HC Deb 29 November 1906 vol 166 cc312-3
MR. HALPIN (Clare, W.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that when Cornelius O'Brien and two other fishermen, of Quilty, West Clare, were nearing the shore at Seafield, on the 17th October, their canoe struck upon the Wild Rock at the entrance to the pier at Seafield and capsized, O'Brien being drowned, the other two men being rescued; that another fisherman was drowned at the same place last year, and that Mrs. O'Dowd, of Quilty, in trying to get from the pier to Mutton Island a few months ago, was also lost in the same place; and whether, with a view to pre-venting other deaths from drowning at that place, he will send an inspector to Seafield to examine the inlet to the pier and the Wild Rock, with a view to the lowering of the inlet and removal of the rock at its entrance, thereby giving a free passage to canoes and sailing vessels to the pier.

The hon. Member had also given notice of the following Question:—

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the 165 fishermen at Quilty, West Clare, with their fifty-five canoes, have not earned —25 this year on account of the rough weather, being unable to go to sea, as the passage is unsafe with the Wild Rock at the entrance of the passage when the tide is in, and not being able to go out from the pier at low water when the tide is out on account of no tide being in the passage; whether, seeing that in seasons when the fishermen can go fishing, they were able to catch up to —3,000 worth of fish, and in view of the fact that, on account of not being able to fish, they are in a state of starvation at present, he will send an inspector to examine the passage and rock with a view to give a grant to sink the passage to the pier about 3 feet and remove the rock, the passage being about 150 yards in length by about 25 yards wide; and whether he has received a memorial signed by the clergy, magistrates, medical officers, and ratepayers of this district in favour of this proposal, and what action he proposes to take accordingly.


I am informed that it is the fact that Cornelius O'Brien was drowned on 17th October, his canoe having been upset by a wave near the rock mentioned; and that other cases of drowning had previously occurred in the same locality. It is, I understand, the case that there are 165 fishermen and fifty-five canoes at Quilty. I have no information as to the earnings of the fishermen this year; but I believe they have been small, owing mainly to the absence of fish. Fishing is stated to have greatly improved since the middle of the present month. I have received the memorial referred to. I am advised that the expense of deepening the channel and removing part of the rock opposite the entrance would amount to about £3,000, and that this work would be of little use unless a breakwater were erected at a considerable further cost. The entrance to the harbour must always be dangerous in bad weather. The Department of Agriculture, however, will gladly consider whether anything can be done to lessen the danger of landing, if the county council are prepared to co-operate with them in the matter. Both the Department and the Board of Works have already examined the spot and reported to me upon it. I may add that in 1890 the sum of £5,184 was spent in the works then executed by the Board of Works, consisting of the pier at Seafield and the channel through the rocks leading to it. Of this sum £875 consisted of a loan recoverable from the county council.


Is it the fact that there is still £130,000 standing to the credit of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Ireland? Could not some portion of this money be expended on this necessary work of providing safe accommodation for fishermen who have to face the winter with no resources except those of their calling, which is rendered impossible by the state of the harbour?


I should like notice of that Question.