The Deputy also accused Deputy O'Connell of having brought into question the capacity of the present staff of University College, Galway. I maintain that it is altogether an invidious sort of statement to make. When we are dealing with a matter like this we ought to be able to deal with it from the point of view of fact, and we ought to be able to do that without trying to make every ounce of political capital out of that aspect of it. Deputy O'Connell is as interested in this matter as Deputy Doctor Tubridy, and so am I. We are anxious that as soon as possible a state of affairs should be brought about in which lectures on every subject shall be delivered through the medium of Irish, but as regards the qualifications of the present staff of University College, Galway. I would like to say that it has nothing whatever to do with this Bill. This Bill deals with the qualifications of men who will have to be appointed in the future. It has nothing to do with the present staff. I would like to know, however, when Doctor Tubridy was attending his lectures in the Irish language in University College, Galway, what sort of Irish textbooks were used in these lectures. I have a certain amount of suspicion that these lectures were apocryphal. I have a certain amount of doubt, whether even a native Irish speaker would be capable of delivering at the moment a full course of lectures on medicine or any other subject through the medium of the Irish language.
Doctor Tubridy raised the question of doctors attending patients in hospital, but the doctor could attend an Irish-speaking patient and examine him quite efficiently without being able to discuss all sorts of higher problems in medical research in the Irish language. If the doctor has a sufficient speaking knowledge of Irish, altogether irrespective of his knowledge of medicine, he should be able to go very far in examining any patient. The Deputy is inclined to confuse a good spoken knowledge of the Irish language and the capacity to deliver lectures to, say, an honours degree standard or a post-graduate standard in a very difficult and complicated technical subject and in a language in which no text books whatever on that subject exist. That is a very different problem from being able to talk a language fluently to a patient. I do not care who the native speaker is, or how fluently or well he may speak Irish, to talk at the present day of lecturing in the Irish language, on any subject, in which you have not got text books in the Irish language, is very little short of humbug in my opinion. There is a considerable amount of danger that we may, as I said before, do harm by trying to go too far all at once in this matter.
I should like to say, in dealing with this Bill, that we in this country are going to have it hard enough to keep our standard of university education as a whole up to the general European or world standard without complicating the matter still further by going in for all sorts of humbug about lecturing in Irish when we know very well that we cannot lecture in Irish. It is too serious altogether to allow political capital to be made out of it, or to allow personal advantage to be taken of it. This Bill as it stands compels the Governing Body of Galway College and the Senate of the National University, if there is a vacancy on the staff, and if a person thoroughly qualified to lecture in the Irish language and in other respects is available, to appoint that person. They cannot get out of it. They are compelled by law, once this Bill is passed, to appoint such a person.
If Deputy Fahy's amendment is passed it will mean, suppose a case should turn up in which, in the honest opinion of the Governing Body and of the Senate, a person properly qualified to deliver lectures in the Irish language was not available, that the Senate would be unable to appoint anybody, or else would be faced with the choice of appointing somebody not qualified either in the Irish language or in the particular subject in question. It seems to me that there is far too much importance being attached to this matter of lectures through Irish. It is a very desirable thing, and a very important thing, that an advance should be made in that direction, as in others, but I must say that I cannot see eye-to-eye with Deputy de Valera when he says, as he said the other night, that it should be possible for a person to proceed to a university degree in this country at this time of day without any knowledge of the English language. I do not see how that can happen. I am prepared to maintain that the person, in the present state of education in this country, who pretends that he can get a degree in any subject without a knowledge of the English language is talking through his hat. A person cannot lecture on a subject without having text-books on that subject. I do not know that it will be of any great importance whatever to have lectures, say, in medicine, or engineering, or anything else, in Irish by a professor to students who both have to use, all the time, English text-books. You have to deal with that part of the problem.