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Private Members' Business. - Local Government (Planning and Development) (Amendment) Bill, 1966: Second Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 5 October 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 224 No. 5

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[670] Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney): Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney When I left off last night on this particular matter, I had said that there are at least three different types of situations that I feel have to be dealt with in regard to these unfinished estates; or three classes of problems within the overall problem which need to be looked at. I would consider the first of these three to be developments of an amenity nature which have not been completed by the developer, even though prescribed in the original planning permission. In so far as that particular situation is concerned, I do say that the law we have is sufficient until it is proved wanting to have these developments carried out.

The second class I would mention are the amenity developments of various kinds which are obviously required for the benefit of the public who live in these estates but which were not prescribed in the original planning permission granted to the developer. In this case, I do not believe we should, could, or that it would be desirable to amend the law so that the developer could be nailed down to do works of which he had no knowledge when doing the estate and which will now cost him money which he may not have. Even if he has the money, he did not budget for it in his original development programme in relation to that estate and these cases must be dealt with out of the public purse. That is the feeling I have about that second situation.

Then there is, generally, a third group which might fall out of either the first or second group, where, again, the estate is unfinished—things missing and in such a condition that they are intolerable in so far as the public who live there are concerned. Even if they might fall within the first category, that is, prescribed works which should have been done according to the original planning permission but have not been done, the situation now [671] is that the developer, or his heirs or representatives are no longer identifiable or, in other cases, even though identifiable, are no longer solvent. They may be bankrupt or the company may have gone out of existence.

One way or another, we have these cases relating to the first point I made and we have the developers, or those we can recognise as carrying responsibility, but who are insolvent or bankrupt for one reason or another. We could nail them down but they cannot do the work because they have nothing with which to do it. In that case, I cannot see that we can reasonably expect the public who are suffering as a result of this situation to be left in the present state. Again, I think it must fall to the public purse to provide what has been omitted or neglected, for whatever the cause in the past.

These three main groups are the headings under which one must look at the situation. I feel that what I have said as to how generally the three situations must be dealt with would probably be regarded as the only reasonable way in which they can be approached. Statements made here during the discussion so far—I do not know by whom but I gathered this from the discussions—would seem to imply, without being particularly specific about it, that, for instance, in the case of an estate not taken over, certain services were not being rendered by the local authority merely because of the technicality that the estate had not yet been taken over. But the taking over of the estate, in my estimation, has nothing whatever to do with the effectiveness of the services which could be rendered, should be rendered and are being rendered to other citizens of this city and throughout the country by other local authorities. I may be wrong in what I have gathered, that refuse collection is being neglected or not done in some of those areas.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton That is not so.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney I am glad, because my information would not bear that out, [672] but the inference I gathered here was that this was being made as a point. The sweeping of roads—is that being done?

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton No; they are not being swept.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Well, they should be swept and there is no reason in the world why they cannot be swept. From inquiries I have made, as a result of the impressions given here last night, I believe that Dublin Corporation have decided to provide a sweeping service, but do not ask me when they will implement this. The county council do not provide this service. I do not know whether they may have decided recently to provide it but my information is that they do not at the moment and that the corporation have decided to provide a sweeping service in these unfinished estates, pending their taking over.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Does the Minister say that the law requires them to do this now?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney There is no law to prevent them doing it.

The matter of bus services not being provided by CIE here in the city and county is one which, I understand, is, in fact, the case: they are not being provided with bus services in these estates which have not been taken over. Again, there is no law preventing bus services from being provided, nor am I aware that the local authorities are in any way preventing the buses being provided, but that the decision is a matter for CIE. In fairness, though, to CIE probably I should add that CIE are concerned in regard to their public liability obligations if they run buses to private estates. This is their decision and it is not for me to say what I think their decision should be. But I will say this with regard to the roadways, whatever condition they may be in, if they are in a condition capable of taking a public service vehicle or bus, then the position, to my mind, is that these are rights of way which the residents of these estates enjoy and it seems peculiar to me that a public transport company does not provide a service.

[673] They do defend themselves by saying they are afraid of their public liability obligations. Maybe I am making a little out of what may be a real difficulty to them but quite obviously there is, to my mind, a great deal of hairspliting in a decision which leaves our public without buses in these estates, where the roads are capable of taking buses, and where all other sorts of vehicles traverse the area in the provision of other services. I think there is a lot of hairsplitting in the decision not to provide buses and that hairsplitting is obviously not being done by the local authority but by CIE.

Telephone kiosks were mentioned here. My information is that the Department of Posts and Telegraphs do not refuse to instal private phones or public telephone kiosks simply because an estate has not been taken over. I understand that if they do not provide them, it is for other reasons, policy reasons or whatever they may be, and not merely because the estate has not been taken over. It is necessary for them, in putting private or public telephones into an estate which has not yet been taken over, to get wayleaves for laying their lines or putting up their poles or whatever it may be. Taking it all around, I do not imagine they encounter any great difficulty in getting wayleaves from estate owners well in advance of the take-over. Perhaps there are some cases, but I am not aware of them.

The question of rat infestation of untended dumps in these estates is one that the local authorities in the city and county will deal with if complaints are made. That is what I am told, and I regard it as proper procedure that they should attend to these complaints if and when they are made. Again, I am assured on this matter that if this service is not given in any case, and if it happens to be on an estate which has not been taken over, it is not because it has not been taken over. That is what I am told. It is proper that that should be so. The non-taking over of an estate should not in itself in any way inhibit a local authority from giving this service. In [674] Dublin city on receipt of a complaint of rat infestation——

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Because of the existence of dumps they cannot control it.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne And open ditches in which stagnant water lies and which have not been properly piped by developers.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney If a complaint is received that dumping constitutes a health hazard—and I think in a builtup area it usually leads to that; it may not be so at the beginning but it is not very long until it gets to that stage— whether it be in the city or the authority I am informed that the local authority are prepared to deal with it. If dumping constitutes a health hazard, that is what hangs there. I am told it will be remedied if a complaint is made on these grounds and if these are sustainable.

Flooding is part of the matter to which Deputy Dunne referred just now —blocked drains, inadequate drains and open drains. Flooding is caused by many things and, without doubt, flooding has occurred in some unfinished estates. This has been stated to be due to developers interfering with the natural drainage of the area and not making any corresponding provision for a run-off of the water. It may be true that flooding has been caused by the negligence or otherwise of developers. What exactly is the position in these cases I am afraid I have no idea, because each case of flooding on these unfinished estates may not have been brought about by similar causes and there may be no true analogy between any two of them. Each would have to be examined on its merits to find out where liability may lie and in whose hands the remedy lies to relieve it.

On the information which I have received from the local authorities, I think that as of now and for the future, it is true to say that there is a tightening up in the two areas in particular in so far as the unified planning of their areas is concerned, and the insistence in so far as planning permission for [675] future private development is concerned that in these planning permissions there will not be any loopholes left in the condition attaching to them. As a result of this the effectiveness of the section that is complained of here and now in regard to pre-1963 planning cases will not arise in the future or if it does it will be much more clear than was the case in the past. In some cases they were too loosely worded, or lacking in clarity, or remiss in some of the essential things that should have been dictated to be put in. Overall, the situation would seem to be that the law is all right for the future.

Deputy Clinton mentioned that there were about 30 cases of unfinished estates in the county. I do not want in any way to dispute that figure with Deputy Clinton. He knows his area well. My information is that there is not anything like that number of unfinished estates in the county area, and that it is much more likely that it could be boiled down to about one-third of that figure.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton I got that figure yesterday.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney There may well be a difference of approach in regard to what is an unfinished estate. Indeed, some of the cases may be more related to complaints than to reality and this may make up the difference. I understand that ten are giving trouble and not the 30 that Deputy Clinton quoted. Whether the number is ten, 20 or 30 does not materially alter the picture.

I shall finish as I began. In regard to the existing cases I am advised— and, indeed, I advised the House when we were passing it—that the law is adequate to follow these cases in so far as the law is capable of following cases. The only way that the law can really be disproved is by a determination of the courts, and until it has been disproved, the law is there.

The local authorities who are given power under the sections we have under discussion should invoke that law, and if they find that the interpretation of the courts does not bear out [676] what we passed here and subscribed to here with stated intention at the time. I will come back to the House, and I am sure I will have the full Agreement of the House, to amend the law and bring it into conformity with what was our stated intention and is my stated intention now to deal with unfinished estates, to bring to heel developers who are negligent and who do not do what they are obliged to do under the terms of their planning permission, and to see to it that people who have gone to live in these estates do not have to continue much longer living in circumstances which are far from what they were led to believe would be the conditions in the estate when they entered into a contract to purchase a house.

That is the intention of the movers of the motion and it is my intention. The local authorities can invoke the law and we do not think it right that they should fail to invoke it and plead as a reason for not doing so that their legal adviser says the law does not mean what we here in this House believe it to be. Until it is decided whether the legal adviser there is right or we are right, we would not be correct in coming to this House to make an amendment even in conformity with our wishes.

The other point is that if the local authority, even at this stage or later, failed to invoke the law specifically put there for them in the public interest, I feel it would not be proper to amend the law so as to enable aggrieved individuals or groups of aggrieved individuals to take action against the local authorities to compel them to operate the law in order that they would secure their rights. However, if that approach is necessary, I feel it should be dealt with rather by amending the planning laws, somewhat corresponding to the section in the housing laws recently passed, so as to give the responsible Minister, acting on behalf of the aggrieved persons, the right in certain circumstances to go to a local authority or call on them to do a job. If they did not do it, he would be empowered to do it for them and apportion the cost where it belonged. Instead of thinking in terms of amending [677] the law to make the local authorities invoke the present law, I think it would be better to give the power to whatever Minister is responsible rather than give a right to the public individually or collectively to take action against local authorities to compel them to invoke the law on behalf of these aggrieved people.

To those who are sponsoring this measure I say that I am in no way against what they state as their intentions and wishes in regard to this Bill but first I do not see that this Bill would improve the situation and secondly, I do not believe this amendment is necessary. Therefore, although I agree entirely with all that has been said on the matter generally, I cannot subscribe to the idea that we should in fact change the law until we have had a try at the people who should invoke the law that is there at present.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore Zoom on Seán Moore I agree with the Minister's point of view that until the efficacy of the law has been disproved, we must accept that it is valid, but at the same time the sponsors of this Bill have given an opportunity to Members of the House and of local authorities to express themselves on a matter which has become almost an obsession. It is not something new: this business has gone on for many years. I recall that in the days of the old district councils they got round the problem by putting up notices on roadways stating : “This is not in charge of the Pembroke Council” or “This is not in charge of Rathmines Council”. Nobody questioned that then. The public will not accept things as easily now. Some years ago we were so hard pressed by residents of newly-developed areas to finish the work on the estates that we decided in one or two cases to do the work ourselves. We were then warned by the legal officer that we were doing something that was not within our rights to do and that we might possibly be surcharged for it. We dropped it right away.

There is that frustrating experience where one sees something should be done by the developer that has not been done. In the case of one estate in my own area, the developer is many [678] years dead and his wife has no money to carry out the work. The corporation say the developer must do this work but there is no hope of this unfortunate woman being able to pay for the work if it were carried out. Just like the Minister, I agree that the local authority should carry out the work. The public may have to pay for it but they have to pay for all services, and if the local council was at fault in not ensuring that an estate developer finished the estate, there is no use in perpetuating the results of their own laxity by making other generations suffer for it.

Deputy Clinton, I think, mentioned the sweeping of roads. Surely, in that case, if residents are paying rates, they could invoke the Sanitary Services Act which would force the local authority to clean up the place so as to avoid a health hazard. As regards the Department of Posts and Telegraphs refusing to erect kiosks. I think they may refuse but not because the estate is unfinished but because the kiosk would not be an economic proposition.

The Planning and Development Act was sorely needed and has taken us a great stride forward but we get back to the point as to how the local authorities use the full power of the law in order to have estates completed or have some glaring public grievances removed. I find in this city that when you try to force an issue, you will be told by the legal advisers that, in their opinion, you are going outside your powers in what you propose to do. No layman in the council will fight the law agent and his opinion is accepted meekly or otherwise and the person concerned says: “I have done my part. That is all I can do”. In this city we have 43 unfinished estates, small and large, and a number of these have been undeveloped for over 50 years. One estate not very far from here was built by a developer over 50 years ago but he never finished the approach road to these houses and it is still unfinished today.

When the Ground Rents Bill becomes law, it may have a great effect on this matter because very often the [679] developer is also the ground landlord. If he feels he will lose his right to ground ownership, he may sell out and thus make things easier, but until we reach the point when the legal advisers of the Department and the local authorities see eye to eye on these things and say: “You can go ahead with all the force of law behind you to force developers to finish estates, whether new or old”, I cannot see us making much progress.

In Dublin Corporation this question arises very often and when the members in unison cry out to the manager to do a certain thing, he will quote the advice of the Law Agent that it cannot be done. Although the Act is almost two years in force now, I do not think Dublin Corporation have yet prosecuted anybody for not getting planning permission. I wonder why they are holding back since two glaring cases have been given to them. There has been no prosecution. The Minister might well consider sending a memorandum to local authorities on this matter informing them of the legal opinion of the Department on what they can do and cannot do. That might strengthen the arm of the local authority and get some progress made under this excellent Act.

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion Zoom on Brendan Crinion Although I agree with quite a lot of what the proposer and seconder of this Bill have said as regards what they hope to achieve by this measure, I think that under the existing legislation the Minister should be able to go part, if not the whole of the way, in dealing with quite an amount of those troubles concerning estates. The local authorities can deal with them to a large extent. The reason they have been a bit slow is that the Housing Act is a particularly lengthy one which took a long time to go through the House. It contains some very lengthy sections to a much greater extent than any other Housing Act for which the Dáil has been responsible. The result is that it is very slow to implement.

County managers, through their association, must examine the provisions [680] of the Act to be quite certain of their implications, particularly in relation to the town planning provisions. The interpretation of the Housing Act varies from county to county: some counties try to interpret the Minister's intentions in the Act while others endeavour to carry out the letter of the law. County officials will have to get together to see how the Act will be implemented in the various regions. Therefore, particular local authorities have been slow in insisting on the completion of vacant sites in estates, a job which the Bill now before the House seeks to impose on them.

I suggest to local authorities that in connection with the Tidy Towns Competition they should encourage people to clear up eyesores, to sow flowers and to tidy up open spaces generally. I have seen this happen to a great extent in Newbridge, the largest town in my constituency. Newbridge, consistently during the past few years, has been chosen first and second in its section for towns with a population of more than 5,000.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I do not see how this can develop on the Bill.

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion Zoom on Brendan Crinion I was attempting to show that local authorities can deal with this problem under existing legislation. They can have resort to the Derelict Sites Act. As I have said, local authorities have been a bit slow in this matter but they have been deterred to a certain extent by the size of the Housing Act which has 300 to 400 pages and which took more than a year and a half to go through the House.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Have they made up their minds to talk it out tonight?

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera There is a very important principle involved.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Is the Deputy coming in on it? If he is, I shall go and get my tea.

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion Zoom on Brendan Crinion To get back——

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Back from where?

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion Zoom on Brendan Crinion Naturally, when they are dealing with legislation as comprehensive [681] as the Housing Act, local authorities must be very careful when endeavouring to implement it. They must be sure they are on the right track from the beginning. There is no doubt that Act and the Derelict Sites Act will give them the power sought by the Bill now before the House. Therefore, this Bill is premature.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Cattle prices might improve before next week.

Mr. Crinion: Information on Brendan Crinion Zoom on Brendan Crinion I am not familiar with the position of housing estates in Dublin but in Kildare I know there has been considerable private development and efforts have been made to get local authorities to take such estates over for maintenance purposes. They have built a very nice estate in Naas and another in Athy. Kildare County Council have been among the first in the country to develop a site for private building. As I have said, there is power in the Housing Act to have these estates taken over by the local authorities so that they can be fitted into the general pattern of the towns in which they are located from the point of view of decoration and public services. Therefore, we should think twice before enacting this Bill.

With sufficient time, the difficulties will possibly be ironed out, and if there is need, the Minister will be able to come before the House and also bring other matters that will come to light. It would be foolish to bring in a Bill at this stage when there is the possibility of remedying other flaws that may appear in a year or so. It takes a long time to get a Bill through here, and there are many very important Bills on the stocks waiting to be introduced. It would be better to see how the present Act operates, and possibly the Minister will be able to deal with the situation under existing legislation.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern While I praise the motive behind this Bill and appreciate the sincerity of Deputy Dunne in starting what he believes to be the real problem of many of the residents in these developed areas, possibly he has not given sufficient thought to the adverse effect which the implementation [682] of such a Bill could have on future development. Legislation at all times must be given the gravest thought, and certainly retrospective legislation, which in effect this would be, is something that should be weighed more than seriously.

Is it fair to penalise at this stage the enthusiasm and enterprise of people who 20 or 30 years ago pioneered to a great extent the development of housing areas in this city and throughout the country? What was passed as adequate then would not be in today's terms considered adequate, nor would it be the concept of what it would be reasonable to demand in the future. However, if we acquiesce in Deputy Dunne's Bill, we shall find ourselves in the invidious position of penalising, as was stated here, the widow of the contractor or the developer who, at that time, was affluent and speculated his money on this praiseworthy object, developing houses for our people, and whose widow now finds herself in reduced circumstances.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Deputy Burke has complete title to widows in this House. The Deputy should not be pre-empting his title.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern This widow I speak of is not as famous as the Balbriggan widow.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke The Deputy has take them all over from me by deed of assignment.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern With so many Deputies very vocal last week and this week on the need for housing and the further development of housing, it would not be praiseworthy to bring in retrospective legislation in condemnation of the people who did so much in the past in regard to housing. I appreciate Deputy Dunne's point of view. I am familiar with many of the problems he has mentioned. Be it known to him there are many Tipperary and Waterford people living in some of these developed areas in Dublin city and county who are not too pleased with the amenities offered to them at present, but there is a very easy solution for that. First of all, if the local authorities took unto themselves the courage [683]—and that is all they really need—to implement existing legislation, many of the defects which are now highlighted would never make the floor of this august assembly. There is a lot of running for shelter at times on the part of local authorities, which is to be deplored, and I am sure I would have the Deputy's support in such condemnation.

Developers can exploit the needs of people in regard to housing. Very few applicants for a house on a new estate will take time off to study the small print and the addenda to the various contracts and agreement papers which they sign. In Sutton park, for instance, when the people in occupation of the houses there discovered that the dividing walls between the various houses were not erected and that the developer had specifically eliminated any liability on him to provide such walls, each householder there had to provide the dividing wall at his own expense. This would not have arisen had they either jointly or separately engaged a competent legal adviser to examine the documents they were signing and to explain in full detail to them the contents thereof. The average person who takes up a legal document sees phrases like “the party of the first part” and by the time he has read four lines down he is completely confused and he says: “I presume it is all right”. Very few take the trouble to consult proper legal authority on the subject.

As I say, I appreciate Deputy Dunne's concern but we could be accused of hampering rather than helping future development if we accept his proposal. Of all the sources of livelihood in the country the building industry is one of those which carry the greatest risk. People who have been developers even ten years ago no longer have their names among the list of contractors and developers today. This is something we cannot run away from. At this stage it would be impossible, even with legislation, to extract money where none exists. Many of these developers have gone to the wall and it would be merely throwing good money after bad prosecuting and persecuting impecunious people. I would ask the Deputy, therefore, [684] to withdraw the Bill and, in its stead, to give some thought to the fact that local authorities could be activated into more responsible action in the pursuance of their fundamental right to safeguard the interests of the people.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Is the Deputy really serious in that? Would he like me to withdraw the Bill at this moment and let the House go on to the motion on agriculture? I am merely inquiring.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern I am merely speaking as an individual from my own particular point of view.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton The farmers in Galway will never forgive the Deputy.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern I think it incumbent on me to praise here a developer in my constituency, the firm of Hally and Sons, who have privately built more houses in the county of Tipperary and developed more schemes than any other developer is doing at present in the building industry. The Bill is a slight and a reflection on those engaged in the contracting business who, at no small inconvenience to themselves and at great risk to their capital, invested in housing. The return is rather slow; the involvement of capital is immense. Many of them with greater security, could quite easily have invested in gilt-edged securities and not have provided the amenity of a new home for another person and another family.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Tipperary was always famous for its patriots.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern Yes, indeed, and it always will be. I know the Deputy now represents County Dublin but I am not sure what part of the country he came from.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I will let the Deputy know in detail any time he wants to know.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling A great deal has been said about unfinished estates, the bad condition of roadways, bus services, refuse collection, telephone kiosks, [685] public lighting. All these matters have been referred to here this evening. If there is a doubt in the mind of anyone about section 35 of the Principal Act, there is a simple way to test the matter. The matter can be tested through the courts. In the case of certain legislation in the past, the threat that its validity would be tested in the courts has been made. In some cases the threat was never implemented. In the present case there is a simple scope and an ideal opportunity to test section 35 of the Principal Act. If it is contested and found to be defective, the Minister has indicated that he is prepared to have the matter rectified in accordance with the desire of the Members of this House.

At times the question of unfinished estates has been used as an excuse for the bad condition of roadways and so on. The condition of roadways that have been taken in charge is sometimes bad. The fact that the condition of a roadways is bad is not necessarily an indication that it has not been taken in charge. In the case of a roadways in my constituency, Greenlea Road, Terenure, five or six developers are responsible. This road has not been taken in charge for the past 14 years and it is still not in charge. That is a matter of grave concerns to all the representatives of the area.

It strikes me that unfinished estates have been a source of joy and pleasure to some of the representatives who now complain about them because they were able to put down questions in regard to them day after day and week after week in order to get publicity. Unfortunately, it would seem that some of these people are now trying to cut their own throats. I believe that this Bill was introduced for very different reasons from those expressed.

As the Minister has stated, there is a very simple answer to all this. Let the movers of the Bill contest section 35 in the courts and if they do not want to do so, they have friends who could test the section and then the Minister has assured us that the matter will be remedied to the satisfaction of all. Throughout the years there has been an amount of confusion in the [686] minds of local representatives who are guided by the law agent of the local authority. In Dublin Corporation, the Law Agent's advice has been obtained on very many matters. I am not so sure that he is always that correct. Nevertheless, we have to accept the advice he gives.

There is the question of cul-de-sac laneways that were not in charge. The corporation decided to develop these cul-de-sac laneways. Legal action was threatened and the Law Agent indicated that we could not proceed to develop laneways which were not of general public utility. There are very many portions of estates that have not been completed. The law Agent's decision which terminated development was never really challenged. Now we are assured that the necessary provision exists and if that provision is challenged, as it can be challenged, we can have another look at the matter and I am quite sure that a very different picture will evolve.

There seems to be some confusion in the minds of the movers of the Bill. No doubt, they are anxious to see unfinished estates developed, just as we all are. Now that I have listened to the Minister I will undertake to have matters on which decisions have been made in the past re-examined with a view to seeing if at this stage the Law Agent is prepared to alter previous decisions so that we can complete unfinished estates.

Everybody agrees that unfinished estates are an eyesore and a grave source of inconvenience at times. I believe that to local representatives have been in some way responsible for the position that exists at the moment and that has existed in the past. As Deputy Moore indicated, the necessary cover is available to finish estates as the builder progresses with his development and the necessary financial backing is available to ensure that roadways will be completed. Contractors are bounded or there is a deposit of one kind or another.

Our laxity in the past may have brought about the present position. I may be held responsible for the condition of roadways that have been [687] developed since I entered public life about 12 years ago but some of the people concerned now were in public life before that time and must accept greater responsibility. I am sure that the blame for some of these unfinished estates can be laid at the door of the persons in public life for the last 20 years. Dublin Corporation have swept roadways and have collected refuse on roadways that are not in charge. They have been doing that since I came on the council.

The question of bus services is very important. CIE are using the fact that a roadway is not in charge for the purpose of evading their responsibility to provide a service. We know that those who plan the routes have very set ideas. Even if all the roads not in charge were taken in charge in the morning, CIE would not run buses on them for a long time. Services essential to an area are often denied by organisations and groups. I am glad therefore of this opportunity to express disappointment at the failure of CIE to provide service in certain areas. This excuse of unfinished estates is no longer valid. A fresh effort should be made to provide necessary services lacking at present.

Telephone kiosks were mentioned. Kiosks were erected on roads in charge but had to be removed. The fact therefore that a road is not in charge is no indication so far as this amenity is concerned. There are many reasons why the Department of Posts and Telegraphs failed to respond to repeated representations from Deputy Dunne and Deputy Clinton for telephone kiosks. Residents on roadways not taken in charge have private telephones. We must consider whether some of the matters raised merit our serious attention.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Deputy Dowling does not believe in the taking over of estates?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Then there is the question of refuse collection. Very often the refuse collection in an area is delayed for one reason or another, [688] but I know of no area where Dublin Corporation fail to collect refuse. There may be remote areas which never had, and probably never will have, a refuse collection.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Deputy Burke and I do not accept that.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke We go out with sweeping brushes ourselves.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Deputy Dowling wants to make second-class citizens of the people in the remote areas.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I never said that. It would be interesting to find out from the local authority what representations have been made by the movers of this motion to have a refuse collection in certain areas. They are probably populous areas. They put down an occasional question to satisfy the people, even though it might be beyond the capacity of the local authority to provide the service. In future we will have questions from Deputy Dunne and Deputy Clinton complaining of the lack of activity of the local authority.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne We will have them from Tallaght.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling The publicity value of questions would fall to a low level if they could not fall back on unfinished estates, if there were refuse collections in every corner of the city and county and telephone kiosks all along the roads. There would then be no problem about which they could complain to the Minister.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Is this the Vote on Account? All Departments are being dealt with.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Some of the roads taken in charge are in a far better condition than roads that have been in charge for a considerable time.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne On a point of order, Sir, I have no objection to the Fianna Fáil Party trying to prevent discussion of the subsequent motion on the Order Paper which relates to farmers, but let there be a little bit of sense in the approach to this very important measure here.

[689]Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera That is not a point of order.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The whole thing is a weak filibuster to prevent discussion of cattle prices.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I shall make no comment on the Deputy's point of order.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera It is a measure of Deputy Dunne's thinking on his own proposal that he brings in a Bill and is prepared to scrap it for any advantage.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I doubt if the condition of roads not taken in charge has any effect on cattle prices.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Deputy is talking to try to prevent discussion of the next motion.

Major de Valera: Information on Vivion de Valera Zoom on Vivion de Valera You want to guillotine your own Bill.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Far from it. If there was any constructive criticism of the Bill. I would be very happy. Instead, we have a lot of ráiméis, of talking in the air.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Deputy Dowling is in possession and should be allowed to proceed.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling It is true that contractors failed to meet their responsibilities in the past. There is one particular road in which five contractors were concerned. One of them died, and the corporation have a deposit of £200 or £300. One of the others emigrated and the remainder have gone out of business. It would take thousands to put the roadway into proper condition. We have met our responsibilities in matters of this kind in the not too distant past. It is a pity that this laxity was allowed to develop to the point where the roadway deteriorated. In some cases the roadway did not deteriorate for a considerable time, until the underground material was washed away, for instance, by the diversion of a channel.

In some cases it was debatable whether the contractor who constructed the roadway was responsible or [690] contractors carrying out adjacent development. There have been many cases where the roadway was tested on the basis that adjacent development was responsible and not the original development which they believed was carried out to the specifications of the Department and the requirements of the local authority.

There is no doubt that these matters bog down the legal minds and when they get together on this, they take quite a considerable time to iron out the differences. It is on that basis that some of the problems that exist at the moment have developed—diversion of water from other sources, insufficient or defective drainage of one kind or another and so on.

I hope that we shall all take back to the respective local authorities which we represent a solution for the various problems which confront the local authorities now as a result of ineffective supervision at some time or another in the past or failure to examine comprehensively the development of the area and the adjacent development. Future planning is most important. It is necessary to get a comprehensive picture of the future development in an area as a whole rather than to examine piecemeal development that has been taking place throughout the country and in the cities up to quite recent times. There has been no substantial picture of the complete development and its effects.

The lack of services in some areas at the moment is an indication of the bad planning that has taken place in the past. As we all know, the Minister is endeavouring to get a comprehensive picture so that we shall have future development in such a manner as will ensure that many of the defects being complained about now by Deputies——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne God help us.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling ——will not arise.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Democracy.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton How many other speakers are there over there?

[691]Mr. P.J. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan We want to hear something from your side of the House.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley Zoom on Florence Crowley We want to hear the Deputy——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Half of the trouble in the world is caused by people who take themselves too seriously.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Get agreement now.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Deputies opposite say the Minister is responsible for the unfinished state of some works, due to the fact that the necessary provision is not available. You have an opportunity now, tonight or tomorrow, either yourself or your friends, to contest this particular section of the measure and to arrive at a decision which will eliminate all doubt. If it is found that there is a defect in the existing structure, then the matter will be rectified to the satisfaction of all. However, the Minister is reasonably sure that the necessary provision is available and this is the assumption on which we should proceed.

Mr. S. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan In conclusion.

Mr. Gallagher: Information on James Gallagher Zoom on James Gallagher Not yet.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We know to our grief in Dublin Corporation——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey ——that the Minister will raise the rents.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney You cannot rise the Minister.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We did not close down the transatlantic airlines. Deputies may not understand what I have stated. There may be one or two matters——

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Make them quite clear.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne On some questions, Deputy Dowling has revealed himself only twice.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We all agree that it is undesirable to have unfinished estates. It constitutes an injustice to [692] many people and the sooner that matter is taken in charge, the better it will be for the ratepayers who are meeting their responsibilities and the local authorities who are providing services in some cases more effective on one side of the road than on another. It may be, however, that when the problem is eliminated. We shall then have no happy, either. We shall then have no material for Parliamentary Questions or debates on which the discussion of such problems might be relevant.

I am quite sure that the members of the Opposition who now have such a comprehensive knowledge of all these problems will be without material for any suggestion or implication that the Minister is responsible for some omission or other. Up to now, if there is no telephone or if the S-bends are not straightened out or if the road is not swept or does not appear to be swept, or if the roadway deteriorates for one reason or another——

Mr. S. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Only 15 minutes more to go.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling ——blame is placed on the shoulders of one Minister or another. I shall be happy when we have a solution to all these problems; when the estates are completed; when justice is done to the ratepayers. I shall be happy when we shall be able to sit in this House and not be subjected to all these gimmicks and red herrings to which we are now subjected. No doubt, it will lighten the load of questions and deprive many people who are so vocal now of opportunities to gain publicity by gimmicks and red herrings. There will be a far smaller field for manoeuvring——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey For how long was the Deputy told to speak?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I have examined the questions on the Order Papers in relation to the problems that have already been covered by some of the speakers. I find that some devices and gimmicks have been used in order to get a certain line of publicity and to give the impression to the public that when these questions appear on the Order Paper and are answered in this House the [693] persons in whose names the questions stand are actually present. Such questions might be asked on days when, in fact, the Deputies concerned are far removed from Dáil Éireann. They put down questions about railways, telephone facilities and bus shelters and then they can stay out of the Dáil for a couple of days. Their names appear in the newspapers as having asked the Minister or Ministers such questions and the impression is given that they are very concerned about the problems of their constituents. Such dodges have been used time and time again.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne To what section of the Bill would all this be relevant?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling The situation now is that the public have lost confidence in that type of behaviour. The public have got wise to all these dodges and gimmicks and red herrings. They notice that a Deputy asks the same question more than once.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan How many times has the Deputy mentioned “red herring”? It must be a kippered one.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling They know that Deputies can ask such questions and that they will be answered here even when the Deputies are not present. This gimmick has come to an end for some Deputies but not before they have had their whack out of it. They will be in a quandary if there are no further problems in their area so that they may put down questions of a substantial nature which they have not asked before.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Like doping athletes.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling They look over the volumes to find out what they said about a particular area and then a question appears on the Order Paper to give the impression——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan What has the Order Paper to do with byroads in undeveloped estates?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It is an interesting exposure of the mind of the ward heeler. The Deputy is talking about himself and nobody else.

[694]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling There is no doubt where there are roadways unfinished leading to derelict sites——

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton These are not the same roads; these are different roads.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan The Deputy is on the road to nowhere.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling ——every effort is made to place responsibility for these matters on shoulders which have no responsibility for them. These unfinished laneways are a cause of concern. I think now we can go back to our law agents and ask them to reconsider decisions. It seems to be a question now of public utility and general public utility. Laneways serve certain groups. If the law agents reconsider decisions in the past, in due course the position can be rectified and local authorities can proceed to develop these laneways or roadways. I have in mind development at the Long Mile Road at Drimnagh. As a result of that, certain frontages will disappear and shopkeepers who use these frontages for loading and unloading will now have to do that at the rear of the shops. The laneways at the rear cannot be serviced by the local authority.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton On a point of order, are we still on the Planning Bill?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I fear the Deputy is getting away from the Planning Bill.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling When members of a local authority decided they would not provide certain services, I wonder was it because they were advised that, because the services had not been provided in the past, this unfinished section would remain unfinished for all time. There is a desire on the part of many public representatives to pick out certain areas and this unfinished portion is the concern of Deputy Clinton. I have been informed by the County Manager that the council decided they would not do any works there and now the shopkeepers will be deprived of an important service. The result of unsatisfactory development being taken [695] in charge is something worse than the unfinished estate. This portion has been for many years on charge to the local authority. It was in a disgusting condition. This sort of thing should be rectified. The gimmick value of unfinished estates is now played out. In order to avoid confusion in future, and not alone confusion on the part of public representatives who are, no doubt, confused from time to time——

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Hear, hear.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne And will possibly be even more confused after the Deputy's concise statement here tonight, a brilliant piece of analysis such as we seldom hear. Please let us know when you intend to lecture again.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne There must be some place one can go.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling I must congratulate the members of the Labour Party for being here in such numbers to hear me.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Is there any limit to the time the Deputy can spend rambling?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney Not so long as his remarks are relevant.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Anyone who rambles around unfinished estates will be rambling for a long time. However, we have now heard the views on both sides of the House and the position is clear. There has been complete silence for some time now on the far side, evidently due to lack of interest in unfinished estates.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The Deputy is still unfinished.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We have heard about the telephone kiosks, refuse collections, derelict sites, lack of bus services and the disgraceful condition of the roadways. There is no doubt that there will be a rush——

(Interruptions.)

Debate adjourned.


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