MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Dé hAoine, 3 Samhain, 1972
Friday, 3rd November, 1972
The Committee met at 11 a.m.
DEPUTY E. COLLINS in the chair.
622. Chairman.—I should like to welcome on to the Committee Deputy Desmond Governey who replaces our late Chairman, Deputy P. Hogan. We look forward to having the benefit of his experience and knowledge.
Deputy Governey.—I should like to thank you for your words of welcome. All I can say is I will do my best.
Deputy Treacy.—We would all like to join in that welcome to our colleague, Deputy Governey.
Mr. E. F. Suttle (An tArd Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) called and examined.
VOTE 17—STATIONERY OFFICE.
Mr. B. O Brolchain called and examined.
623. Deputy Treacy.—On Subhead A.— Salaries, Wages and Allowances—and Explanation A, could we have an explanation in respect of the filling of these vacancies at scale points lower than the pay points of the officers replaced?
Chairman.—The explanation says: “Saving due to delay in filling vacancies and to filling vacancies at pay scale points lower than the pay points of the officers replaced.” Deputy Treacy would like that further explained?
—Take an executive officer, for example. He moves up the scale. He may be promoted and his vacancy may be filled by an executive officer who enters at a lower point on the scale.
624. Deputy Treacy.—Are you still experiencing difficulty in filling vacancies?
—It is not so much a difficulty in filling vacancies as a difficulty in keeping staff. Twenty-nine or 30 vacancies occurred in the year of account. Some officers secured outside employment, some moved to other Departments on promotion and others resigned on marriage. With a small staff— we have only about 170 in all—and a loss of 29 or 30 in a year, delays are very serious; you multiply the normal delay by 30. We are not suggesting there is any abnormal delay. In the case of the printing and binding we have to set up a selection board.
625. Chairman.—On Subhead D.—Printing and Binding—What are the main activities of the Stationery Office? I do not think it prints the Official Dáil and Seanad Reports?
—It operates over a fairly wide field. We do not do any printing and binding ourselves. We are not printers. We are people who engage printers. The only machines we use are small machines, duplicating machines. All our printing is farmed out to a selection of printers. We select particular printers and invite them to tender. If it is a rush job we place the work with a particular printer who, we believe, can do the work quickly. If there is time we invite tenders from a number of printers. In most cases the Departments come to us and ask us to handle the printing for them. In other cases it is considered better that there should be direct dealing between the requisitioning Department and the printer. In these cases we place a contract with a printer and he deals direct with the Department and we only intervene in cases of difficulty. All Dáil work, including the Official Reports, comes into this category. The Dáil office deal direct with the printer and the printing contracts are reviewed by us from time to time. If the Dáil office experience any difficulty which they cannot resolve themselves they come back to us and we take the matter up with the printer.
626. Chairman.—Would there possibly be a case for the Stationery Office having a proper printing office?
—It is difficult to give a “yes” or “no” answer. Probably the answer is “no” if we are to do only our own printing. Because of the diversity of the work placed by us a printing house would be too big to be extended fully on our work or too small to handle the variety of our work. If our work alone were to be handled by a printinghouse capable of handling it we would probably not have enough work to keep it fully occupied. This is a personal view. If we were to expand and, say, include semi-State bodies it might be a different story. We looked at this problem some years ago but unfortunately, because of pressure of the day-to-day work, the inquiry was not completed. We had not sufficient staff time available to pursue it to a conclusion but it did not seem, on the facts ascertained, that the time was then ripe to set up our own printing house.
626a. There would possibly be some advantage in carrying out a cost/benefit analysis of the whole business?
—Yes, possibly, but our work is so varied that it would be very difficult to estimate whether we would save any money if we had our own printinghouse. Under the existing arrangements we invite quite a number of printers to tender for work. One printer may be short of work and he may possibly be prepared to undertake the work at a lower price than the normal economic price. We get the benefit of this. It is therefore difficult to assess purely as an economic proposition whether a printinghouse of our own would be a good investment. In the long term it might repay further study.
627. Deputy Treacy.—How many printinghouses do you deal with?
—In Dublin in the year of account we had about 15—we are now down to about 11 or 12—and five in the provinces, printers and binders. That is for the ordinary period contracts. The figure for special jobs is 28. The register of electors is placed with firms all over the country, about 30 in all. For the ballot papers we deal with about 20 firms in all. The composite figure is 63.
628. Is there one particular printing firm with whom the bulk of the business is done?
—I do not wish to particularise too much, but in our view there is one printer who for the work we handle is considered superior to the rest of the printers. That is not to say that the other printers are not satisfactory but, partly because of his capacity and partly because of the long association he has had with us, the printer I have in mind is superior. He would probably handle a greater bulk of our work than any other firm.
629. Chairman.—In relation to subhead E —Paper and Publications—there has been some concern regarding the availability of ordnance survey maps?
—We are not the publishers of these maps. The sale of the maps is handled by the Ordnance Survey Office. We act merely as agents.
I shall take the matter up with the Ordnance Survey Office.
630. In relation to subhead F—Office Machinery and Other Office Supplies—I take it that the substantial amount here was spent mostly on the outright purchase of machinery rather than on the hiring of it?
—Not really. In so far as the smaller machines are concerned they are not hired but many large machines such as those used for ADP work would be hired. Also it is not possible to purchase a Rank Xerox machine.
631. I take it that hiring or purchasing is done by tender?
—When purchasing we go to tender where it is possible to do so. In relation to type-writers and duplicators there is no problem in that respect because we know their relative merits. They are tested by us. As regards the more sophisticated machines it may be found that one particular make of machine may better serve a Department’s needs than another. Therefore, we take account of the suitability of the machine for the particular Department for which it is required and if a particular make of machine is needed that is the one we buy.
632. Would you be kind enough to submit a note giving an analysis of this figure of £462,631 showing the purchases and hire of machinery and repairs to machinery; also the type of machinery involved?
633. Regarding 2 of Appropriation-in-Aid —Supplies and services provided on repayment—what is included here?
—Certain Departments and other bodies pay us for supplies; for example, the Department of Social Welfare social insurance fund, An Gúm in the Department of Education, the combined purchasing section in the Department of Local Government, the publicity section in the Department of Health and the cultural relations section in the Department of Foreign Affairs. All of these repay us and, of course, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs always pays for services rendered. Also, some outside bodies, Electricity Supply Board, Radio Telefís Éireann and Bord na Móna, for example, obtain supplies from us occasionally on repayment.
634. In relation to this account I notice that there is no comparative figure for the previous year. Would it not be helpful to have that figure?
Mr. Suttle.—To have eight columns instead of four would render this a little awkward to handle.
635. Chairman.—We turn now to the Government Publications Sale Office accounts.* There is a figure here of interest on advances to the extent of £518. To what is that related?
—If you turn to the balance sheet on page 2 you will find an Exchequer account. It is to this Exchequer account that the interest on advances is related. Speaking broadly, the Exchequer account represents the kind of money the Sale Office would require from the Exchequer if it paid for services as a commercial concern, which it does not. The amount of that money that would be due by the Sale Office would be the balance in the Exchequer account. A percentage of that figure is charged. The purpose of this is to bring the accounts more or less into line with commercial accounts.
636. Deputy Treacy.—I note that on the assets side of the balance sheet there is a sum of £2,260. How can this be related to the expenditure on office machinery which is in the region of £462,000?
—In our accounts branch we have a sophisticated accounting machine for Sale Office accounts and this is included on that side of the balance sheet. The accounting is done at headquarters in relation to publications sold in the Sale Office and the accounting machine is included in this account. It is not only the shop in the Arcade that is referred to in the account.
637. Chairman.—We can take it that this figure may be related to office machinery in the Arcade?
—Yes, in addition to the office machinery at headquarters used for Sale Office accounting.
638. Under Extra Remuneration the sum of £457 seems a lot of money in respect of overtime?
—I agree. This has been causing me a certain amount of concern for some time but we must endeavour to strike a middle course. In the Stationery Office there is but a small group of technical people, printing and binding clerks and others associated with printing and binding. From time to time vacancies occur in these grades. These people are not easy to replace quickly but we must keep the work up to date. Not only that, but 50 or so Departments and Offices send in demands for printing. Sometimes there are many urgent demands at the one time. We cannot level off the work. We get peaks and valleys. In the case of this overtime the three men heading the list are three people on the technical side. It would take time to augment the technical staff and it would not be worthwhile doing so for the purpose only of meeting peak demands.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 33—NATIONAL GALLERY.
Dr. James White called and examined.
639. Chairman.—On Subhead A—Salaries, Wages and Allowances—Explanation A says: “The saving was due to an overestimate of £10,000 made when compiling estimates and to failure to receive sanction for filling of posts”. I take it you wanted these posts filled?
—We made a mistake in the previous year’s estimate of £10,000. £10,000 was a sheer error and the balance was generally due to the delay in the creation of posts for which we had applied. I am afraid in writing this explanation down I may have given a false impression. In part, this was due to delay in the creation. We make allowance in our estimate for a post which we hope to fill. Not all the saving was caused by failure to receive sanction, a part of it was a delay in the creation of posts.
640. It says here: “and to failure to receive sanction for filling of posts”?
—Yes. I want to correct that, if I may. If I am not allowed to do so, I cannot.
641. The explanation is acceptable for the record anyway?
—When one writes this one thinks purely in terms of explaining it but it has been drawn to my attention that the total amount involved, which was £3,150, is not due to failure to receive sanction. I think only £900 was due to failure to receive sanction. The other part was a delay in the creation. For instance, if I apply for a post and if we advertise the post and no suitable candidate turns up, six months can pass without filling it and this would not be due to any failure of the Department to give sanction but would be due to other failures outside.
642. Do you have much trouble in the filling of posts in general or in getting sanction for the filling of posts?
—Now I do not have any trouble. When I went first I did, but now I do not. I find that we have very good relations with both Departments we are dealing with and I find that they could not do more than they do to try to help us, but because of the technical nature of the posts in the National Gallery we are not always able to lay our hands on suitable people. For instance, if we wanted a restorer we might have to wait a year for one who has not been fully trained.
643. Deputy Treacy.—On Subhead D— Purchase and Repair of Pictures (Grant-in-Aid)—what is the average cost of such pictures? I am sure they fluctuate a lot but could we have some idea of their cost?
—If I may say so, the amount which is granted for purchase and repair of pictures is so small and bears so little relationship to what we have to spend that, as a rule, we confine this money to things like repairing frames and so on. Nowadays, one very rarely could buy any picture for £2,500. Though the Gallery is in a position to buy quite a lot of pictures this is due to purchase under the bequests from George Bernard Shaw and Sir Hugh Lane. We frequently spend up to £100,000 in the year from our bequests.
644. How long has the grant been fixed at £2,500?
—As far as I recollect the £2,500 goes back about 30 years. It was raised from £1,500 in the late 19th century to £2,500 around the 1920s. It was not raised from that time until the year following the one I am now reporting on, when we got an increase.
645. Were it not for the bequests it would be worthless?
—I would not say it would be worthless but we would be terribly restricted. Before we had the bequests the Board of Governors used to try to save up and then buy one picture at the end of maybe three or four years. Now we use this money for smaller purchases and for the repair of frames.
646. Chairman.—I think it is fair to say the nation is indebted to the Shaw bequest and to the Sir Hugh Lane bequest.
647. Deputy Treacy.—On extra remuneration, could we have an explanation of the figure of £6,533 in respect of overtime?
—In the case of the Registrar the business of the Gallery expanded and as one aspect got larger so did every other and therefore the work of the Registrar, who is the Accountant of the Gallery, expanded so that he could not do all his work during the day. He had to work at night. This accounted for the overtime of £162. In 1968, when a new extension to the gallery was opened, the Department sanctioned the extended opening hours. You may recall that at one stage the National Gallery closed all afternoon on Saturday and tourists and other visitors to the city of Dublin were excluded from the gallery from one o’clock. Furthermore, there was no late night opening. We introduced a new system whereby the gallery would be open until 6 o’clock on Saturday and open until 9 o’clock on Thursday. The way in which we coped with this was by paying overtime on Thursday night for this and that, added to the ordinary salary, brought about general overtime for the 30 attendants.
648. May we take it that the extended opening hours have been availed of by the public?
—Yes, indeed. As a matter of interest, last night, which was a Thursday, there was a public lecture, as is given every Thursday throughout the year, by one of our lecturers. The director of the British Museum, Sir John Wolfenden, delivered a lecture in the lecture theatre. It was attended by nearly 200 people on behalf of the National Library Society. Another lecture was given to the People’s College who use the gallery for educating trade union officials and such people. At a dinner in the restaurant which was packed I spoke on what is called the Picture of the Month. We had to have a man in the courtyard to control the flow of cars all night. Something like 500 people used the gallery between 6 and 9 o’clock last night.
That is very heartening.
649. Chairman.—Before we conclude, I should like to congratulate Mr. White on the publication of the catalogue of paintings in the National Gallery. This catalogue was requested down through the years and it is a great compliment to Mr. White that he has now produced this catalogue.
—Thank you very much.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 36—ROINN NA GAELTACHTA.
Mr. L. Tóibín called and examined.
650. Chairman.—I intend to go through the Vote in English but members are more than welcome to discuss matters in Irish and you are more than welcome to reply in English and Irish. Paragraph 52 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead E.—Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht
The charge to this subhead includes a grant of £15,400 based on two-thirds of the cost of an air strip at Inis Mór in the Aran Islands. The grant was paid to a company which intends to operate an air taxi service between the mainland and the island”.
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph, as it stands, is for the information of the committee. I have further comments to make on this project on the accounts for 1970-71 and 1971-72. It would be better at this stage to confine the discussion to the position in 1969-70. We are dealing with the accounts for 1969-70 now and it would be better to leave it at that stage.
651. Chairman.—It would be better to leave it now and take it up under subhead E. We can deal with the matter fully when we come to the following year’s accounts. On subhead A—Salaries, Wages and Allowances —was this increase authorised under the national pay agreement?
—There would have been grade increases as well. The increases involved would have been standard throughout the civil service.
652. Deputy Treacy.—Could we have some idea of the number of staff employed in Roinn na Gaeltachta?
—Approximately 60 in that year.
653. Deputy R. Burke.—Maidir le fomhírcheann B—Costais Taistil agus Costais Theagmhasacha—bhí £10,000 leagtha amach do chostais taistil agus liúntais chothaíochta i Leabhar na Meastachán. An bhféadfá é sin a mhíniú dom? Cé théann amach?
—Is iad na príomh-dhaoine a bhíonn ag taisteal ná na stiúrthóirí, na cigirí agus na maoir thithe. Tá foireann ar fud na Gaeltachta agus téann daoine amach ón ardoifig anois is arís chomh maith.
654. An bhfuil aon bhaint ag an rud seo leis an Roinn Oideachais?
—Níl. Is iad na cigirí tithíochta a phléann leis na tithe Gaeltachta. Scrúdaíonn siad na cásanna agus molann siad na deontais. Tá córas dár gcuid féin againn maidir le cúrsaí tithíochta.
655. An ndéanann siad aon rud faoi scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialacha?
—Is leis na stiúrthóirí a bhaineann obair faoi na scéimeanna sin: is orthusan atá cúraimí seachas tithe.
656. Cad is brí le “éide” i “suimeanna ilghnéitheacha (agus éide á áireamh)”?
—Baineann sé le teachtairí sa Roinn. An ghnáthéide a chaitheann teachtairí sna Ranna Stáit éagsúla atá i gceist; íoctar as sin. Níl aon duine eile i dteideal éide a fháil.
657. Deputy Treacy.—On Subhead D— Gaeltacht Housing—could we have some idea as to why the work was not completed here in respect of housing?
—These are housing grants given to numerous individuals throughout the Gaeltacht. Whether the work proceeds and whether it is finished within a particular year depends on the decisions of hundreds of applicants. It is difficult to estimate in advance just precisely how work will go in these circumstances.
658. Mr. Suttle.—Is it not correct that a large number of these houses are built by the individuals themselves?
—Completely. We are not involved in the actual building ourselves. There is no such thing as departmental contract building.
659. Chairman.—This money relates to grants for house building in Gaeltacht areas?
660. Deputy Tunney.—Cén áit a chaitheas duine bheith ina chónaí sa Ghaeltacht chun ceann de na deontais seo a fháil?
—Áit ar bith sa Ghaeltacht oifigiúil mar atá sí sonraithe le horduithe an Rialtais ach tá na hAchtanna seo ann ón mbliain 1929 agus, dá bhrí sin, tá ceantair níos leithne i gceist faoi na hAchtanna seo ná mar atá sa Ghaeltacht oifigiúil anois.
661. Ach cén fhaid a chaitheas sé bheith ina chónaí sa Ghaeltacht?
—Ba chuma fad a bheadh gnáthchónaí air sa Ghaeltacht agus gan é díreach tar éis dul isteach ann le haghaidh na tógála. Ar ndóigh, níorbh fholáir an Ghaeilge a bheith aige; is deontais do Ghaeilgeoirí atá i gceist anseo.
662. If any member of this committee were to take up residence in the Gaeltacht would he qualify for this special grant?
—Yes, if he could be regarded as ordinarily resident there and presuming, of course, that he qualified on the language grounds.
663. Chairman.—In relation to the language qualifications, can we take it that the children of the family must be attending an Irish speaking school?
—That would not necessarily be so but in these areas that would normally be the case.
664. Is the inspectorate comprised of people from the Department?
—The housing inspectors are from our Department but in respect of the £10 grant for Irish speaking children the fluency is tested by inspectors of the Department of Education in the schools.
665. What is the position in relation to the qualification in respect of the language of a household?
—In relation to a housing grant, the qualification would be determined by our own inspectors but if there are children from the household attending school we would carry out a cross check to determine whether there was a qualification currently for the £10 grant.
666. From the manager of the school?
—No, we pay the grant and the inspection in the school is carried out by inspectors of the Department of Education.
667. Deputy Treacy.—Are there any regulations governing the payment of housing grants, say, in respect of the size of a house or of income?
—There is no regulation in relation to income. The grants are scaled according to the number of rooms in a house. They are set out in our Leabhrán Eolais. The floor area and the number of rooms are taken into account. The bulk of cases are at the top level.
668. So that there is no means test?
—None whatsoever. The only possible way in which a means test could be involved would be if there was a supplementary grant from the county council concerned. This could happen in some counties.
669. Chairman.—Is there anything to prevent a person selling his house after he had obtained a Gaeltacht grant?
—No, but we might be very slow to sanction a grant immediately afterwards for another house. We have power to refuse grants.
670. With subhead E—Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht—we can take the item covering the airfield at Inis Mór. The note is important under this subhead.
671. Deputy Barrett.—What is covered by the sum of £60,000 for agricultural purposes?
—This covers a variety of schemes—farm buildings, land project, grassland plots and so on. We give supplementary grants to Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht where the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries give their ordinary grants. Of the £60,000 there, £25,000 was spent by way of such supplementary grants for farm buildings. In respect of the land project we give a grant of up to £8 per acre towards fertilisers. We give a slightly higher differential in the grant for the actual reclamation work. In that year those two items would account for £14,000. In respect of grassland plots we arrange for lime and fertilisers at half the cost and that would account for almost £20,000 in that year. There would also be various minor items, for instance, the acquisition of sows, agricultural shows, the growing of vegetables in demonstration plots and so on.
672. Deputy Burke.—Maidir le muiroibreacha tugadh £170,000 ach níor caitheadh ach £35,003; tugadh £70,000 maidir le cóiríocht saoire agus caitheadh £146,380. Cad is cúis leis seo?
—Is é an t-iomlán a bhíonn i gceist i gCuid a Dó den Mheastachán an figiúr tábhachtach do gach fo-mhírcheann: níl sna figiúirí eile ach figiúirí eolais. Bhí an meastachán chomh cruinn agus d’fhéadfaí a dhéanamh amach. Uaireanta ní féidir dul ar aghaidh le hoibreacha. Cuir i gcás, na muiroibreacha sa bhliain sin: bhí cúpla cás mór a rabhamar ag súil le dul chun cinn iontu ach níor tharla aon ní; ceann amháin i gContae Mhaigh Eo, Darby’s Point—bhí caint ann mar gheall air leis na blianta agus tá sé críochnaithe ó shin—bhíomar ag súil le caiteachas mór air an bhliain sin ach níor tharla sé go dtí an bhliain ina dhiaidh sin. Ansin bhí ceann eile—agus tá caint mar gheall air fós—thíos sa Daingean i gContae Chiarraí agus níor tháinig sé ar aghaidh an bhliain sin ach oiread. Tarlaíonn deacrachtaí áirithe anois is arís. Uaireanta téann an obair ar aghaidh go maith agus uaireanta eile ní théann sí ar aghaidh chomh tapaidh sin. Nuair a bhíonn an t-airgead againn agus nuair a bhíonn iarratais istigh againn faoin gcóiríocht saoire, mar shampla, caithimid mar sin é.
673. Cad is brí leis an téarma “cóiríocht saoire”?
—Tá deontais de dhá shaghas ansin. Ar an gcéad dul síos, tá deontais fhorlíontacha anuas ar na deontais a thugann Bord Fáilte Éireann d’óstáin agus do thithe aíochta. Tá scéim eile againn chun cabhrú le muintir na Gaeltachta le seomraí ina dtithe féin a chóiriú do chuairteoirí, troscán a cheannach agus rudaí mar sin.
674. Maidir leis na meánscoileanna tá méadú de £8,000 ann. Cad air a caitheadh an t-airgead sin?
—Oibreacha caipitil atá i gceist, chun foirgnimh a thógáil, mar shampla. Tugaimid deontais faoi scéim atá againn do mheánscoileanna sa Ghaeltacht. Bímid i gcomhairle leis an Roinn Oideachais ach ní deontas forlíontach é: ní íocaimidne aon deontas nuair atá deontais eile le fáil ón Stát. Bhí an chuid is mó den chaiteachas ar scoileanna i gContae Mhaigh Eo an bhliain sin. Bhí ceann i nGob an Choire agus ceann i dTuar Mhic Eadaigh, cúpla ceann eile sa Daingean —Clochar na Toirbhirte istigh sa Daingean agus Coláiste Íde taobh amuigh de—cúpla ceann eile i nDún na nGall, Ard-Scoil Mhuire i nGaoth Dobhair agus Coláiste na Croise Naofa ar an bhFál Carrach agus an ceann is mó ó thaobh caiteachais sa bhliain sin i gContae Phort Láirge, meánscoil San Nioclás sa Rinn.
675. An raibh aon iarratas istigh ó Ghaeltacht Mhúscraí? Nach bhfuil fadhb le réiteach ansin faoi cheist na meánscolaíochta?
—Thugamar cabhair tráth don mheánscoil atá i mBéal Átha an Ghaorthaidh ach ní raibh aon chaiteachas sa bhliain áirithe sin. Thugmar deontas beag do Choláiste fosagáin i mBaile Bhuirne uair éigin roimhe sin chomh maith.
676. Maidir le huisce agus séarachas tá laghdú ansin?
—Níor chuaigh an obair ar aghaidh chomh tapaidh agus ba mhaith linn é. Seo seanscéal. Bímid ag brath ar na Comhairlí Contae chun an obair seo a chur chun cinn agus cloisimid a lán mar gheall air, nuair a bhímid ar fud na Gaeltachta, nuair nach mbíonn dul chun cinn á dhéanamh. B’fhearr linn go mór, ar ndóigh, dá mbeadh níos mó caite ná mar a bhí curtha ar fáil sa chás sin.
677. Deputy Burke.—Cén chaoi a ndéantar é ó thaobh na gComhairlí Contae?
—Is iad siúd a dhéanann an obair agus tugaimidne deontas forlíontach anuas ar an deontas ón Roinn Rialtais Áitiúil.
678. Chairman.—The Estimates indicate a figure of £170,000 for marine works and, in effect, the Appropriation Accounts show a figure of £35,000?
—Yes, I just mentioned that. There were two principal cases involved, in which we were expecting to make progress and the progress did not come up to expectations; in fact, there was no expenditure. One was at a place called Darby’s Point in County Mayo, which has since been completed; the expenditure did not fall in that year. Another was in Dingle, which is still not completed.
679. Deputy Treacy.—Maidir le fo-mhírcheann E—Scéimeanna Feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht—cén áit ina bhfuil na hallaí seo suite?
—Nil mórán i gceist sa bhliain áirithe sin. Íocadh suimeanna beaga i sé chás éagsúla, an bhliain sin. Bíonn obair leanúnach ar siúl agus d’fhéadfadh an chuid is mó den chaiteachas titim sa bhliain roimhe sin nó sa bhliain ina dhiaidh sin. Tharlódh mar sin nach dtitfeadh, b’fhéidir, ach cuid bheag den chaiteachas isteach in aon bhliain amháin. Sin mar a tharla sa bhliain áirithe sin. Bhí na hallaí ar Inis Bó Finne i nDún na nGall, i dTír an Fhia agus ar an gCeathrú Rua i nGaillimh agus i mBaile an Fheirtéaraigh agus i gCeann Trá i gCorca Dhuibhne. Ní raibh aon chaiteachas mór an bhliain sin.
680. Ar thug sibh aon chabhair sa Rinn?
—Ní raibh aon chaiteachas an bhliain sin ach thugamar deontas beag dóibh uair éigin roimhe sin.
681. Deputy Tunney.—Maidir leis an gcaiteachas seo £79,591 faoi F ar dhaltaí a chaith saoire sa Ghaeltacht etc., an bhfuil aon bhaint idir an phríomhscéim ansin agus an caitheachras ar chóiríocht faoi E— £146,000?
—Tá dhá scéim i gceist sa chóiríocht agus is í an dara scéim atá ann ná cabhrú le muintir na Gaeltachta chun seomraí ina dtithe féin a chóiriú do chuairteoirí. Bheadh na daltaí atá i gceist faoi F ag cur fúthu i gcuid mhaith de na tithe sin.
682. An bhfuil sibh sásta? An scéim eacnamaíochta í nó scéim chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, nó an bhfuil sibh ag súil leis an dá rud?
—An dá rud. Ó thaobh na Gaeltachta cuireann sé airgead isteach sa Ghaeltacht agus ó thaobh na ndaltaí a théann ann tá súil againn go gcuireann sé an Ghaeilge isteach iontu siúd.
683. You are conscious of criticisms that have been levelled that perhaps the students are not spending enough time with the people of the area and consequently are not benefiting to the extent that they might? The tendency now has been to shepherd them all to a college point?
—That is true. The vast bulk of them would be attending courses in colleges but perhaps that is a good thing. They are in the houses at night, for meals and so on and they have contact with the people of the Gaeltacht and hear the language used in everyday life.
684. Blianta ó shin bhí i bhfad níos mó teagmhála ag na scoláirí le muintir na háite. Tá sé sin an-tábhachtach. Bhéinn féin sásta níos mó airgid a thabhairt do mhuintir an tí dá mbeidís sásta níos mó ama a chaitheamh leis na scoláirí?
—Faoi cheann de na scéimeanna atá againn tugaimid deontais do na mná tí do líon áirithe daltaí: ní bhímid sásta aon teach a bheith plódaithe le daltaí. Caithfidh bean an tí bheith in ann iad a láimhseáil i gceart. Is rídheacair a bheith lánsásta mar gheall ar rud ar bith mar seo.
685. Deputy Burke.—Caitheadh £90,000 ansin ar dheontais do thuismitheoirí nó caomhnóirí daltaí áirithe a raibh an Ghaeilge mar gnáth-theanga acu. Is deacair i gcásanna áirithe daoine a shásamh is dócha. Bhí mé thíos i nGaeltacht Ros a’Mhíl le déanaí. Bhí clann ann a bhuaigh duais Ghlór na nGael nó scéim éigin mar sin ach níor tugadh an £10 dó. An féidir libh scrúdú a dhéanamh bhliain i ndiaidh bliana i dtaobh an chaiteachais seo? An bhfuil an líon ag dul i laghad ó bhliain go chéile?
—Níl, dáiríre. Is deacair bheith cruinn mar gheall ar an mbaint atá ag an daonra leis an scéal. Tá níos mó daltaí sna hiarbhunscoileanna anois. I láthair na huaire is ag dul i méid atá na figiúirí, mar a tharlaíonn.
686. I dtaobh na dtréimhseachán Gaeilge cén fáth nach bhfuil siad ag fáil an airgid atá leagtha amach sa leabhar seo, £60,000. Ní bhfuaireadar ach £43,000. An é go bhfuil laghdú ar líon na dtréimhseachán seo?
—Ní hé sin é. Is amhlaidh a bhí i gceist againn eagar a chur ar cheann amháin de na nuachtáin sheachtainiúla chun freastal ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus ar phobal léitheoireachta na Gaeilge ar fud na tíre ach bhí deacrachtaí mar gheall ar írisí a thabhairt le chéile.
687. Cad faoi na scannáin Ghaeilge? Cá dtaispeántar iad?
—Bíonn siad sna gnáthphictiúrlanna. An chuid is mó de chaiteachas na bliana sin bhain sé le scannán a rinneadh dúinn féin —An tOileánach a d’Fhill. Roimhe sin is scannáin a rinne Gael-Linn a bhíodh i gceist agus sinne ag cabhrú leo.
688. Maidir le seirbhísí ilghnéitheacha, £34,000, an bhféadfá míniú a thabhairt air sin?
—An rud is mó atá ann ná Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann ar tugadh £16,000 dóibh an bhliain sin. An dara rud mór atá ann ná an caillteanas a ghlanadh ar an long Galway Bay a bhíonn ag freastal ar Oileáin Árann chomh maith leis an Naomh Éanna; don chéad uair an bhliain sin ghlanamar é sin dóibh agus bhí beagnach £15,000 i gceist. Sin beagnach £31,000 as £34,000. Tá rudaí beaga eile i gceist. Tá bád ag freastal ar Oileán Chléire, An Naomh Ciarán, agus caitear £1,000 nó £1,200 gach bliain air sin.
689. Chairman.—Complaints have been aired of the conditions under which children are housed when they go on holiday to Gaeltacht areas. Have you an inspectorate system to ensure that standards of accommodation are adhered to?
To see that overcrowding and bad conditions are avoided?
—That is right. In fact in that particular year for the first time we had introduced a scheme which gave us access to the houses when we started paying grants at the rate of £1 a week, for each recognised pupil staying in a house, provided we were satisfied with conditions in the house, the number accommodated there and so on. We have since developed that scheme. There were scholarships involved at that time as well. We have now cut out the scholarships completely and we are paying £3.50 weekly per student direct to the people of the Gaeltacht for accommodating recognised pupils, that is 50p a day. We pay those grants only when we are satisfied that the accommodation is of a reasonable standard and that the numbers we are prepared to authorise are not exceeded.
690. Deputy Treacy.—Under Gaeltacht Improvement Schemes, may I take it that this figure of £146,380 refers to grants supplied to local families to provide holiday accommodation for students? To what extent, if any, is your Department involved in this payment of grants for hotels as such?
—As I mentioned earlier there are two schemes involved there. We give supplementary grants for hotels and guest houses subject to certain conditions which are set out in our explanatory booklet. In that particular year about two-thirds of that total would have gone to hotels and guest houses in the form of the supplementary grants I mentioned. The other one-third, almost £50,000, would have gone direct to Gaeltacht householders under a scheme for improving their accommodation to cater for visitors, and providing some furniture and so on. This, of course, is in addition to all expenditure involved under the Gaeltacht Housing Acts, which was dealt with under subhead D.
691. I take it that a breakdown of that figure is available?
—I can give you the figure. Under the scheme for hotels and guest houses there were 13 cases involving payments in that year and the total was £97,652. Under the other scheme for improving accommodation in Gaeltacht households there would have been a few hundred cases and the payments came to £48,728; so it would be roughly two to one.
692. At any stage are the grants to hoteliers identified?
—Do you mean are the specific figures for individual cases published?
—That has not been the practice.
693. Chairman.—Perhaps this would be more appropriate to the report. It is a matter of policy rather than administration.
—Of course we always have the figures but, as you see, individual payments do not appear in the appropriation accounts.
Perhaps Deputy Treacy you could take it up again when we are considering the report.
694. Deputy Tunney.—Under subhead F —Cultural and Social Schemes—in connection with the grants to newspapers for publishing news in Irish it would appear to me that whatever grants are paid to national dailies are not attractive enough. I think we all appreciate that national dailies are read rather extensively in Gaeltacht areas. Have the Department consulted with the editors of the national papers with a view to their availing of these grants for increasing the news items which are published in Irish in their papers?
—We supplied them with copies of our scheme. Originally the scheme was confined to local newspapers read in the Gaeltacht. In fact in that particular year there were three papers, two of which would be read in the Gaeltacht and the other in Leinster. We had an inquiry from one of the national dailies earlier this year and we explained the scheme. We got no further response but they are publishing quite an amount of Irish just the same. They cannot assume we have sanctioned a grant since they did not communicate further with us. I do not know if they will come along later to seek a grant.
Chairman.—Perhaps it is more a matter of policy and the Deputy could take it up in the House.
695. On subhead G—Certain Irish Language Organisations—are the moneys specified in the Book of Estimates?
—They are all specified in the Estimate with the exception of a few amounts totalling £6,000 for “eagrais eile” which are not named.
696. We have not got the accounts for Gaeltarra Éireann and we should have them?
—I have a good deal of information about Gaeltarra and if I can help the Committee in any way I shall be glad to do so but perhaps not really in my capacity as accounting officer.
697. Nevertheless moneys have been voted. If we are to question the activities of Gaeltarra Éireann we should at least have the accounts. It would be of help to the members if we had copies of them before us. Perhaps you would ask Gaeltarra Éireann to rectify this situation?
—We will certainly send them along. The accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the report and accounts are in the Library.
698. Mr. Suttle.—It has been the practice with most Departments who are responsible for State-sponsored bodies that, as a matter of courtesy, they supply the Committee with copies of their accounts without placing any responsibility on the accounting officer for the actual transactions involved in the accounts. For the information of the members while the Vote is being discussed these accounts should be available. It is purely a matter of courtesy and it is up to yourself.
—We should be delighted to do that. These are published accounts. If I can help in any way, or by answering on any general matter, I shall be glad to do so.
699. Chairman.—It is hard to raise something on a matter which we have not before us. Perhaps in future you would supply copies to the Committee a few weeks prior to your coming along?
—I shall certainly do that. If you like I will run through what is involved in the two types of payments to Gaeltarra—to meet current and capital expenditure.
It would not be much help now.
700. Deputy Treacy.—It would be appreciated if we had some idea of the activities of Gaeltarra Éireann.
701. Chairman.—We are fully entitled to do so though perhaps it might be simpler if we left the matter until the next year’s appropriation accounts which will be taken in a few months time or certainly not later than Easter? We could discuss it fully then or we could examine the accounts prior to our meeting and then members could ask any question they wished. Perhaps we can take the Gaeltacht Glasshouse Scheme now.
—That would come under subhead E.
702. There is a separate document, also.* —Yes. It is a return compiled by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Committee have always taken an interest in these figures. One cannot make very much of the overall figures really. For instance, there are houses that have heating systems but in which heating systems may not be working. Money has been spent in providing these heating systems so they are interesting in that respect.
703. There is not much point in providing heating systems if they are not being used?
—What happens is that in a heated house there can be an early crop when prices are high but, if it is found extremely expensive to heat the house so that the cost of heating would be greater than the extra profit on the produce, one would not continue to heat the house. It is as simple as that.
704. What percentage of the total cost of installing a heating system in an average glasshouse is covered by the grant?
—Under present day schemes we give a grant of up to two-thirds of the total cost. Most of these heating systems were installed a number of years ago. I cannot recall the precise terms offhand but I think the grant was in the region of two thirds of the cost and that a fixed amount was repayable.
705. There are loans available also?
—There were and the sums repaid are brought into account as Appropriations-in-Aid.
706. Perhaps we could have a statement in relation to the extent of loans outstanding and also in respect of existing repayments and bad debts?
—Under the agreements drawn up at the time repayments were governed by income so that, while repayments may not have been satisfactory from a financial point of view, they would be in accordance with the agreements. The sale of tomatoes in these cases is conducted through central stations of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Galway and Donegal and the figures here relate to everything going through those stations. The amount retained towards the loan repayment would be related to the income in the particular year but, as can be seen from these figures, the average income is not very satisfactory.
707. I am at a loss here regarding the loans, for instance, the type of loans that are offered and the conditions and terms under which they are offered. I notice a substantial drop in the repayments as between 1969 and 1971. We are entitled to a comprehensive note in this respect. Perhaps you could let us have such a note.
708. Deputy Tunney.—Figures can be deceptive when background information is not available. However, in connection with the houses in Connemara it seems strange that production in the cold houses exceeds considerably production in the heated houses?
—The descriptions “cold” and “heated” may not be accurate: houses with heating systems may be cold also because the systems may not be in operation. The significance of the heating system is that it was provided at additional cost, but it is not necessarily being used.
709. Perhaps that would explain the difference in production as between Donegal and Connemara. In Donegal, where the average yield was 23 cwt., I presume that the heating system is being used but in Connemara, where the average production is 13 cwt., the heating is not used?
—Even if the two figures for Donegal are compared, that is, 23 cwt. as against 16 cwt. for houses without heating systems, it would seem to be the case that heating can substantially increase the yield. These are average figures, however, and can be misleading for that reason.
710. Chairman.—Surely there is not much point in providing heating systems if there is no benefit from them because of the failure of growers to use them. There is also an indication that production in a cold house is at least as good as that in a heated house. Perhaps the whole scheme should be re-examined because of the payment of grants and loans?
—There are no Departmental loans nowadays. The scheme has been reexamined. At the time of their adoption the initial schemes seemed a good proposition. Originally the houses were built without heating systems and the intention was that, with heating, more money could be made. However, various relevant factors change. For instance, the cost of turf changes and in this respect turf may not be the most efficient form of heating. There is no compulsion on these growers to use the heating.
711. What is the cause of a reduction of almost a half in the number of houses planted?
—Some of these houses are very old and have come to the end of their useful lives. There is also the fact that these are small houses by modern standards. The modern trend is for very much larger houses.
712. Deputy Treacy.—From the information before us it would seem that the glass-house scheme applies in the main to Connemara and Donegal. I was wondering whether it should not apply to every Gaeltacht area in Ireland?
—Originally it applied exclusively to two areas in those counties and operated around central packing stations. Of course, the scheme was started by the Department of Agriculture long before Roinn na Gaeltachta was set up. In recent times we have a general scheme that applies throughout the Gaeltacht but there is no great demand for it outside of Counties Galway and Donegal. In the year we are discussing there was no expenditure on glasshouses.
713. Recently, therefore, the scheme has extended to other areas?
—For several years past it has extended to other areas.
714. Deputy Treacy.—Some information on those lines would be welcome.
Chairman.—I have asked for it already.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 45—EXTERNAL AFFAIRS.
Mr. H. J. McCann called and examined.
715. Chairman.—On subhead D—Repatriation and Maintenance of Destitute Irish Persons Abroad—the recovery rate appears to be rather good?
—Yes. At present the type of case that is on the increase, with the increased travel of our people to the Continent of Europe, are repatriations of people who run into temporary financial difficulties abroad. Cases such as the repatriation of unmarried mothers in Britain are on the downward slope at present.
716. A sum of £1,259 was written off; what steps do you take to recover these moneys?
—In the first instance we get an undertaking from the person who gets assistance to repay it and then we write to him or her and in suitable cases, if we think it would be useful, we utilise the services of the Garda Síochána. It is only when we are satisfied that it would be a waste of public money and time to pursue the matter, for example where the person disappears or is obviously a person of no resources, that we abandon it.
717. Deputy Treacy.—Could you give us some idea of the number of persons, if any, who were refused assistance?—
—I do not think we would have those statistics. If a person comes within the accepted categories he would get help. It would only be such a person who made a habit of going abroad and being brought back who might not qualify. You could find “chancers” coming to missions abroad.
718. Chairman.—We can take it that no genuine cases were refused help?
—No, not within the scope of our possibilities. The purpose of the service is to help them.
719. Deputy Tunney.—On the Notes—the amount of £55 spent on gifts seems very small?
—It is rather small. That particular item relates to some residual gifts in connection with the Taoiseach’s visit to India in 1968 and a presentation to General de Gaulle when he came to Ireland.
720. Chairman.—I take it they were appropriate to the occasion?
—Yes and to the person who was receiving them. In the case of General de Gaulle it was a silver salver.
VOTE 46—INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION
Mr. H. J. McCann further examined.
721. Chairman.—Paragraph 92 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead C.3—Contribution to the United Nations Children’s Fund
Special contributions amounting to £45,433 which were paid out of this subhead to UNICEF to assist in relief work in Nigeria included £25,000 towards the cost of chartering a relief ship.”
Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—The total contribution to UNICEF out of this subhead was £57,959 as charged in the Appropriation Account. The basic contribution of £12,526 was for the purpose of financing child health projects in poorer areas of the world and the relief of children in emergencies. The special contributions mentioned in the paragraph were specifically for relief work in Nigeria and consist of the following:—
(1) a sum of £10,433 for emergency relief and rehabilitation of women and children in the war-affected areas;
(2) a contribution of £25,000 towards the expenses of chartering a ship (the “Colmcille”) for the transport of relief supplies and equipment for the humanitarian assistance of victims of the Nigerian conflict; and
(3) a further contribution amounting to £10,000 for emergency relief and rehabilitation of women and children in Nigeria.
722. Chairman.—On subhead C.4—Contribution towards Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance—in what form is this assistance given?
—It is given so far as we are concerned by financial contributions but so far as the organisation which is administering it is concerned it involves the provision of the services of experts to advise on development schemes and the award of fellowships and grants to enable nationals of the less developed countries to study abroad. It also involves the provision of equipment in limited amounts in connection with the work of experts, particularly for demonstration purposes.
723. Deputy Treacy.—On subhead C.6— Contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency—could you enlighten us about the distinction between subhead C.5 and C.6?
—Yes, C.5 is concerned with financing the programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees but it does not include certain particular classes of refugees such as those covered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency which is concerned with financing the relief and rehabilitation of refugees in the near East —the Palestine refugees. The latter is a separate programme.
724. Chairman.—On subhead C.7—Contribution to the United Nations Special Fund—could you tell us about the special fund?
—This fund was set up with a view to enlarging the scope of the United Nations regular technical assistance programme and the expanded programme of technical assistance. The Special Fund itself is limited to the financing of certain basic projects in the field of pre-investment activity. In other words, it is to provide the infrastructure to enable capital investment to be made more feasible and more effective. The three programmes are actually merged into one but for the purpose of contribution they still keep their separate identities. The types of assistance given are surveys, research and training and demonstration, including pilot projects.
725. Deputy Barrett.—On subhead C.8 —Contribution to the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa—could you tell us what is the purpose of the Trust Fund for South Africa?
—It is made up of voluntary contributions from States, organisations and individuals to be used for grants to voluntary organisations and Governments of host countries receiving refugees from South Africa. It is to give them legal assistance where they are charged under discriminatory and repressive legislation. It also helps to give relief to dependants of persons persecuted by the Government in South Africa for acts arising from opposition to the policy of apartheid. It also helps to provide for the education of their children. Finally, it is used for the relief of refugees from South Africa. It is all in the context of the apartheid policy of the South African Government.
726. Deputy Treacy.—In respect of these various grants, how many of them would be once-for-all grants as distinct from continuing liabilities?
—They are practically all continuing, not so much as a continuing liability but as continuing grants. The question arises each year as to how much we are going to give to the programme for the coming year. We are trying to increase the amount given to the less developed countries as our economic circumstances permit. Most of these grants are for continuing operations.
727. Chairman.—What is the position in relation to the recoupment of wages and salaries of the Army personnel serving in Cyprus?
—That does not arise on our Vote. It is progressing reasonably satisfactorily. It is on the Defence Vote that it arises. We are involved in it in bringing pressure to bear on the UN Secretary-General to see that we are reimbursed as rapidly as possible. I do not have the figure with me as it does not arise on our Vote. The situation is improving reasonably well so far as I know.
728. Is the Department of Foreign Affairs not involved in the exercise abroad?
—We are responsible for the relations with the United Nations on it and we are a channel of communication with them in connection with the request for assistance in this field. We also bring pressure to bear on them to meet outstanding claims. We present the claims of the Department of Defence to them.
729. Deputy Tunney.—On subhead D.1 —Subscriptions to Inter-governmental Legal Bodies—on what is the extent of the subscriptions based?
—For the main body they are fixed on the same unitary basis as applies to members’ contributions to the Universal Postal Union. We are in what is classed the fourth classification of ten units, the same as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Portugal. There are different classifications.
730. Chairman.—What does the figure of £6,403 in the Extra Receipts Payable to the Exchequer cover?
—It is the payment of the interest and principal on the United Nations bond issue. These payments are made direct to the Department of Finance but are shown in the Appropriation Account for the Vote for International Co-Operation so far as the amount of interest and the repayment of the capital is concerned. We purchased United Nations bonds to the value of $300,000 in June 1962. This payment was charged to the Vote for International Co-Operation. It is because of that that the repayments are recorded in connection with our Vote even though they go direct to the Department of Finance.
731. What is the Overseas Trainee Fund used for?
—This fund is used for the training in Ireland in administration, management, and technical skills of nationals of developing countries. There were no operations on the fund during the financial year under review but there were some during the following years.
732. Why was there no activity in that particular year?
—We brought the availability of this assistance to the notice of countries which might be interested but we did not have any request in that particular year.
733. Chairman.—I understand that in relation to the troops in Cyprus there is considerable delay in getting money from the UN. Perhaps you would be good enough to contact the Accounting Officer in the Department of Defence and submit a note to the Committee in relation to the current situation?
—I shall be glad to do so.*
The witness withdrew.
The Committee adjourned.