I move: "That the University College, Galway, Bill be read a second time." Deputies will be aware that the statutory grant to the University College is £12,000. That is the amount that was fixed under the Universities Act, 1908. The actual present endowment of the College from the State is £28,000 under a settlement we made a couple of years ago, so that the larger part of the income of the College is at present in the form of a non-statutory grant. It is desired to make the entire State grant a statutory grant. That was done in the case of Cork and Dublin Colleges in 1926, when the University Education (Agricultural and Dairy Science) Act was passed. When that Act, which dealt with the position of the Cork and Dublin Colleges, was passed, decisions had not been come to in regard to Galway. Negotiations with the Governing Body of University College were, however, proceeding at the time, and the basis of those negotiations was that University College. Galway, was, by reason of its situation, practically in the Gaeltacht, in a town where 46 per cent. of the people are Irish speakers, with the most important Irish-speaking districts in the country adjacent, that that College could do work for the Irish language, and through the Irish language, which no other College in the country would be able to do for some time. The Governing Body of the College accepted the view that that college was in a position to do special work in connection with and through the Irish language, and that it ought to set out to do that work to an extent that other Colleges, perhaps, could not do it. The Government agreed to increase the statutory grant from £12,000 to £28,000. The College had other non-statutory grants before that; the income was not as low as £12,000. The salaries of lecturers and professors were to be increased as part of the scheme, as they were inadequate, and it was arranged that fees should no longer go to the lecturers and professors, that their salaries should be inclusive, and that the fees should go to the general fund of the College. It was also agreed, with a view to making the College cater to some extent, as far as possible, for the Irish-speaking districts, which, broadly speaking, are poor districts, that the fees should be reduced to the prewar level. It was also agreed that the Governing Body of the College was to establish certain scholarships for native speakers from the Gaeltacht. The College further agreed that, if circumstances permitted, it would do an increasing part of the academic and administrative work through Irish. It was also agreed to appoint immediately certain lecturers who would lecture in Irish.
The first part of this Bill really confirms that agreement which, as a matter of fact, has been acted upon for the last couple of years. In Section 2 there is provision whereby the Minister for Finance, and the Minister for Education, may make an order increasing the statutory grant by a sum or sums which will not exceed £2,000, when they are satisfied that it is required for the purpose of carrying further the work of Gaelicising Galway College.
All the Colleges agreed when the settlement was being made in 1926 that they would make no further applications for assistance to the Government until the expiration of five years. The Government did not undertake that any additional sums would be given at the end of five years, but it was left open for the Colleges to make application. However, in the case of Galway it was felt that the College should not be prevented from attempting to do new work through Irish, or new work in connection with Irish, or for the Irish language, by this grant being rigidly limited, and this provision is made, whereby the statutory grant to the College might be increased by order, which would, of course, be laid on the Table of the House.
There is another provision in the Bill which requires the Senate of the National University, the Governing Body of the College, and the President of the College respectively, when making appointments to any offices or situations in the College, to appoint, if suitable persons are available, speakers of Irish. There are no penalties attached to any breach of that clause and it is recognised that it is in the nature of a headline for the College; it is something put there to enable anybody in the Governing Body or anybody interested in the College to argue that the right thing ought to be done by the appointment of Irish speakers. It is felt, that the Governing Body of the College and others interested have appreciated the fact that the opportunities for development depend largely on the work of the College for the Irish language; that they will not need to be coerced in the matter, that when this headline is set down in the Bill they will endeavour, so far as circumstances will permit, to act up to it.