JOHN HORGAN REPORTING
MR. LEMASS, Ireland's Prime Minister, descends on London this week with a top-class team of negotiators in an attempt to make the British Government reduce or modify its 15 per cent import tax in favour of Irish goods.
He has a good case, but he is under no illusions about the calibre of the men he will meet.
Ireland's relationship with Britain is as special, in its way, as Britain's relationship with the United States. And it is backed up by an impressive set of trade figures. Last year we exported over £138 million worth of goods to Britain: this amounted to over 70 per cent of our total production and fully a fifth of it is affected by the new levy.
We bought from England, on the other hand, some £156 million worth of goods, easily earning a place among her top ten customers. The 'value of this trade is recognised in the 193g agreement between the two countries. which stipulated that Irish industrial goods should enter the British market free of duty, and that any change in the agreement should be notified six months in advance.
The Irish Government, in feet, had about 24 hours' warning of the levy, and were not invited to take part in any consultations before it '.as announced. The fact that Ireland is the only country affected by the levy to be granted such speedy talks is in itself recognition of the Irish claim to special treatment.
How far this recognition will be translated into concrete terms remains tote seen, and any undue favouritism will undoubtedly raise a storm of protest among other European countries a ho feel that they have been left out in the cold.
LAST WEEK. in the midst of the economic crisis caused by the ley. Mr. Lernass found time to make an appeal for his favourite charity UNICEF. Speaking at II TOc8p1 inn held in Dublin to mark a Hallowe'en collection by little boys and girls dressed up as witches and ogres, he made a Mum hit! plea for the underprisiledged children of the world. Last year the collection -all in pennies-raised nearly £600. This year the target is £1,000.
Language problem IRISH. CLERICS reacted strongly this week to allegations that the Hierarchy's official policy on religious instruction in schools was designed to replace the Trish language with English as quickly as possible.
A document signed by nine people well known in the Irish language movement, circulated in Dublin and at meetings of Irish speaking-priests, claims that priests in Irish-speaking parishes are refusing to preach or to administer the sacraments in Irish. it accuses Bishop Kyne of Meath of asking Irish-speaking children to go to Confession in English, and Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin of forbidding the use of the Gaelic Catechism in Irish-speaking Dublin schools.
Most of the Irish bishops are hi Rome at the moment, but they have not lacked defenders. The document is certainly inaccurate in some respects: for one. it alleges that Dr. McQuaid signed the recent "Save the Language" appeal. It also claims that bishop Boyle of Raphoe signed the appeal.
In fact Dr. McQuaid did not sign the document, arid Dr. Boyle died before the appeal had even been launched. But, in spite of tl?e obviously hasty way in which it aas put together, the attack has caused much comment and probably contains grains of truth.
WEXFORD'S cheerful, uninhibited Vpera Festival had a surprise visitor last week WhO stole all the thunder front the Italian and Spanish singers, A small, quiet man who lived in necessarily inconspicuous surroundings near Dubin? for several months before being rudely hauled off to the doubtful pleasures of one of H.M. Prisons, he is now thinking of starting some caravan parks along Ireland's south-east coast. His name is Alfred Binds.
Fish scarcity ONLY THOSE OF US who have looked in vain for a decent piece of fresh fish on a Friday
and that means most of us-can appreciate the wry paradox that forted us to call in a team of
American experts to tell us how to catch them. Somngtimes good fish is so scarce. that it is difficult to believe that the country is.an island.
Out-of-date practices and the lack of an adequate sea-faring tradition have helped to create a situation in which the fish finally served on a dinner-table in Killarney will have been landed at Dingle, 40 miles away, sent 200 miles to Dublin by train for marketing, and 200 miles back again to Killarney before it reaches the chef.
'This latest report on our fisheries has been prepared by a team of U.S. experts who visited Ireland earlier this year. It caused the Government some slight embarrassment because the Americans published it without remembering to tell the Irish fisheries people in advance shat it contained, but that little bit of unpleasantness has been smoothed over.
The report is also part of a cooperative fisheries project agreed beteeen the two countries when the Taoiseach, Mr. Lemass, met the late President Kennedy in Washington last October.
Its recommendations. ahich arc hard-hitting although they are basically logical. include suggestions that a "quality image" should be built up for Irish fish at home and abroad; that a processing industry should be encouraged: that fishing activities should be extended to the off-shore banks: that marketing channels should be developed and that trade policies and other Government controls should be liberalised. At present, the report points ottl, these only serve as deterrents to industrial development.
Meal service DURING last year the Catholic Social Sersice Conference, according to its annual report, supplied 2,315,671 meals from
22 food centres. 1i has also provided 108,564 meals and 102,256 Mots of milk for expectant mothers in its 15 maternity centres.
Documentary A GO-AHEAD "'LAM of young Dublin priests have now practically completed two television documentaries which deal with two of Ireland's most pressing social problems; poverty and emigration.
The films, mhich ssihl be shown on the national television network, are the work of a group called "Radharc" (the Irish word for "a view") originally started and encouraged by Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin, who gave its members time off from other duties and helped them to buy their first items of equipment. Working in their 01511 time, they have already produced some fine documentaries: a recelit film on the life of Matt Talbot was widely praised..
For their two latest films, they have made a thorough investigation into the background of the poor and of the emigrants. Interviews with social workers and others in Dublin and London should give both films a a elcome atmosphere of adult, fullyinformed comment.
Light fingers DUBLIN HAS ONE of the highest shop-lifting rates in Europe. according to the aggrieved manager of one of the city's largest Department stores. The shop-lifting problem-made more acute by the approach of Christmas-has now become so bad that one national organisation of shop-keepers has sent a special delegation to the Ministry for Justice.
There are two types of shoplifter, harassed store managers claim. The first is a basically honest person who yields suddenly to the temptation to get something
for nothing. The second is a person who treats it almost as a profession and may be one of a gang of anything up to 20 people.
"Most shop-lifters are women," one manager commented, "but there are a few men, of course. They arc not so highly organised as the women.
"The gangs are quite brazen about their nefarious activities. Some of them try to attract the attention of the store managers and assistants, while others lay hands on what they want. They have even threatened customers."
Suggested measures include changes in the law to make detection quicker and more effective: stiffer prison sentences for habitual offenders. and a "rogues gallery" to be circulated to all large shops. It should be a busy Christmas.