Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1941 - 1942::06 May, 1943::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 6adh Bealtaine, 1943.

Thursday, 6th May, 1943.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:







B. Brady.



DEPUTY DILLON in the Chair.

Mr. G. McGrath, (An tArd-Reachtaire Cunntas agus Ciste), Mr. C. S. Almond, Mr. O. J. Redmond, Mr. F. J. Feeney, and Mr. L. M. Fitzgerald (An Roinn Airgeadais), called and examined.


Mr. J. Connolly called and examined.

Insurance of Workmen.

“9. As stated in a note to the account, £8 8s. was expended during the year on compensation, etc., in respect of claims arising out of accident risks which had been covered by policies of insurance with the Irish Employers’ Mutual Insurance Association, Limited, now in liquidation, bringing the total amount so paid and charged to suspense to £15,380 4s. 10d. In addition, a sum of £6,017 4s., being portion of the premium paid for the year 1938-39 remains charged to a suspense account pending settlement of the Commissioners’ claim against the liquidator. Sums amounting to £1,908 18s., which would otherwise have been payable to the Association under the policies have been retained by the Commissioners as a setoff against their claim. I have been informed that the liquidation is still proceeding, and that claims covering the expenditure charged to suspense accounts and also other expenses have been rendered to the Official Liquidator and, with the exception of certain items, still the subject of correspondence, have been admitted as charges against the assets of the Association.”

106. Chairman.—Have you anything you wish to add to that, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—The items excepted are really charges covering the time of the officials in dealing with the claims and inquiring into them The Liquidator has dealt with all the advances made to the workmen injured.

107. He is questioning claims in respect of time for administration?—Yes.

108 Can you give any information, Mr. Connolly, as to how the liquidation is proceeding, or what hopes you have of bringing the matter to a conclusion?

109. Mr. Connolly.—The last word we had was that the Liquidator has now got his list of members ready for the Examiner, and he proposes to get the consent of the Examiner to proceed with the collection of the £5 from each individual member.

110. Are you satisfied that the Liquidator is proceeding with all due diligence? —He seems to be. We are pressing all we can in that direction.

111. What is the position with regard to insurance policies at present; are they placed with another company or are you carrying your own insurance?—We have placed them with another company.

112. With whom is the insurance transacted?—The Employers’ Liability Assurance Corporation.

113. Is that an Irish company or an English company?—It is an English company.

114. I suppose most of these contracts are placed on the basis of tender?— Entirely. Tenders are invited each year.

115. Taking paragraph (4) in the Appropriations in Aid, a very much larger sum was recovered as administrative expenses in connection with Employment Schemes. Does that imply that there were more Employment Schemes put into operation than anticipated?— Yes, the receipts are based on the actual expenditure borne on the Vote in respect of administrative expenses of Employment Schemes and Special Emergency Schemes.

116. Does the regulation still obtain whereunder Employment Schemes cannot be put into operation, although on their merits they are desirable, unless a certain unemployment situation obtains in the electoral area where it is proposed to do them?—That, I understand, is the position and it still continues. The Special Employment Schemes Office, however, is now a separate Department and we have no concern with it.

117. It has been transferred from the Office of Public Works?—It has been made a separate Department.


Mr. J. Connolly further examined.

Subhead C.—Maintenance and Supplies.

“10. The charge to this subhead includes payment of £55 as compensation and £25 as costs, made with the sanction of the Department of Finance, in settlement of a claim for reinstatement of premises temporarily rented for use as a factory. It would appear that a condition report was not prepared or definite terms of tenancy agreed upon prior to the occupation of the premises.”

118. Chairman.—Have you anything you care to add to that, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—These premises were occupied on the application of the Gaeltacht Department. After the fire at Elly Bay, they found themselves in want of new premises for their factory and machinery.

119. That is the Belmullet enterprise? —Yes. They rented these premises in Belmullet and installed the machinery before the Office of Public Works knew anything about it. That was the beginning of the trouble here.

120. Have you anything you can tell us about this, Mr. Connolly?

Mr. Connolly.—I cannot add much to what Mr. McGrath has said. The position is as he tells you. The premises were occupied and arrangements made in the emergency that Gaeltacht Services were up against without any consultation with us. It was, therefore, impossible for us to make a condition report as we did not know about it. I think on the whole that the State got out of it reasonably in the circumstances. So far as the Office of Public Works are concerned, they were faced with a fait accompli and had to make the best deal they could.

121. I think the ambiguity is as to whether the payment of the £55 compensation and £25 costs would ever have arisen if the premises had been inspected before they were occupied?—I presume that is so. I think you may take it that, in the circumstances under which the Gaeltacht Department occupied the premises, there would have been a bill to be met for interference with the existing premises, alterations, etc.

122. Do you take the view, Mr. McGrath, that considering the exceptional emergency that obtained there was any serious departure from the usual procedure in these matters?

Mr. McGrath.—No. I would say that when they found themselves in want of premises they got them at the earliest possible moment. It turned out that the transaction was very unsatisfactory because the agreement was not put into writing, and in the circumstances the ordinary procedure was not gone through. I think I should mention that these premises were hired at a rate of £52 per annum, or £1 per week, for the first year and as a result of the misunderstandings the rent was raised to £2 per week for the balance of the period. I think that should be brought out once we mention the matter at all. It has nothing to do with the £80 referred to in paragraph 10. At the expiration of the first year, the landlord raised the rent to double the original figure. I do not think that was the fault of the Office of Public Works. When they were advised regarding the rent of the premises and the machinery the terms were not put down very plainly. After the expiration of the first quarter a quarter’s rent at the rate of £100 per year which was the rent of both the premises and the plant was remitted to the landlord of the premises and he, like an ordinary human being, took advantage of it.

Mr. Connolly.—So far as we are concerned, the position was not very clear as regards the arrangements that were made On the whole, I think the landlord really felt that he was entitled to £2 per week all along. Actually, because of a statement in one of his letters, he only got £52 for the first year.

Mr. McGrath.—There is another matter of importance. He found that when he went to insure the premises the premium was much higher because of the occupation by the toy factory.

123. Chairman.—Admitting that there was an emergency here on account of the burning down of the factory premises, do you think that that emergency was of a character which justified the suspension of the usual rules requiring another Department of State to consult the Board of Works before taking over a premises?

Mr. Connolly.—We are never in favour of the ordinary rules of procedure being abandoned. In fact it is embarrassing for us, though it does occur occasionally. Our procedure is that a Department should advise us that they want premises or are going to take over premises and we then negotiate the lease for those premises and have the condition reported on. I would say that, possibly and probably, the Gaeltacht people were justified, in the peculiar circumstances in which they found themselves, with no alternative premises, to go in and take what they could get near the spot, in order to get on with their work. Naturally, we do not favour any Department taking premises and telling us some time afterwards that they have done so.

124. Chairman.—I have such confidence in the expedition with which the Board of Works does it work that I thought consultation would involve the minimum delay?—I am glad to hear you say that. Not everyone agrees with you, but we do our best in all the circumstances. I cannot say any more except that the Gaeltacht people probably found they had to get busy quickly after the fire and there was no alternative to these premises.

125. I take it that any further questions on the matter would be more appropriately addressed to the Accounting Officer for the Gaeltacht Services, about whom your remarks have been most charitably put?—Any official who finds himself in an awkward predicament after a fire wants to get his workers going and his plant housed. In the circumstances the amount involved in cost to the State in this case was negligible.

Chairman.—It is most gratifying to find you so pleasantly disposed towards your Alma Mater.

Rents Receivable.

“11. Arrears of rents due to the Commissioners at the end of the year amounted to £6,214 9s. 3d. compared with £8,052 7s. 4d on 31st March, 1941, a decrease of £1,837 18s. 1d. From statements furnished to me with the Appropriation Account, it appears that of these arrears sums amounting to £2,577 have been recovered subsequent to 31st March, 1942, and that of the balance £468 was considered bad or doubtful.

In my last report I referred to the irregular occupation, by a former tenant of portion of a military barracks, of additional buildings in the barracks. Legal proceedings in respect of the irregular occupation have since been taken and a decree obtained for £12 2s. 0d. with costs and witnesses’ expenses.”

126. Chairman.—Have you anything to add to that, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—As regards the first sub-paragraph, I am glad to say there has been a great improvement in the payment of rents. As we commented rather critically in previous years on the position, I would like to say that it has improved. As regards the second sub-paragraph, I merely state that, as the Committee discussed this matter last year, I thought I should let them know the result.

127. Chairman.—As regards the second paragraph, Mr. Connolly, the general question arose in connection with the survey of buildings by the Board of Works and you said that steps were then being taken to improve the survey, if possible. Has anything been done to that end?—We are doing that to the limit of our ability. All the Assistant Architects are definitely under orders, as they were always under orders, to maintain the closest watch over the buildings. I may mention that the £12 2s. 0d. has been paid and that the State has suffered no loss through the occupation of the barracks.

128. Are you now satisfied that no buildings the property of the Board of Works, derelict or otherwise, are in irregular occupation?—I am reasonably satisfied, but we have such a variety and such a scattered amount of property all over the country, including places which are derelict, that, as I said here last year, I would hesitate to give an absolute guarantee. We are doing everything humanly possible to cover this point. Sometimes there may be a derelict burnt out coastguard station which may be 20 miles away from the nearest village on the west coast; but generally speaking the buildings are surveyed annually and the closest watch is kept to see that there is no irregular occupation.

129. Bearing in mind the contingent liability for damages to children who might be injured in a derelict building, has the Board considered the advisability of pulling down buildings which are derelict and which the Board has determined to abandon?—Our lawyer’s opinion is that there is no responsibility on the Board of Works, as no person has the right to enter these premises. If they are let, they are seen to be in proper order and all precautions are taken; but in regard to other property which is derelict, according to our legal advice anyone who goes in does so at his own risk.

130. Deputy Benson.—Expanding somewhat on your remarks there and on Mr. Connolly’s previous reference, there are dotted throughout the country various derelict coastguard stations which are not ornaments of beauty. I do not know whether they could be reconstructed and used or not, or whether any steps could be taken to put them to some use; but alternatively would it not be beneficial to the amenities of the country if they were destroyed and the sites cleared, as they are most unsightly and their removal would, at all events, improve the general amenities?—We have done and do all we can to dispose of them. In many cases we are able to make a letting; then they are generally kept in fairly good order. There are some still, I must admit, that should be demolished and we are dealing with them as well as we can.

131. Deputy Benson.—There is some progress being made?—Yes, definitely.

Chairman.—We now turn to the Vote.

132. Deputy Benson.—On subhead B., could Mr. Connolly say if the saving was due to the fact that no progress was made with the St. Andrew Street exchange or is it not yet in a position to be included under new works?—Nothing has been done about the St. Andrew Street premises. We are still in consultation with the Post Office about them and we have not yet got their final plans.

133. Chairman.—I take it that, so far as that site is concerned, you cannot proceed until the Post Office have completed their part of the work?—That is so. Whether in fact it will be possible to do anything during the emergency, with the scarcity of materials, is another question. Whether it would be possible to go on with the building of the nature that would be required there is very doubtful.

134. On subhead J. 3., is there provision for permanent contribution by the Board of Works to the Barrow drainage in proportion to the sum annually expended by the Drainage Board itself?— Yes, the State contributes 50 per cent. of the actual audited expenditure on maintenance.

135. So that is what would appear in the accounts?—Yes.

136. Deputy Benson.—On subhead J. 5., is the very small expenditure a compliment to the condition of the machinery or due to the fact that any necessary repairs could not be carried out?—It was partly owing to shortage of suitable labour and partly to the fact that the excavators could not be turned in for repairs as they were in use, in many cases, for turf activities. That was the main cause of the expenditure being less than anticipated.

137. Chairman.—On subhead J. 7., why are you not undertaking the full hydrometric survey, Mr. Connolly?—We are undertaking surveys in so far as our engineers reach on them. We got more than we were able to expend, and we probably anticipated that the demand for the hydrometric surveys would have been greater.

138. Deputy Benson.—Is the Board responsible for the hydrometric survey of the Erne, or is that the province of the E.S.B., or is it combined?—I imagine that the hydrometric survey on the Erne is being carried on by the E.S.B. with a view to the big hydro-electric scheme in contemplation. The Northern Government come in on the Erne also.

139. Chairman.—Who bespeaks hydrometric surveys? I thought that was a matter in which the Board itself took the initiative?—So we do, and it is entirely at the direction of our engineers that we have these stations operating.

140. They are a preparatory work, are they not, for drainage schemes post war? —Yes. There is a considerable number in operation—224. It is when our engineers believe that a survey should be carried out in a certain river or district, that it is undertaken.

141. Do you think the present rate of progress will provide all the data requisite for a comprehensive drainage code post war?—Our chief engineer’s view of that is that more will be needed. He will arrange the surveys as quickly as he can, and when he can get the opportunity to get an engineer to see where the station is going to be and who will look after it.

142 Do you think that, as the money has been provided, and as there is frequent reference to the necessity for putting large works in hand at the earliest possible moment post war, it would be proper to consider augmenting the staff if the existing staff is unable to cope with all the work which can be provided? —We are doing all we can, and there is no one so keen on getting these hydrometric surveys as our chief engineer. It may be that we anticipated that they would be more costly than they have proved to be.

143. Deputy Benson.—On subhead L. 7., there is a reduction in Admission Tickets at Parks, and the note says that the deficit was due to decreased applications for admission to park enclosures. What park enclosures are there for which fees are charged?—There are the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park, and the Phoenix Park Motor Enclosure for the Phoenix Park races. There has been a considerable falling off in the case of the Bourn Vincent Park.

144. Chairman.—Mention of the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park tempts me, before we depart from this Vote, to mention a question which was raised the previous year. Is it still deemed expedient or necessary to maintain all the gloomy railings in that Park? You remember, as you walk through the Park, that the greater part of the sward is cut off from the path through the estate by interminable lengths of black railings. I know of no other park in Europe where that obtains, except at parks in the centre of the cities. Is the maintaining of these railings essential to the preservation of the property?—I could not answer that offhand. I doubt if they are.

145. Have you been there recently?— It is about 15 months since I was there but I hope to go down this month.

146. Do you remember the drab and dreary railings?—I remember the railings. They were there when we got the Park and it would involve a good deal of rearranging if they are removed. Are they not, in the main, around the house or on the grounds around the house?

Chairman.—Yes. My recollection is that they are along the avenues and that you are confronted with these dreary railings whichever way you turn.

147. Perhaps you would deal with the matter if you happen to be there?— There is some fencing near where the Kerry herd go out to pasture in the different parts of the Park. I will look into the matter with the superintendent the next time I am down.


Mr. J. Connolly further examined.

148. Chairman.—Has the dockyard been leased?—The dock has not been leased. Irish Steel, Ltd., have a considerable portion of the premises with dock accommodation and facilities and a certain site for their factory.

149. So the property is now a paying asset in the hands of the Government?— It has about turned the corner from being a loss.

150. They are receiving £4,250 8s. 4d. as rents, with an expenditure of £3,234 17s. 6d. Is that a correct picture?—That is right.

151. What is the nature of the stores for which £2,003 0s. 7d. was received?— The rents are from Oil Wharves Limited, which has a very big holding and very large oil containers there with facilities for bringing in cargoes. Then there is Irish Steel, Limited. The combination of the two makes the main bulk of the income.

152. The sale of stores realised £2,003 0s. 7d.?—The main portion of the sale was of plant, tools and stores taken over by the Marine Section of the Department of Defence and paid for by the latter. We had stores there that suited them and we sold them. They were not surplus to requirements. If there were surplus to requirements they would figure as a note of transfer in the account.

153. And you would not have sold if there was any prior claim?—No.

Chairman.—If there is no other question we can finish with Mr. Connolly, to whom we are very much obliged.


Mr. P. S. O’Hegarty called and examined.

Subhead C.—Rent, Office fittings, etc.

“52. In connection with the erection of a new Branch Post Office and a new Trunk Telephone Exchange to which reference was made in paragraph 55 of my last report, I have been informed that the plans are still under consideration but that there is little prospect of actual construction work being proceeded with at present.

Including a charge of £500 in the year under review for ground rent, the total expenditure charged to the Vote for Posts and Telegraphs to the 31st March, 1942, in respect of the acquisition and occupation of the site was £7,456 11s. 11d.”

154. Chairman.—Have you any observation, Mr. McGrath, that you would care to add to that note?

Mr. McGrath.—We have been paying rent for this property since 1932 and we have not got any further than having a vacant plot.

155. Chairman.—Has Mr. O’Hegarty anything to add?—I tried to explain this year after year to Mr. McGrath but he still has a bee in his bonnet about it. All I can say is that we first got full control of this property in 1939. At the end of 1939 there was a Government Order issued that all major works of this kind were to be postponed, but plans were gone on with. In the autumn of 1941 the Board of Works said they could not proceed with it because they could not get the necessary steel for building purposes. We recast the plans to provide for reinforced concrete. In September last the Board of Works informed us that they could not proceed with the plans as they could not get reinforced concrete. The position is that building materials for work of this magnitude are apparently not available. I might say on this point that I have Mr. Blake, head of the building section of the Post Office, present and he is in a far better position than I am to give any information in regard to matters of detail. I am in this position that I shall be retiring from the service at the end of next year and if this matter is not disposed of while I am in office it will come up when I have retired, and the then Secretary will say, “Oh, this was done in the time of the late Secretary” and my name will be mud. I would like to have this disposed of if possible, while I am in the service. If the Committee would like to question Mr. Blake I would be very much obliged as he has the details.

156. Deputy Benson.—There seems to be a slight discrepancy in this matter in this way that Mr. McGrath’s note says that the plans are still under consideration. I do not know exactly what “still under consideration” may mean. Mr. Connolly informed us that the plans were not with his Department yet. “Last year Mr. O’Hegarty was asked if plans had been prepared, and the answer was ‘no.”’ Mr. Connolly says the Board of Works are handling them at the moment. I also asked last year “If there was any prospect of building being undertaken at the moment” and Mr. O’Hegarty replied: “Not at the moment, I think, because tenders have to be sought and received. The plans had to be recast to provide for reinforced concrete instead of steel, as steel cannot be got. I then remarked: “But it is proposed to go ahead with the building and not wait until the war is over,” and Mr. O’Hegarty answered “yes.” That information was given last year.

Mr. O’Hegarty.—The reinforced concrete plans have not been proceeded with because the materials cannot be got. So long as tenders are not placed for buildings of this sort the plans are in a sense open.

157. Chairman.—There seems to be some slight ambiguity as we understood last year that the plans had been supplied to your Department on the basis of reinforced concrete instead of steel, and had been delivered to the Board of Works amended in that form. It was then a matter for the Board of Works. Deputy Hughes then asked what material was going to be used for reinforcing to replace the steel, and Mr. O’Hegarty replied: “All I know is that it is to be reinforced concrete instead of steel, but that is a matter for the Board of Works.” When we asked Mr. Connolly if he could give any further information, he said he could not, as he had not got the plans.

Mr. P. Blake.—I have here copies of the sketch plans produced by the Board of Works in June last. The position is that plans have been prepared on several occasions, but had to be recast due to the shortage of materials. We did not get this site for telephone purposes until July, 1939. Plans of this nature take from 12 to 15 months to prepare, and after that it would take from 20 to 21 months to build a structure of this kind. The man in the street looks at buildings and says to himself that one building is like another. The weight carrying capacity of an ordinary building is 70 lbs. to 100 lbs. per foot superficial. In this case we would have switchboards on the second floor the weight of which would be 1,700 lbs, per 6 feet, apart from other materials and live weight. We cannot secure that carrying capacity on ordinary lines by an increased number of intermediate piers. We have to have clear floor space. The Board of Works plans generally deal with heavy steel. The plans were prepared accordingly in this case, but we found that heavy steel was not available. In order to try to get on with the work we discussed the matter with the Board of Works, and we found that possibly they could put up a reinforced concrete building known as “Diagrid construction.” It is a reinforcement in the form of diagonal beams with piers at each outer wall which carry the weight and do away with intermediate uprights, which of course we could not have in a telephone exchange obstructing floor space, and then we found difficulty in getting telephone plant. We were faced with this position—that if we started a building, and if it had to be left unfinished, open to the elements, the loss would not be £500 a year, but would run into thousands a year. That is the position we were placed in. They prepared these plans, and these are the plans I have here. They were prepared in June last. Then they sent us a letter in September saying that owing to the shortage of these materials they could not go ahead. The answer that Mr. O’Hegarty gave last year was given on the basis of his information that they would turn over to diagrid construction. He understood that they were prepared to go ahead, but they subsequently announced that they could not go on, owing to the shortage of this material, so that we are more or less the victims of circumstances. In the negotiations for these premises, we were the only people to push ahead. If you like to go into that question, I have some short notes here which will show the trend of the negotiations. We were trying to get hold of the premises and go ahead.

158. Chairman.—Perhaps a correct inference from what happened is that alternative plans were in the hands of the Board of Works at various periods and that when they came back to the Post Office there was always some demurrer from the Board of Works. At different times the plans were in the hands of different Departments and when subsequent events brought them back to your hands they had been completely changed?

Mr. Blake.—Yes. So far as I can see there is no possibility of putting up this building until conditions become normal. There is no use in “beating about the bush”.

159. Chairman.—It would be foolish to start building without being sure that it would be possible to secure the necessary equipment?

Mr. Blake.—We would find ourselves in a very difficult position if we started building and if, on account of the shortage of materials, we could not complete the building. The partly finished building would then be left open to the elements.

160. Chairman.—And you must always leave a certain margin of safety for any future developments?

Mr. Blake.—As time goes on, these plans must necessarily be changed because the trend of telephone development and staff requirements will alter. We are anxious, when we do put up this building, to have it linked with the Exchequer Street Exchange, so that if one system goes out of order the other will be available. The tendency of telephone trunk development is to get more out of a fitting than is being got out of it at present. You have much the same tendency as in the case of a wireless set. A few years ago the fittings of a wireless set occupied half the side of a room, but now they can all be fitted into one small box. The telephone may develop in that way. We have to prepare for these things, especially as property is so valuable in this area. We have been for twenty years trying to acquire property for this purpose. We paid £5,200 for this property, but normally we would have to pay three times as much. It was only because of the circumstances under which it came on the market that it was possible for us to get it so cheaply. We tried to get a 20 feet frontage along College Green some time ago and the price demanded was £20,000. That was subsequently brought down to £17,000. That would give us a 56 feet frontage in College Green. We have got a 103 feet frontage on this site. We have got a transfer from the Agricultural Credit Corporation. The delay at the outset was not of our seeking. We could not get the premises from the Agricultural Credit Corporation. We tried five or six different schemes to get them going. First of all, we had no interest except that we wanted to rent the ground floor. For that they asked the outrageous rent of £2,250 a year. The Board of Works told us that it was worth £743. There was such a gap that we could not do business with them on that basis. Then we conceived the idea that we would defray the cost of building that portion of the premises and pay them £500 a year. They more or less agreed to that. Then they found that their outlay per annum on the premises would be beyond them and they could not go ahead. We went a little further and suggested that we would pay half the building costs, or take over the site and rent them the upper floors. They agreed to that but then they wanted the Industrial Credit Company to join with them. The Agricultural Credit Corporation was to pay £850 and the Industrial Credit Company £600. Things went on in that manner for eight or nine months. We prepared the plans and they were apparently ready to go ahead when the Industrial Credit Company climbed out. Subsequently, the Agricultural Credit Corporation tried to get the Irish Sugar Company to join with them. We held on awaiting the outcome of these negotiations but the Irish Sugar Company said that they would not come in. The Agricultural Credit Corporation then said: “We will take it all and pay the fixed rent of £1,450.” We went to Finance and sought authority for this scheme and we were told: “Yes, go ahead.” The building strike then came on and we could not build. That was in 1937. At the end of 1937 the Agricultural Credit Corporation climbed out again, although under agreement to take the premises and their release was authorised. That is the earlier history of this matter.

Chairman.—Is there any other question arising on this matter?

Deputy Benson.—I do not require any further details from Mr. Blake but I think it might be well to have some notes from the Department in regard to the history of this case as it might satisfy Mr. O’Hegarty’s doubts as to his being blamed in absentia.

161. Chairman.—Would you not think it desirable, Mr. O’Hegarty, to supply the Committee with some notes giving an account of the negotiations leading up to the present situation and bringing the history of this matter up-to-date?—Yes. I shall supply the Committee with these notes.*

Mr. McGrath.—Might I say a word or two in connection with this matter? Mr. O’Hegarty seems to think it strange that I should have written this paragraph at all. I can assure him that it was my duty to do so and I have no apology to make to him or to anybody else for doing my duty.

Losses by Default, etc.

“53. The losses borne on the Vote for the year ended 31st March, 1942, amounted to £1,486 12s. 6d. of which £1,377 9s. 4d. was charged to subhead H. 2. and £109 3s. 2d. to subhead O. 6. Classified schedules of these losses are set out at pages 209 and 212. At pages 211 and 213 particulars are given of 23 cases in which cash shortages or misappropriations amounting to £1,010 15s. 11d. were discovered; the sums in question were made good and no charge to public funds was necessary.”

162. Chairman.—Is there any comment you wish to make on that paragraph, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—This is the usual paragraph. There is nothing very exceptional in the number of cases this year.


“54. A test examination of the store accounts was carried out with generally satisfactory results.

As in the previous year, it was often not found possible to follow normal procedure in connection with the purchase of supplies. In order to secure early deliveries, contracts were in many cases either allocated without competition or divided between a number of contractors on the basis of output and it was sometimes found expedient to continue existing contracts to meet additional demands. Where the quoted prices appeared to warrant such action, investigation of costs was carried out on behalf of the Department and in a number of cases reductions in prices were secured.

With regard to the deficiencies in the stocks of internal mail bags to which reference has been made in previous reports, I have been informed that the revised control arrangements have been brought into operation and that the preliminary returns from the latest census taken in November, 1942, indicate that they are proving effective.

In addition to the engineering stores shown in Appendix II as valued at £217,478 on the 31st March, 1942. engineering stores to the value of £492, were held on behalf of other Government Departments. Stores other than engineering stores held at that date were valued at £238,271, included in this amount being a sum of £91,866 in respect of stores held for other Government Departments.”

163. Chairman.—That is a purely informative paragraph?—Yes.

Mr. McGrath.—With regard to the second sub-paragraph, the Committee is probably aware that in the Post Office the usual procedure is to ask for tenders in connection with supplies. The Committee will note that there have been cases where no tenders were asked for and where contracts were placed without any competition.

164. Chairman.—I think that is a matter which we discussed last year. It was agreed that in the exceptional circumstances if the Department were to wait to receive tenders, it might result in the disappearance of supplies altogether before they could be obtained?—That is so.

Mr. McGrath.—As I have mentioned, investigations of cost were carried out in a number of cases and reduction of prices was secured. In the year 1941-42, 44 cases were inquired into, the total value of the contracts being £160,000. We got reductions to the extent of £4,927, equal to 3.1 per cent. of the value of the contracts investigated.

165. Chairman.—Are these inquiries conducted by your own officers or by officers of the Department of Supplies?— By our own officers.

166. Chairman.—While it is obviously desirable to prevent any exploitation of the Department by suppliers in times like these, has it occurred to you that if the Department acquired the reputation of purchasing supplies on agreement without tender and then proceeded to go back over the agreement for the purpose of reviewing the prices agreed upon, a situation might arise in which they would find it difficult to get anyone to give them supplies in future?—That might be a theoretical danger but it has not happened that way.

167. Chairman.—If that is so, the course pursued is obviously the correct one. You are satisfied the mail bag situation has improved?—Yes, it has improved very much.


“55. A test examination of the accounts of the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone services was carried out with generally satisfactory results.

In one area a number of defalcations in connection with telephone coin-box collections was discovered during the year and I am informed that following an inquiry into the adequacy of the arrangements for the supervision of the coin-box collectors, proposals for submission to the Department of Finance are under consideration and are nearing completion.

Sums due for telephone services, amounting in all to £457 6s. 8d., were written off during the year as irrecoverable.”

168. Chairman.—Have you anything to add to the paragraph, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—As a matter of fact, these defalcations have not been written off in this year’s accounts, but the matter came under our notice. The Department has communicated with the Department of Finance in connection with the question of whether proper supervision is taking place in checking these collections.

169. Chairman.—Can you give any information in connection with that matter, Mr. O’Hegarty?—Only that we are considering strengthening supervision generally in connection with these collections. We have not got as far as making any definite proposal yet.

Mr. McGrath.—I may say it is because of the system the Post Office has in being that they found out these defalcations. The system is there, but whether it is tight enough or not is another matter. You found this man out before he had finished his job, as it were?

Mr. O’Hegarty.—Yes.

170. Chairman.—I take it, Mr. O’Hegarty, that you will let us have a note on the occasion of the next Vote as to the reforms you may have introduced for the checking of this kind of business? —Yes.

171. And I assume that the Comptroller and Auditor-General will be advised of any arrangements you may make in order to remove the possibility of defalcations of this kind occurring?—Yes.

Post Office Savings Bank Accounts.

“56. The accounts of the Post Office Savings Bank for the year ended 31st December, 1941, were submitted to a test examination with satisfactory results.

Post Office Factory.

57. A test examination was applied to the accounts of the Post Office Factory with satisfactory results.

The expenditure on manufacturing jobs, including work in progress on 31st March, 1942, amounted to £22,816; expenditure on repair works (other than repairs to mechanical transport) amounted to £14,268, and expenditure on mechanical transport repairs amounted to £2,189.”

172. Deputy McCann.—With regard to paragraph 57, has alternative accommodation been acquired since the fire at the factory?

Mr. O’Hegarty.—We managed, by rearrangement, to provide temporary accommodation in other Post Office buildings, and we are going to proceed with the erection of a new factory at Kingsbridge.

173. In the meantime, how many workers have had to be laid off?—There were about 20 female workers. We managed to keep on nearly all the male workers and some of the females.

174. Were they machinists?—Yes.

175. Is there any hope that they will be re-employed in the near future?—We hope so. We will give them special consideration for any work that may turn up.

176. Had any of the work to be sublet to outside contractors?—No. It was special work that we were doing ourselves, which we could not get done outside.

177. I was only thinking that, in the event of any such work having to be done outside, a recommendation might be made to the outside employers on behalf of the workers who had been employed there?—We would do that, of course.

178. Chairman.—We will now turn to the Vote. With regard to subhead E. 5., is it true that a good deal of the mails being sent by transatlantic air mail are in fact being carried by ships at the present time?—I cannot say. There is no guarantee from the other side that they will necessarily send the mails by air. They may send them by air or ship, according as is convenient.

179. They charge you a fee?—Yes, but they do not guarantee to send them by air. It depends on the transport space.

180. And we are obliged to accept a contract, which provides that the mails will be sent by air or ship at the discretion of the other party?—Yes.

181. Is there even a statement that, provided transport is available, they will go by air?—Oh, yes. That is understood, of course.

182. I was recently informed that a good deal of those mails are in fact going by ships at present?—It would be impossible to say how they are going. We do get a good deal of them by air undoubtedly.

183. With regard to subhead Q. 2., is it still possible to get telephones installed? —It is possible in some areas and to some extent. Supplies of telephone apparatus generally are dwindling out, and the obtaining of new supplies is a matter of very great difficulty.

184. But it is still possible in some cases to get a telephone installed?—It is possible.

185. I suppose mainly in urban centres, where wires and so forth are readily accessible?—Yes.

186. Deputy Benson.—There is one point which I wish to raise, but I am not sure to what heading it relates. It is one which you, Sir, have raised almost every year, if not every year; it is the question of the very considerable delay in getting replies from, I think, “31”, “35”, “37” and “0” on the automatic exchange in Dublin. We have frequently been assured that an improvement would take place, but my experience is that there has been no improvement at all. I have waited for as long as two minutes for an answer from “0”. I do not know whether that is due to lack of staff, or whether any improvement can be effected.

Mr. O’Hegarty.—When that happens again, will you write to the Post Office giving us the exact time?

Deputy Benson.—I will, on the next occasion.

Deputy McCann.—It is a very general complaint.

Mr. O’Hegarty.—If people who have had that experience would write to us giving us the exact time, we would find it much easier to deal with the matter.

187. Chairman.—Taking the average citizen, he finds it extremely distasteful, after having written seven times and being dealt with on each occasion with unfailing courtesy and his complaint received with every conceivable consideration, to present an eighth complaint. The Post Office have a most disarming way of acknowledging the reasonableness of your complaint, providing the fullest explanation and thanking you for your co-operation in informing them. But, within a week, exactly the same situation arises, and you feel churlish in approaching so courteous a body of gentlemen with exactly the same complaint, having in your portfolio a letter informing you that the matter will be attended to forthwith. The question has been raised once or twice in Dáil Eireann with the Minister, and I think on each occasion it is true to say that there was a temporary improvement, invariably followed by a relapse. I think if you ask citizens of your acquaintance, Mr. O’Hegarty, you will discover that to them it is a hideous ordeal to have to call “0” or “31”. The only one that answers with reasonable promptitude is the number dialled for telegraphs, “39” I think it is, but with “31” or “30” or “0” the bell may ring fifteen to twenty times. Habitually, I call the supervisor and tell her how many times the bell has rung. She always suggests to me, in the most charming possible way, that I must have a bell in my ear—but always with perfect courtesy.

Mr. O’Hegarty.—I shall get the files out and look into the whole question again.

188. Chairman.—I am very grateful. Instead of writing a letter, do you not think it is rather a good suggestion to call the supervisor and inform her as to how many times the bell has rung? That does time it precisely?—It does.


Mr. P. S. O’Hegarty further examined.

188a. Deputy McCann.—With regard to subhead B.—Cost of Daily Programmes —I see there was a saving of £2,280 in respect of the non-operation of short-wave services. There was still £1,244 not spent on daily programmes, and £927 and £527 were spent in respect of copyright and artists’ fees. What was the objection to spending the full amount saved on the short-wave station? What was the objection to paying the full amount in copyright fees and artists’ fees?—Why should we increase the fees merely for a reason like that? We pay the fees which we regard as proper. Why should we automatically increase them them?

189. The contention is that the fees were not proper?—I do not accept that contention at all.

190. The Minister, on the other hand, has been making the case for a very long time that he had been trying to get money for this purpose. Now, when Dáil Eireann votes a certain sum under sub-head B. surely that total sum should have been spent, and could have been spent, without question from the Department of Finance?—It could have been spent, yes.

Chairman.—Here we must go cautiously. Mr. O’Hegarty has a certain responsibility, for which he must answer to us. The Minister has his responsibility. Mr. O’Hegarty’s responsibility is to see that the money is spent in accordance with the instructions of Dáil Eireann. If the Minister desires to increase the scale of fees, that is his business, but I do not think we can challenge Mr. O’Hegarty as to why he did not spend the full sum under sub-head B. if, in fact, he paid the rates laid down for copyright fees and artists’ fees. I think the general question of artists’ fees must be raised in Dáil Eireann and not at the Public Accounts Committee.

Deputy McCann.—But when a certain sum is voted for the cost of daily programmes, and when the Director of Radio Eireann and the Minister tell us that they simply have not got enough money, it seems to me illogical that there should be a surplus.

Chairman.—Surely you do not want Mr. O’Hegarty to say that the Minister is a liar?

Deputy McCann.—I should like if Mr. O’Hegarty would say who really dictates what should or should not be paid to artists?

191. Chairman.—Who fixes the scale of artists’ fees?—We have certain general authorities from the Department of Finance with regard to artists’ fees. Within those limits the Director of Broadcasting has practically full power to pay fees; he is not interfered with, to any extent, from my office. I have general directive control over him, and, while I give a decision if it is wanted, I do not believe in interfering with the man whose primary responsibility it is. Personally, I would be unable to advise the Minister to increase the fees merely because he had a little money available in the Vote. I think that fees should be increased if the increase is of itself justified, not otherwise.

192. On the other hand, if a recommendation is forwarded from the Director of Broadcasting that the fees should be increased, and if the money is available— as it would appear in this case the money was available under subhead B.—that would be a reason for acceding to the Director’s request?—Oh, yes. Of course, the money is available in a sense, but the Accounting Officer is always prejudiced in favour of spending it under the exact sub-section of the subhead for which it is voted.

193. And this money more or less fortuitously came in as a result of the closing down of the short-wave station?—Yes.

194. Deputy McCann.—There is no hope whatever of the short-wave station operating until normal times?—We operated it and we found it was not being heard anywhere because of the emergency conditions. There is a multiplicity of short-wave stations operating everywhere and they black everything out.

195. Chairman.—With regard to sub-head C.—Musical Instruments, Music, etc.—was it not possible to get the records on which £46 customs duty was paid from a domestic source of supply?— These are provided free by the gramophone companies. We only pay the customs charges.

196. And though they are free gifts, customs duty has to be paid on them, that is, it is not an ad valorem duty?—Yes.

197. Deputy McCann.—Are many of these records used?—They are used in the gramophone hour.

198. The general run of records are free?—Yes, to broadcasting stations.

199. Chairman.—And is there a consideration that the names and numbers of the records will be mentioned after the performance?—Yes, that is always done.

200. That is the consideration?—Yes.

201. With regard to subhead E.—Light, Power, etc.—what was the reduction in the programme hours?—There was a very slight reduction. I do not quite recollect what it was but it was at the beginning of the push for economy owing to the emergency. I think it has been offset since.

202. Deputy McCann.—In the original children’s hour?—Yes.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill called and examined.

203. Chairman.—There is no note by the Comptroller and Auditor General. With regard to subhead C.—Preparation of Irish Vocabularies—has the work on the preparation of these vocabularies been suspended?—Yes. We have not gone on with the vocabularies as we have covered all the ground that was necessary for our schools. We have a token Vote in case any further vocabularies should be needed, but that is all.

204. Deputy Benson.—With regard to subhead D.—Appropriations in Aid—was there not some question about a sum of money which the Registration Council has, or am I on the wrong track altogether? Is this not a body which takes fees from teachers for registration?—That would come under Vote 47, Secondary Education. It does take fees for registration.

Mr. McGrath.—You will find it in the account at the end of the Secondary Education Vote.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill further examined.

Subhead A. 3.—Preparatory Colleges, etc.

“36. The average boarding cost per head for the school year 1941-42 ranged from 10/1 to 12/7 per week, showing an increase in each college as compared with the previous year. The average fee paid by the students for the school year 1941-42 was £9 18s. 11d. Accounts have been furnished showing the receipts and expenditure in connection with the farms and gardens during the school year 1941-42. In four out of the five accounts the receipts are shown to have exceeded the expenditure.”

205. Chairman.—Have you anything you wish to add to that, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—That is the usual informative paragraph.

206. There is nothing unusual in it?— There is nothing unusual to report.

207. With regard to subhead A. 1.— Training Colleges—what is the present position with regard to them, Mr. O’Neill? —Both Colleges, that is, both girls’ and boys’, are open, but I fear there is a danger that we may have to close the boys’ College for two years.

208. Is that Coláiste Einde in Galway? —No, the training College in Drumcondra. There is a surplus of unemployed teachers still, and if we keep on supplying teachers from the men’s training college we may not be able to take up the surplus.

209. So that in the years 1944, 1945 and 1946 it may become necessary to close the training colleges?—Yes, only the college for men students from 1944 to 1946.

210. On subhead A. 4.—Grants to Colleges Providing Courses in Irish for Primary Teachers—what Colleges are referred to there?—These are Irish Colleges, all in the Gaeltacht, with the exception of one here in Dublin. They get these grants if they supply special classes for teachers. Teachers get refresher courses in Irish at these colleges in Donegal, Galway and elsewhere in the Gaeltacht, and at the College in Dublin. We pay at the rate of 9d. an hour for teachers who are actually in the service or who have been in the service.

211. In connection with subhead C. 1. —Salaries, etc., of Teachers in Ordinary and Model Schools and in Reformatory and Industrial Schools and Grants to Schools Paid on a Capitation Basis—there was a tentative regulation made requiring industrial schools to remove from the rolls of national schools which they were also operating, the names of industrial school children. Has that matter been disposed of satisfactorily?—Yes, pupils in respect of whom grants are not payable by the Industrial Schools Branch may now be included in the computation of average attendance for the purpose of payment of capitation grants and other grants under the ordinary National School Rules. The pupils who can be included fall into three classes, pupils who are committed but are in excess of the licensed number, voluntary pupils and pupils sent to the industrial schools by the boards of assistance.

212. In connection with subhead C. 3. —Van and Boat Services—what are the rights of citizens to demand a van and boat service? I have a case in mind of Horse Island off County Cork where there are a certain number of children who are being required by the Department to travel to the mainland or to leave their parents’ homes and reside with strangers in order to get education on the mainland.—Are these people not entitled to insist that, instead of the children travelling, a teacher should travel out to them?—Our rules require a certain minimum number of children for the establishment of a school in any area. As regards compulsory attendance of children the Attendance Act prescribes a certain mileage—three miles—inside which a child has to attend school, but the point as to whether island parents have a right under the Constitution to insist that a teacher should be supplied on the island has never been raised. What usually happens is that we either supply a daily boat service to the mainland or the children stay on the mainland and are boarded there. We pay a certain small boarding fee for them—I think it comes to 1/-.—As regards compulsion to attend, while the School Attendance Act compels children within three miles of a national school to attend under normal circumstances, there is no power to compel attendance under abnormal conditions such as, I imagine, a court would consider residence on an island on which there was no school.

213. Suppose parents demand education for their children. Are they not entitled to require the Department to furnish them with a teacher who will be accessible and not place upon the children the obligation of crossing the sea or living away from their parents’ homes?—That would depend on such practical considerations as the number of children. If there are only a few, it would seem more practical to arrange to have them brought to the mainland. As regards the starting of a school, it has always been assumed under our dual system of control that that was the function of the local manager. The Department of Education or the old Commissioners never supplied education automatically. What happened was that, under the managerial system, a manager applied for a school and the Department of Education supplied two-thirds of the cost of building and paid the teachers’ salaries if it decided that the school was necessary. There is a rule, by which if there are less than seven pupils we cannot supply a school or a teacher even under abnormal circumstances, but we could, of course, go to the Department of Finance for permission if the circumstances were very abnormal. As regards the rights of parents to demand a school, that would, I imagine, in practice depend on local circumstances. The question has never been raised.

214. I think you will find correspondence in your Department relating to Horse Island and I should be grateful if you would look into the particular circumstances there to see if, under this van and boat service, an adequate convenience is being provided?—We actually supply a boat service there, I imagine.

215. I do not think you do?—We do supply such services where there is a certain minimum number of pupils.

216. I remember your mentioning on a previous occasion that in connection with Protestant schools in remote areas bus services were provided in order to enable children to assemble at a school acceptable to their parents and it seemed odd to me that in connection with this place, where the population is exclusively Catholic, the children were required either to leave their parents’ homes or to face a daily journey across the sea to get education, when there seemed to be a sufficient number of children on the island to justify the employment of a teacher?—It would depend on the actual number of children, not on whether they were Catholic or Protestant. It is merely that, owing to the small numbers of Protestants in rural areas, cases of hardship arise more frequently for their communities, but, in general, it may be said that under our rules we have no power to give a teacher where there are less than seven pupils, though in the case of a bus service or boat service we might make a grant down to five or six pupils.

217. I think that in this case there is a larger number than seven?—Then I cannot understand it. Normally we cannot give a new school where there are under 20 pupils but in the case of islands we could certainly get sanction for a teacher if there were any chance of a permanent attendance of half that number. I feel that the Department of Finance would be willing to meet us in such a case.

218. Perhaps you would look into it at your convenience?—I shall.

219. Deputy Benson.—With regard to subhead C. 6.—Grants Towards the Cost of Heating, etc., of Schools and Cleansing of Out-Offices—I should like to know what control does the Department of Education exercise in connection with new schools. I admit that this is not entirely relevant, but a school was recently built in Milltown—a very admirable building in its way, but there is no space around it where the children can play. In my view, the building is in the wrong place. Actually, the building of the school was started before the Town Planning Committee could have had anything to do with it. What I want to know is whether the Department of Education would have anything to say in that matter, or whether it is a matter for the manager of the school.

Mr. O’Neill.—Not merely for the manager. So far as the building is concerned, it has to be inspected and passed by the Board of Works.

220. Deputy Benson.—Would it not be a proper policy of the Department of Education to see that a playing space would be provided around the school?

Mr. O’Neill.—A certain amount of ground has to be provided around the school, but we do not provide recreation fields or playing fields in the ordinary sense of the word.

221. Deputy Benson.—I am not asking that the Department should provide playing-fields, such as for football and so on, but surely the children should have enough space in which to play. The school to which I am referring is surrounded by private residences and private gardens, and I understand that there is no playing space for the children.

Mr. O’Neill.—I do not know the actual circumstances there, but before we sanctioned a site as suitable we would require a certain amount of space to be provided around the school. There may have been some special circumstances operating in connection with that school which made it impossible to provide the space but I can hardly believe that we should have approved of the site if such were the case. However, I can get the information for the Deputy.

222. Chairman.—I take it, Mr. O’Neill, that you will get the information on that matter for the Deputy?

Mr. O’Neill.—Yes.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill further examined.

Non-Voted Services.

Erasmus Smith Endowment.

37. The Abbey School, Tipperary, formerly known as “The Tipperary Grammar School”, was transferred to the Minister for Education in 1938 in accordance with the provisions of the Erasmus Smith Schools Act No. 1 (Private), 1938. The school buildings were almost completely destroyed by fire in November, 1941, and a sum of £7,500, being the amount for which the burnt buildings were insured, was received by the Minister in May, 1942.

The Erasmus Smith Schools Act Scheme, 1941, the adoption of which was ordered by the High Court of Justice on 2nd July, 1942, provides, inter alia, for the reconstruction, equipment and reopening of the Abbey School.”

223. Chairman.—Have you any further information to add to that, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—Only to the extent that there are certain funds in connection with these schools, which are set out on page 156 of the Appropriation Accounts. The nominal value of these funds is approximately £61,200, and the yearly income from that sum is £2,600. I am speaking of the income on the investments.

224. Chairman.—The annual income?— Yes.

225. And that includes a balance for the letting and grazing of land?—No. That is in addition.

226. When is it proposed to start reconstructing the school, Mr. O’Neill?

Mr. O’Neill.—We hope to have it started very soon. The plans have been approved by the Minister.

227. Who manages affairs in connection with such schools under the Erasmus Smith Schools Act?—The Abbey School is to be under the Christian Brothers.

228. Was there not some grant in connection with this Vote, or in connection with some of the Votes for the Department of Education, in regard to Éigse or publications by the Irish Folklore Commission?—It would not come under this particular Vote. The grant to the Folklore Commission comes under Vote 49, but I do not think we ever financed Élise at all. It is probably under the Stationery Office Vote, which includes grants to periodicals published in Irish.

229. Deputy Brady.—Is anybody now dealing with the history of Irish counties or districts since the death of Father O’Flanagan?—Not at the moment. That would come under the Vote for Science and Art, Vote 49.

Chairman.—I think it might be better to postpone the question till we come to the appropriate subhead.

230. Deputy Benson.—I should like to refer to this matter of the Registration Council, which is mentioned on page 156. As I understand it, this Registration Council has money which nobody can deal with.

231. Chairman.—Can you tell us anything, Mr. O’Neill, about the Registration Council?—It is a statutory body set up under the Intermediate Education Act of 1914. The fund is constituted under a regulation of the council. As regards control of the fund the Minister is actually in charge of it, but he does not own the funds. He holds them and, if necessary, he can sell stock to meet any difficulties that might arise.

232. Deputy Benson.—The difficulty is that the teachers feel that they are paying money into this fund, and the money never comes out. I understand that they have put up schemes to the Minister as to how the money could be used. Is that the case?—The proposal was, I think, to devote portion of the fund to financing a benevolent scheme for the benefit of one section of the teachers. I take it that the regulations would have to be amended if the money were to be used for any purpose not connected with registration.

233. Chairman.—What are the monies, accumulated in this fund, intended for?— The council, every five years, has to bring out a new set of registrations, and the money is used for the purpose of defraying all expenses in connection with that, or in dealing with current expenditure incurred in connection with the registration of teachers—correspondence, and so on. In the circumstances I do not think that the Minister has power to sanction any other use of this money apart from the fact that it would hardly be equitable to allow a fund accumulated from the fees of all sections of teachers to be used to finance a benevolent scheme which is for the benefit of only one of these sections.

234. Deputy Benson.—But the sum seems to be increasing, and it would seem that nothing can be done with it?

Mr. O’Neill.—I think the uses to which the fund can be put are limited by the nature of its sources. The use of the fund for the purposes of benevolent schemes for the benefit of one section of the teachers could hardly be deemed equitable.

235. Deputy Benson.—My information is that the proposals have been put up to the Minister, and I should be glad to have information with regard to that.

Mr. O’Neill.—I shall let the Deputy have information on the matter.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill called.

No questions.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill further examined.

Subhead B.1.—Publications in Irish.

38. In previous reports I referred to expenditure incurred in connection with the preparation of a glossary of words and phrases in use in a Gaeltacht area and stated that under the terms of a new agreement the author was to have his work completed by 31st March, 1942. The Minister for Education, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, subsequently agreed to extend the time to be allowed to the author to 31st December, 1942. I understand that the final instalment of the work was received by the latter date. The payments to the author and the editor made to 31st March, 1942, in respect of the undertaking amounted to £3,075 5s., of which £1,165 5s. is charged in the year under review.”

236. Chairman.—Do you wish to add anything, Mr. McGrath?

Mr. McGrath.—I should like to say that, in addition to the sum I mention there, there will be a further sum accruing to the author and the editor.

236a. Chairman.—In addition to the sum of £3,075 5s. already disbursed, I understand that there is a further sum which will become due in the near future.

Mr. O’Neill.—Yes.

237. Chairman.—I understand that we have gathered, approximately, 2,200,000 words.

Mr. O’Neill.—The position is peculiar. In the beginning, our difficulty was to get anybody in the Gaeltacht to give us collections of the actual speech of the various areas. In Donegal, where we did get a collection, for instance, the number of words we got was quite small. In other Gaeltacht areas we got nothing, but when we came to Kerry, we got a deluge.

238. Chairman.—Have any reliable authorities examined this vocabulary with a view to ascertaining, whether, in fact, the people in Kerry normally use a conversation that would include 2,200,000 words.

Mr. O’Neill.—It is not a question of their using so many words. The 2,200,000 words are due to the fact that the explanations of the words are given in Irish. In any extensive dictionary of any language, French, German, and so on, the various uses of the words are illustrated by phrases and the author of the Irish dictionary has similarly illustrated the various uses of each word very copiously.

239. Chairman.—Yes, and I should imagine that if one gets 40/- per 1,000 words, one would naturally illustrate very copiously. What amazes me, Mr. O’Neill, is that you were able to stop this Niagara of words. I understand that it has been stopped at last?

Mr. O’Neill.—Yes, the work is finished.

240. Deputy Brady.—In regard to subhead B. 3, I wanted to know what was being done about county histories now. Is the work being continued? How many have been done?—Just at the moment nothing is being done except that the work that Father O’Flanagan left is being prepared for publication. As regards the preparation of further histories, we are considering whether, in fact, we might not get more interesting histories in each county if we could get someone in the county who is interested in local history to write a history of that county for us. In nearly every county there are one or two people at least who are interested in local history, who have a feeling for it. We have not put our proposals to the Department of Finance yet, but we have been formulating a scheme of prizes for the various counties which would enable us to publish histories by local writers. If we gave them a certain amount in the way of prizes as an inducement to them to start writing local histories we might get some very good work. If we can cover Ireland in that way, the histories would probably be better done than by having any one man deal with the whole country. Of course we may have to go back to the one man scheme if we do not get results from a prize scheme for local enthusiasts.

241. How many histories have been completed?—There are eight completed and we have material for two more actually collected by Father O’Flanagan but not put into shape.

242. Chairman.—Was not there some scheme under which a certain group of scholars were editing texts from the academy?—Yes.

243. Has that been suspended?—Not yet. We still have people working on the scheme, but they are finishing it up. The reason for winding up the scheme is that such work is the work of the Institute of Celtic Studies. It would not be proper for our Department to run separate schemes of a nature similar to those which the Institute was founded to carry out. As regards the staff that were carrying out our scheme, the editor does not get the yearly salary that he got when the scheme was in full operation, but he gets a fee for helping to finish up and we are keeping two of the assistant editors for the same purpose.

244. Who is the editor?—Gearóid O Murchadha.

245. Why is it deemed expedient to wind it up? Has the Department any guarantee that the work will be carried on by the Institute?—None beyond the fact that it is the function of the Institute to do that sort of work. It is the type of work for which they were founded. We only took it on because there was nobody else to do it at the time. Now that they are here we would have to assume that they will include that in their activity.

246. Is it not true that there was a body of trained workers actually doing this work and that have now been scattered?—We had, I think, several assistant editors of whom we have two still and there was the editor, of course, who was superintending the work as a part-time officer. These people will, I imagine, be still available for the Institute as they are all here in Dublin.

247. If the work is desirable—probably I should not ask you that question, Mr. O’Neill; it is more a question of policy than of administration. It suffices to say that the scheme is in process of being wound up?—Yes, it is.

248. What exactly was that described by?—It was under subhead B.1.—Publications in Irish.

249. In the year under review, 1941-42, the suspension of that particular activity had not been decided upon, perhaps?—Yes, but it is not customary to give notice in the Appropriation Accounts of the suspension of activities except in so far as the expenditure on such activities does not appear in it. In this Account it is included in “Publications in Irish”. There are four different activities included under that subhead.

250. And, in fact, there was excessive expenditure on that subhead in the particular half year, owing to other activities?—Yes.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill further examined.

251. Chairman.—In regard to subhead A., are the premises now in Daingean satisfactory?—We consider them satisfactory. They have been completely reconstructed. Originally they were in a poor condition but there has been very complete reconstruction.

252. You are now satisfied in your mind that they are really good premises for the purpose?—Yes, our inspectors are satisfied that they are. We have reports on all these schools as a result of inspection by a trained woman of long experience in Great Britain.

253. Is it open to a Deputy of Dáil Eireann to seek admission to premises of that kind and to see it?—We would welcome it.

254. In regard to subhead C., when is it proposed to give effect to the announcement by the Minister for Justice that the place of detention is going to be abolished in favour of a clinic in which children under retention will be retained?—At the moment we are going into the question of buildings. Marlborough House, in Glasnevin, is being considered. There are certain difficulties but it is under consideration. That is all I can say at present as the Department of Finance will have to come into it.

255. May we assume that the matter will be treated with all due expedition?— I think we have made up our minds on the point that we will have to have Marlborough House, if possible, in order to develop the examination of delinquent children and have some positive treatment for them where possible.

256. Quite. Have you any information to give us, Mr. Almond, as to the mind of the Department of Finance on that matter?

Mr. Almond.—We have not been approached so far. It will receive the usual sympathetic consideration.

257. Chairman.—I hope I am right in believing that you emphasise the word “sympathetic,” Mr. Almond?

Mr. Almond.—Exactly.

Deputy Allen.—They would be quite suitable premises.

258. Chairman.—Will all due despatch be observed in this matter?

Mr. O’Neill.—There were certain local difficulties and other obstacles that had to be surmounted.

Mr. Almond.—I may mention that there are other applicants for the premises that Mr. O’Neill mentioned. I know that from another angle. That may affect his particular problem.

Chairman.—I hope that will merely serve as a spur upon Mr. O’Neill to prosecute his representations.


Mr. Seosamh O’Neill further examined.

259. Chairman.—In connection with this annual grant under Section 25 (1) of the Institute for Advanced Studies Act, 1940, is it correct that the lecturers in the Institute have recently been required to sign a new form of contract prohibiting them from publishing work in any learned publication except with the imprimatur of the director of the Institute?—I have not heard of that, but their work under the conditions of service belongs to the Institute. So, it is quite possible that some action may have been taken to prevent their publishing it elsewhere. Under the conditions of service it is the right of the Institute to insist that, in regard to work by any of their professors or assistants the Institute must give permission for the publication outside. This would apply of course only to any work which would be related to the functions of the Institute. Apart from that, an officer can publish work on other unrelated matters.

260. Am I to take it that the Department of Education has no function to investigate whether the conditions obtaining in the Institute remain the same as those which obtained when the grant was originally made available to them?—Of course, if there was any change made in the conditions there would always be the right of appeal to the Minister. The Minister for Education is the final authority, apart from the courts.

261. Has your attention not been directed at all to the fact that a new form of contract has been presented to lecturers who are already in the employment of the Institute?—No, I have not heard of any such contract being presented.

262. Would you inquire into that matter?—Certainly, but unless there is an appeal, it is doubtful that the Minister could intervene. He has certain positive powers but mostly his powers are negative powers, that is powers of veto; I am pretty certain that the matter would have come before us, however, if there was anything like an attempt to alter conditions of service. There has been no appeal of any sort from anybody on such a matter.

263. There may be no appeal because nobody may have taken the initiative in the matter but that a new form of contract has been presented is a matter of fact, Mr. O’Neill?—Possibly; but it seems strange that such a thing could have happened without our sanction. I would have expected that such an alteration would be put up to the Minister for his approval as a positive thing, apart from appeal.

264. Perhaps you will cause inquiry to be made with a view to ascertaining whether that information is correct?— Certainly.

265. I would be glad if you would give us the result of your inquiries,* if that would be convenient, Mr. O’Neill?—Yes.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned at 12.45 p.m. until Thursday next.

* Appendix VI.

* Appendix VII.