There has not been a great debate on this Bill. The reason for that is that we had such an in-depth discussion on the NIHE Bill that to go over the same ground again on this Bill would be unnecessary. That does not mean to say that this Bill is unimportant or that the establishment of the college on a statutory basis is unimportant. That is not the case.
It is a very important move by the State and has the full support of Fine Gael and, to my knowledge, all Members of the House. Thomond College has a very important role to play in our educational system. It will be involved not only in the education to degree level of physical education teachers but also in other specialist disciplines. It represents a great leap forward in areas where we have not to date put enough emphasis. We hope that the present Government will provide the necessary resources and funds to allow the college to expand and meet targets of investment and expansion, especially in relation to student population.
In our opinion there are some defects in the Bill. For instance, I am sorry that the college will not be allowed to grant certificates and diplomas. This is a weakness in the Bill which could have been rectified but unfortunately the Minister was not moved to introduce an amendment which, far from damaging the Bill, would have improved it substantially.
We differed, as we did on the two previous Bills, regarding the composition of the governing body and we could have discussed this matterad nauseam. By and large the Minister has improved the composition of this governing body vis-à-vis the governing body of the NIHE and has adopted a more liberal attitude.
Because of a technical procedure in the House I was not able to speak on Deputy Horgan's amendment in relation to the IVEA, but we supported it in the Division Lobby and it would have had my full support on the floor of the House. While the graduates of Thomond College would not be exclusively involved in the vocational sector, I imagine that a large proportion of graduates would go into that sector. However, I would hope that they would also go into other sectors such as community and secondary schools where there is a great need for a widening of the curricula. Because of the historical division there is a very good argument for allowing the IVEA to be automatically represented by their own nomination on the governing body.
The structure of the Bill is similar to that dealing with the NIHE. I am fairly satisfied that the Bill achieves its objective. It only remains for me to wish the director, staff and governing body every success in their future involvement in this area of education. I am pleased to note that the dispute between the students and the college has been resolved, and I had some part to play in the resolution of that dispute. Right was not on any one side in this unfortunate dispute. I believe that the final part I examination should have been held at second year and not postponed or deferred. That was a weakness on the part of the college authorities.