Dáil Éireann - Volume 54 - 14 February, 1935
In Committee. - Shannon Fisheries Bill, 1934—From the Seanad.
The Dáil went into Committee to consider Seanad amendments.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass) Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass)
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Lemass): I move:—
That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendments Nos. 1, 2, and 3:
Section 9, sub-section (1). The words “(where applicable) to the approval and restriction mentioned in the next following sub-section” deleted in lines 12-14 and the words “to the provisions” substituted therefor.
Section 9, sub-section (1). The words “(where applicable) to such approval” deleted in lines 18-19.
Section 9. A new sub-section added at the end of the section as follows:—
(3) No demise by lease nor letting by way of licence of the whole or any part of the Shannon fisheries nor any  agreement for any such demise or letting shall be made by the Board under this section unless the Board shall, at least twenty-one days before making such demise, letting, or agreement, have published at least once in each of two newspapers circulating in the neighbourhood of the fishery or fisheries which is or are the subject matter of such demise, letting, or agreement, a notice stating the intention or desire of the Board to demise or let such fishery or fisheries and inviting offers to take such demise or letting.
Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are consequential on amendment No. 3 so that the three might be taken together. The purpose of them is to require the Board to give 21 days' notice of their intention or desire to make a letting of a fishery.
Question put and agreed to.
Mr. Lemass Mr. Lemass
Mr. Lemass: I move: “That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 4”:
New section. Before Section 15 a new section inserted as follows:—
15. —(1) Whenever a fishery or a fishing right is acquired (whether compulsorily or by agreement) by the Board under this Act, every person who proves to the satisfaction of the Board or of the arbitrator all the following matters that is to say:—
(a) that during the whole on substantially the whole of each of the three complete open fishing seasons next before such acquisition, he was constantly and regularly employed at a weekly wage in or about the working on such fishery or the exercise of such fishing right, and
(b) that he was so employed by a person or the predecessor in title of a person entitled to receive the price or a portion of the price payable by the Board in respect of such acquisition, and
(c) that the wages received by him in respect of such employment formed the whole or a substantial  part of his livelihood while he was so employed, and
(d) that his said employment related exclusively to the working of such fishery or the exercise of such fishing right, and
(e) that he was not regularly employed outside the open fishing season by the person by whom he was so employed during the open fishing season,
shall (subject to the provisions of this section) be entitled to be paid by the Board compensation in respect of his loss of employment by reason of the said acquisition of such fishery or fishing right by the Board.
(2) The compensation payable to any person under this section shall be calculated as follows, that is to say, for every complete open fishing season during which such person complied with all the conditions mentioned in the next preceding sub-section of this section, such person shall receive a sum equal to four times the average weekly wage received by such person in respect of such employment during the complete fishing season next before the said acquisition of the said fishery or fishing right by the Board, but subject to the overriding limitation that such compensation shall not in any case exceed 52 times the said average weekly wage.
(3) A person shall not be entitled to any compensation under this section in relation to the acquisition of a fishery or a fishing right by the Board where it is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator that by reason of an undertaking by the Board to continue the employment of such person or for any other reason such person will suffer no loss or diminution of employment in consequence of such acquisition.
The purpose of the amendment is to provide for the payment of compensation to certain fishery employees who may lose their employment in consequence of the acquisition of fisheries by the Electricity Supply Board under the provisions of the Bill. The amendment provides that to qualify for compensation an  employee must have been employed for the whole or substantially the whole of three complete open fishing seasons before the date of acquisition; that he was employed by a person entitled to receive the acquisition price; and that the remuneration received by him for his work formed the whole or a substantial part of his livelihood. In such cases compensation is payable upon the basis indicated, that is, a sum equal to four times the average weekly wage for each complete open fishing season for which the person was employed.
Mr. Keyes Mr. Keyes
Mr. Keyes: I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that one of the principal fisheries which will be affected evidently by this amendment—the Lax Weir fishery —is not at present working and if the section is to be strictly enforced men who have been operating there for 30, 35 and 40 years may be debarred from getting compensation because of the fact that the fishery company does not propose to operate this season. I suggest that this is a matter that ought to be taken into consideration, if at all possible, as there are, roughly, 30 or 40 men affected. Owing to reasons over which the men have no control, namely, the company's own reasons, they have not fished so far this season and the company have indicated that they do not intend to fish. It would be unfair, therefore, that the men should be debarred from getting any compensation because of this action at the last moment on the part of the company, who will themselves be getting adequate compensation either in the shape of compensation for the loss of the fisheries already, or for acquisition.
The amendment sets out that operation over three whole seasons is to be taken into consideration and in compensating the men the average of their working over that period should be taken rather than the working in the season immediately preceding acquisition. It is set out in the amendment that they must have worked in three seasons; but in fixing compensation at four times their wages at a particular time it is to be deter  mined for such time as they worked during the last season before acquisition. I may also say that last year was a particularly bad season for them. The Lax Weir Company decided not to operate for the full term of six months—they only operated for nine or ten weeks. These men have been working for 40 years for six months at a time and are now going to be robbed of their livelihood and will be debarred from compensation owing to the action of the company in not giving work this year and not working for the complete term last year. It is a matter of the interpretation of the section; and I ask the Minister to see that a generous interpretation is given to it.
I also ask the Minister to consider the possibility of compensating the Castleconnell fishermen. I admit that they are not affected by this Bill, but the men have lost their employment and will be debarred from compensation because they have not been employed since the fishing was closed down by the diversion of the waters into the head-race of the canal. The owners of the fisheries, consisting of eight men at Castleconnell, are being compensated; but the men who were doing the fishing have not got one penny of compensation and they will never get employment there as rod-fishing is definitely finished for all time at Castleconnell. The Minister should find some means of providing some little compensation for these men in respect of the five years' wages they have lost and for the fact that they will not get employment any more. Whether it is statutory or not, I believe that in justice to these men some effort should be made to provide compensation for them and allow this whole scheme to be placed on a harmonious basis so as to leave no friction behind, because these men have reason to be aggrieved when they see the owners getting adequate compensation while they are ruthlessly set aside and no provision is made for compensating them. I, therefore, ask the Minister to consider the matter carefully and see if there is any possibility of doing justice to these men.
Mr. Lemass Mr. Lemass
 Mr. Lemass: So far as the Lax Weir men are concerned, the Deputy's mind can be at rest. The basis of the compensation is that a man was employed during the whole of the three complete open fishing seasons next before the date of acquisition. This Bill will, presumably, become law in the course of a week and the acquisition of the Lax Weir fishery will take place at once because there is no difficulty as the arbitrator has already determined the price of acquisition and it is only a matter of formality to complete the transaction, in which case the basis of compensation will be, of course, employment in the season of last year and the two previous years.
I am afraid that it is not possible to do anything in the case of the other men. They have been out of employment for five years and the circumstances under which they lost their employment did not arise out of this measure. They arose out of the construction and operation of the Shannon Scheme and their loss of employment commenced from the year 1929 onwards. To attempt to go back over all these cases and assess and award compensation would be an impossible task and would open up a very wide field which it would be impossible to cover. The only thing I can tell the Deputy is that the Board will, so far as possible, having regard to the obligations to the men who may be directly disemployed, endeavour to provide employment for these men in connection with fishery work.
Question put and agreed to.
Mr. Lemass Mr. Lemass
Mr. Lemass: I move:
That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 5:
New section. Before Section 18 a new section inserted as follows:—
18. —(1) The Minister for Agriculture may, if he thinks fit, at any time by order authorise the Board, for the purpose of acquiring statistical information and for the purpose of carrying out scientific investigations or for either of those purposes, to close, at such times, during such periods, and in such manner as he may specify in  such order, the free gap in any specified weir in the waters of the Shannon fisheries.
(2) Whenever the Minister for Agriculture by order under this section authorises the Board to close the free gap in any weir in the waters of the Shannon fisheries, the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(a) notwithstanding anything contained in the Fisheries Acts, 1842 to 1925, it shall be lawful for the Board to close such free gap under and in accordance with such order;
(b) Section 10 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1845, shall not apply in respect of any obstruction placed in such free gap by the Board under and in accordance with such order.
The purpose of this amendment is to authorise the Minister for Agriculture to authorise the Board to close the free gap in weirs in the waters of the Shannon fisheries for the purpose of statistical or scientific investigation. This method of securing information concerning the number of fish in a river or the number of fish required to stock a river and the scientific investigation of fishery development has been adopted successfully in other countries, and it is desired to operate the same system here.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreement with Seanad amendments reported.
Report agreed to.
Ordered: That a Message be sent to the Seanad accordingly.
Dáil Éireann 54 In Committee. Shannon Fisheries Bill, 1934—From the Seanad.