MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 12ú Iúil, 1945.
Thursday, 12th July, 1945.
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
Mr. J. Maher (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) and Mr. C. S. Almond (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.
Lieutenant-General P. MacMahon called and examined.
Paragraph 64 in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General:
“As in previous years, details of the distribution of the grant amongst the various heads of expenditure were not included in the estimate presented to Dáil Éireann and accordingly the appropriation account shows only the total expenditure. Particulars showing the allocation of the grant against the several heads, as approved by the Department of Finance, have been furnished to me, and the sanction of that Department has been sought for the application of savings on certain heads of expenditure to meet excesses under other heads.
The accounts shows that, including a surplus of appropriations in aid of £56,704 6s. 0d., the total surplus remaining to be surrendered is £198,080 17s. 3d., or 2.3 per cent. of the net estimate.”
634. Chairman.—Have you anything to add, Mr. Maher?
Mr. Maher.—The sanction of the Department of Finance has been obtained to meet the excesses on the subheads, and I understand that the usual practice of giving full details in the Estimates has, since the determination of the emergency, been reverted to.
General MacMahon.—That is so. ”Stores.
“65. It was observed on examination of the store accounts of a unit that location vouchers had not been renewed for a considerable time, and that, on a check of the stocks which was undertaken during the year, a number of discrepancies was disclosed. In reply to my inquiries I was informed that all location records and vouchers had now been brought up to date, and that the question of the adjustment of the discrepancies was under consideration.”
635. Chairman.—Have you anything to add, Mr. Maher?
Mr. Maher.—A considerable number of surpluses and deficiencies was disclosed on this military check, and the matter is to be further investigated by the Department. I presume that a submission will be made to the Department of Finance when the investigation has been completed.
General MacMahon.—The submission has been made. In this case the stores had to be transferred, very hurriedly, from Cork to Fermoy. A number of the civilian clerk staff employed in Cork refused to work in Fermoy. In consequence, we had to employ new and inexperienced men, and a number of discrepancies arose, due to incorrect posting of receipt vouchers and to a wrong description of materials. We are satisfied that no fraud was involved.
636. Chairman.—Were all the stores affected under the control of civilian employees?—The clerks were civilians, but there was an officer in charge. They had been civilians in Cork, and we were not allowed to pay them as much in Fermoy as in Cork because of the standstill Order. The men refused to work in Fermoy and resigned. We had to employ a new staff. They were inexperienced, and described a number of the materials incorrectly.
637. I suppose it was necessary to shift the stock of stores from Cork to Fermoy —It was essential to do so.
638. The second portion of paragraph 65 in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Materials were purchased in 1941 at a cost of £20,530, and it was noted that considerable quantities of the stocks still remained in store. As it is understood that the work for which the materials were purchased is not being proceeded with, I have inquired how it is proposed to dispose of the stocks.”
Mr. Maher.—This steel was purchased in 1941, and the purpose for which it was proposed to use it was abandoned. I understand there is very little demand for this type of steel. The Accounting Officer has informed us that he is in touch with the Department of Supplies as regards the disposal of the balance.
General MacMahon.—The quantity is approximately 300 tons. We sent out tenders and only got four satisfactory ones. They were only for a quantity of 52 tons. We have got sanction from the Department of Finance to sell these 52 tons. We are tendering again for the balance, which we intend to sell at the best possible price.
639. Chairman.—Can you say if there was a loss on the transaction?—There will definitely be a loss, because steel is not as expensive now as it was at that particular time.
“Payment of Ration Allowances to Officers.
“66. Defence Force Regulations provide for the payment, at daily rates authorized from time to time, of consolidated ration allowances to officers, and it is laid down that the allowance shall not be issued to an officer in receipt of rations in kind or of a nightly rate of subsistence allowance. Returns furnished in connection with provision accounts indicated that certain officers were issued with rations for periods in April and May, 1943, and I observe that ration allowance has been paid to these officers for the same periods, certificates having been furnished by the officers concerned, countersigned by the respective quartermasters, that rations in kind had not been issued. In reply to my inquiries, I was informed that following a check of provision account returns against claims for ration allowance to pay accounts had been adjusted provisionally but that these adjustments may be subject to representations by the officers as to the validity of the deductions.
I also observed that ration allowance was paid to certain officers for periods in respect of which they had been in receipt of the nightly rate of subsistence allowance having been furnished in the prescribed form. I have asked for further information on this matter.”
640. Is there anything which you have to add, Mr. Maher?
Mr. Maher.—I understand from the Accounting Officer that these errors are admitted. I understand also that it is proposed to revise the form on which these claims are based. That applies to the first paragraph and also to the second.
641. Chairman.—Can you say if there was a loss to State funds?
General MacMahon.—There is no loss to State funds. For a number of years prior to the emergency, officers were in receipt of a ration allowance rather than rations. As a result of units operating at a distance from their stations it was found necessary to put officers on rations rather than on a ration allowance. Very often an officer in his permanent station, and in receipt of a ration allowance, might be sent out with troops at very short notice, and in consequence be in receipt of rations for a day or two instead of a ration allowance. Very often he forgot that he had been on rations and filled in the usual form. We asked for disciplinary action to be taken against these officers, but the military authorities, on investigating it, were quite satisfied that there was no intention on the part of the officers to defraud the State. It was merely that they overlooked it. The now form, I think, will bring matters more definitely to the minds of officers, and will make them realise that, if they make a false claim again, serious notice will be taken of it.
642. You say that there was no loss to State funds. If, say, an officer was issued with a ration allowance and also issued with rations, was there a subsequent deduction?—Yes, it will be discovered in the Finance section and the sum recovered from the officer.
643. Was there any action taken against the Quartermaster who signed these?—It would be impossible for the Quartermaster, in every case when certifying to be certain that an officer had been drawing rations for a day or two in the month. The military authorities were satisfied that he could not possibly know, and that he had countersigned in good faith.
644. Can you say if the cases that occurred were all confined to one Command, or was this general?—It was general, but it occurred more frequently in one Command than in others because there was more movement in that Command. At the same time it was general. Now that the emergency has come to an end, I think that the number of occasions on which officers will draw rations will be very rare, if at all.
645. I presume it was pointed out to the officers and to the Quartermaster concerned that this was a serious matter?— It was definitely.
646. Chairman.—The next Note by the Comptroller and Auditor General is:—
“67. Statements have been furnished to me showing the cost of production of bread at the Curragh Bakery, and of meat at the Dublin and Curragh Abattoirs. The unit costs are as follows:—
The average price of cattle purchased for the Dublin and Curragh areas was £36 4s. 11d. and £35 6s. 5d. per head, respectively, as compared with £33 5s. 6d. and £31 4s. 9d. in the previous year, while the average production of beef per head was 703 lbs. and 652 lbs., respectively, as compared with 722 lbs. and 665 lbs.”
Mr. Maher.—That is an annual paragraph, for information only.
647. Chairman.—Paragraph 68 is as follows:—
“Fuel and Light.
“68. A quantity of coal amounting to 220 tons, the property of the Commissioners of Public Works, was stored in 1940 on premises in military occupation and it was found in 1942 that there was a deficiency of 22 tons. The coal remaining was acquired for Army purposes and, as responsibility for the loss could not be fixed, payment of £557 17s. 3d., being the cost of the 220 tons, was made to the Commissioners in August, 1943, of which sum £52 7s. 9d., being the value of the quantity deficient, has been charged to Balances Irrecoverable with the sanction of the Department of Finance. Arrangements were subsequently made for the transfer of the coal to another post and it would appear from a report furnished in October, 1943, that the amount so transferred was only 160 tons. I have inquired whether a further deficiency of 38 tons arose in the period 1942 to 1943, and, if so, in what circumstances.”
Mr. Maher.—This coal was the property of the Commissioners of Public Works, and was stored in Waterford Prison, which was in military occupation in 1940. In 1943 it was decided to transfer the coal to Waterford Barracks, where it was found that only 160 tons then remained. The Accounting Officer has now informed us that the quantity of coal in stock in 1942 was probably overestimated, as the weight was calculated by measurement and that in fact only 160 tons instead of 198 tons remained at that date. I understand that sanction to write off the additional 38 tons has been sought.
General MacMahon.—That is correct.
648. Chairman.—Have you ascertained what became of the coal?—It was very difficult, Sir. This coal was enclosed in barbed wire, six feet high, and the gate was locked. It was not in military custody. Over three years there would be considerable shrinkage. Even in one year in normal times we are allowed 5 per cent. shrinkage. There was not a turn-over, and over three years there would be considerable shrinkage. Lumps of coal would disintegrate and become dust. That would account, undoubtedly, for some of the deficiency, not for all of it, but in those years the units in that particular building had been changed very frequently, and it would be impossible to fix responsibility on any unit.
649. When you say it was not in military custody, was it just locked inside the barbed wire and left there.—That is the position.
650. There was no guard in the vicinity at all?—There was a guard on the barrack gate, of course, but no guard on the coal itself.
651. It seems a very big loss?—It does, but a good deal of it undoubtedly would be accounted for by shrinkage. There was a number of units in the barracks over the period, and we could not possibly fix responsibility. The barbed wire had not been tampered with.
652. Chairman.—Has the Department of Finance sanctioned this yet?
Mr. Almond.—Not yet. The full facts have been reported to us, and, subject to any observations at this meeting, we are prepared to sanction the write-off of the 38 tons.
653. Deputy Sheldon.—Would it be possible to find out from, say, the coal trade, what the normal shrinkage would be in such a quantity of coal?—I said that we are allowed 5 per cent. for shrinkage. In fact, we are allowed 7½ per cent. in normal times.
654. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—Is that per annum?—Yes, and remember, in these circumstances, there is usually a turn over, whereas in connection with this particular lot it was there for over three years. I may mention that that 7½ per cent. was decided on after consultation with the coal merchants and they do allow 7½ per cent.
655. Deputy Sheldon—There is what they call a considerable fall in the coal when it lies for a time. It falls into dust? —Yes.
656. And I believe that the rate of shrinkage is subject to acceleration. A large quantity that is left lying, in the third year would actually fall into dust in greater proportion than it would in the first year?—That is the point I was trying to make. Probably, in the third year it was much more than 7½ per cent.
657. I was wondering is a check kept on any other coal that is under Army control. The reason I ask is that wild rumours were circulating in Donegal about coal in Inishowen which was in some of the forts. Mysterious stories were circulating about this coal disappearing, and that sort of thing, but I presume you do keep a definite check and that any deficiency would be brought to light?—There is a monthly check and if there is a deficiency the quarter-master responsible has to bear the cost of it.
658. I must admit that any attempt I made to trace these rumours to some foundation in fact ended up by the person who was communicating with me ceasing to communicate. So I presume there was no real evidence at all?—That is probably so.
659. Chairman.—Could you have used this coal at all?—Oh, yes, we have used it, in fact, Sir.
660. Chairman.—The next sub-paragraph of paragraph 68 is as follows:—
“Owing to the failure of a contractor to make delivery under a contract for the supply of fuel wood to a military post, it became necessary to obtain supplies from an alternative source at an additional cost of £254 18s. 3d. The original contractor was liable under his contract for the excess cost occasioned by his default, and, as noted in the account, the amount involved was written off, with the sanction of the Department of Finance, owing to the contractor’s financial circumstances. It appeared that a contract in similar terms for the supply of fuel wood at the same price was placed with another contractor at the same time, and that he, too, failed to make delivery. Information has been sought as to whether additional expense was incurred in securing supplies by reason of this contractor’s default, and, if so, the action taken in the matter.”
Mr. Maher.—We have since been informed that additional expense amounting to £257 10s. 0d. arose out of the second contractor’s default, and that sanction of the Department of Finance is being sought to write off this loss also.
General MacMahon.—I should like to explain that in this case the two contractors tendered at a figure at which they could not possibly supply the wood, in our opinion, but when they failed to supply it, we proceeded to take action against them to recover the difference between their contract terms and what we actually had to pay for the wood. We got the Guards to inquire as to their circumstances, and when the Guards reported that they were men of straw, we could not proceed. In fact, while we had to go to the Department of Finance in connection with the write-off of the difference, there is no loss to State funds because these men could not have delivered at the figure at which they tendered.
661. Chairman.—So it was really a question of their tendering lower than the actual cost of the wood?—They tendered at 3/- a ton lower than anyone else and probably found they could not deliver at that figure.
662. Chairman.—The remainder of paragraph 68 is as follows:—
“Orders were placed with a local authority in February, 1943, for the delivery to certain military posts of 750 tons of turf at a provisional price of 45/- per ton, ex-dump, the final price to be determined after audit by the Department of Local Government and Public Health of the turf production accounts of the county council. It has since been ascertained that the Department’s liability in respect of 762 tons delivered against the orders was £2,492 7s. 6d. and I have asked to be informed of the total cost of the turf, including transport charges, and as to other cases of price adjustment in similar circumstances.
A general authority was obtained from the Department of Finance to write off waste turf where the amount involved did not exceed 5 per cent. of the opening stock plus deliveries during the year, and the quantity of 3,146 tons noted in the account as written off relates to posts at which the allowance of 5 per cent. was exceeded.”
Mr. Maher.—This contract was for the supply of turf by the Limerick County Council at a provisional price of 45/- per unit, which is 9/10ths of a ton, I understand, the final price to be determined after audit of the county council’s turf production accounts. In some cases the prices quoted by county councils were on a provisional basis, as in Limerick, whilst in other cases firm prices were quoted. In November, 1944, the Department of Finance authorised additional payments in the latter cases of such amounts “as will recoup the councils the difference between their final costs and the specific contract prices.” Price adjustment in the provisional cases follows automatically under the contracts.
663. Chairman.—We notice, General, that there is a very big variation between different counties. For instance, in Kerry, which is, I suppose, one of the largest turf-producing counties, turf cost £3 9s. 0d. a ton at the bog, and in Galway, which I suppose is a similar type of county, it cost £1 7s. 3d.?—I should like to explain that we as a Department had no say in this matter whatever. An arrangement was come to between the Department of Local Government and the county councils and we had to abide by the decision. We had no say in the matter whatever.
664. Deputy P. Cogan.—Is it the position that you have to pay the county councils the full cost of production?— Yes.
665. In all counties?—The Department of Local Government and, presumably, the Government decided that the county councils could not be at a loss.
666. Chairman.—It is an interesting fact that there is such a difference between the price in two counties like Kerry and Galway?—It is, Sir, but the figures were supplied to us and we had to pay. Transport might affect that figure. I should like to explain that the county council’s figures were audited by the Local Government auditors.
667. Deputy Sheldon.—These prices are at the bog; transport would hardly affect them?—Transport is included in that.
Deputy Sheldon.—The prices the Chairman quoted are at the bog.
Chairman.—The prices I quoted are at the bog.
668. Chairman.—The next note is as follows:—
“69. Proposals were submitted to the Department of Finance for the purchase of the clothing requirements for the year under review, based on the estimated strength of the Forces less the estimated balances of the various articles held in store on the 31st March, 1943, and sanction was obtained in May, 1943, for the purchase of such additional quantities of clothing as would, when added to the quantities on hands, including outstanding orders on the 1st April, 1943, provide full requirements for the estimated strength for a period of twelve months from that date. Demands were issued to the Central Purchasing Department based on gross requirements for the year, less estimated balances on hands on 1st April, 1943. I observed, however, that during the year 1943-44 considerable quantities of certain articles were delivered to the Ordnance Depôt on foot of contracts placed in respect of the previous year. As it would appear that these deliveries related to orders which were outstanding on the 1st April I have represented to the Accounting Officer that, having regard to the terms of the Department of Finance sanction, it would appear that the demands for the year 1943-44 should have been modified accordingly.
I also observed that, in the case of certain articles, the actual stocks held at the Ordnance Depôt on 31st March, 1943, were considerably in excess of the estimated quantities on which the year’s requirements were calculated. As the final requisition was not issued to the Central Purchasing Department until 24th May, 1943, I have inquired why the demands for these items were not adjusted by reference to actual stocks. I have also inquired whether in formulating the demands for the year’s requirements, account was taken of the stocks held at the beginning of the year in the different Command Stores in addition to those held at the Ordnance Depôt.
In according sanction for the purchase of the year’s requirements the Department of Finance laid down that the provision for recruits should be reduced, and the requisitions for clothing were adjusted accordingly. No modification, however, appeared to have been made in the demand for the year’s requirements of Necessaries, which was formulated on the original basis, and I have communicated with the Accounting Officer in the matter.”
Have you anything to add to that, Mr. Maher?
Mr. Maher.—In general, it is agreed that excess orders were placed, due mainly, I think, to the fact that full account was not taken of the orders outstanding on the 1st April in that year.
General MacMahon.—That is correct. We adjusted it then and, in fact, there was no loss to State funds, but we must admit that we did slip up and did not take into consideration all the orders outstanding. The matter adjusted itself when we were placing our next order.
669. Chairman.—Concerning Necessaries, had you more recruits than you anticipated?—We took into consideration the reduction in recruits, but, unfortunately, we did not take into consideration all of the orders outstanding. On looking the point up now, I find that, in the case of recruits, we overlooked even there the reduction, as far as the underclothing was concerned.
670. Has the Department of Finance any observations to make?
Mr. Almond.—The Department made a report. They regret the inadvertence, oversights and inaccuracies, but from the purely financial point of view there is no loss, and possibly a considerable saving, as prices were advancing from year to year, and by buying quantities in advance there was probably a saving. While we shall have to reprimand the Department, at the same time we cannot blame them for saving the State money.
671. Chairman.—The Report continues:
“70. The charge to the Vote includes a sum of £5,857 10s. 0d. in respect of certain stores which were delivered during the year. It appeared that the stores in question were returned as being unsuitable, and I have inquired whether they have been replaced.”
Mr. Maher.—We have been informed that the War Office now allowed credit for £5,857 10s. 0d. in respect of materials returned as unsuitable, and that steps are being taken to recover the cost of the carriage on the stores which meantime remains charged to the Army Vote.
672. Chairman.—Has any decision been arrived at concerning the carriage?— We are pursuing the matter, but it has not been brought to a head yet.
673. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—What types of stores were they?—They were Bren carriers. We ordered 200 Bren carriers with spares, including 150 tracks. We subsequently found that 150 were defective. We returned the 150 and got a refund for the 75 that we had paid for. We want to recover the cost of carriage on the 150 tracks returned, which amounts to £227 3s. 8d., and the question of the carriage from England to Clancy Barracks has also to be settled up. We have not paid that yet; we have merely paid the carriage on the return of the 150 tracks.
674. Chairman.—Are these caterpillar tracks?—Yes.
675. Deputy Sheldon.—They were sent carriage forward, in the first instance?— Yes.
676. Chairman.—The note continues:—
“In his report on the accounts for the year 1939-40, my predecessor referred to advance payments amounting to £44,000 which had been made to Continental firms on contracts for the supply of certain stores and which had been charged to a suspense account owing to the uncertainty of the position as to delivery. A sum of £28,888 10s. 1d. was refunded during the year under review from one of the firms concerned, and of this amount £22,337 17s. 8d. has been applied towards clearance of the suspense account and the balance of £6,550 12s. 5d., representing interest and profit on exchange, has been accounted for as Exchequer extra receipts.”
Mr. Maher.—This relates to a payment of £22,337 17s. 8d. made to a Swedish firm in 1939-40, who were unable to deliver the goods in respect of which the contract was made. A payment still remains charged to suspense, amounting to £21,678 in respect of a contract with a French firm that is still outstanding?—Yes, we hope to recover that money, too. There is correspondence at the moment between the Department of External Affairs and the French Government on the question and we believe that we will recover that money also. In fact, France has agreed to pay.
677. Chairman.—It is merely a question of getting exchange?—Yes.
678. Chairman.—The Comptroller and Auditor General continues as follows:—
“Marine Coast Watching Service.
“71. In paragraph 68 of the report on the accounts for the year 1940-41, reference was made to certain boats which required considerable outlay to make them serviceable and which were out of commission for relatively long periods. One of these boats was purchased in December, 1940, for the sum of £2,000 and the sanction of the Department of Finance was obtained for expenditure of £3,000 for its repair and adaptation. In September, 1941, an order for the repair of the engines, in accordance with a detailed specification, at a cost of £117 10s. 0d., was issued to a firm of contractors and as the work progressed further specifications were drawn up. No quotations were received for the additional work and payments amounting to £909 have been made to the contractors for repairs. The contract provided for the carrying out of certain trials, in the presence of the contractors, before acceptance of the vessel, and it appeared that prior to the completion of the tests the engines again broke down and the contractors repudiated liability for further repair as the engines had been started up by Marine Service personnel without their knowledge. I have been informed that arrangements have been made by which quotations for additional work will be obtained in future similar cases, and that steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of the circumstances which led to the repudiation of liability by the contractors. I have also been informed that the engines have now been rendered serviceable by Marine Service personnel at a cost of £220 15s. 5d., consisting of £18 2s. 9d. for materials and £202 12s. 8d. for labour, and that the sanction of the Department of Finance has been sought for this expenditure. In addition, expenditure on general reconstruction amounted to £3,331 16s. 0d. and sanction has been sought for the excess incurred under this heading.”
Mr. Maher.—I understand the total expenditure on this vessel was approximately £6,400 and at the date of the report it had not yet been put into service.
General MacMahon.—That statement is not correct, Mr. Maher.
Mr. Maher.—That was the information at the date of the report?—The boat has been used. When looking for boats, we were not in a position to pick and choose the boats we required, neither were we in a position to have boats built. We had to take the best available at a particular time and adapt them to our circumstances. In this case, there was expenditure on this particular boat and I admit it was greater than we anticipated. One of the circumstances leading up to that was that the marine surveyor of the Department of Industry and Commerce overseeing certain of the work thought that certain additions were necessary and ordered those additions to be made, without reference to the Department. We have been assured that that will not occur again. As far as the engines are concerned, an outside contractor undertook to have the engines repaired and it was stipulated that there would have to be trial runs following the repairs to ensure that they were carried out satisfactorily. A couple of trial runs took place and were not satisfactory and the boat was returned to Hawlbowline, so that the contractor might put the defects right. While she was there, the engineer artificer in charge of the boat was transferred and was replaced by another, who carried out the usual procedure. He started up the engine and very soon there was a knock and the engine had to be taken down. By this action, the contractor got out of his contract, stating that the engines had been interfered with by personnel other than his own and repudiated liability for completing the work. We had legal advice on the matter from the Chief State Solicitor and the Attorney-General. They advised that that was the position, that if personnel other than the contractors interfered with the engines the contractor could get out of his liability. That man’s action was due really to inexperience. It was the usual thing for him to do it, but his superior should have issued instructions that a vessel in charge of a contractor should not be tampered with in any way. This was the first case of its kind and the necessary instructions have now been issued.
679. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—Where were the repairs carried out?—The first repairs were done in Cork by Merrick’s. They were to complete the repairs in our dockyard at Hawlbowline and the vessel was removed from Cork for that purpose after the trial runs.
680. Deputy P. Cogan.—From whom was this vessel purchased?—From Captain Carrigan of Cork.
681. Chairman.—When was it put into service?—She was used on various occasions. She was being converted as a training ship and she was used, even with the engines not working and though we had no sails for it, as a training ship by the marine personnel. As the Committee is aware, even in countries where there is a big navy, there is a ship without sails which is used for training, where men are taught to board and various other things. This ship was used very frequently for that purpose. That is the point where I do not agree with Mr. Maher.
Mr. Maher.—My information was that the ship was purchased as a base vessel? —As an examination vessel, originally, but then we decided to convert her into a training ship.
Mr. Maher.—My note was that she was bought as a base vessel. If she was used later as a training ship, that is a different matter?—Yes.
682. Chairman.—Is she now able to move about?—She is. She can move about under sail or under her engines, but in actual fact we hope to sell her, and I think the negotiations have been almost completed.
683. Deputy P. Cogan.—When the Department made the original purchase, did you contemplate these repairs?—We realised that additional expense would be necessary. There were no sails, and her engine was defective, and we were aware of those facts.
684. Chairman.—The note continues as follows:—
“Proposals for dredging in a harbour, which were submitted to the Department of Finance in May, 1943, contemplated the removal of about 35,000 tons of silt, and sanction was obtained for the hire of a dredger which, it was estimated, would dredge about 1,000 tons per week. The vessel was hired for a preliminary period of six months at a rent of £30 per week and was to be operated by personnel of the Marine Service at a cost of approximately £23 per week. The dredger was taken over, after inspection, on 31st August, 1943, and, in accordance with the agreement with the hirers, payment of £780 for six months hireage was made in advance. When the vessel was slipped it was found that certain repairs were required and these were carried out at an approximate cost of £100, the dredging operations not being begun until 8th November, 1943. The vessel was returned to the owners on the 6th March, 1944, a week’s delay occurring owing to weather conditions, and a further payment of £30 for the additional week’s hireage was made. From reports furnished at the end of the period of hireage it appeared that only 2,600 tons of silt had been removed, owing mainly to the fact that the operations had been delayed whilst the vessel was laid up for repair and that, for technical reasons, a slower dredging process than had been anticipated had to be employed.
The agreement with the owners provided that the rent should be due and payable whether the vessel was in use or not. It also provided for inspection prior to delivery, and the owners accordingly refused to bear any part of the cost of repair or to waive their claim for rent in respect of the repair period. In the course of preliminary negotiations concerning the hireage it had been represented to the owners that payment should not be required if the dredger could not be worked owing to abnormal circumstances over which the Minister had no control. The owners asked that the reference to abnormal circumstances should be clarified and I have inquired whether action was taken towards this end. I have also inquired whether consideration was given to the question of including in the agreement a reservation as to undisclosed defects in view of the fact that the examination, prior to delivery, was made whilst the vessel was afloat and could not, therefore, be exhaustive.
It appeared that an alternative vessel which was available for hire at a much cheaper rate was not considered suitable as it was not equipped for the quicker and more efficient method of dredging contemplated. As it was subsequently found that this method could not be applied I have asked whether that position could have been ascertained in advance.
Expenditure of £314 16s. 5d. was incurred in connection with the raising of a Port Control Examination Launch which sank after a collision. Information has been sought as to the total loss incurred as a result of the collision and the position regarding any claim which the Department may have for the recovery of such loss.”
Mr. Maher.—Since the report was issued the Accounting Officer has informed us that in the final agreement it is not possible to define with precision the words “abnormal circumstances”.
General MacMahon.—The owners would only regard invasion as abnormal circumstances. An act of God would not be regarded as abnormal circumstances. Bad weather, such as would prevent her moving, would not be regarded as abnormal circumstances, nor would a break-down be so regarded.
685. Chairman.—Could a more precise agreement not have been drawn up originally?—We discussed that point at the time and we could not arrive at any agreement. The only thing the owners would regard as abnormal circumstances would be an invasion. An act of God would not be so regarded.
686. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—I think in shipping contracts that is the case— they were probably following a fairly normal procedure in shipping circles?— We were told that was the normal procedure.
687. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—When the vessel was taken over originally it was assumed it was in good working order and there was a general understanding with the owner to that effect?—It was a new boat in 1939, a perfectly new boat.
688. You were tied up with repairs and the vessels was out of commission from August until November and you had paid the full six months rental?—The boat was perfectly new in 1939. There was nothing actually wrong with it. The defect was in the dredging gear and that was under water and we could only discover it by bringing the boat somewhere in order to have her put on a slip. We could bring her to the Dublin Dockyard or to Ringsend, but we would have to bear the cost and we did not think that was necessary, especially with a boat that was perfectly new in 1939.
689. Chairman.—It was only when you had taken her over that you discovered the dredging machinery was defective?—Yes, we found the dredging machinery defective when the vessel was on the slip.
690. Deputy E. Coogan.—Would an inspection at the time of taking over not have disclosed such a defect?—No, because it was under water.
691. She was afloat at the time she was under inspection?—She was on the slip before the defect could be ascertained.
692. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—Was it a defect in the dredging machinery?—In the dredging machinery.
693. Chairman.—Apparently the mud in Cork harbour is of an unusual quality? —Not actually in the harbour, but at the entrance to our dock at Haulbowline.
694. This was the mud you were dredging?—Yes, that was the principal job. We had to clear that mud, but while doing it we proposed also to dredge some of the sand between the harbour and the landing stage at Cobh. When we found that things did not go as well as anticipated we confined ourselves to dredging the entrance to the dockyard at Haulbowline, leaving the remainder as it was. We can still carry on without doing that.
695. What was the cost per ton?—It worked out at about 10/- a ton.
696. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—Are you satisfied that the Army personnel on the boat were skilled in that work?—Perfectly satisfied.
697. Up to that time the boat had worked satisfactorily? Had you any information as to how it had worked for the previous owners—had they had trouble with it?—It was new in 1939, and I do not know whether she actually did dredging. She may have done some dredging at Wexford, but I am not certain about it. As there was very little shipping in Wexford at the time it is doubtful if she operated. I am not quite clear on that point. She sailed perfectly to Haulbowline. There was no trouble there. It was only when the dredging started that the defects became apparent and they occurred in the dredging machinery. It was under water and could not be ascertained until she was put on a slip.
698. Deputy Sheldon.—Was there any information available as to how she worked? Would it not have been possible to set the machinery in operation during the inspection?—We assumed the Wexford Harbour Commissioners would have tested her fully before taking delivery; we relied on that. If she were an old dredger it would be a different matter, but she was quite new.
699. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—The report says: “Proposals for dredging in a harbour”. What was the harbour?— Haulbowline. It is really the basin. It is the headquarters of the marine service and the boats go in there. We have a slip there too, where we can dry-dock a ship.
700. Deputy E. Coogan.—Is not that place normally dredged by the Cork Harbour Commissioners?—No.
701. Chairman.—As regards the Port Control Examination Launch that was sunk, what would be the total loss incurred as a result of the collision?—The cost of the new boat purchased in lieu of that wrecked was £400; the cost of fitting out the new boat was £541 16s. 7d.; signal and other equipment lost or damaged amounted to £57 17s. 0d.; the cost of salvage of the sunken boat was £314 16s. 5d.; less estimated value of salvage, £197, making a total of £1,117 10s. 0d.
702. Have any proceedings been instituted for the recovery of such loss?—We have taken proceedings against Irish Shipping Limited and the Attorney General has suggested a basis of settlement that will avoid the case going to court. We regard it as satisfactory, but it has not been brought to a conclusion yet. If we do not get a settlement satisfactory to us, we will proceed to court.
703. Was there any inquiry held into the collision?—There was, by the Department of Industry and Commerce.
704. Under the Merchant Shipping Act? —Yes.
705. Chairman.—The next note by the Comptroller and Auditor General is:—
“72. Certain premises were taken over from a local authority in June, 1940, at an annual rent of £1,311 and were occupied by an infantry battalion until October, 1940, from which date they were used as a military hospital. It appears that the heating plant broke down in November, 1940, and in fact never functioned satisfactorily notwithstanding repeated attempts at repair, and in 1942, owing to the failure of the heating system, it became necessary to transfer the patients for a period to other hospitals, civil and military. In August, 1941, the military authorities had recommended evacuation of the premises owing to the unsatisfactory condition of the plant, which was considered to be due to defective design, and further similar recommendations were made from time to time. The premises were, however, retained until the 11th May, 1943, to which date rent was paid. A claim for payment of £301 19s. 0d. was furnished by a contractor in respect of certain repair work, apparently undertaken, at the instance of a military officer, in 1941 and 1942, and payment was made in July, 1944, with the sanction of the Department of Finance, it being stipulated by that Department that steps should be taken towards the recovery from the local authority of such portion of the cost of the repairs as might be determined to be due to defective design.
As the building had been completed only just prior to the military occupation I have inquired whether the suitability of the plant was considered when the premises were being taken over and whether the contractor who installed the plant had any responsibility for its maintenance. Information has also been sought on the position regarding the recovery from the local authority of any part of the expenditure incurred on repairs. In view of the unsuitability of the premises, and the many recommendations made for their surrender, I have asked to be informed of the circumstances in which possession was retained until May, 1943, and to be furnished with particulars of the expenditure incurred on the treatment of the patients in civilian hospitals.
Following the evacuation of the premises a claim was received from the local authority in respect of damage due to the military occupation and for the cost of general internal and external renovation. I have inquired how this claim has been disposed of.”
Mr. Maher.—The Accounting Officer has since informed me that the heating plant was of an unusual and elaborate type, unknown in this country, and as it had been installed by a reputable firm of contractors, it was assumed from superficial examination that it would prove suitable. The premises were retained until 11th May, 1943, owing to failure to secure suitable alternative hospital accommodation in the area. I have also been informed that owing to the defects in the heating system it was not possible at any stage to admit surgical cases and certain expenditure was incurred in the treatment of such cases in civilian hospitals. With regard to the claim for compensation for damage to the premises, it appears the Department considers that responsibility for complete internal and external re-decoration should be accepted in view of the fact that it had been agreed with the local authority that the premises would be surrendered in as good a condition as when occupied or that compensation would be paid. A claim for £1,726 10s. 0d. was settled by the payment of £1,148, credit being allowed for a sum of £301 19s. 0d. which had been expended on attempts to repair the plant.
706. Deputy E. Coogan.—On what date was the premises vacated?—On 11th May, 1943.
707. I understood they were vacated in 1942?—Certain patients were transferred for a short period, but in actual fact the premises were occupied until 11th May, 1943.
708. Would it not be that the military did not understand this plant?—There is that possibility. I happened to meet the doctor in charge recently and I asked him about the plant and he said it is now working satisafctorily.
709. Chairman.—Have the military gone back to it?—No. It is a mental hospital.
710. Numerous recommendations were made by the O.C. to evacuate the place and it was not until 1942 that the patients left. What was the cause of the delay in carrying out his recommendations?— we had no hospital whatever in the West until we took over that one. We were looking for an alternative one. We did not regard it as satisfactory. We did not get the alternative one until 1943.
711. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—You mentioned it is a mental hospital in use by a local authority?—In actual fact they never used it. They built it but never occupied it. It was a completely new block.
712. Where was it?—In Ballinasloe. This block had never been occupied by the local authorities at all. We took it over before they had occupied it. It was newly built and equipped but no patient had ever been in it.
713. Chairman.—Was there any agreement under which the Army authorities were liable to renovate it?—Only a verbal agreement, that we would hand back the hospital in a condition similar to when we took it over.
714. Chairman.—That seems to be a rather unsatisfactory way of having agreement with local authorities?—It was taken over hurriedly, and very much against the wishes of the local authorities and the Department of Local Government. They resented it being taken over and, at the time, objected. It was as a result of that the agreement was made.
715. Deputy E. Coogan.—Was it compulsorily acquired?—Yes.
716. Deputy P. Cogan.—Was there a large number of patients there?—There were no patients in it when we took it over. At one particular time we had to transfer some patients to civilian hospitals as the heating apparatus was not working. The heating apparatus worked very well except on special occasions when there was a break down. During one break down we had a couple of serious patients still in hospital.
717. Chairman.—On the question of verbal agreements can you say whether they are general because it seems rather risky?—In the case of premises taken over we agreed to hand them back in the same condition as we got them. That is the basis of the agreements. Our agreements are usually in writing.
718. Deputy E. Coogan.—When taken under compulsion?—Yes, without exception. We hand them back as we got them or pay compensation.
719. Chairman.—Would it include exterior as well as interior decoration?— Yes, unless the agreement specified otherwise. There have been certain agreements where we simply said we would pay so much and no question of repairs. In any case where we acquire compulsorily we always hand back the premises in the condition in which they were when we took them over or pay compensation.
720. Deputy Sheldon.—Are there any other verbal agreements?—No.
721. So that the word “agreement” is a misnomer?—Yes.
722. Chairman.—Have you any written agreements?—Not in the case of these premises. Right up to the period when we left these premises the Department of Local Government and the Local Authorities were urging us to get out. We were anxious to get out but it was not possible to do so until 1943.
723. Deputy B. Brady.—Was any rent paid?—When settling up we paid all their outgoings.
724. That is included in the sum mentioned here?—Yes.
725. Deputy E. Coogan.—There is still liability on a claim for repairs and decorations?—The point is that any other payments made were simply out of pocket expenses and, in addition, we had to renovate and put the place in order. In settling we recovered from the local authorities the sum we spent on central heating.
726. Chairman.—You are not liable for any further expenditure in this case?—, No.
727. Do you think it would be possible to follow up cases where there were verbal agreement? I imagine that the circumstances were that you had to take places over in a hurry, but subsequently would you not think it advisable to have some sort of agreement?—Yes, if the other party was prepared to make an agreement. We were pressed for months to get out by the local authorities and the Department of Local Government.
728. Deputy Sheldon.—In other words there was never a verbal agreement?—We merely told them that we would hand back the premises in good condition.
729. Deputy E. Coogan.—Does the Act under which you acquire premises prescribe any conditions?—The Emergency Powers Order provides that unless there is agreement between the parties the matter is submitted to arbitration.
730. Chairman.—The paragraph continues:—
“Certain premises, the property of a local authority, were occupied in September, 1940, subject to payment of rates and insurance. It was represented to the Department in December, 1942, that the owners desired to sell the premises, and evacuation by the military was requested, but this was not considered feasible owing to the absence of suitable alternative accommodation for the troops in the area. In these circumstances the sanction of the Department of Finance was obtained for revised letting arrangements which took effect from the 1st January, 1943, and which provided for an annual rent of £120 together with payment of rates and insurance. It appears to have been decided later that the premises were unsuitable for billeting purposes owing to defective water supply and they were evacuated by the troops but were retained as stores. It was not clear during what period the premises were in fact occupied by troops and I have asked for information on the matter. I have also asked that the specific sanction of the Department of Finance should be sought for the retention of the premises for storage purposes.”
Mr. Maher.—Since that report the Accounting Officer has informed me that a caretaker was there from July, 1942, to July, 1943, in anticipation of the possible return of the unit which was in occupation before transfer and that from September. 1943, the house was used for storage purposes only.
731. Chairman.—Where was this?—In Galway, Kilcolman Camp. It was the property of the Galway Board of Health.
732. Chairman.—Has the Department of Finance sanctioned this?
Mr. Almond.—We had a letter recently from the Department asking for sanction, which we are prepared to give.
733. Chairman.—The note proceeds:—
“Certain premises in military occupation were held from local authorities at annual rentals and it was subsequently found that, as the premises in question came within the scope of the State Lands (Workhouses) Act, 1930, the local authorities had no property in them and were not entitled to receive rents. The total amount paid for rent to the 30th April, 1944, from which date payments were withheld, was £590 14s. 3d. and steps have been taken towards recovering that amount.”
Mr. Maher.—The Accounting Officer informs me that he has been in touch with the Department of Local Government about this matter. I am not yet aware whether a decision has been reached.
General MacMahon.—The Attorney-General has decided that we must pay. We cannot recover what has been paid and we must pay while we occupy the buildings.
734. Chairman.—Was this a mistake in law?—No, the local authorities when letting the premises did not do so under the proper section of the Act and the Attorney-General says we could not take advantage of that fact.
735. Deputy E. Coogan.—So that the local authority had no right to receive rent?—They had no right under that particular section. If they had proceeded properly they would be entitled to the rent and for that reason the Attorney-General feels that we must pay rent.
“73. Payment of £175 in settlement of a claim for compensation for loss sustained by reason of the military occupation of certain lands was made to a person who had held the lands under a grazing licence from the Office of Public Works for the grazing season ended November, 1940. The claimant’s legal costs amounting to £207 11s. 6d. were paid from the vote for Law Charges. The licence covered an area of 195 acres and the licensee alleged that he had been deprived of the entire area for a period of one month and he claimed a sum of £430 10s. 0d. as compensation for deterioration of cattle, loss on sale, and cost of alternative grazing. Reports furnished by the military authorities, however, indicated that the claimant had been requested to remove his cattle from only a few acres in the immediate vicinity of the military camp and I inquired regarding the circumstances in which the military requirements were not clearly defined prior to occupation. I was informed that it was revealed at the hearing of the action in the High Court that the claimant had misunderstood the request made to him to have his stock cleared from portion of the lands, that he had vacated the entire area although he was only required to vacate the immediate vicinity of the camp, and that the settlement was arrived at on the advice of counsel.”
Mr. Maher.—I have nothing to add to the information in the report. There appears to have been a misunderstanding of the military requirements. The licence covered 195 acres whereas only a few acres in the immediate vicinity of the camp were required for military purposes.
736. Deputy P. Cogan.—Was the military request made in writing?—Yes. The request stated that cattle should be segregated so that there would be no damage to military property.
737. Chairman.—The last sub-paragraph reads:—
“Considerable damage to property resulted when a magazine was destroyed by an explosion caused by two non-commissioned officers who were subsequently convicted and sentenced to terms of penal servitude. A claim for compensation under the Acts relating to criminal injury to property was served on the local authority on behalf of the Minister for Defence, the Law Officers having advised that such claim was sustainable in law. Similar claims were also served by other persons but it was subsequently decided, with the sanction of the Department of Finance, that any compensation payable should be met from public funds. Payments for compensation and expenses amounting to £3,413 19s. 10d. have been made to date and materials costing £739 18s. 2d. were used in effecting repairs to damaged premises. Further expenditure will arise in connection with repairs to the premises in military occupation on which the explosion occurred.”
Mr. Maher.—The payments referred to were made to local claimants on the recommendation of the committee appointed by the Minister to assess damages. Apparently the repairs to the premises occupied by the military have not yet been completed. It was an inter-Departmental committee from the Department of Finance and the Department of Defence.
738. Chairman.—Have you executed the repairs to the premises yet?—Not yet. It is quite possible that instead of making the repairs we will give the owners compensation.
739. Chairman.—Paragraph 74 reads:—
“Local Defence Force.
“Reference was made at paragraph 75 of the report on the appropriation accounts for the financial year 1942-43 to the payment to Unit funds of grants-in-aid in respect of persons who either had resigned or been discharged from the Force or who were not active members. Test examinations of the claims furnished by certain Units have since been carried out by officers of the Department and have disclosed incorrect claims totalling £1,006, of which sum £804 has been refunded and the balance has been noted for recovery from current claims. I understand that it is proposed to extend these tests to other districts at the earliest opportunity.”
Mr. Maher.—This is a carry-over from last year and I cannot say whether tests have been carried out since?—We have not as the posts have been re-organised.
740. Chairman.—When will you have the re-organisation completed?—We hope in the near future, and before the end of the year.
741. Chairman.—The report continues:—
“75. Department of Finance sanction was obtained for the purchase of a quantity of asbestos cement goods for air-raid precautions purposes generally and it would appear that 200 tons of these goods had been earmarked for a specific scheme which was abandoned. Quantities of similar stores were purchased for Army purposes during the year and I have asked whether consideration had been given to the question of meeting these requirements from the stocks purchased for air-raid precautions purposes.”
Mr. Maher.—I understand as a matter of policy it was decided to retain these stores for the present?—The purpose for which these stores were acquired still exists; we cannot dispose of them yet.
742. Chairman.—The note continues:—
“Section 46 of the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1939, provides for the payment of grants not exceeding 50 per cent. of such expenditure by essential undertakers as may be approved in accordance with Regulations made under the Act, and Article 4 of the Air-raid Precautions (Approval of Expenditure by Essential Undertakers) Regulations, 1940 (Statutory Rules and Orders, No. 180 of 1940), provides that such expenditure shall not be approved unless it represents net expenditure actually and specifically incurred in respect of a matter included in an essential undertaker’s scheme approved under the Act. I observed that a claim furnished by an essential undertaker, a public company, included certain expenditure on wages and materials together with an addition of 66⅔ per cent. of the wages bill for overheads. As the company had previously carried out contract work for the Department on the basis of direct costs plus 66⅔ per cent. on wages I have asked whether consideration was given to the possible inclusion in the claim of a margin for profit. I have also asked for information concerning the items for which the percentage addition provided.”
Mr. Maher.—The general principle governing the payment of these grants is that only expenditure which would not have been incurred if no scheme were in force may be admitted and Article 4 of the governing regulations of 1940 refers to “net expenditure incurred actually and specifically”. As the company had previously carried out armoured car construction on the basis of cost plus 66⅔ per cent. on wages it appeared that the percentage included a margin for profit but the Accounting Officer has, since the date of the report, informed me that this is not so.
743. Chairman.—I understand that there was no element of profit in the expenditure undertaken by this company. Are you satisfied that that is so, General MacMahon?—We are satisfied.
744. Chairman.—The note continues:—
“Considerable quantities of stores were destroyed or damaged as a result of a fire which occurred at the Stores Depot in December, 1943. A Committee of Inquiry was set up by the Minister for the Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures to investigate the circumstances in connection with the fire and I understand that the report of the Committee is at present under consideration.”
Have you any further information on that, Mr. Maher?
Mr. Maher.—I have no further information as to what progress has been made with a view to winding up the loss at the Stores Depot, St. Anne’s.
General MacMahon.—The report of the Committee and recommendations are with the Department of Finance and, of course, until they give their views the matter cannot be brought to a conclusion.
745. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—Were the goods insured?—No. State property was not insured, but there was property in St. Anne’s, on loan from us to the Dublin Corporation, and it was insured.
746. Chairman.—Can you give us any idea of what the total loss was, or perhaps the Department of Finance could assist us in this?
Mr. Almond.—We have received the report from the Department of Defence. It is being examined in our Department but we have not reached a final decision.
747. Deputy E. Coogan.—Can you say if the fire was accidental or if it could have been prevented?—I think the loss would be £38,000.
748. Deputy M. E. Dockrell.—That was the fire at St. Anne’s?—Yes.
749. Was there not an earlier fire at Kingsbridge?—That was not our Department. That was Posts and Telegraphs.
750. Chairman.—The note continues:—
“A stock-taking of stores held on charge at the Depot was carried out by officers of the Department in December, 1942, and revealed numerous surpluses and deficiencies. Information has been requested regarding the adjustment of the discrepancies.”
Mr. Maher.—I am informed that the stores accounts are in process of reconstruction, and deficiencies resulting from the fire are being dealt with.
751. Chairman.—Has that been completed, General?—It has not been completed yet.
752. Chairman.—The next note is:—
“76. Losses written off during the years were as follows:—
The corresponding figures of losses in the previous year were £870 2s. 10d. and £28,294 15s. 1d. Full particulars of the losses have been furnished to me and the sanction of the Department of Finance has been obtained for the write-off in each case.”
Mr. Maher.—That is an annual paragraph for information only.
753. Chairman.—You appear, General, to have reduced considerably the deficiency on stores compared with the previous year?—Well, we were lucky in the matter of accidents to aircraft.
754. Yes, the previous year we had the manoeuvres and aircraft accidents were more frequent as a result, I suppose?— That is correct.
755. We now come to the Vote itself. In accordance with the practice during the emergency only limited particulars are available in the Vote itself. There are two subheads, A. and B. I asked you a question last year, General, about soldiers who are put on the Reserve or are discharged due to being medically unfit. I pointed out that when a number of these people subsequently applied for compensation it was stated that their medical condition, whether due to tuberculosis or whatever it might be (but this particularly applies to T.B.), was not attributable to Army service and that therefore they were not eligible for compensation. There is considerable dissatisfaction about this, and a number of these people feel that if the disease is not actually due to their service it is attributable to their service to the extent that, while in the Army, their condition was accentuated. Has any progress been made in that direction, General?—The Act has not been amended so far. In order to come under the Act the disease must be attributable to Army service.
756. Deputy E. Coogan.—Does it not seem strange that a man should be allowed to enter the Army, after being medically examined and pronounced fit— he goes before the Medical Board and is examined by the Army doctor who certifies him to be fit for service—and that if, after two or three years’ service he is discharged as medically unfit, suffering from tuberculosis, the Medical Board should say that the disease is not to be attributed to his Army service? I cannot see how they can arrive at that conclusion in view of the fact that when he was admitted to the Army, he was accepted by the Army medical authorities as being fit, and he must have contracted the disease in the course of his service, even though it might not be directly attributable to his service. The disease may have been latent and, as a result of his service, may have got a grip?—I may say that 80 per cent. of the applicants from among those discharged as a result of T.B. have got pensions. Of course, I should like to point out that the Board is a statutory board. The chairman is a civilian, and there are two medical men, one an Army doctor, and the other a civilian doctor appointed by the Minister for Finance.
757. I take it that the applicant is again medically examined?—Yes. He is called up by the Board to St. Bricin’s Hospital and is X-rayed and so on.
758. He is not X-rayed on admission to the Army?—No, not on entering into the Army.
759. Chairman.—Eighty per cent. is pretty high. Let us say that a man is taken into St. Bricin’s or some of the other hospitals and recovers sufficiently to be able to go home, do the Army authorities pay for the expenses in these cases?— Once he is discharged they only pay him his warrant home or, if he is transferred to a sanatorium, we pay him his travelling expenses. In a serious case an Army ambulance goes with him, but I may say that he is encouraged to apply for an Army pension or for a pension form before going, and the medical people assist him, if necessary, in filling up the form.
VOTE 64—ARMY PENSIONS.
Lieutenant-General P. MacMahon further examined.
760. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—With regard to subhead M., General, as a matter of interest, might I ask how many men of the Connaught Rangers are affected now by this expenditure? How many are involved?—There are 37 cases.
761. Chairman.—Is this the only unit of that kind that received pensions in this way?—Yes, the only one.
762. Deputy E. Coogan.—Has any consideration ever been given to the case of the men who joined Casement’s Brigade? —No. They never got anything. A number of appeals were made on their behalf, but they never got anything.
763. Deputy M. O’Sullivan.—In connection with subhead O.—Special Allowances to Persons who Served in Easter Week—does that relate to individuals in distress?—Yes. These are men who are in distress through age or through financial circumstances.
764. Here again, how many, roughly, would be involved?—About 40 up to the moment, but that will probably be extended. There is a proposal to extend it to people who took part subsequent to 1916.
You were not too generous, apparently, because I see that your expenditure was almost £1,000 less than the amount granted. Was that because you anticipated more claimants than presented themselves?—The Act only came in in 1943, and a full year had not elapsed.
Chairman.—Well, gentlemen, if there are no further questions, we can conclude. Thank you, General MacMahon.
The Committee adjourned.