Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1943 - 1944::11 October, 1945::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 11ú Deireadh Fómhair, 1945.

Thursday, 11th October, 1945.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:


B. Brady.



P. Cogan.


E. Coogan.


M. E. Dockrell.


DEPUTY COSGRAVE in the chair.

Mr. J. Maher (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste), Mr. G. P. S. Hogan and Mr. L. M. Fitzgerald (An Roinn Airgeadais), called and examined.


Mr. J. Connolly called and examined.

Paragraph 11 in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General:

Insurance of Workmen.

“As stated in a note to the account, sums amounting to £15,380 4s. 10d. expended in prior years 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, remain charged to suspense. In addition, a sum of £6,017 4s. 0d., being portion of the premium paid for the year 1938-39, also remains charged to a suspense account pending settlement of the Commissioners’ claim against the Liquidator. Sums amounting to £1,908 18s. 0d. which would otherwise have been payable to the Association under the policies have been retained by the Commissioners as a set-off against their claim. I have been informed that progress has been made in the liquidation proceedings since the date of the last report.”

765. Chairman.—Anything to add, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Since the date of this report the Accounting Officer has informed us that there are approximately 11,000 contributors on the list, and that until the result of the call which is being made on those contributors is known it would be impossible to say what amount will be available to meet the claims.

766. Chairman.—Can you say, Mr. Connolly, how much each of the contributors is liable for?

Mr. Connolly.—£5 each. We understand that the examiner has before him the form of demand which is to be made on the 11,000 contributors, and that it is expected to go out reasonably soon.

767. I presume that a number of these contributors have died?—My own view is that it will be difficult to collect.

768. If there is no other question, we can now turn to the Vote itself.

Deputy Sheldon.—I observe in the Statement of Receipts and Payments by the Commissioners of Public Works that in paragraph (b) it is stated that a deficiency of £3 15s. 10d. in this account during the year was met by transfer of that amount which was charged to the Public Works and Buildings Vote, No. 10. I am wondering why that deficiency should be charged to another Vote?—The position with regard to the Linen Hall is that, under an old statute, we have to account for all the financial transactions in it. We collect a certain amount of rent for it. The Board of Works actually occupies a considerable portion of the old Linen Hall as a furniture store, and the deficit is paid out of our Vote. The amount, I think, is £3 15s. 10d., and that is made up out of our Vote. We must balance that account under the old statute under which the Linen Hall was taken over.

769. Chairman.—I see on page 20 under Subhead E.—Appropriations in Aid —that item (2) refers to payments in respect of agency services, including services performed for the British Government. What are those services?—Such services as the Leopardstown Hospital for ex-Servicemen in the last war. Then there are services that we render at the official offices of the British here.

770. Deputy Sheldon.—Do you get similar repayments from other countries for work done for them?—Yes, for anything of that nature. We not only charge for it, but we charge an over-head service fee of 12½ per cent.

771. Deputy Dockrell.—This is only for the British Government, but you might do work for others too?—We do services for the others on occasion.

772. It says “including”?—It is not solely their service.


Mr. J. Connolly further examined.

Paragraph 12 in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General:

Subhead B.—New Works,-Alterations and Additions.

“Following on the issue of Emergency Powers (No. 260) Order, 1943 (Statutory Rules and Orders, No. 50 of 1943), made on 2nd March, 1943, which permitted emergency increases in wages to certain classes of workers on Bonus Orders made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, it was decided, with the concurrence of the Department of Finance, that the war clause in building contracts which restricted the recoupment to contractors to increases of wages in excess of 5 per cent. of the rate of wages current at date of tender required modification. In the case of contracts made prior to 8th April, 1942, the date of Emergency Powers (No. 166) Order, 1942 (Statutory Rules and Orders, No. 121 of 1942), it was agreed to admit in full on an ex-gratia basis claims by contractors for increases paid on Bonus Orders. Similar claims on contracts entered into between 8th April, 1942, and 11th June, 1943, have also been admitted on an ex-gratia basis, subject to the Commissioners being satisfied that the tender price did not include a provision against the contingency. A revised war clause providing that claims by contractors, in respect of wage increases on Bonus Orders made during the continuance of their contracts, may be admitted and allowed in full, was included in the conditions of contract, and became effective as from 12th June, 1943. Ex-gratia payments made during the year in pursuance of these arrangements have been noted in the account.”

773. Chairman.—Anything you have to add, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Following the issue by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Bonus Orders granting an increase of wages under the war clause in building contracts, which made the first 5 per cent. of such increase the responsibility of contractors, it was reconsidered and it was decided to recoup contractors the full amount of the increase granted under the Bonus Order. The paragraph shows the steps taken to implement this decision.

774. Chairman.—The second portion of paragraph 12 in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

“Included in the amount charged to New Works No. 77, National Schools, Grants for Building, etc., is a sum of £64 17s. 4d., being the final payment for the completion of a new school. A contract amounting to £1,733 3s. for the erection of this school was due for completion in December, 1939. As the school was not finished by the due date the time for completion was extended. In March, 1940, it was discovered that the contractor had removed the plant from the site without completing the work, and as a result the contract, on foot of which £240 had been paid, was terminated and another tender for completing the work accepted at £1,729. Under the terms of the original contract the contractor was liable for the additional expenditure occasioned by his default; he was unable to meet this obligation, and the Commissioners were advised that no claim lay against his sureties because they had not been informed, in due course, that the time for completion of the contract had been extended. It was noted that certain sums due to this contractor under another contract were disbursed on his behalf subsequent to his default. I have inquired as to the circumstances in which these moneys were paid and the cause of the omission to notify the sureties of the extension of time granted to the contractor.”

Anything to add, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—In this case the contractor defaulted after he had been granted an extension of time and the Commissioners, having been advised that failure to notify the contractor’s sureties of the extension released the sureties of their obligations, accepted a compromise payment of 2/6 per week against a claim of approximately £300. The Accounting Officer has informed us that the Commissioners were subsequently advised that the earlier legal opinion on which they had acted may not have been sound, but the acceptance of the compromise settlement in any event released the sureties from their obligations. As regards the further question of the Commissioners’ powers to withhold the sum of £59 16s. due to the defaulting contractor on another contract and setting it off against the loss sustained by the default, the Accounting Officer has stated that the Commissioners are advised that they had no legal right to set off that sum against their claim which was unascertained at the time. I observe, however, that after the date of the payment of £59 16s. was made it was known that the Commissioners were committed to additional expenditure through the contractor’s default amounting to, at least, this sum. In view of the circumstances it seems to me that the rights and obligations of sureties and the question of set-off requires some clarification.

775. Chairman.—Have you taken any steps, Mr. Connolly, to have the matter further clarified?—We have taken what steps we could to protect ourselves. As regards sureties, our experience of them is very bad. This particular contract was a singularly unfortunate one for the board, and infinitely more unfortunate for the contractor. As a matter of fact, I feel on my conscience that we put this man out of business by trying to get him to carry on during the early days of the war. The combination of the two contracts really put him out of business and made him bankrupt.

776. Would you consider referring the matter to the Attorney General for his opinion on the question of sureties?— Well, we could do it if we are directed to do it, but, personally, I doubt if it would be of any value. In this particular case it would be impossible, I think, to collect any more from the bankrupt builder. It would be a waste of money to try to do that. With regard to sureties, my own view about them is that if we cannot get builders that we can trust without sureties it would really be as well to pass them by. The Committee can understand our difficulty in getting builders at all in some remote parts of the country to undertake contracts, particularly small jobs, such as the repair of schools and such like. That has always been a problem.

777. In a place like Cloonfad would it not be possible to get a contractor from the town of Roscommon, a person known to be in a financially sound position?— That is not so easy, and when you do get them you do so at what seems to be an exorbitant price in comparison with the charges made by smaller men who are prepared to work on a much smaller margin of profit and who very often work below cost unwittingly.

778. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—You are bound to take the lowest tender?—We are not bound to take the lowest tender, but it is the general practice unless we have something against the contractor. Unless the contractor has proved himself to be incompetent, we do take the lowest tender. You sometimes come up against a problem, as in this case, with a builder who had done a very good job up to a certain point, who had earned his certificate as he went along, and was well within his time on the first contract. He got this second contract while there was only about £96 of the work to do on the first one. He was unfortunate in this way: there was a certain amount of delay in getting him going, due to delay in delivering material to be supplied by the manager on the site. He also had certain difficulties himself. His house was burned down, and then the war came along and the man was smashed.

779. Chairman.—While we accept the circumstances in this case as being unusual, I think the Committee are anxious to ensure that in future cases the position of sureties should be quite clear?—Well, we can submit it to the Attorney General and get a ruling on this particular point, that is whether sureties must be notified at every extension of the period or at the termination of the contract. I take it that is what you have in mind?

780. I think, in all the circumstances, it might be as well. While the loss was not very considerable here, if a number of those items occurred the total might be far greater?—Yes.

781. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—Of course it was a very difficult period?—Yes. The period between the completion of one contract and the starting of the other synchronised with the beginning of the war: There was a complete hold-up, and the man with poor credit or very little resources had no way of getting through the awkward patch at that particular time. My sympathy is all with the contractor in this case, I must say.

781a. Chairman.—In one of these cases the actual work was scheduled to finish by December, 1939. I think the supply situation was not as acute then as it became subsequently during the emergency? —Well, as I said, there was a delay in starting, due to the failure of the manager to deliver all the materials on the site. Then he had a fire in January, 1940. There was no hope at any time of getting him to finish by the date of the contract. I may say that in the case of country contracts it scarcely ever happens that they do finish in time. Unfortunately, we have to extend the date three or four or five times in order to get the job through.

782. Deputy Sheldon.—Was there not a difficulty right from the beginning of the war? You mentioned credit. They found that in order to get materials they had to pay cash? That might have caused his difficulty?—Difficulty was caused to a lot of small contractors in that way.

783. Chairman.—Paragraph 13 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report reads as follows:—

Subhead F.—Fuel, Light, Water, Cleaning, etc.

“In July, 1941, arrangements were made with a local authority for the supply of 10,000 tons of turf at 25/-per ton, free on rail, and 10,771 tons were accepted and paid for on this basis. In 1943, when the final cost of the turf produced by the local authority in 1941 had been ascertained, a supplementary claim was received and, following a local investigation by officers of the Department of Local Government and Public Health, the Department of Finance approved of a supplementary payment of £6,334 19s. 3d., which is included in the charge to this subhead, bringing the total cost to £19,798 18s. As the price of 25/- per ton paid in 1941 was not qualified by any condition as to later adjustment, I have deemed it desirable to draw attention to the supplementary payment.”

Have you anything to add to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—It was understood at the time the turf was produced that the price quoted was a firm one. It would seem, however, that the local authorities received an assurance that any loss they suffered in turf production would be made good, and the Department of Finance directed that payment of the ascertained additional cost should be made from this Vote.

784. Chairman.—Paragraph 13 continues:

“A stock of 16,000 tons of turf was purchased in 1941-42 as a reserve supply and stored at centres in Dublin. These supplies were exhausted in March, 1944, when approximately 13,400 tons had been issued, the wastage due to shrinkage, rehandling, etc., amounting to 2,600 tons or 16 per cent. Periodical checks of the stocks of fuel at each centre were not carried out, and I was informed that owing to the frequency of the transfers from these stocks it was not feasible to effect a reconciliation until they were exhausted. It is understood that it is proposed to seek the authority of the Department of Finance to write off the loss incurred.”

Mr. Maher.—The sanction of the Department of Finance to write off the loss has since been obtained.

Mr. Connolly.—I may mention that 16 per cent. is by no means abnormal. We reckon that we are getting off very well if the shrinkage does not exceed 20 per cent., which is the generally accepted percentage of shrinkage.

785. Chairman.—Is that in a year?— Yes.

786. Chairman.—Paragraph 14 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report is as follows:—

Rents Receivable.

“Arrears of rents due to the Commissioners on 31st March, 1944, amounted to £4,442 10s. 3d. compared with £4,760 12s. 5d. on 31st March, 1943. From statements furnished to me with the appropriation account it appears that of these arrears sums amounting to £2,978 have been recovered subsequent to 31st March, 1944, and that of the balance £55 was considered bad or doubtful.

As stated in paragraph 7 of this report, the Commissioners took over as from 1st April, 1943, the duties performed by the former Quit Rent Office in connection with certain properties, including the collection of rents. Arrears of rent on these properties on the 1st April, 1943, amounted to £247 2s., of which the sum of £162 10s. 4d. is regarded as irrecoverable and is not included in the arrears shown as outstanding on 31st March, 1944.”

Mr. Maher.—The first sub-paragraph is for information only. It will be noted that the position as regards arrears continues to improve.

Mr. Connolly.—The arrears of £4,442 10s. 3d., which were outstanding at the 31st March, 1944, have been reduced to £898.

Chairman.—That is very satisfactory.

Mr. Connolly.—Strictly speaking, most of these are not arrears except in the bookkeeping sense. We must close our accounts on 31st March, and you may get in £200, £500 or £1,000 between that and 1st May.

787.—Deputy Sheldon.—Where there are bad accounts like this, is the sanction of the Department of Finance necessary to write them off?—Yes, it must be got in all cases.

788. Chairman.—Paragraph 15 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report is as follows:—


“In 1942, thefts of furniture came to light and certain persons who had access to furniture stores in the course of business were prosecuted and convicted. It was not confirmed that all the articles stolen were taken from official stores although they were identified as the property of the Commissioners. A departmental committee which inquired into the matter reported that there was a general weakness in the system of control due to the dispersal of certain stocks which cannot be accommodated in the Central Furniture Stores, but that in their opinion expenditure on an alternative system would not be justified in view of the small risk of loss involved. Some of the stolen property was recovered and set off against ascertained deficiencies in stocks. I have asked for particulars of the furniture involved in the court proceedings.”

Mr. Maher.—Satisfactory replies have been received from the Accounting Officer on the various points raised in this paragraph. As regards this first sub-paragraph, the Department of Finance have sanctioned the write-off of the loss arising out of thefts that came to light in 1942.

789. Chairman.—What did the losses amount to?

Mr. Connolly.—The actual net loss, on our bookkeeping figures, is £17; we have recovered enough of the stuff to reduce it to £17.

790. Chairman.—Paragraph 15 continues:—

“It was observed that, while loans of furniture are acknowledged at the time of receipt, it has not been the practice to carry out any periodical verification of the inventories of such furniture. I was informed in reply to an inquiry that it is proposed to have this done in future.”

What is the procedure when furniture is loaned to another Department?—The procedure is that it is charged out to the Department, on loan, with the date on which it is to come back. It is then followed up on that date. The Department is advised that we propose to call for the furniture which was on loan, and if they want a further loan they have to arrange for it. It is covered by a book transaction all through.

791. Is it proposed now to make an odd check during the year, or would that be very laborious?—We take it, when we loan furniture to a Department, that they are responsible for it while it is on loan to them.

792. And they compensate you if there is anything missing?—Well, there would be a note about it. The Department of Finance would be advised and the auditor would have a note about it.

793. Chairman.—The final sub-paragraph of paragraph 15 reads as follows:—

“With reference to the sale by auction of a stock of surplus and unserviceable furniture, I have communicated with the Accounting Officer regarding the adjustment of the store records consequent on the sale, and the question of the reconciliation of the sale returns. I have also inquired regarding certain furniture not on store ledger charge, and the accounting procedure in relation to surplus and unserviceable furniture.”

Mr. Maher.—The Accounting Officer was informed that an endeavour should be made to reconcile the auctioneer’s return with the entries in the disposals ledger, but for various reasons it was not possible to effect that reconciliation. The reasons given by the Accounting Officer as to why it was impossible to effect a reconciliation between the disposals ledger and the auctioneer’s return were quite satisfactory.

Mr. Connolly.—The auctioneer will group certain things for the advantage of the sale. He may take half-a-dozen things and sell them as a lot. That is what makes it practically impossible to do the reconciliation in detail.

Chairman.—We will now turn to the Vote itself on page 23.

794. Deputy Sheldon.—There is one item to which I should like to call attention. It really arises on some of the details later on but it applies to Subhead B., so it might be as well to mention it now. It is in regard to item 10 on page 30. At the foot of that page there is the following observation: “In addition, materials valued at £100, salvaged from old buildings, and surplus materials valued at £10 from Haulbowline Dockyard, were used on this work.” It is to the item of £10 that I wish to call attention because in the Vote for Haulbowline Dockyard it is given as £15.

Mr. Connolly.—The balance of £5 may well be in our stock, but we try to keep a record of what has been done.

Mr. Maher.—The two notes to which the Deputy has referred are not exactly the same.

795.—Chairman.—I presume that, with regard to Subhead EE., there will be a number of claims in the near future?— No. Perhaps I should explain that that has to do with 1922 and subsequent periods, and does not apply to the present war damage.

796. Well, a note here says that no claim matured for payment within the year. Have some of the 1922 claims not matured yet?—There are two or three claims still outstanding for some reason or another—possibly, because of failure on the part of executors or relatives to take action. These may come along at any time, and that is why this matter is kept open.

797. With regard to Subhead J.7.— Arterial Drainage Surveys—could you say how much of the country has been surveyed up to now?—I could not tell you what percentage of the country has been surveyed, but there has been the catchment of the Brosna, which has been surveyed. The catchment of the Glyde and Dee has been practically completed and we are now doing the Brick and Cashen area and, I think, one other. In other words, I do not suppose we have dealt with more than 10 per cent. of what has to be done.

798. Deputy Lydon.—What hopes have we of getting in machinery for the purpose of arterial drainage?—We are in touch with the manufacturers and, at the moment, it does not look as if we can hope to get in machinery before 12 or 18 months. We are waiting to see how the position may change. The position might be changed by the import of American plant, as America specialises on that type of machinery, but we do not know.

799. But you do not know when you can start?—We cannot start on it until we get the plant.

800.—Deputy E. Coogan.—It is intended to go on with the survey?—Oh, yes.

801. In connection with this survey, is there any order of priority from the point of view of public health or other considerations?—We may make recommendations with regard to priority, but I presume that that will be a matter of Government policy.

802.—In fixing these orders, will the Commissioners take in areas which are subject to periodical flooding—city areas, for instance, as apart from agricultural lands?—Well, that is a big question. We had representations from such places as Kilkenny, which, I suppose, is one of the most important areas.

803. Is it one of the ideas of the Commissioners that such people should be subject to this periodical flooding rather than agricultural lands?—Well, of course, the principal purpose of this drainage scheme is the improvement of land for agricultural purposes, but, no doubt, consideration would be given to areas such as the Deputy has in mind.

804. But, as a matter of policy would it not be a sounder policy, in connection with arterial drainage, to consider the health of the people, and that that should receive first consideration?

805.—Chairman.—I do not want to interrupt the discussion, but I am afraid that that is a matter of policy, which we are precluded from discussing.

Mr. Connolly.—Yes. I am afraid I could not discuss that.

806. Chairman.—On page 26, there is a note about the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park. Is that park now open to the public?—Yes, it is now open. The public, with the exception of those who reside within ten or 15 miles of Killarney, pay a toll, but the park is open to the public as before the war. As a matter of fact, this year we had quite an improvement in the number of people who paid toll to visit the park.

807. I understand that the park at Islandbridge is not open yet?—It is not open yet.

808. Well, is it ready to be opened?— Yes. It is being maintained and kept in order.


Mr. J. Connolly called.

No question.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. C. C. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. C. C. McElligott called and examined.

809. Chairman.—I notice, Mr. McElligott, that on page 73 there is a reference to a large increase in the sale of maps. Can you give us any explanation of that?

Mr. McElligott.—There was a general increase in the sale of most types of maps that we produced in that period, and we are going very strong at present also. For example, we had a stand at the Show at Ballsbridge at which we sold a large number of maps. It would seem that the public is becoming more interested in the purchase of maps.

810. Was that at the Tattoo?—Yes.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. M. Deegan called and examined.

Subhead I—Improvement of Estates, etc.

“44. In connection with the scheme whereby certain lands in County Meath, available for the relief of congestion, are reserved for allottees from the Gaeltacht, sums amounting to £109 6s. expended in providing necessary general improvements are charged to this subhead.—The total expenditure borne on the Vote for Lands in connection with the scheme from its inception in 1934-35 to 31st March, 1944, amounts to £102,960 16s. 11d. In addition, expenditure amounting to £2,050 9s. 10d., which was subsequently recouped to the Land Commission by the Office of Public Works, was incurred in the erection of a schoolhouse.

Under the scheme for the provision of holdings in certain counties in Leinster for migrants from districts where there is acute congestion, the expenditure, apart from the cost of general improvements (roads, drains, fences, etc.), borne on the Vote for Lands during the year amounts to £5,877 4s. 8d. The expenditure on this scheme from its inception in 1937-38 to 31st March, 1944, amounts to £100,342 6s. 6d. made up as follows:—










Free Grants





Stock and Poultry





Grants for Fencing





Fuel and Fodder





Removal Expenses





Tillage, etc.
















Until the scheme is completed it is not possible to apportion the expenditure on general improvements in respect of migrants’ holdings on the estates.”

811. Deputy Sheldon.—With regard to those advances, has any sum been recovered under that head of Advances for Buildings?

Mr. Deegan.—Yes. There are certain advances, and they are repayable as part of the annuities.

812. Chairman.—Have you any idea of how these migrants are working their places?—Yes, Mr. Chairman. The holdings are visited frequently, and they are all doing well. As Deputies, no doubt, are aware, some of the original migrants went back home, but, by and large, these people are doing very well.

813. Have any of them emigrated or, if they have emigrated, do the families remain there?—Yes, the families remain there. These Western people have large families and the result is that some of the young people have gone to seek work in England or are working here in the city, but the families remain to work their holdings.

814. In the case of those who went back, have you brought up other families to replace them?—In three cases we brought up families, but in other cases we gave the holding to the married son of an adjoining migrant.

815. Deputy Dockrell.—Are these migrants getting on well with the people around in the neighbourhood?—Yes, very well. I think they are a distinct addition to the people amongst whom they have settled.

Chairman.—Well, if there is no further question, I think we can turn to the Vote itself.

816. Deputy Dockrell.—Under Subhead H (3) what does “Payments under Section 27 (2) of the Land Act, 1933,” provide for?—It provides for the revision of annuities under that Act. They were halved in most cases. The Vote has to bear the half that does not fall on the annuity-payer. There is a slight increase in the figure year by year.

817.—Chairman.—And on the Vote?— It will be seen that the figure is rising little by little every year.

818. As the figure rises the Vote has to bear a proportion of it?—Exactly.

819. Deputy Dockrell.—When will it be wiped out?—When the annuities come to an end.

820. Is there a Sinking Fund?—Certainly.

821. Roughly, when will that come into operation?—That depends on the amount of the Sinking Fund. The interest is at varying rates according to the years of issue. The total repayment rate is 4¾ per cent. In the early advances the interest was 4½ per cent; then we have some at 4 per cent; now we are down to 3½ per cent. Interest on the Sinking Fund, therefore, varies from ¼ per cent to 1¼ per cent and, consequently, there are varying periods when the annuities come to an end.

822. Deputy Cogan.—Is that mainly in connection with the 1933 Act?—All in connection with land purchase under the 1923 and subsequent Acts.

823. Chairman.—Has there been any improvement in the vesting of estates? —We are getting on better than we were with the vesting of tenanted land. We are making a big push, as anybody who sees issues of the Iris Oifigiúil will notice. We were behindhand. As far as I remember under the 1923 Act, 106,000 holdings came under the Land Commission. We have vested about 31,000 of those, leaving 75,000 still to be vested. We are vesting at the moment, if we can keep it up, about 3,200 a year and we hope to improve considerably on that.

824. The note on page 167 states that certain arrears of annuities were written off, as irrecoverable. In these cases were the sums owed by the tenants or by the actual landlords?—These were tenants who were defaulters where we had to take back the land and find new people to take it, and we were not always able to recover the arrears. In a recent Land Act we got authority with the sanction of the Department of Finance to wipe out arrears where we found it impossible to recover. These were arrears wiped out during 1943-44.


Mr. M. Deegan further examined.

825. Chairman.—Can you say if there is any particular policy in connection with the type of timber planted? I understand from builders that most of the wood planted is of a soft type, and fast growing but not suitable for building material. Subject to whether it is a question of policy or not, can you say if there is any particular scheme adopted by which timber suitable for building or manufacturing purposes is planted?—Naturally our work is to plant commercial timber suitable for industrial and commercial use. We are planting about 12½ per cent of hardwoods and the balance is what is known as softwoods. Although “softwood” technically they are suitable for industrial purposes. The particular timber that builders want comes under the technical heading of “softwood.”

Chairman.—One builder mentioned that a lot of the timber planted was not suitable. I cannot say whether he was talking of the period prior to the time that the Forestry Department took over or whether he referred to the original plantations. He gave me the impression that most of the timber bought was unsuitable for building.

826. Deputy Sheldon.—There is a difficulty about lack of seasoning?—There may be something in that. We grow timber commercially and sell it, but we cannot be held responsible for the way it is treated when sold. I do not want to make any comment on native timber.

827. It is probably due to the shortage and that it has to be used quicker?— There is a shortage and the demand is for immediate use. The temptation to sell timber is there and some people cannot resist it.

828. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—It is often felled at the wrong time of the year, in summer?—There is that also.

829. Deputy Sheldon.—I see that an amount has been written off in respect to fires. Is that a normal amount?— Every Forestry Department and every owner of timber is faced with that.

830. The amount for the year was not abnormal?—No, we have had much heavier losses. We do the best we can to keep it down. We have fire guards and patrols on Saturdays and Sundays. Fires are mostly due to cigarettes and carelessness. In dry seasons there must be some loss.

831. The loss would be a very small percentage?—Very small.

832. Deputy P. Cogan.—Are any of your staff on loan still?—Very few are on loan now. They are practically all back except the inspectors.

833. It that true also in regard to the Land Commission?—I am speaking of the Land Commission. Forestry and the Gaeltacht Services are small departments. It is from the Land Commission that most of our staff were taken. We have got most of them back. The shortage at the moment is 12½ per cent. Some 41 per cent. of our inspectors are still missing. Between loans and unfilled vacancies as far as we are concerned, the total shortage in the Land Commission is 12½ per cent. Our indoor staff is practically all back.


Mr. M. Deegan further examined.

834. Chairman.—The Comptroller and Auditor General has a note on Subhead H.3. (Grants under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts, 1929 to 1939) as follows:—

“45. Under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts, 1929 to 1939, the aggregate amount of grants and loans which may be made is not to exceed £750,000.

During the year the sanction given for certain grants and loans was cancelled as the applicants were unable or unwilling to comply with the conditions attached to the grants or loans.

At 31st March, 1944, the position regarding such grants and loans was as follows:—





(i) Total amount of grants






Total amount of actual






(ii) Total amount of loans






Total amount of loans


for which certificates


have been issued to


the Commissioners


of Public Works



Chairman.—His next note is:—

Industrial Loans.

“46. I have been furnished with a schedule concerning the industrial loans from which it appears that there were no advances made during the year ended 31st March, 1944. Arrears, including interest accrued, due at that date amounted to £10,277 0s. 6d., as compared with £10,157 19s. 7d. on 31st March, 1943. Included in the arrears is a sum of £10,222 9s. 8d. due by a company which ceased to exist in 1925. As stated in previous reports, the realization of such security as is held by the State was the subject of negotiations, but owing to certain legal difficulties realization cannot be effected.”

835. Deputy Sheldon.—Does that mean that that item will have to be written off?

Mr. Deegan.—It will be written off eventually. This item is a hardy annual in the report. It arose out of a loan of about £7,000 made by the Congested Districts Board in 1910 to a company which passed out of existence in 1925 and which paid little or nothing. At present, the amount represents an accumulation of interest year after year. We are awaiting the introduction and passing of a State Lands Act to enable us to sell the property, for which we have been offered £300. If that were done, this item would disappear. It is really only a book-keeping item, with the addition of about £164 for interest.

836. Deputy Lydon.—Was it the Galway Granite Company which was concerned in this case?—Yes.

837. Deputy B. Brady.—As regards subhead D.10, would the amount spent in the purchase of homespuns in 1944-5 be anything like the estimated figure for 1943-4?—I have no information on that. Of course, we are continuing the purchases.

838. I was wondering whether or not the same quantity of homespuns was being produced or purchased?—No; there has been a falling off. As regards the future, production and marketing are in the lap of the gods, but we are hoping to continue the industry and to improve it.

839. Deputy Lydon.—As regards subhead E.4, is there any demand for carrageen in America?

Witness.—There is some demand for commercial carrageen in America.

840. Chairman.—Is that for chemical purposes?—For textile purposes, possibly.

841. Deputy Lydon.—You have not sold any?—We do not sell commercial carrageen at all.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. W. E. Wann called and examined.

No question.

The Committee adjourned.