§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, in June 1903, the Leitrim County Council adopted a resolution declaring that an extension of the Cavan and Leitrim Railway to the Arigna mines, a distance of three miles, would, by largely increasing the output of coal and iron ore, develop the richest mineral district in Ireland and provide remunerative employment for hundreds of people in one. of the poorest parts of the county; that a second short extension of the line from Dromod to Rooskey would provide an outlet for the coal and minerals to the districts bordering on the Shannon and would develop the cattle and tourist traffic; that these two extensions would provide immediate relief to the ratepayers in the guaranteeing areas of Leitrim and Cavan; and requesting the Government to make a free grant of £15,000 to effect these objects; whether he is aware that in May, 1905, the county council adopted a further resolution supporting the application of the directors of the railway for a larger subsidy, amounting to £24,000, towards the extensions of the line, and pointing out that they would materially relieve the ratepayers in the guaranteeing areas; if he is aware that in August, 1905, the late Government acceded to the application of the directors and the county council by making provision for a free 621 grant of £24,000 for the purposes indicated, that the latter body in November, 1905, passed a resolution thanking the Government for the promised grant and expressing approval of the extensions, and that the project was also commended by the local Press of all shades of opinion, while in February, 1906, the county council adopted another resolution declaring its opposition to the scheme, in furtherance of which Parliamentary powers were then being sought, and which scheme in consequence of such opposition had to be abandoned by the directors; if he will state what were the reasons assigned by the county council for rejecting the scheme which it had previously so strongly advocated on the grounds set forth in the resolutions of June, 1903, and May, 1905; whether the Government has since taken any steps to remove the obstacle to the promotion of the Bill authorising the extensions; and whether the free grant for their construction is at present available.
The facts are generally as set forth in the Question. The arrangement made in 1905 was that the proposed grant of £24,000 should be made out of the Ireland Development Giant. The Estimates for 1905–6, 1906–7, and 1907–8, contained a provision on account, but owing to local opposition, and particularly to the opposition of the Leitrim County Council, the Cavan and Leitrim Railway Company did not proceed with the necessary Bill. The resolution of the county council in February, 1906, as reported in the Press, declared that the council would oppose the Bill because they had no guarantee to protect the ratepayers. Beyond this 1 have no knowledge of the council's reasons for rejecting the scheme. The Government did not take any steps to remove the local opposition to the scheme, nor were they called upon to do so, the matter being entirely one for the promoters of the Bill. In December last, when the Ireland Development Estimate for the current year was being settled, the promoters were informed that, as they had failed to obtain the necessary legislation, the offer of the Government must be considered as cancelled, and accordingly the proposed grant is no longer available.
§ MR. O'DOWD (Sligo, S.)
Arising out of the reply, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is a fact that in this session of Parliament a Bill has been passed authorising the construction of a line of railway from Arigna to the port of Sligo; whether a company has been formed for the promotion of this scheme, and whether, if this company guarantees the construction of a line leading to the mines, the question of giving a grant-in-aid will be considered by the Government?