Dáil Éireann - Volume 282 - 19 June, 1975

Excess Vote, 1972-73. - Vote 35: Lands.

Minister for Lands (Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick, Cavan): I move:

That a sum not exceeding £8,297,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1975, for the salaries and expenses of the Offices of the Minister for Lands and of the Irish Land Commission, including certain grants-in-aid.

Mr. Callanan: I understand that directive 160 is supposed to be reviewed by the Council of Ministers. Will we have an opportunity of debating it in this House before it is reviewed?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick Cavan): There are no immediate proposals for the review of directive 160. I am sure an opportunity could be found for debating it in the House if it were to be reviewed.

Mr. Callanan: We all agree that rented land should come under the retirement scheme, and I understood the Minister was going to endeavour to have this reviewed at the Council of Ministers. What I want to know is if this House will get an opportunity of debating the directive and how it applies to the country in general before [1148] it comes before the Council of Ministers?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The directive is due for revision next year, so there will be no immediate development. In regard to including land which is let, I am prepared to go some of the way with Deputy Callanan, but I am not prepared to agree that all land which is let should have the benefit of the farmers' retirement scheme. Some of that land might be in the hands of people who have given up farming many years ago and who are living outside the country or engaged in business in the country. However, where land is let due to poverty or illness and where the owners are still resident on the land and living on the lettings, I will do all I can to have land of that type included.

Mr. Callanan: May I take it we shall have an opportunity between now and next year of discussing the directive here in the House?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I would imagine so.

Mr. Leonard: Would the Minister agree that most of the land that people are willing to surrender is land that is let because of people's inability to get workers or because due to illness or old age they were unable to continue actively in farming? Will he make an all-out effort to deal with these individual cases so that such people would be included in the farm retirement scheme?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): I do not agree with the proposition put forward by Deputy Leonard that most of the land that has been offered is owned by people who have it let. The contrary is the case, that by far the biggest portion of land being offered is qualified under the scheme and is being processed. But I do agree with both Deputies that there are cases where land is let due to age, illness or poverty of the owners who want to surrender it under the scheme and that everything should be done to bring them within the scheme. I said I will do that. That is my view, [1149] and I do not want to become controversial. I have had to operate the directive as I found it. When it comes up for revision I will do my best to have the type of farm that the Deputies have in mind included.

Mr. Leonard: Has the provision of money by the Minister's Department for the operation of the farm retirement scheme left less money available this year to buy land under the traditional scheme?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): No. The amount of money voted for the retirement scheme was more than adequate, and the retirement scheme is not interfering with the traditional acquisition of land by the Land Commission.

Mr. Leonard: And there is as much land purchased in the traditional way as——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Yes. There is more resistance, of course, to land acquisition by compulsory powers now than there was before, because land is more in demand, and people want to hold on to it or to sell it independently of the Land Commission.

Mr. Molloy: Could the Minister inform the House when the final decision will be made on the proposal to resettle the islanders of Irish Toirbirt off the coast of Clifden, Connemara, County Galway? The Minister is aware that revised proposals have been presented by the officers of the Land Commission to his Department for decision. There has been a long delay in this matter and the islanders had expected they would be resettled on the mainland before the coming winter. Representations have been made continually by me over the past number of months since last September and no positive indication of any real progress has been given.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Deputy has a parliamentary question down about this matter and I will be answering it. As the Deputy knows, a scheme was drawn up in [1150] respect of Inis Turk and Inish Toirbirt and, by and large, with one exception, the islanders of Inis Turk availed of it. It transpired that the islanders of Inish Toirbirt could not avail of the scheme because they could not make any contribution themselves and it was necessary to review the whole matter. The position has been reviewed and revised proposals are being considered at the moment and I hope to be in a position to give a decision on it without much further delay.

Mr. Molloy: Within a few weeks?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): A month or six weeks.

Vote put and agreed to.