HC Deb 04 April 1917 vol 92 c1309W

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland why, while fishing is being treated as an essential industry in this country, notwithstanding difficulties caused by the War, it is discouraged on the West Coast of Ireland, where those difficulties do not exist, for the purpose of forcing young men engaged in it there to become soldiers; whether the opinion of the Law Officers has been obtained on the legality of this indirect conscription in Ireland; whether the Food Controller con curs in the disoouragement of fishing in Ireland; why, in view of the rapid deterioration of fresh fish, no rapid transport has yet been established from the Aran Isles to the English markets; why the railway companies are allowed to refuse to return the empty boxes, which cost the fishermen 4s. 9d. each; and whether these two defects threatening the industry will be remedied forthwith?


I am informed by the Congested Districts Board that the fishing industry on the West Coast of Ireland is not discouraged. On the contrary, large sums are spent annually in encouraging fisheries. There is no foundation for the suggestion that indirect conscription is being attempted. A large subsidy is paid in respect of a steamer service between Galway and the Aran Islands, and having regard to their remote position and the comparatively few fishermen engaged there, the Islands enjoy exceptionally good facilities. Delay may occur on the railways owing to the extent of goods traffic, but the non-return of boxes is chiefly due to their retention by small retail purchasers of fish. Difficulties in the transport arrangements are inevitable at the present time, and they are receiving continual attention.