The Deputy spends as much time in Dublin as he does in Clarecastle and I am sure he knows that Dublin is a very important city. Some tree planting has already been undertaken along the canal in Dublin which will enhance the area. The Grand Canal is navigable from the Liffey at Ringsend to the Shannon. Even though this system is navigable I am concerned that it does not appear to be used to any great extent at present. Perhaps the Dublin Deputies will avail of this opportunity to pay some attention to the Grand Canal from the point of view of developing business, and tell me why that part of the canal which is navigable has not been developed to any large extent. There may be reasons for this but I do not think we will have the same problems along the Shannon, in Killaloe or in the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell area.
The Office of Public Works have a very good record in developing tourism amenities and tackling problems such as pollution, etc. As Deputy Carey said, the record of the Office of Public Works speaks for itself in places such as Mountshannon and Whitegate. Certainly any of the work in which they have been involved to date has been expertly executed and carefully planned. I do not believe there will be any lack of commitment on the part of the personnel of the Office of Public Works in playing their part to ensure that the provisions of this Bill are implemented in the strict sense Deputies have been advocating in the course of this debate.
Deputy Byrne also raised the question of costs. I have already covered this aspect — 50 per cent will come from the Structural Fund, 10 per cent by way of State investment, with the ESB and others also contributing. For example, if one looks at the development of the marina in Kilrush one will notice that the major part of the funding of that development will come from the private sector. I was glad to hear from the director of that maritime project in the lower Shannon recently that he has all the funding in place for that project at present, the total being in the region of £10 million. It is obvious that private sector funding will follow the lead of the public sector provided they see some sign of action, but the private sector will not take initiatives unless they see positive action on the part of State agencies. The Office of Public Works can give a lead in this respect particularly under the provisions of this Bill.
Deputy Byrne also mentioned the need for an overall single authority to control this development. We must bear in mind that, under the terms of the Bill before us, there are involved 200 miles of canals and rivers. To endeavour to have an overall, single authority to control or monitor developments in that area — bearing in mind also the various planning authorities involved in that huge area — in my view would be a recipe for mismanagement rather than one for better management.
We have devised an overall strategy for all navigations setting out how we would like to see them developed. We will discuss this strategy with the local authorities involved which will comprise a blueprint for the overall development of the Irish navigational system. This will comprise an overall developmental strategy the broad principles of which we would like to see maintained by local authorities countrywide.
I thank Deputy Ellis for his very constructive remarks. He mentioned the need for a long term policy for development, conservation and preservation of our canals system. That is the next step needed in this area. While we are dealing this evening with the Shannon Navigation Bill there are a number of navigational systems in the State at large. We have now commissioned a further report. We will be bringing forward an overall, long term strategy and policy along the lines advocated by Deputy Ellis.
Deputy Ellis also mentioned personnel who worked on a voluntary basis, especially those who devote time to drainage committees and boards of trustees. I might add my words of appreciation of their contribution. We do value and appreciate the efforts of many people over a long period, sometimes done at enormous inconvenience to themselves. We must remember that many problems were very difficult to resolve, some of the difficulties encountered having been way beyond the capacity of any local committee. These problems arose not only by way of shortcomings in infrastructure and finances, but some were even beyond the capacity of local groups to handle. In all these areas we will continue to need the active support and co-operation of local communities, voluntary organisations, tourism promotion bodies, "Tidy Towns" committees, people with a deep interest in and awareness of the value of our natural resources, many of whom have been advocating for many years that successive Governments should take some action in this regard. I might reiterate that that action is now being taken.
Deputy Ellis was concerned also about the payment of compensation to people who might be affected in some way by the changes that may take place occasioned by the flooding of lands as a result of the developments planned. This contingency is fully provided for in the provisions of the Bill. In the event of nonagreement matters of this nature will go through the normal arbitration procedures. Again this is provided for under the terms of the Bill and should not create any major problems or hardship.
It is anticipated that, in certain areas, some land at present subject to flooding will continue to be flooded, places such as St. John's Lock and others where the water levels will be raised. There is adequate provision being made for compensation in these areas which will be dealt with in the normal course of events. If farming representatives or others want to discuss this aspect with us, we will be prepared to work out some overall strategy in order to minimise delays and so on. We will certainly meet any such people and discuss these matters. It would be our wish that the development would proceed speedily without undue delay.
I could not have described in a more impressive way the overall history of the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal than did Deputy Nealon this afternoon. He gave a graphic account of the once great design turning into a great disaster. We must ensure that, in our present efforts, this grand design will not turn into a major disaster. We can learn from mistakes of the past, even those made in the 1840s. I share Deputy Nealon's confidence that this new development will constitute a major boost to the morale of the people of County Leitrim. They certainly need that boost; I do not think anybody in the House would deny that fact at present. I share Deputy Nealon's confidence about the provisions of the Bill. It is my firm belief that the results will be positive, making a major contribution to the overall prosperity of these regions.
Deputy Nealon expressed some anxiety about my remarks in introducing the Bill — that the provisions of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, will now apply to the Ballinamore and Ballyconnell drainage district. Previously what happened was that the drainage boards in that area carried out some work whose cost was recouped from the local authority. Under this arrangement the local authority will be directly responsible for drainage.
I first heard of the Ballinamore/ Ballyconnell Canal from Deputy Leonard with whom I shared an office when first elected to this House in 1973. He was actively involved at that time in promoting the necessity for the development of that canal. Indeed, the arguments he advanced then are just as relevant today. However, certain changes have taken place in our overall economy over the past 15 to 17 years.
There is now a clear indication that tourism will play a major role in our overall economic development for the foreseeable future. We must utilise our present resources if we are to benefit fully from them; we are not doing so at present. We are not reaping our share of the international tourism market. We shall continue to lose that market share unless we undertake the type of amenity and resource development advocated under the provisions of this Bill. Certainly I see clearly the necessity for the development of such amenities and facilities not only to attract international tourists but to maintain that business. I know Deputy Leonard has a deep, keen knowledge of the problems encountered and opportunities available in that area.
I believe we must grasp this opportunity so that we can profit from the increasing tourism business, getting into the marketplace with a product equal to anything else available worldwide. If we do so we will reap our fair share of the business but, if we do not, then we will not gain or hope to maintain that share. Let nobody have any illusions that anything less than first-class standards will be acceptable to the international tourism business. Tourists expect good value. If and when we go to foreign destinations, we want good value for our money. Certainly we hear daily complaints from people who do not get good value in this respect, voiced on "The Gay Byrne Show" or in other ways. If we are to substantially increase our market share of the international tourism market during the next four or five years we will have to provide the necessary infrastructure.
I think it was Deputy Boylan who mentioned the necessity to provide link roads and the need for development in the Lough Erne-Lough Oughter region when the referred to the excellent contractors in Counties Cavan and Monaghan. I should point out to him that there are also excellent contractors in County Clare. As I indicated earlier on, we have to comply with European Community regulations and I have no doubt that contractors in County Cavan, such as the Smiths and Quinns, will not be slow in submitting competitive tenders for work of this nature. A preliminary study has been carried out of the Lough Erne-Lough Oughter Canal about which Deputy Boylan expressed concern and I can assure him that I will convey his views to the commissioners.
Let us not fool ourselves: much depends on the availability of resources and despite what Deputy Carey may believe, that we have much more than the local authorities, we do not have unlimited resources. We will give very careful consideration to any proposals submitted by Deputies in this House and will as far as possible ensure they are built into the overall plans which will prove to be successful if we can maximise private investment and local authority investment as well as our own. I am satisfied that we have a unique opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the development of this resource.
Deputy Garland always seems to express reservations about matters for which I have responsibility. He referred to the need to ensure no damage is done to wildlife during construction. I can assure him that the project will be the subject of an environmental impact assessment and this should put his mind at ease. We will take the greatest of care because, as I said earlier, there is a responsibility on us to preserve and conserve wildlife. One of the things that surprises me is the level of international interest in peatlands, wildlife, flora and fauna, and it is clear that the tourism dimension is not being fully exploited. I can assure Deputy Garland that there will be the minimum damage to wildlife.
Deputy Belton who is a former member of the midlands development authority also made a very valuable contribution and referred in particular to the need to develop the canals and rivers to their full potential. He is also anxious that there be widespread consultations. I can assure him that we will consult with as many people, agencies and organisations as possible, but once this process has been completed decisions will have to be taken, and we will never satisfy everyone. We are fully conscious of the need to obtain the fullest co-operation, as if we fail to receive this the project will not be a success. The Deputy also referred to the provision of tax incentives but these are matters which should be raised on Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, which will be taken shortly. However under the business expansion scheme such tax incentives and breaks are provided for this type of development. When the Deputy referred to Ballymahon on the River Inny he brought back memories of a woman who lived in Cooraclare for up to 40 years and who kept reminding us just how attractive Ballymahon is. If the development authorities come forward with proposals and suggestions we will discuss them with them to see how best they can be built into the overall scheme of things.
Deputy Belton also criticised the omission of County Longford. However I should point out that a major development was carried out at Clondra while other work has been undertaken at Tarmonbarry and Lanesborough. Therefore, Longford has not been and will not be neglected.
Deputy Cowen made similar points and refered to the need to develop our tourism industry and the Shannonbridge, Banagher and Clonmacnoise areas. I wish to thank him for his kind remarks about the Office of Public Works for the way in which they have carried out development works, including those at Clonmacnoise. These and other works are a credit to the professionalism of the personnel employed in the Office of Public Works and I should point out that areas like Shannon Harbour, Shannonbridge and Banagher will feature very prominently in the promotion campaign. The benefits of work undertaken at Ballinamore or at any other part of the system should spread throughout the system which should allay the fears of Deputy Taylor-Quinn who did not avail of the opportunity to speak on this very important Bill. There is no doubt that Lough Derg, Mountshannon and Whitegate and many other areas will benefit from the developments being proposed in this legislation.