Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Mayo Drainage.

23.

asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware that hundreds of acres of land are flooded every year in the Doocastle, Tonroe area near Charlestown, County Mayo; and what steps he proposes taking to remedy the matter.

24.

asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware of the urgent need to have drainage works undertaken in various areas in Mayo where hundreds of acres of good farm land are flooded for long periods; and if he will make the necessary funds available with a view to assisting these farmers in their efforts to make progress in EEC conditions.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Question Nos. 23 and 24 together.

I am aware of the demand for drainage in County Mayo as well as in many other areas throughout the country. To date major arterial drainage schemes have been undertaken in the Moy, Corrib/Clare and Corrib/Headford catchments which have benefited large areas of land in County Mayo. As regards future operations I would refer the Deputy to the statement which I made to the Dáil in regard to arterial drainage on 17th November, 1971, when introducing the Vote for Public Works and Buildings for the financial year 1971-72. The outcome of the cost/benefit study which is being undertaken will obviously be relevant in considering further developments in this service.

As the Deputy is aware, the Land Project of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provides advice and assistance to farmers in problems of field drainage.

While the people concerned appreciate the amount of work that has been done on the Moy drainage scheme, I would point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that the people in the Tonroe/Doocastle area did not benefit very much from the Moy drainage scheme. This is an area where there are many smallholders and it is ridiculous to suggest that any work can be undertaken in that region under the Land Project in view of the fact that the main channel is choked. Would the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that at this stage, when we are nearing the day on which we will enter Europe, it is of the greatest importance for these people to have a scheme of drainage initiated at the earliest possible date to enable them to make a living on their holdings?

I do not disagree with the Deputy but he must be aware that I have announced several times that the whole question of arterial drainage is under review. The amount of money being made available for drainage over a considerable number of years is decreasing and, because of that, I thought the best thing to do was to get a proper cost/benefit study made. This is in progress and we will have the result of this study before the end of the calendar year. The Government will then be able to formulate policy.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary visualise a substantial increase in the amount of money made available?

I am hoping that will be the result. The Government may consider they will be getting a better return for their investment than they have got up to now.