Dáil Éireann - Volume 409 - 19 June, 1991

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Naval Service Training.

[2387] 10. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Defence the progress which has been made in regard to the provision of a new and separate unit for Naval Service cadets at Haulbowline; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

31. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Defence when the fishery protection school planned for Ringaskiddy, County Cork will be operational.

Mr. Daly: I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 31 together. Arrangements are in progress to acquire a site at Ringaskiddy, County Cork as a first step in the provision of a new training establishement for the Naval Service which will include training facilities for fisheries protection measures. When the site is acquired planning will proceed in relation to the development of the proposed facilities as soon as the necessary financial resources are available.

Mr. Sherlock: I thank the Minister for his reply but I should like to point out that I would not have put down the question if it were not for the fact that it is two years since it was decided to purchase the site at Haulbowline for a separate training unit. May I ask the Minister why no progress has been made in that regard and when he expects separate training facilities will be made available at Haulbowline?

Mr. Daly: The Deputy is aware that attempts were made to find a suitable site but that we ran into some difficulties. A site was identified at Ringaskiddy but apparently there has been some resistance to the acquisition of it. The Deputy must be aware of this problem. In response to representations I received from Fianna Fáil Deputies in the Cork area some time ago, I indicated I was prepared to visit the area. Alternative sites have been suggested and it is not clear which site will be decided on. There has been considerable difficulty acquiring [2388] a site and objections were raised to the site originally proposed.

Mr. Sherlock: Why has it taken so long to find an alternative site? If his Department are so committed to providing this alternative site, why were steps not taken to acquire the site in spite of the objections raised? Does the Minister not agree that this is a delaying tactic on the part of his Department?

Mr. Daly: There has been no delay in regard to the acquisition of a site since I took over responsibility for this matter. I visited Haulbowline shortly after my appointment as Minister for Defence and discussed the issue of their requirements with the personnel there. I was aware at that time that there were objections to the site which had been identified as suitable. They were based on the belief that the site should be developed for industry. Representations were made to me about an alternative site in Passage West. The best way to expedite the matter is to visit the area — the Deputy is welcome to come with me — and identify where the project should be located. This would be a major step forward in putting the project in place.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Would the Minister not agree that his Department have let down the Naval Service because of the delay in providing this training unit?

Deputy Barry tabled this question because of the promise made in this House more than 18 months ago that the school would be in operation shortly. What was meant by the word “shortly”? Does the Minister not accept he has the power to acquire property by way of a compulsory purchase order? Has he considered such an option in view of the objections to the proposed site and the difficulties involved in acquiring an alternative site? Does he not agree that it would be in the national interest to have this school operational at an early date? Would he consider acquiring a site through the use of a compulsory purchase [2389] order? As the Minister is aware, compulsory purchase orders are being used to acquire sites for less important uses?

Mr. Daly: The most important decision to be taken at this stage is where the new facility should be located so that we can start the planning process. Lest there be any misunderstanding about this issue, as I said at the outset, this depends on the availability of resources. Even if we decide on a site I cannot give a commitment that we can immediately put in place the type of modern up-to-date facility required. I propose to visit the area shortly with a view to making a final decision on a site so that we can get on with the necessary planning and design process.

An Ceann Comhairle: A final question from Deputy Taylor-Quinn. We are dwelling over long on this question.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: This is an important question. While the Minister may not have given a commitment in this regard one of his predecessors did. Is the Minister telling the House that his Department have not examined the area in order to identify a suitable site for this training school? If this is what he is saying, it means no work has been undertaken, an ideal location has not been identified and no serious moves are being made to identify a suitable location.

Mr. Daly: I made it clear at the outset that a site had been identified. There is no question about that.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Why has no work been undertaken?

Mr. Daly: The Deputy would be well advised to speak to her colleagues from the Cork area who are more familiar with this issue and who discussed it with me privately on a number of occasions. The Deputy is totally unaware of what is happening in that area.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I am aware of what is happening. I have visited the area.

[2390] Mr. Daly: The Deputy would be well advised to leave the matter to the Deputies from the area who are more familiar with it.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Will the Minister purchase a site using a compulsory purchase order?

Mr. Daly: That will not be necessary.

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 12 has been called.