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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 20 May 1943

Vol. 27 No. 25

National School Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1943—Motion.

On behalf of Senator Quirke, I formally move:

That the National School Teachers' Superannuation (Amendment) Scheme, 1943, made by the Minister for Education, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under the Teachers' Superannuation Act, 1928 (No. 32 of 1928), be confirmed.

Perhaps we might have some information from the mover of the motion in regard to it.

Is there any objection to proceeding with this motion in the absence of the Minister for Education, who is engaged in the Dáil and cannot be here?

I do not object because I happen to know what this motion is all about. Perhaps I might be able to explain to the House what the scheme means. I should like to state that, while accepting it, it does not contain everything I should like.

If the Seanad is willing to proceed in the absence of the Minister, it would be at liberty to do so. The motion has been formally moved by Senator Goulding. If, however, there is objection taken, the debate should be adjourned until the Minister can attend.

No objection taken to proceeding.

In 1934, the Department of Education and the Minister in their unwisdom, as I believe it to have been, introduced a regulation providing that in future women teachers appointed after that date would have to retire on marriage. At the same time, it was provided that, in certain circumstances, they would get a gratuity when they retired. The conditions on which the gratuity would be given were these: the teacher would have to serve seven years, giving what they called "pensionable service". If she had served seven years, then she would get a gratuity equal to one month's salary calculated on years of service, less by one. Why that "less by one" was put in only the people in the Department of Education and, I suppose, in the Department of Finance can understand. I have never understood why they should deduct one year in calculating the gratuity. As the Seanad is aware there was much unemployment amongst teachers after they left the training college. Numbers of them were not able to get permanent employment for three or four or five or six years after leaving the training college. They served as substitutes, perhaps, in national schools, or as additional assistants in schools run by the religious communities, but that service did not count for the purposes of the gratuity. Consequently, some of those girls on reaching marriageable age, at 25, 26, 27 or 30 years of age, found that they had not got the necessary service for the purpose of a gratuity.

As a result of strong representations from the teachers, the Minister has now, under this Order, made a small concession. It provides that if the teacher has five years' pensionable service, plus at least two years of this unrecognised service as a substitute or an additional assistant in a convent school, she will qualify for the gratuity. In so far as the Order makes that concession, it is welcome, but we believe that all service given by a teacher after she is trained—whether she is serving in the capacity of a substitute, or whether she is serving in a convent school as a supernumerary or additional teacher—should be recognised and counted both for the purposes of pension and for the purposes of this gratuity. A teacher serving in Northern Ireland as a substitute has that service recognised for pension, increment, and all other purposes, just as if she had been serving permanently under the Department. In so far as the Order goes—we say it does not go far enough—it is acceptable, and I support the motion that it be confirmed.

Perhaps it may seem peculiar to ask the Senator who has spoken whether this really means that there are earlier marriages in the Six Counties than here?

There is no regulation in the Six Counties whereby women teachers are not allowed to continue teaching after marriage.

The question does not arise here.

That was merely an answer to the question.

Question put and agreed to.