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Coinage Amendment Bill, 1965: Second and Subsequent Stages.

Thursday, 27 January 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 220 No. 3

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Minister for Finance (Mr. J. Lynch): Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Coinage Act, 1950, so as to authorise the issue by the Central Bank of a special silver coin on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Rising of Easter Week, 1916.

The obverse of the coin will bear a portrait of Pádraig Pearse, the reverse a representation of the Cuchulainn statue in the General Post Office. Both designs will be on a concave surface. The coin being thicker at the rim than in the centre will have a dish effect. The edge of the coin will bear the inscription “Éirí amach na Cásca, 1916”.

The Schedule to the Bill sets out the denomination, weight and composition of the new coin. I am advised by the Central Bank, however, that tests of samples have shown that it will be necessary to amend the figures for standard weight. I will be introducing an amendment at a later stage when the figures for weight are finally settled. The design and diameter, 1.2 inches, will be prescribed by regulations to be made by me under the 1950 Act. The [346] denomination of the new coin will be 10/- and it will be legal tender for payment of amounts not exceeding £5. This compares with the legal tender limit of £2 for cupro-nickel coins.

The Central Bank will arrange for the coins to be available in all bank offices in the State on Tuesday, 12th April, 1966. It is proposed to make sufficient coins available to meet the demand. Supplies of a polished proof coin in a leather case will be available some time later for collectors both here and abroad.

Special coins are frequently issued to commemorate great historical events. It is appropriate that the first issue of a special coin by the Irish Government should be the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. I commend the Bill to the House.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins This Bill, of course, is acceptable to us. Perhaps the Minister could indicate by whom the design will be prepared and carried out?

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish We welcome this Bill as one of the measures to commemorate the Rising of 1916 and those who made the sacrifices of that time. I cannot understand the Minister saying that he will introduce an amendment at a later stage. Surely he could have left the whole thing until this matter about weights had been cleared up?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch Perhaps I could explain that and then the Deputy could continue. The anticipated weight of the coin was as set out in the Bill as before the House, but in fact it turns out that there is a slight variation in the weight, and, since the weight must be specifically stated in legislation, an amendment is required. It would be my intention if I got the Bill through all Stages today to have an amendment introduced in the Seanad and then have it brought back here.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Somebody did not do his homework.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch Oh, well, these things can happen.

[347]Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish I understand. I did think it was more or less a waste of time introducing the Bill and then having to amend it. The Minister states that:

The Central Bank will arrange for the coins to be available in all bank offices in the State on Tuesday, 12th April, 1966. It is proposed to make sufficient coins available to meet the demand.

I wonder what he means by that. Will we have a situation whereby the number of coins which will be minted will be such that they will be taken up immediately by collectors to the extent that the ordinary people other than collectors will not have an opportunity of getting these commemorative coins?

I wonder if the Government are wise in deciding to mint a 10/-piece? It is pretty expensive for ordinary people who want to get this commemorative coin to have to pay out 10/-. Could they not have made it 5/- or, if they wanted a special denomination, 4/-? However, these are not important matters. The important matter is that the House should unanimously agree that 1916 be commemorated in one instance in this particular way.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister means the two coins can be used for the next wage increase.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch In reply to Deputy O'Higgins, the coin was designed by Mr. T.H. Paget, an acknowledged expert in coin design. He was appointed as a result of consultations between the Central Bank and the Royal Mint, the Royal Mint being the mint that executes all coinage anyway. I believe we have got in Mr. Paget the very best man available.

I do not think there will be any difficulty about the amendment I shall propose. It will not make for duplication of discussion. It will not be a new introduction but an amendment of a detail of the specification of the coin, which the Seanad will have no difficulty in accepting, providing the Dáil allows me to bring [348] the Bill before the Seanad for the purpose of having the amendment effected there.

With regard to the 10/- unit, I think it is a good thing we have a special unit of our own. On Deputy Corish's point as to making it a 4/- unit, we have sufficient variation in the coinage in circulation in these islands without other denominations. I think 10/- is a good denomination. In addition, the value of the coin makes for a coin of nice size. Many Deputies will be familiar with the Kennedy memorial coin. Our coin will be about the same size.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister will recall that there had to be a limit put on the number of Kennedy coins bought?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I was going to say that our coins will be minted in anticipation of the demand. If the demand exceeds that anticipated, it will be possible to have more produced. Therefore, there will be no question of collectors hoarding them, even though they may ultimately become more valuable than their intrinsic value.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish What amount will be available on 12th April?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I could not put a figure on it offhand.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish If it has been decided that they will be issued on 12th April, only two or three months hence, they must have made some preparations?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch These are matters it is better not to broadcast.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Was it the Government decided what should be on the back and front of the coin?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch It was, in consultation with the Central Bank and the designer. I do not think there could be any great quarrel there.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Could the designer or the manufacturers not have endeavoured to include the names of all the signatories to the 1916 Proclamation?

There are not so many of them that [349] they would not fit on the back of a coin.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch It would be a bit fussy if there was too much writing on it.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish I would be reasonably fussy about it. All of them were good men and all their names should have been included.

Question put and agreed to.

Agreed to take remaining Stages today.

Bill considered in Committee.

Section 1 agreed to.

SECTION 2.

Question proposed: “That section 2 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully In reference to the Minister's statement to Deputy Corish that it would not be feasible to have the names of all the signatories on the coin, recently we attempted to have a plaque put up at Kilmainham to commemorate James Connolly. We were refused permission because the people who are doing such a good job of restoration there said it would be unfair to single out any one of the 1916 leaders without commemorating the others.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I do not think this properly arises. I think Pearse was accepted as leader and certainly was appointed President.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully We do not quarrel with that.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Does the Minister think it would upset plans if the Government gave further consideration to the inclusion of the other signatories?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I do not think it would be possible at this stage to change.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish It is a pity.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 3 agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Title agreed to.

[350] Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.


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