similarly with the Department of Justice and other Departments. Obviously, over the years a Department which has to work on an agency basis will eventually bear the brunt of accumulated criticism. That criticism seems to have come even into the Devlin Report which almost suggests that the board should be abolished.

I am not in a position to pass judgment on these matters but, as one sees from the Estimate, there is provision for constructional work to be done for the Oireachtas, the Department of the Taoiseach as well as for the Departments of Finance, Justice, Education, Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour, Posts and Telegraphs and Social Welfare. In fact, every other Department looks to the board to do its construction work and provide buildings. As far as State and semi-State organisations are concerned, local authority housing, post-primary schools, hospitals and airports are exempt. Apart from these the greater part of the construction field is covered by the Office of Public Works. This is a tremendous responsibility and it is possible that during the years with this overload of work there has not been sufficient time to carry out the necessary internal reorganisation that Office may need to make it a more effective instrument to meet the varied calls made on it.

Let us assume that the opposite situation obtained and that we had in our Departments a system whereby every Department would provide their own building requirements: the Department of Education to build schools; the Department of Justice to provide courthouses and Garda barracks and so on. If a commission were set up to report on the Departments, would they regard this situation as ridiculous and say "Why should various Departments of State all set up what is essentially an engineering organisation? As this is all constructional work, would it not be more logical to rationalise it and to have one Department dealing with construction?" Recommendations might be made that the proper thing to do would be to have one Department dealing with construction so that all engineering skills and research could be co-ordinated.

Basically, this is the pattern which we have in the Office of Public Works, although it may not have been developed and brought up-to-date. As a line of argument, I put it to the House that if the Office of Public Works did not exist some people would insist that its establishment was essential. The Devlin Report proceeded to criticise the Office of Public Works; they did not say what could be done to improve it but practically said that it should be abolished. They suggested that the Department of Education should build schools although a suggestion was not made about what should be done in regard to schools for post-primary pupils.

There must be considerable room here for discussion and argument. The notion seems to have got abroad that everything in the Devlin Report must be right and when the Government say that it is accepted in principle people jump to the conclusion that every line and chapter of the report is correct. There is a tacit assumption that the Office of Public Works as a department of State is on the way out. When Deputy Kenny was referring to the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lemass, he said that perhaps next year Deputy Lemass might be speaking as the head of another Department. Apparently on the basis of the Devlin Report he was inferring that the Board of Works would cease to exist and would be amalgamated with another Department.

Many recommendations of the Devlin Report are good but those in regard to the Office of Public Works are so far-reaching that one examines them with a degree of hesitation. In that respect I regret that the Parliamentary Secretary did not speak more comprehensively on the administrative and structural improvements that have taken place in the Office of Public Works in the last few years. A good opportunity was available to make a case for his Office but this was not done.

The final recommendations of the Devlin Report in respect of this Office deal with existing functions and suggest that they be distributed among five Departments. On page 415 it is stated:

We recommend that many of the present functions of the Office of Public Works should be distributed among other Departments and that the remaining functions of the Office should be concentrated in the new Central Procurement Office of the Public Service Department.

It further states that arterial drainage, marine work, Shannon navigation, schools work, parks and national monuments and the maintenance of Government buildings should all be transferred elsewhere. If that is all done we will have a very attenuated Office of Public Works, if it is left in existence at all.

I agree that one of these matters might be left outside the field of the Office of Public Works, namely the navigation of the Shannon. In the Minister's statement it appears that he intends to produce an official navigation handbook to be published before the 1971 season opens. I submit this is a field of activity that might more properly be left to Bord Fáilte. The Office of Public Works is an enormous department, spending £20 million each year, and it could surely leave the drafting of a handbook for boat-hiring on the Shannon to Bord Fáilte. It is a worthwhile exercise but one that could be undertaken by a tourist organisation rather than by a construction body working on an agency basis for various other Departments of State.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.