IN COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - VOTE 28—UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim bhreise na raghaidh thar chúig míle agus Cúig Céad Púnt chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1927, chun Deontaisí i gCabhair de Chostaisí Fundúireachtaí Príomh-Scoile maraon le Deontaisí fén Irish Universities Act, 1908, fén Acht Talmhan, 1923, agus fén Acht um Oideachas Phríomh-Scoile (Talmhaíocht agus Eolaíocht Déiríochta), 1926.

That a Supplementary Sum not exceeding five thousand five hundred pounds be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for Grants in Aid of the Expenses of University Institutions, including Grants under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, the Land Act, 1923, and the University Education (Agriculture and Dairy Science) Act, 1926.

The form of this Supplementary Estimate is somewhat complicated, because since the passing of the original Estimate the University Education Agricultural and Dairy Science Act of 1926 was passed. That Act was not recited in the original Estimate, and because of that it was felt there was doubt as to whether the money could be paid under the authority of the original Vote. It will be seen that the additional sum now required is £107,500. It is all re-voted for technical reasons. There is a saving of £102,000, which was the sum originally voted, and which is now covered. The new money, therefore, is the difference, £5,500. Deputies will remember that when the original Estimates were before the Dáil considerable increases were given—apart from any additional money in respect of the agricultural faculty or the dairy science faculty— to the Cork College, and also to the Dublin College by the transfer of the College of Science.

At that time we stated that no decision had been come to in reference to Galway, but that if arrangements could be come to we were prepared to give University College, Galway, additional assistance. In the interval, we have had a considerable number of discussions with the representatives of University College, Galway. I gave expression to the opinion in the Dáil that Galway could not be left as it was; that it required either additional money for development, or steps taken to bring it to an end. The opinion of the Government—and it is an opinion in which the College has concurred— was that it can do its best work, and give its best service to the nation, by taking advantage of its particular position, owing to the fact that it is practically surrounded by one of the most Irish-speaking districts, by doing special work for the Irish language.

The arrangement come to, if the Dáil assents, is that the College will receive in future years a sum of £28,000. It was agreed not to make any application for an increase for a period of five years. It will receive £28,000, as against £20,800, which was the amount previously paid. The College has undertaken that in future, as far as possible, appointments will be made to the various Chairs of people who have a knowledge of the Irish language, and who will be able to impart instructions through it. It is understood that it may not be possible to do that in every instance. There may be a case in which a person of the right quality and standing with a knowledge of the Irish language can be obtained. If he cannot be obtained, of course some person without a knowledge of Irish, who is fully qualified for the post, must be appointed.

In general the College will endeavour to appoint to its Chairs and Lectureships people who have a knowledge of the Irish language, and who will be able to impart instruction through it. It will immediately appoint three lecturers who will give lectures through the medium of Irish in mathematics, history and commerce. The College is situated in fact in what are congested districts. Its surroundings represent some of the poorest areas in the country, and in order that the students from that area and from the various Irish-speaking districts, which are among the poorest areas, may be induced to go to the College the fees, which have been increased in recent years, will be reduced to the pre-war figure. When we were dealing with University College, Dublin, and University College, Cork, we urged them to put up their fees. We asked them when they were seeking more assistance from the State to get additional revenue from the fees of their students. We did not urge that on University College, Galway, for it is felt that the national work which it can and ought to do through the medium of Irish could not be done merely through the efforts of the staff. There must be a body of students, and it is regarded as important that as great a number of students as possible from the Irish-speaking districts should attend the Galway College. We urged that the fees should be reduced, and we took their agreement into account to reduce the fees in coming to an arrangement with them.

The College will also prepare a special scholarship scheme for Irish-speaking students from the districts in which the Irish language is traditionally spoken, again with the view of increasing the genuine Irish-speaking element amongst its student body. We feel, and I think the authorities of the College are satisfied, that with this additional assistance which it is proposed to give, the College will be able to carry on its work in a satisfactory way, that it will be able increasingly to do its work for the Irish language, and that it will be able to attract a substantial number of students who have a native knowledge of the language or who are specially interested in it. It will also be able, with this additional money which we are granting, to increase the salaries of the staff to some extent. The salaries were substantially below those paid either in Dublin or Cork. The additional sum which we granted to Cork in the original estimate will enable the salaries in Cork to be increased. We think the provision now given will enable the salaries to be so improved that there will not be the difficulties which would otherwise exist in getting a competent and suitable staff for the work of the College. The amount that we are now voting, £5,500, will go as to £4,000 of it practically to the supplementing of the salaries of the staff, and as to the other £1,500 towards wiping off the debt into which the College has fallen during the last couple of years. Deputies will remember that in the case of Cork we provided a sum for the wiping off of the debt.

Vote put and agreed to.