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The Irish Land Commission

Acquisition and Distribution of Agricultural Land in Ireland during the 20th Century

Topics
• 1. Historical Background & Land Reform in Ireland (19th Century) • 2. Role of the Irish Land Commission in Distribution of Agricultural Land in Ireland from 1923 to 1992 • 3. Dissolution of the Irish Land Commission in 1992 • 4. Transfer of its Administrative and Judicial Functions in 1999 to the Dept of Agriculture • 5. Current Role of the Department of Agriculture • 6. The Land Act 2005 • 7. The Future of Land Acquisition in Ireland

Historical Background & Land th Century) Reform in Ireland (19
• 16th and 17th Century • Land Act 1860 • Land Act 1870 • Irish Land League • Land Act 1881

Role of the Irish Land Commission in Distribution of Agricultural Land in Ireland from 1923 to 1992
• Irish Independence in 1922 Land Commission reconstituted introduction of structural reform + compulsory acquisition of land introduced ----------------------------------• Tenanted land to vest in the Land Commission for reallocation • Untenanted land in CDB areas vested in the Land Commission and re-allocated • All untenanted land outside CDB acquired by voluntary agreement and re-allocated •

------------------------------------• Land Act of 1923

Role of the Irish Land Commission in Distribution of Agricultural Land in Ireland from 1923 to 1992
• How was landlord paid for the land taken? • Initially from 1923 by way of Government Land Bonds (4.5%) and then from 1950, by cash. The tenant received a notional advance from the Land Commission and entered into a Land Purchase Annuity repayment scheme – really a mortgage.

How did tenant pay for the land vested?

Role of the Irish Land Commission in Distribution of Agricultural Land in Ireland from 1923 to 1992

• What administrative systems were required to operate the vesting programme? • At its peak over 1000 staff worked for the Land Commission

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Inspectorate Survey General Lands Staff Legal Services Records Quasi Judicial Functions

What did the Land Commission achieve before 1922?

More than 300,000 holdings, comprising 11 million acres, were purchased from landlords for some £100 million. In addition, 750,000 acres of untenanted land was distributed by the Congested Districts Board and the Estates Commissioners amongst 35,000 allotees by way of enlargements of uneconomic holdings or by the creation of new holdings.

What did the Land Commission achieve after 1922?

• • • • From 1923 some 2.5 million acres of land were distributed among some 150,000 beneficiaries Over 2,000 families migrated to new holdings Improved land use by assisting farmers with commonage division and re-arrangement of holdings Provided many plots of land for use by local communities as sports fields, fairgrounds, cow parks etc. Structural reform resulted in extensive improvement works. The Land Commission built houses and out-offices, carried out drainage and reclamation works, erected fencing and provided roads and water supplies In short, it fashioned the fabric of rural Ireland

Role of the Irish Land Commission in Distribution of Agricultural Land in Ireland from 1923 to 1992

• The Land Commission is a vast treasury of information relating to land in Ireland. • Records Branch in Dublin holds about 8 million documents stored in 26,000 boxes • This Branch receives about 3,000 requisitions each year from various parties, as well as about 500 personal callers to its public office.

Dissolution of the Irish Land Commission in 1992
• The Land Commission was dissolved by Act of the Oireachtas (Irish Primary Legislation) in 1992. • The Act dissolved the Commission, but not its work per se

Transfer of its Administrative and Judicial Functions in 1999 to the Dept of Agriculture

• The Administrative Functions of the former Land Commission were transferred to the Department of Agriculture in 1999. • The Judicial Functions of the former Land Commission were transferred to the President of the Irish High Court in 1999.

Current Role of the Department of Agriculture & Food
• • • Collection Branch is charged with: 1. The ongoing collection of annuities from farmers 2. The collection of these annuities is a complicated, difficult and time consuming process. It involves issuing requests for payments twice a year Lands Division is charged with: 1. Disposing of the remaining 200 hectares of agricultural land and nonagricultural land still on hands 2. Disposing of a vast amount of turbary rights 3. Regularising the title of the remaining 800 allotees who have to be vested 4. Regularising the title of the remaining 550 commonage shareholders who have to be vested

Current Role of the Department of Agriculture & Food
• • • • 5 Exercise of statutory controls over subdivision and purchase of land by non-qualified persons. 6 Dealing with a wide range of queries. 7. Overseeing some 500 trust properties with a view to disposal. 8. Discharging the functions of the Public Trustee over 150 trusts where money has been put aside for the repair and maintenance of embankments, sluice gates etc. 9. Lands Division as part of Legal Services Division works in conjunction with its Legal Staff, Inspectors and Surveyors

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The Land Act 2005
• • The Land Act 2005 was passed into Irish law in October 2005. The Legislation provides for a discounted Land Purchase Annuity buyout for 2600 farmers and a write-off of certain annuities for 4500 farmers. The proposed legislation also provides for amendments to various Land Acts for simpler and more efficient administration

The Future of Land Acquisition in Ireland
• There will be no more compulsory acquisition of agricultural land for redistribution from landlords to tenants by the Irish Government. As far back as 1978 an Inter-Departmental Committee set up to examine the land question concluded that the policy of acquisition and redistribution had outlived its usefulness and should be abandoned. Such acquisitions now might be anti competitive, unconstitutional, in breach of guarantees under the European Convention of Human rights. Compensation values to be paid to landlords would now be very high. The single payment necessitates the holding of agricultural land, so it will increase in value and people will hold onto it rather than sell.

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• “Níl aon tinteán na do thinteáin feín!”