asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he or any semi-State body under his control have made, or intend to make, an application for aid from the EEC Regional Fund.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EEC Regional Fund.
I would refer the Deputy to the reply of the Minister for Finance on 6th May, 1975, in which he dealt with the submission and processing of this country's applications for assistance from the European Regional Development Fund.
I am in regular contact with the Minister for Finance and with the State-sponsored bodies on the regional fund and have suggested several possible projects for assistance from the fund. However, as was indicated in the reply of 6th May, it is the Minister for Finance who, after due consultation, selects the projects which will be proposed for regional fund assistance and submits them to the European Commission.
Would the Minister give the House any idea as to which semi-State bodies in his Department have made application?
Aer Rianta, the harbour division of my Department and the ESB have made application.
Is the Shannon Development Company concerned?
Yes. That is primarily under the Department of Industry and Commerce but my Department are concerned with the tourism end of it.
When will payments be made as a result of these applications?
I cannot say if these applications will be accepted for payment. I cannot give the Deputy any date as to when the payments will be made. The fund is for 1975 and further projects will be put into 1976 and subsequent years. The money will be paid in the current financial year.
If the ESB get money out of this fund will the Minister request them to use some of this money to bring electricity to houses in isolated areas, the occupiers of which are asked to pay a huge amount for connection?
It would be impossible for the ESB to use the money in that way. The money from the regional fund must be used for infrastructure for industry.
Would the Minister tell the House how money is granted to Aer Rianta in this case? How could that in any way benefit the undeveloped regions as people expected the fund would do?
Aer Rianta are in charge of Shannon Airport and in that way the money would be allocated to them for infrastructure building for the factories.
Aer Rianta are responsible for other airports apart from Shannon.
Aer Rianta are responsible for two others.
Will the Minister give a guarantee that whatever moneys may be voted to any of these bodies it will not subsume the amounts which are vitally needed for the development of the undeveloped areas?
I think I can give that guarantee. Does the Deputy want me to say that it will not be used for the development of Dublin Airport?
No. The Government have a responsibility for these without taking from the development fund which will be available to the undeveloped regions of the west of Ireland which this fund is for.
The Government's concern is to put the money where it is most needed but the projects put forward by the Government may not necessarily be accepted by the EEC as worthy of support from the fund. There is that constraint on the Government also.
The Government's policy is important in this matter.
Surely the extension of the ESB is part of the infrastructure and should come under this heading?
Yes, for industry.
The bringing of electricity to those living in the western region should be covered.
The Deputy must understand that the rules for the spending of this fund are not laid down by the Government; they are laid down by the EEC and we must put our projects forward within the constraints laid down by the Community.