Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Tara Mines Limited.

24.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if Tara Mines Limited have served any prior written notice regarding its entering into a contract or agreement with any shareholder in the company or any company owned or controlled by any shareholder, and, if so, if he will give details of such contract or agreement.

25.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if prior written consent had been granted to Tara Mines Limited to enter into any contract or transaction (i) except in the ordinary course of business and upon an arm's length basis, or (ii) whereby its business or any part of its business would be controlled otherwise than by its board of directors; if so, if he will give details of the contracts or transactions concerned, including the date or dates on which his prior written consent was (i) sought, (ii) given.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Question Nos. 24 and 25 together.

As regards transactions of which Tara Mines Limited are required to give prior written notice, the only such transaction of which I have been given notice has been a guarantee fee arrangement between the company on the one hand and Tara Exploration and Development Company Limited and that company's major shareholders on the other, in respect of borrowings by Tara Mines Limited for the development of the Tara mine. The company have not sought my prior written consent for any transaction of the kind to which the Deputy refers.

The Minister's reply is very carefully worded. Has he knowledge of any such transaction in respect of which the company had not been sticking to their agreement and ought to have sought his prior written consent?

I have not. There is one where they wrote to me, to which I referred.

That is the one the Minister referred to.

I do not want to make a speech. May I just preface this question by saying that I want to make it clear that the information, on the basis of which I am asking this question, is not firm enough for me to make a positive allegation. I hope it will not be understood to be like that. Could the Minister give an assurance that contracts in regard to construction work at the mine and a contract in regard to drilling work at the mine have not been given to firms owned by persons who are either directors of Tara or the chairman of Tara, without prior application for his consent?

I have no idea where they place contracts of the kind mentioned by the Deputy. I am not certain that I have any function in regard to those matters. There are what are described as restrictive transactions under article 603 of the agreement of 1975. I am not aware if there are any. If the Deputy would like to give me details of the contracts which he alleges exist——

I do not allege.

——I will take the matter up with the company. I cannot ask them if I have not got details.

I will send the Minister what I have.