Dáil Éireann - Volume 341 - 21 April, 1983

Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - Coastal Navigation Lights .

15. Mr. P. Gallagher and Mr. Daly asked the Minister for Transport if he has satisfied himself that all navigational lights on and off our coast are in working order.

Mr. J. Mitchell: The Commissioners of [1642] Irish Lights operate and maintain a number of major lights serving shipping generally. These lights are all in working order. Other lights, serving primarily local shipping and fishing traffic, are operated and maintained by local authorities, harbour authorities and other bodies.

My Department were informed some time ago by the Commissioners of Irish Lights that inspections done by them on local lights showed that a number of these lights were not being properly maintained. My Department had discussions on this matter with other Government Departments and it is understood from the Commissioners of Irish Lights that an improvement in the situation has since come about.

Where a local light is found not to be in working order the matter should be taken up with the local authority, harbour authority or other body involved.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Having carried out these investigations, is the Minister satisfied that there are sufficient navigational lights for local boats along the west coast where, as the Minister knows, there have been many serious accidents. Would the Minister consider erecting navigational lights on Rutland Island for boats leaving Burtonport harbour and also a light on The Perch, the scene of an accident recently when a journalist fell into the sea on his way to Aranmore Island to interview the American who landed there?

Mr. J. Mitchell: I will certainly consider the points raised by the Deputy and I will communicate with him on the subject.

Mr. Daly: Has the Minister got details of the lights on which there are reports? Some of the lights have not been properly maintained and are not in proper working order. Is he taking action to rectify these defective lights?

Mr. J. Mitchell: We have taken this matter up with the other Government Departments concerned. I understand that as a result of these representations [1643] and discussion with other Departments there has been an improvement. The Deputy may rest assured that my Department will continue to urge other Departments to press local authorities and agencies under them to maintain the lights around the coast.

Mr. Daly: It seems there are still lights which are not being properly maintained and are a danger.

Mr. J. Mitchell: There has been a significant improvement in the situation. I cannot assure the Deputy that all lights are working at present but, as I said, I will continue to urge other Departments to press agencies under them to ensure that this is done. In view of the Deputy's question, I will take it upon myself to get a full report from the other Departments as to the number of lights working and I will then communicate with him.

Mr. Daly: Can the Minister ensure that this list will be published so that the people will be aware of this situation, because very serious accidents have taken place and lives have been lost as a result of the lights not being in proper working order. Will the Minister list individual lights which are not being properly maintained?

Mr. J. Mitchell: It is certainly a very sad situation if local authorities or harbour boards are not maintaining these lights and I urge Deputies to join with me in pressing those local authorities and harbour boards with whom they have influence to ensure that these services are maintained.

Mr. P. Gallagher: If the lights went out in O'Connell Street we would have all the gardaí out directing traffic whereas if the lights go out at sea nobody cares. Would the Minister ensure that local authorities will carry out maintenance on a regular basis and that faults are detected immediately?

Mr. J. Mitchell: I share the Deputy's concern. However, all these lights are not under my control, some are under the [1644] control of local authorities and harbour boards. In relation to individual Deputies' own localities, I am sure they will take up this matter with the local authorities and harbour boards concerned.