Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1969 - 1970::09 November, 1972::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 9 Samhain, 1972.

Thursday, 9th November, 1972.

The Committee met at 11 a.m.

Members Present:







H. Gibbons,





DEPUTY E. COLLINS in the chair.

Mr. E. F. Suttle (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) called and examined.


Mr. P. S. Ó Muireadhaigh called and examined.

734. Chairman.—Paragraph 95 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

Subhead G.—Grants to Health Authorities

As stated in paragraph 92 of my previous report the supplementary grants payable to health authorities were increased in 1968-69 to provide an average overall recoupment for that year of about 55.7 per cent. of net health expenditure. In the year under review provision was made for grants to achieve a similar overall recoupment.

The charge to the subhead also includes payments to recoup health authorities their expenditure under a scheme for the supply of drugs, etc., free of charge to persons suffering from diabetes who are not covered under the general medical services scheme.”

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

Mr. Suttle.—No, it is merely for the information of the Committee.

Chairman.—Are there any questions on the paragraph?

735. Deputy MacSharry.—May I ask the Comptroller and Auditor General why he put in this statement?

Mr. Suttle.—Under statute, the Department of Health meets 50 per cent of expenditure of health authorities but due to applications by the health authorities for a number of years it has been increased. It has been at a level of 55.7 per cent for two or three years.

736. Deputy MacSharry.—It will have to be increased this year. I merely wished to know why it was referred to in the paragraph.

Mr. Suttle.—It is not a statutory contribution. It is in excess of the statutory contribution.

737. Chairman.—With regard to Salaries, Wages and Allowances mentioned in Subhead A, why has there been a drop in expenditure of £21,000?

—Certain posts for which provision had been made in the Estimate remained unfilled.

738. Is there any reason the posts were not filled?

—The difficulty is in regard to recruitment. Provision was made for two administrative officers but we find it difficult to get administrative officers. There were also two posts for medical inspectors which we did not succeed in filling.

738a. Is pay or conditions of work the reason for this difficulty in recruitment?

—I think it is largely pay. Remuneration outside the Public Service has increased more quickly than in the Public Service. It is a common experience in the Public Service generally, in this country and elsewhere, that it is difficult to recruit medical personnel.

739. Deputy Nolan.—What type of staff are you referring to?

—Medical officers. As regards the two administrative officers, there is provision in the Estimate for five administrative officers but we have never been able to fill that complement Administrative officers for the Department of Health are recruited through the general Administrative Officer competitions.

740. Chairman.—Have you any comments to make on Subhead D.—Expenses in connection with International Congresses, etc.?

—The major item in that subhead is the contribution we make to the budget of the World Health Organisation. It amounted in the year under review to £39,283.

741. Deputy H. Gibbons.—Could the activities of those congresses be made known to Deputies in the medical profession and to the public?

742. Chairman.—That is a matter that might be raised in the Dáil. With regard to Subhead F.—Expenses in connection with Advisory and Consultative Bodies—what is the nature of these advisory bodies?

—The major part of the expenditure is on a committee which is investigating the question of dental caries and fluorides in the Cork area. It is a scientific study to determine the effects of putting fluoride in the drinking water. The National Health Council in the year cost £1,012 and the expenditure consisted almost exclusively of the travelling and subsistence allowances of members. There is a standing consultative council on ambulance services, the cost of which in the year was £918, again mainly for travelling and subsistence expenses of members. There were other minor bodies, minor in the sense of expenditure: the food hygiene advisory committee, the food advisory committee, a study group on pesticides and insecticides and Comhairle na Nimheanna, the poisons council.

743. Chairman.—Subhead H.—Contributions to Local Authorities for the Improvement of County Homes and for alternative Accommodation for certain classes hitherto maintained therein: are there any questions on this particular subhead?

Deputy MacSharry.—What was the alternative accommodation?

—I could not say what it was specifically in this year, but one of the classes we were particularly anxious to get out of the county homes in order to make them genuinely homes for old people was unmarried mothers and, with them, their children. Grants were made by health boards to outside bodies, mainly religious orders, to assist them in providing homes for unmarried mothers. I cannot say whether any expenditure was incurred on that in the present year but, if expenditure incurred on grants in previous years had been met by health authorities from borrowing and they were paying the loan charges on such borrowing, 50 per cent of the loan charges would be met from the subhead.

744. Was that the only class involved?

—That would be the main class.

745. Chairman.—Under subhead I—Grants to Voluntary Agencies—what voluntary agencies come under this heading?

—It is a limited number of voluntary agencies which cater for children, mainly illegitimate children. We pay 50 per cent of their net revenue expenditure.

746. Deputy MacSharry.—On subhead K.1. —Hospitals Trust Fund: Voluntary Hospitals’ Deficits—and subhead K.2.—Capital Expenditure—I should like some clarification. Does it mean that when the Hospitals’ Trust Fund* contribute the Department of Health also have to put up money alongside this? Can we have an explanation of this grant-in-aid?

—Originally, the Sweepstakes were able to provide all the money necessary for capital required for building new hospitals and so on and to meet the deficits on the running expenses of hospitals. Now the Sweep money is insufficient to meet even the deficits on running expenses of these hospitals. Some years ago the State began contributing to the Fund to meet the capital expenditure. Now the Fund gets grants to meet both capital expenditure and running costs.

747. It is just a matter of the Department supplementing what was taken over by the Hospitals’ Trust?


748. Deputy MacSharry.—On subhead O— Training Scheme for Health Inspectors—could I ask what number of inspectors this trains?

—In the year in question there were two courses of training in progress. The course was originally a four-year one. Now it is a three-year course. In this particular year we had to provide for 17 trainees on a course which began in October, 1966 and was completed in June, 1970 and for twelve trainess who began their course in October, 1969.

749. Do you have difficulty in getting people to train as health inspectors?

—Not the slightest difficulty; there are 300 or 400 applications each year.

750. Then why is there a shortage of them throughout the country?

—Because the training schemes have not fully operated yet.

751. Are they not beginning to turn them out quickly enough?

—They have been turning them out in sufficient numbers to meet the vacancies but unfortunately there is a time lag between the occurrence of the vacancy and a trained person being available.

752. This is 1969-70—it does not matter?

—The situation has improved since then.

753. But not enough, you will agree?

—We are still a little short.

Chairman.—If there are no further questions we can turn to Vote 49 and, as there is no note from the Comptroller and Auditor General, we can proceed to the Vote itself.


Mr. P. S. Ó Muireadhaigh further examined.

754. Chairman.—On subhead B—Victualling Patients and Rations for Staff—how is this victualling carried out?

—The food is bought under contract by public tender.

This, I agree, is the most efficient way.

755. Deputy MacSharry.—Live or dead?

—Dead. This is a smallish institution. It would not justify buying live and killing.

756. Chairman.—I wonder if there would be economy in having a public tender for all Dublin hospitals?

Deputy MacSharry.—That would be a matter for a question in the Dáil.

Chairman.—I shall come back to it later under regional health boards. We shall not pursue it now.

—The Hospital is no longer operated by the Department.

757. Chairman.—In regard to subhead D.1— Travelling and Incidental Expenses—have you any comment to make?

—It relates mainly to the escorting and conveyance of patients. In addition, the storekeeper does some local travel in connection with getting supplies, going to the bank for money for salaries and so on.

758. In regard to subhead E—Farm and Garden—I do not think the Farm Account for the year ending 31st December, 1969, has been circulated. Has the Comptroller and Auditor General any comment to make?

Mr. Suttle.—No comment.

759. Deputy Tunney.—In regard to Extra Remuneration mentioned in Vote 49, is it more economic to deal with the matter in this way rather than to appoint another attendant?

—That is the position.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. C. Farrell called and examined.

760. Chairman.—Paragraphs 18 and 19 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General read:

Subhead E.—New Works, Alterations and Additions

The charge to the subhead comprises £1,584,494 expended on general architectural and engineering works and £3,761,809 in, respect of grants towards the erection, enlargement or improvement of national schools, as compared with £1,618,256 and £3,510,154, respectively, in the previous year.

School grants amounting to £2,964,862 were paid to managers who undertook responsibility for having the works carried out and £796,947 was expended directly by the Commissioners. A school grant represents not less than two-thirds of the full cost, the balance being met by the manager from local contributions.”

Has the Comptroller and Auditor General any comment to make?

Mr. Suttle.—These paragraphs show that about 70 per cent of the total expenditure on new works relates to national schools and that the greater portion of expenditure on schools was incurred through the school managers.

761. Chairman.—Am I correct in saying the State grants in new schools are approximately 70 per cent of total expenditure?

—Yes. The grant in any case is two-thirds up to nine-tenths. In very rare cases we have I think paid the entire cost. This would be in a very poor area.

762. This refers to national schools?—Yes.

763. Deputy MacSharry.—Was the Comptroller and Auditor General trying to convey that the amount given to national schools is too much?

Mr. Suttle.—No, but on the basis of the Appropriation Accounts we would have no indication of what that expenditure on new works represents. The figure shown in the account is more than £5 million and it does not indicate new works by the Office of Public Works. I am just letting the Committee know that most of this is expenditure on schools. Most of it is not controlled directly by the Office of Public Works but is paid to managers who build their own schools and get grants from the Office of Public Works to meet the costs.

764. As I understand it, the manager has to deal with the Department of Education with their architects and consultants and with the people from the Office of Public Works before the price, the grant and the contribution to be paid is agreed?

—The manager has to deal with the Department of Education but we act as advisers to the Department. We report on sites, give an estimate of the cost of the school and the Department decide on the amount of grant that would be payable to the manager. Where managers employ their own architects we vet the plans.

765. Therefore, every penny that is spent is vetted by you?

—Yes. Although the manager does not account to us, the Office of Public Works and the Department of Education with their own personnel ensure that all the money is accounted for. In fact, they do not pay a halfpenny more than is necessary and I think they are always cutting the managers, as I understand it.

Mr. Suttle.—I do not think the Office of Public Works are ungenerous in dealing with managers. From my own experience I know they meet them as far as possible.

—That is so but we have to answer to this Committee and to the Comptroller and Auditor General for all our money.

766. Chairman.—Paragraph 20 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

“A contract in the sum of £296,311 placed in July 1964 for an extension to the National Gallery was virtually completed in May 1968. The final cost of the work, exclusive of professional fees, is expected to be in the region of £420,000. The increase over the contract sum, apart from normal price variations of £23,000 is mainly attributed to inadequate estimates of cost for mechanical and electrical services (estimate £87,000: expenditure £124,500), the provision of restaurant and kitchen facilities earlier excluded from the plans (£16,000), alterations to entrance hall not included in the original specification (£15,000) and other measured variations (£20,000).

I have inquired regarding the inadequate estimates in the case of the mechanical and electrical services and the circumstances in which the restaurant and entrance hall works were not included in the specification prepared for tender purposes.”

Has the Comptroller and Auditor General anything to add to that?

Mr. Suttle.—The Committee on previous occasions have emphasised that adequate planning is essential in the exercise of financial control in large contract works of this nature and the Department of Finance have drawn the attention of the Departments concerned to its importance in keeping increases in costs to a minimum. In the case of the National Gallery extension the final cost was considerably in excess of the original contract sum and I have therefore drawn the Committee’s attention to it in this paragraph. Since the date of my Report, the Accounting Officer has informed me that the increase in the cost of the mechanical and electrical services was due to increases under the price variation clauses and to a number of variations and additions found necessary in the course of the work. He has also informed me that the provision of a restaurant was considered unnecessary by the Department of Education and it was therefore omitted from the plans and specifications but later was authorised on representations by the director of the Gallery.

767. Chairman.—The contract sum of £296,311, compared with the final cost of something in the region of £420,000, seems to show a wide difference. This is something surely to be avoided?

—I agree there is a very big difference. The importance of accurate estimating is stressed over and over again and is fully appreciated by all the architects, but in particular instances like the National Gallery it is a very, very difficult thing to see in advance all the detailed requirements. They cannot really be known until you actually get into the work. You cannot picture fully everything that will be required and, in the course of the work, you will come up against things which are quite obviously desirable, if not absolutely essential. That is the main difficulty. As far as possible we try to frame estimates with the greatest care but it is beyond human ability to cover just everything.

768. Deputy McSharry.—Is it not a fact that in all these delays in completing the contract is usually the major cause of the increase in price? Could you tell us what the length of the contract was?

Mr. Suttle.—Actually that contract was carried out quite reasonably. I think it was between three and four years.

769. Deputy McSharry.—Was that the term of the contract?

—That was the term, yes. The contract was carried out reasonably in the contract period. In some cases you will have a contract running over time. This is due mainly to bad organisation on the part of the contractor or to the considerable amount of work he has on hands locally. He is under pressure from local people to get on with some job and we, being farther away, suffer, so to speak. To get back to estimation, our policy has been drilled into every one of our architects; they have been warned to be most careful about estimating and I am quite satisfied they do their best, but you will come up against specialist buildings, like the National Gallery, where you can run into all sorts of snags during the course of the work.

770. Chairman.—It would seem to me that, in planning an alteration to premises like the National Gallery, there would be consultation and the drawings ultimately would encompass all the alterations envisaged. By having the drawings as comprehensive as possible one would cover all the problems likely to arise?

—In practice, that is what is done. In this case there was consultation with the Director of the National Gallery. The difficulty, however, is that neither the Director nor anybody else could foresee exactly what ultimately would be needed.

771. The Comptroller and Auditor General did comment on the entrance hall?

—Yes. That was not included in the specification prepared for tender purposes because it did not form part of the approved scheme. It was not raised until after the contract for the extension had been placed. We discovered the architect had given some thought to the matter previously but he had not been asked to provide for these works in his scheme and he did not, therefore, include them in his specifications. I think he regarded it as a separate work which would come up at a later stage—a separate item, strictly speaking, which was not part of the extension, but a desirable item nevertheless.

772. The discrepancy between the contract price and the final price is significant and we shall take it up again in our report.

—Yes. All concerned have been advised about accurate estimating again.

773. Paragraphs 21 and 22 of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General read as follows:

Subhead F.1—Maintenance and Supplies

A management consultant was engaged by the Commissioners in 1961 to advise on the reorganisation of the Dublin district architectural workshops which were then located in thirteen sub-districts over the city area, each being responsible for its own stores, workshop and labour pool. The consultant recommended, inter alia, the establishment of a centralised maintenance workshop and envisaged savings of the order of £26,000 per annum from improved efficiency on maintenance of buildings and from economies. Premises were acquired in 1964 at a cost of £54,000 and major adaptation works, not yet undertaken, are expected to cost £30,000. Meanwhile six of the sub-district workshops have been centralised.

I have been informed that it is not intended to centralise the remaining sub-districts in the premises referred to and that there will be a continuing need for review of the operation of the workshops in the light of experience, management development and new techniques. I was also informed that there would be a net saving of £50,000 a year as a result of the reorganisation.

It was noted that quantities of salvaged and scrap materials recovered from buildings in the Dublin districts had not been fully recorded nor checked since 1965. I have been informed that it had not been possible to adhere to a programme of systematic stock taking because of staffing difficulties and that stocks on hands would be examined shortly by a board of survey with a view to holding an auction of surplus materials.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—Paragraph 21 refers to the extent to which the recommendations of the management consultant have been implemented at present and indicates that, while the operation of the maintenance workshop will be kept under review, it is not intended to adopt the consultant’s recommendations in full. The saving referred to arises mainly from a reduction in the number of workmen employed from an average of 360 to an average of 300, offset by the cost of administrative salaries and overheads.

774. Chairman.—There have been some economies achieved by centralisation?

Mr. Suttle.—Yes.

—It is a net £50,000 a year, not taking into account the additional premises we have taken on.

775. Chairman.—What is the position in regard to saleable surpluses?

Mr. Suttle.—I understand that the bulk of the saleable surplus materials have now been disposed of and that records are now kept up to date.

—That is true. We realised about £1,500 at the auction referred to at the time that query was raised and the arrangements made for the disposal of these surplus materials are being followed pretty well.

776. Chairman.—I am sure the Board of Works come across some items of value from time to time?

—Not, I am afraid, in our surplus materials. We keep a watch on auctions throughout the country where articles might be for sale. The people from our furniture branch are authorised to attend auctions if they think there is anything going that would be of use, for instance, in the State Apartments, in Aras an Uachtaráin, here in this building or, indeed, anywhere else.

777. Paragraph 23 of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:

Subhead F.2—Furniture, Fittings and Utensils

In the course of an audit at the central furniture stores it was noted that a stocktaking had not taken place since 1967 and I communicated with the Accounting Officer.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—No.

—There has been a difficulty in doing stocktaking because of a shortage of male clerical officers. In recent years the number of male clerical officers entering the Civil Service has been very low. This is work which cannot be done by girls. You must have men on this stocktaking business. We have now got the necessary staff. The stocktaking is now being attended to. The situation is satisfactory again.

778. There is nothing against taking on female staff of course?

—No, not generally but the reluctance to employ them on this particular type of dirty work is understandable.

779. The reorganisation of the furniture stores has not yet been completed?

—The reorganisation of the branch has been completed quite recently.

780. Chairman.—Paragraph 24 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

Subhead G.2Arterial DrainageConstruction Works

The charge to the subhead in respect of major construction works in progress during the year amounted to £879,428. In addition, the value of stores issued, charges for the use of plant and certain engineers’ salaries and travelling expenses in respect of these works were assessed at £367,576. The cost of each scheme to 31 March 1970 was:—


Estimated Cost

Cost to 31 March 1970



Catchment Drainage Scheme:





2,960,000 (1959-60)




6,700,000 (1968-69)




935,000 (1966-67)



Existing Embankments:




Shannon Estuary

500,000 (1962-63)



The balance of the charge to the subhead is made up of sums amounting to £172,769 in respect of intermediate or minor schemes and £25,225 being remanets of expenditure on completed schemes.”

Have you anything to add Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is for information. The amounts shown were those available at the time of my Report. Since then these figures have been or are being revised.

781. There is a substantial increase in the Estimate for the Moy scheme?

Deputy MacSharry.—It went on for 11 years and only finished last year, I think.

—Yes, the Moy finished last year. We have three schemes in progress at the moment, the Boyne, the Corrib-Headford and the Groody in County Limerick.

782. Deputy H. Gibbons.—Would I be in order in asking if the drainage is being done on a cost-benefit basis?

—You are possibly referring to the cost-benefit analysis of drainage generally which is being undertaken at present.

783. I understand that apart from the cost analysis the question of the benefit that would arise from this drainage is considered?

—That is part of the whole analysis, all the benefits and counter considerations.

784. Could the Committee be informed as to what is the basis for this work? What is taken into account?

—On the cost-benefit analysis basis the major thing is the improvement of agricultural land. Then you have additional benefits, relief of flooding of roads and of towns or urban areas generally, improvement in public health and so on A great number of factors must be taken into account. In the Drainage Commission Report of 1938 it was looked upon simply as a means of improving agricultural land and giving a high return to the farming community.

785. I understand that this estimate of what the improvement will be in the land can be calculated more accurately now I should like to know the basic factors enabling you to work it out in terms of money so that you can say that the drainage will cost £x and that the income will be £x + 10 or £x+20?

—That has not been spelled out yet in the cost-benefit analysis but in the past it has been reckoned in this way: as of today the predrainage value of the land is £x; post drainage value £x+y. That is the sale value.

786. Deputy MacSharry.—Not production value?—No.

787. Are you not doing production at all in this analysis?

—I am not quite sure of that but in the past it was sale value.

788. Deputy H. Gibbons.—Could we get something concrete on this? I expect those who are doing this work have a table of some kind in which they put in figures. I quite understand that, no matter how well your people do their job, unless those who own the land decide to go into extra production this is an unassessable quantity. We are being told so frequently that cost-benefit analysis decides so many problems that I feel at some stage we should be fully acquainted with the details of the working out of a cost benefit analysis.

789. Chairman.—Perhaps Mr. Farrell could let us have a comprehensive note on the approach to this problem?

—Yes.* I suppose it will come up in the Dáil in due course.

790. I think it is a valid request in relation to the extent of drainage and it would certainly be of interest to the Committee if you would be good enough to supply it?

—Very well, Mr. Chairman.

791. Chairman.—Paragraph 25 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

Subhead KK.—Expense of Survey of Provincial Museums, Great Gardens and Historic Houses (Grant-in-Aid)

Issues from the grant-in-aid provided under this subhead were made to An Taisce by whom the survey is being carried out. Further provision for this service has been made in the year 1970-71.”

Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is for information. The survey was originally expected to cost £7,000 to £8,000 but I understand that it has been completed for £5,221. Further grants have been made to An Taisce in 1970-71 and 1971-72 to meet the full cost of the survey.

792. Chairman.—If there are no further questions we can pass to Vote No. 8. On subhead E we have a statement of expenditure on new works, alterations and additions for the year 1969-70. In relation to Leinster House, to what does this extension and alteration refer?

—It goes back a long way. It refers mainly to the new office extension at the back. There was also the new entrance in Kildare Place and generally all the works of improvement carried out in the House in recent years. The main item is the new office extension and restaurant. The final cost will be about £770,000.

793. Item No. 16 refers to new Government offices at Waterford. Have you any comment to make on this?

—This is a long-term project. Preliminary sketch plans have been prepared and submitted to the Departments concerned for approval.

794. The site has been purchased?

—Yes, it is at the back of the Post Office, at High Street/Keyzer’s Street.

795. It is for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs?

—It is improvements to the Post Office and Revenue Commissioners’ offices. There is also the problem of additional telephone exchange accommodation. It is not very long since we built a telephone exchange but the demand has grown to such an extent that it will have to be extended. One of the difficulties has been to plan it all in a proper manner.

796. Deputy Governey.—Item No. 21 relates to Kilkenny Castle and the development of the grounds as a public park. Is this work completed?

—It is virtually completed.

797. Chairman.—What is the present position with regard to item No. 18—work on the State Memorial to the late President J. F. Kennedy?

—This project is being handled by an all-party committee. We are executive agents but at the moment we are not able to say when or if this project will be proceeded with or what will happen with regard to this matter. We are awaiting instructions.

798. This expenditure refers to the purchase of houses?

—No, it is in respect of the fees for consultants employed in connection with the preparation of plans for the proposed building. The purchase of sites was covered in another subhead.

799. Can you tell us what has been done with these houses?

—Four of the houses at Northumberland Road have been made available to the Dublin Corporation who converted them into flats to relieve the housing pressure. The other two houses which we purchased there are let directly by us to tenants.

800. With regard to item No. 25 in connection with the Garda Training Centre at Templemore, what is the position in this matter? Comment was made about this in a previous report.

—A small number of accounts are still outstanding but the work is completed. There is a small amount of money in dispute with the contractors but the work which was contracted for is finished.

801. The swimming pool is not leaking?

—No, the swimming pool is not leaking. The heating of the pool is a very specialised matter. It is rather a problem but it will be resolved in due course. The swimming pool is used extensively by local associations, schoolchildren and so on.

802. Deputy Governey.—Have you any comment to make on the item regarding the Garda Station at Myshall, County Carlow? The cost is given at £7,615.

—We had to leave the old garda station and it was necessary to build a new one.

803. Chairman.—What is the position with regard to Finglas Garda station?

—This was an improvement scheme to the Garda station. Erection of Garda stations is shown separately.

804. Deputy Governey.—There is reference to the Garda Station at Borris, County Carlow. Is work in progress here?

—This is an improvement scheme to the present Garda station. I understand work has been completed.

805. Chairman.—With regard to new offices at Athlone for the Department of Education, have you any comments to make on this matter?

—Plans are being prepared for at least an initial move of a fairly large section of the Department of Education to Athlone. We hope to be inviting tenders for this early in the new year. A similar position holds in relation to Castlebar for the Department of Lands. That does not arise here but I am making the comment as a matter of interest. The two projects are running in parallel.

806. Do you know the estimated total cost of these projects for Athlone and Castlebar?

—We have not firm figures at the moment but the provisional figures for the initial stages are about £600,000 in each case.

807. Has the work on St. Conleth’s been completed?

—This is the reformatory at Daingean. We completed the fire prevention works there. The reformatory is to be moved from Daingean and new premises are being built for them in North County Dublin.

808. Have they moved yet?

—No. The building is under construction at the moment.

809. When is this work likely to be completed?

—I think it will be sometime next year. The Department of Education are handling that matter themselves but I think they expect it will be completed next year.

810. This was a source of complaint in the Kennedy Report.

—Yes. The place at Daingean was originally a military barracks. In 1941 the reformatory was moved from Glencree, County Wicklow, to Daingean.

811. The estimate for major fishery harbours —item 53—is £2,797,000. Which of these harbours has been completed?

—Dunmore East has just been completed by the erection of a harbour master’s house and auction buildings. It is the only one that has been completed.

812. How does the estimated cost compare with the final cost?

—I am afraid I cannot compare these figures because I have not got the figures. I have the final cost. The total estimated cost was £800,000 and expenditure up to 30th September was £775,000.

Mr. Suttle.—The original sanction there was for £510,000.

—Yes. It was much lower, but then more and more buildings were decided upon. Invariably you will find that, once a scheme starts, the need for more work becomes evident.

813. Deputy H. Gibbons.—At item 55 there is an entry—Galway Fisheries Research Station— Erection—and the note says that this is under consideration. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean it has not been decided on?

—We are awaiting instructions from the promoting Department as to whether the scheme is to go ahead.

814. Chairman.—The £1,500 was spent on initial investigation, was it?

Mr. Suttle.—I think we had a discussion in the Committee some years ago on this question when the site was purchased. The price paid was very high and it was discussed at the Committee. That was quite a few years ago now.

—Yes. We paid £9,000 for 4½ acres. We would, I think, make a handsome profit on it now if we could put it on the market. Our difficulty is we can negotiate only the lowest price possible. We have no compulsory powers.

815. Chairman.—In that particular case you are to be congratulated on your foresight.

816. Deputy Governey.—You are also to be congratulated on the new Post Office in Carlow.

—That was built as part of the office block in Carlow. It was a very fine job.

817. Chairman.—Under subhead F.3— Rents, Rates, etc.—can I take it, Mr. Farrell, that there is a comprehensive list available of the properties you own and rent?


818. Is it up to date?

—Yes. These properties are perambulated regularly to make sure nothing is happening to them.

819. Have you completed your lists of property rentals throughout the country?

—We have our general list, but there is still a certain amount of work to be done on the mapping end and on the legal end, preparing epitomies of title. The reason for the backlog is because of pressure of work on the Chief State Solicitor and the general shortage of staff in his office. We are hoping to get the thing moving and finished.

820. How long has this compilation been going on?

—It started in 1944-45. It is a long process.

821. Could we hope to reach a position in which you would have a comprehensive list which could be altered automatically every year for every county and county borough?

—We have comprehensive lists already. A considerable amount of work has been done on up-to-date maps and on the epitome of title of each property. The latter has been proceeding more slowly because of staffing difficulties in the Chief State Solicitor’s Office. We have a comprehensive list of properties county by county.

822. Deputy H. Gibbons.—On subhead F.4 —Fuel, Light, Water, Cleaning, etc.—the Department of Finance seem to be involved much more on this schedule than the other Departments. Is this due to the fact that they cover customs and excise and so on?

—The Department of Finance embraces a number of offices, the Revenue Commissioners, who, I suppose, have the greatest number of offices, our own office, the Stationery Office, Ordnance Survey—it is a conglomeration of suboffices under the Department of Finance which accounts for the apparent size.

823. On subhead G.1—Arterial Drainage— Surveys—Would you have a list of areas or rivers under survey at the moment?

—The Suir, the Nore, the Boyle, the Owenmore and the Dunkellian were being surveyed in the year of account.

824. Would you have a list of the cases where the survey is completed, but where no work is indicated or ready to start?

—I have not such a list immediately available.

825. Chairman.—Perhaps you could supply it to us?


826. Deputy Governey.—Would I be entitled to raise the matter of the River Barrow?

Chairman.—Is that under survey at the moment?

—No, that is not under survey at present. A partial drainage scheme, a major one, was done there under the 1927 Act but it is not under survey now.

827. On subhead I—Coast Protection—what action does your office take in relation to coast protection?

—We do the work. It is a rather complicated procedure as laid down in the relevant statute but eventually where a scheme is to be carried out our engineers do it. There is a long procedure laid down in the Act and it takes quite a long time from the date the request is received from the local authority until the scheme actually gets going.

828. The request comes from the local authority?

—It is initiated by the local authority. It has to make a contribution towards the cost of the work.

829. Deputy H. Gibbons.—I wonder why the local authority does not do the work itself? I suppose it is not equipped with the machinery required?

—It is not so much a question of machinery, it is a highly-skilled professional job to decide what exactly should be done. You must watch the behaviour of the littoral drift and decide where your protective works should be positioned. You must also take into account the possible effects of a coast protection job done here on some other place.

830. Chairman.—On subhead J—Miscellaneous Marine Schemes—to what does this refer?

—This was a subhead which was opened in Vote 8 to provide for a service which had previously been a charge on the Vote for Employment and Emergency Schemes. The works concerned had been financed partly by local contribution and partly by State grant and had been carried out to provide employment under the aegis of the Office of Public Works as agents for the Special Employments Schemes Office. Most of the expenses listed in the year of account relate to works at Fenit, County Kerry, about £3,000, and Inishcottle, County Mayo, about £1,000 for a small scheme. We did those works for the Special Employments Schemes Office. It was then transferred to our Vote.

831. On subhead K.—National Monuments —I take it that this is just maintenance?

—Generally, yes. It also covers excavation works and conservations works at existing monuments.

832. On Extra Remuneration—I take it there is no problem with staffing? I should imagine the expenditure on overtime is in the nature of the business?

—Generally overtime is unavoidable, it is part of the business.

833. On Note No. 8 with regard to losses by fire not covered by insurance, how does this arise?

—In accordance with long-established policy, the State acts as its own insurer. The total amount of premiums in any one year would outweigh the probable cost of making good any damage caused by fire within the year.

834. Deputy H. Gibbons.—What is the position with regard to the loaning of staff to other Departments? Is there any payment made? I understand the Post Office people make such a charge. I am talking generally about staff being loaned from one Department to another without any repayment.

—I suppose it could be regarded as a transfer from one pocket to another.

Mr. Suttle.—The Post Office is the exception in this matter. For instance, if I loaned one of my staff to the Office of Public Works there would not be any question of repayment. However, it is rather different in the case of the Post Office. There is a commercial aspect here in that they recover in cash and show it in their accounts for the services rendered to other Departments. In the case of other Departments it is only a question of noting such movements.

835. Chairman.—With regard to the Marine Works (Ireland) Act, 1902, Maintenance Fund, I take it this is a legacy of the past?

—It goes back to the early part of the century. For the maintenance of certain marine works in Cork, Clare, Donegal, Galway and Kerry the relevant Act provided that annual contributions of up to 1½ per cent of the cost of the original construction work in each county should be made by the county council towards the maintenance of those marine works. The rate of contribution was reduced progressively to ½ per cent but it is going up now. Works which cost about £60,000 were carried out at Cape Clear, County Cork; Roundstone, Kilronan, Cleggan, Kinvara, County Galway; Gortnasate, Cladnageeragh, Portnoo, Downies Bay, Falcorrib, County Donegal; Liscannor, County Clare and Renard Point in Kerry. The pier at Renard Point was transferred to the Kerry County Council about four years ago. It is towards the maintenance of these marine works that this fund applies.

836. Is there not a case for abandoning this approach? I suppose it is a matter of policy?

—It is a matter of policy. It has worked well. You would need legislation to repeal the original enabling Act.

Mr. Suttle.—At the same time do you not think that this is really carried on by tradition more than anything else. Why stick to this position? Why not abandon it to the county council?

—The local authorities would be the appropriate people to take it on. I agree it is a matter that could be considered. Renard Point has gone to Kerry County Council. I agree it would be well to transfer them all but that is a matter that can be gone into.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.

* See Appendix 25.

* See Appendix 31.

See Appendix 32.

* See Appendix 33.