Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meath Estate.

23.

asked the Minister for Lands why estates in the possession of the Land Commission in County Meath for a considerable period have not been divided this year.

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to his question on 11th June last regarding the average time between takeover of an estate and its division. As I indicated then, there are many considerations which must be taken into account in deciding how soon lands can be divided; the date of possession of an estate is not always the determining factor.

Where acquired land is intended for locals, it is divided as soon as possible after possession is obtained. In the case of lands destined for migrants, buildings must be erected and other necessary improvements works carried out before division. In this connection I would mention that such operations this year were seriously affected by the cement strike.

The speedy allocation of lands on hands — in County Meath as elsewhere — is high on the Land Commission's list of priorities but the Deputy will appreciate that circumstances do not always permit of the disposal of lands as quickly as would be wished. I might add that an aggregate of some 6,500 acres has been allotted in County Meath over the past three years.

Would the Minister not consider that it is rather unreasonable that farms which were taken over in County Meath over three years ago are still in the possession of the Land Commission, who are setting the land, although this was the reason why the land was originally taken over, because the holders were not making a proper use of it? Would he not agree that it is a poor answer to say that the cement strike is holding up the division of land in view of the fact that the strike occurred this year while the land had been in possession of the Land Commission for over two years before the strike occurred?

Was this land intended for migrants or for——

All the land in County Meath is usually intended for migrants but we do get an odd acre of it for the locals too.

It takes time.

Is the Minister aware that there are some estates going back as far as 1963 still in the possession of the Land Commission? Something should be done to speed up the division of those estates.

I do not know of any that we have for that long.

In a reply which I got on the 5th May five estates had been acquired in 1963 and four of them were still in the hands of the Land Commission.

Is the Minister aware that one of his predecessors said that two years was the longest period for which the Land Commission should retain land in normal circumstances and in normal circumstances they have held land for more than three years?

I know of land in my county which was held for 23 years. I think the Deputy is doing well.

The Deputy wants a good TD down there.