From Our Dublin Correspondent
The formation of a National Scenic Beauty Trust for Ireland, similar to the body already in existence in Great Britain, to control and take care of open spaces, beauty spots and sites of historic and public interest, was proposed at the annual meeting of the Irish Tourist Association held in Dublin on Wednesday last (April 29). At the moment certain ancient monuments are looked after by the Board of Public Works, but the monuments cared for by the government are only a fraction of the whole, and there is no central organisation of any kind to preserve scenic beauty.
Some figures from the annual report are interesting. The total incoming traffic last year to Irish ports showed nearly 450,000 visitors. This is an increase of 30,000 on the Eucharistic Congress year, which was the previous record. There is now a substantial favourable tourist trade balance.
The Free State's best customer in the tourist business is Great Britain, and the number of English visitors increased last year by 20,000. American traffic also shows an increase and now comes next
to Britain in importance. It should be further increased by the new direct sailings to and from Dublin and New York.
The report estimates that the total monetary value of the tourist industry last year was nearly five million pounds.
The chairman of the Irish Transatlantic Corporation, Ltd., has just completed an exhaustive memorandum of that company's negotiations with the Free State, Canadian and United States governments with the object of establishing a European air terminal in the Free State, and has circulated the memorandum to the members of the Oireachtas and other influential persons.
In 1931, states this document, which has created a sensation in political and financial circles here, the British government recognised that the geographical position of the Free State and its sovereign rights entitled it to a terminal position in the projected development of the North Atlantic air route, but in 1935 the Committee of Imperial Defence decided against this course.
Ample documentary evidence is available to show that the United States government was agreeable to this course until the British delegation, accompanied by Free State representatives, visited Washington last December.
The Irish Transatlantic Corporation, now four years in existence, has collected data and prepared a complete estimate of the cost of establishing a seaplane base and airport capable of handling transatlantic travel. It has arranged propaganda in all parts of the world in favour of the development of Ireland as a European air terminal; and for some months past has been sending out weekly reports to North America from a private wireless station in one of the European capitals. It has also acquired an important site in Nova Scotia to be used in connection with the proposed air route.
During the past few weeks offers have been received from two European air companies to collaborate in the opening of a direct air service between Dublin and London, and between Cork and London, via Cardiff.
Special interest attaches to these statements in view of the recent reports that the Minister for Industry and Commerce intends to introduce during the present Dail session an Air Transport Bill, of which the main feature will be the creation of a virtual State monopoly and of a National Air Transport Company, which will finance or hold interest in air companies operating between the Free State and other countries.
Town Tenants Move
Yet another tribunal has been added to those enquiring in the Free State into conditions of living. The Town Tenants (Occupation Tenancies) Tribunal has held its first public meeting in Dublin this week. Its object is to collect evidence of rents and conditions and inquire into occupancies, suggest improvements and advise the Executive Council.
A summary of evidence to be submitted by witnesses was outlined. On behalf of the National Town Tenants' Organisation it was said that this organisation proposed to give evidence of hardships and abuses with respect to the question of rents and with respect to fixity of tenure; and to outline a purchase scheme that might be incorporated in an Act. It was the organisation's belief that rents paid by the majority of tenants were excessive.
The president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul gave evidence on behalf of slum dwellers. The people assisted by the society, casual workers, unskilled labourers, pensioners, street traders and hawkers, and people living on outdoor relief, were harder hit than others by overcrowding of their tenements because landlords were always unwilling to accept them owing to their small and uncertain incomes. The knowledge that the gradual condemnation and clearance of slum tenements was being carried out had caused such property to drift into the hands of speculators whose object was to screw as much as possible out of it before it was pulled down, and to spend as little as possible on upkeep and rents.
Rents by Legislation
He suggested that legislation should lay down new rents for such dwellings on a flat-rate basis, with a right to landlord or tenant to have it revised by a tribunal. This tribunal should be independent of the ordinary courts and subject to a single stage of appeal on points of law. The flatrate should be,the present rent or 3/6 per room per week, whichever was lower. In regard to present conditions, tenants should not have any right to recover overpayments, and the landlord should not be entitled to arrears of rent exceeding £3. Rent should be irrecoverable by a landlord in respect of any period during which the premises were in such a condition as to be dangerous or unfit for human habitation, and the tenants' right of action against the landlord should be extended to cover damages suffered by members of a tenant's family caused by the failure of the landlord to keep premises in proper repair.
There were 1,600 basement dwellers in Dublin, one witness stated, and rents were still collected from tnany basements which had been condemned as unfit for human habitation. Even in these cases the courts sustained the landlord and enforced the payment of rent.
The work of this tribunal will be followed with much interest, and the very fact of giving publicity to slum conditions should help considerably to improve them.
A New Jesuit School at Bournemouth
A school for boys will be opened next September by the Jesuit Fathers at Southbourne, Bournemouth. A property has been secured with spacious buildings and about twelve acres of grounds and playingfields, close to the ..:liffs and the sea.
The school, which lies on a readily accessible route, will offer the full secondary education course for day-boys. It will also include a preparatory-house for boarders, which will take small boys up to the standard of common entrance at our Catholic public schools.
The Rev. L. E. Bellanti, S.J., has been appointed head master.