Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 30 May 1956

Vol. 46 No. 2

Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 1956—Committee and Final Stages.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:—

In sub-section (2), line 5, before "to" to insert "actively".

The particular clause in the Bill lays it down that: "It shall be the function of the Department of the Gaeltacht to promote the cultural, social and economic welfare of the Gaeltacht." My reason for inserting the word "actively" and asking that the clause should read "actively to promote the cultural, social and economic welfare of the Gaeltacht" is because the Minister on the Second Stage seemed to me to dismiss rather lightly any suggestions made about real activity to be undertaken. I myself mentioned the question of the economic welfare of the Gaeltacht, and I related it in my mind very closely to the conditions of the people and the welfare of the language there. Although the economic welfare is included in this sub-section, the Minister seemed to me in his reply rather lightheartedly to dismiss the notion of economic welfare, almost as if he were prepared to have the word in the Bill but did not, in fact, intend to take any particular action on it.

It seemed to me that that tendency was one to be deplored and that if the Bill is to mean something, and not to be mere window dressing, it must serve the people as well as the language. You cannot have the language unless the people are there, and you will not have the people there unless you save them economically. I should like it to be the function of the Department of the Gaeltacht actively to promote the cultural, social and economic welfare of the Gaeltacht, and not merely by way of speeches and resolutions.

Surely the Senator knows that the word "actively" would not add anything to this section. I suggest that the word "actively" has absolutely no meaning in this context. The portion of the section says: "It shall be the function of the Department of the Gaeltacht to promote ..." If you put in the word "actively" before "to promote", you do not add at all to its effectiveness or strength. You do not in any way put the Minister under more obligation than he is under as the Bill stands at the moment. The amendment is vexatious and is for the purpose of allowing the Senator to say that the Minister dismissed the idea of the economic welfare of the Gaeltacht. The Minister did no such thing and no opponent of the Minister anywhere would say that the Minister in question dismissed the idea of the economic welfare of the Gaeltacht. He did not do any such thing. If a man is not interested in the economic welfare of the Gaeltacht, he will not become any more interested or more bound by the insertion of the word "actively". The amendment has no meaning.

Ba mhaith liom tagairt bheag a dhéanamh don leasú atá thíos. Aontaím nach gcuideodh an leasú sin leis an Aire in aon chor ná leis na hoifigigh a bheidh ag obair féna chúram chun na rudaí atá i gceist san Alt do chur chun cinn.

Ach ina dhiaidh sin is uile, is dóigh liom go raibh sé de cheart againn bheith ag súil ón Aire le ráiteas éiginn i dtaobh na scéimeanna, nó cuid díobh go háirithe, atá ar aigne aige chun na rudaí seo atá i gceist in Alt 3 anso do chur chun cinn agus b'fhéidir nach bhfuil sé ró-dhéanach fós don Aire a chur in iúl don tSeanad cad tá ar aigne aige chun go gcuirfidh sé na rudaí seo i bhfeidhm, sé sin an leas cultúrtha, an leas sóisialach agus an leas geilleagrach do chur ar aghaidh sa Ghealtacht. Níor thug sé aon leide dhúinn ná aon mhéar ar eolas dúinn in aon chor i dtaobh na rudaí seo. B'fhéidir nárbh aon dhíobháil é a dhéanamh ar an ócáid seo.

Gheofar é a dhéanamh ar an Alt féin.

Ar an gcéad dul síos, ba mhaith liom freagra do thabhairt ar an Seanadóir Sheehy Skeffington. Deir sé níos mó ná mar adúirt an Seanadóir Ó hAodha adúirt sé.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington said a lot more than even Senator Hayes implies, because he said that not only did I dismiss the notion of economic welfare, but that I did not, in fact, intend to take any particular action on it.

If the Senator, apart altogether from any other member of the Seanad, thinks that a new ministry is set up, dismissing the notion that the economic welfare of the Gaeltacht has any relation to the preservation of the language, and if he thinks that I have accepted the responsibility for establishing this ministry and that I came here to tell the Seanad that I did not in fact intend to take any particular action in relation to the economic welfare of the Gaeltacht, then he gives me credit for a lot more never than I think I have. As far as his amendment is concerned and his use of the word "actively," I have had a certain amount of good reason for realising that persons and bodies, very active though they may be, are not without catalytic effect and I would hate to think that an amendment emanated from a university representative in the Seanad that would deprive the new Gaeltacht ministry of ever having a catalytic effect.

That is not the purpose for which the Gaeltacht ministry is being set up. It is set up to provide the Minister, sitting in the Cabinet, with qualified officials serving him through an organised ministry, however small, for the purpose of preserving the position of the vernacular langauge in those districts where the language is continuously spoken, and for the purpose of saying in what way any aspect of their economic situation in those areas is preventing the maintenance and the spread of the language as a spoken language. For that reason, the Bill gives the new Minister authority, in relation to co-operation and consultation with every other Department, to see that any economic assistance that can be made available through any Department will, to the greatest possible extent, be concentrated in the areas where the language is customarily spoken. Every effort will be used, through the operation of the new ministry, for the purpose of bettering the economic as well as the cultural elements of these people.

I think it is unworthy of any member of the Seanad to suggest that people who approach the purpose of preserving the language as a spoken language, even at this hour of the day, are window dressing, or that they do not propose to take action of one kind or another. The purpose for which this ministry is being set up is that, to the greatest possible extent, everything that can be done to deal actively with the problem of the people in the Gaeltacht will be done.

Agus í dtaobh an rud a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Cíosáin, tá a lán cainte déanta ar na rudaí a caifear a dhéanamh í dtaobh gnóthaí eacnamaíochta comh maith le gnóthaí cultúir muintir na Gaeltachta. Caithfaimíd na gníomhartha a dhéanamh í dtosach agus beimíd indhon a rá annsin an bhfuil aon éafacht ins an caint. Go dtí go bhfuil na gníomhartha déanta, ní bheidh fhios againn an fiu an caint. 'Sé an cinéal cainte ba cheart a bheith againn ná caint fé na rudaí atá beartaithe againn a dhéanamh, faoi na rudaí atá ar bun cheanna. Nuair atá gnóthaí ar siúl, is annsin is féidir linn an caint a dhéanamh. Leis an mBille seo, beidh an gléas againn chun na gnóthaí atá ag teastáil a chur ar bun ar mhaitheas muintir na Gaeltachta. Beidh Aireacht nua againn a bhéas cúramach fé na rudaí seo go léir. Mar atá an tam ag imtheacht, beidh a fhios againn, má' tá an obair bun os cionn, cé tá cionntach agus céard ba cheart a dhéanamh chun an obair a dhéanamh í gceart.

I am sorry if the word I used was perhaps too strongly interpreted by both Senator Hayes and the Minister. It seemed to me that the Minister had dismissed rather too lightly the economic question, and what I had in mind was what he said at column 117 of Volume 46, No. 1, of the Official Report:—

"The economic side will be dealt with in the best way we can, but our hopes are high enough in relation to the well-being of the people in these districts, their capacity to hold on to and develop a free and happy life there and to maintain their language."

It was that I had in mind. I am now satisfied by what the Minister has said that he intends very actively to promote the economic life of the people. I am glad to know that and I think it would be presumptuous of me to say that such a statement was encouraged by the suggested insertion of this word "actively". I am prepared to accept the Minister's assurance that such has been his intention and will be his intention. I will leave it to the new Department to do everything it can actively to promote the welfare of these people. I think my amendment is therefore unnecessary.

I thank the Senator. Since he is in such a persuasive frame of mind, perhaps I could persuade him to go back to column 114 of the same volume and read what he himself said there.

I should like, before the amendment is withdrawn, to suggest that a university representative should be alive to the use of language, particularly when he is by way of being a language expert. To say that a man who said that he would do his best is dismissing lightly a particular thing is a gross abuse of language. The amendment was put down to enable the Senator to make a dirty attack on the Minister, and to accuse the Minister of doing something which the Minister had not done and had not in fact any idea of doing.

Is this kind of language in order here?

Yes. We ought to expect people who put down amendments to know the meaning of words and not to run away from their own amendment and their own words. The Senator has proved nothing. His amendment has accomplished nothing, and it was not intended to accomplish anything.

The Senator has asked the leave of the House to withdraw the amendment?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In sub-section (2), line 12, after "language" to add "and notably to endeavour to have Irish treated as a living, spoken language at all Department of Education examinations".

May I make a point of order on this amendment?

What is the point of order?

The Bill has got a Second Reading, and the principle enshrined in Section 3 of the Bill has got the agreement of the House. The principle is the principle of consultation and advice. It is in general terms. What I would like to ask is whether it it is in order in Committee to insert an amendment which deals necessarily with the administration of the Department of Education? Might I suggest that it would be in order, therefore, if this amendment is in order, to insert a number of particular examples of consultation and advice for all the Departments, and they are very many, which impinge on the Gaeltacht and the Irish language? I submit this amendment can only be discussed by entering upon a question relating to the administration of the Department of Education, and that since the amendment involves such a discussion, other amendments of the same kind could be put down, and, in a parliamentary sense, that would surely be a disorderly proceeding and take us entirely out of the scope of this type of Bill.

I had some difficulty in determining whether or not this amendment was in order, but I finally decided that I would permit the Senator to move the amendment. I have no idea what arguments the Senator is going to make in exposing his view in regard to this amendment. However, I am not going to anticipate his argument, and if he gets himself out of order, he will have that proclaimed from the Chair, and he is, I am sure, very conscious of that fact.

Thank you, Sir. I feel that, in all good faith, the Senator has concentrated rather too much on one portion of this sub-section which I am endeavouring to have amended. Part of the purpose was to urge the new Department to consult and advise, but, in the same sub-section, it is stated that the function of the new Department shall be not merely, as we have heard, to promote the cultural, social and economic welfare of the Gaeltacht, but also "to encourage the preservation and extension of the use of Irish as a vernacular language." It does far more than simply suggest that it shall consult with other Departments. It is for that reason that I felt it worth putting down an amendment in relation to that, to add the words "and notably to endeavour to have Irish treated as a living, spoken language at all Department of Education examinations," which are the only examinations over which a Department of State has direct control.

I raised this matter on the Second Stage, and the Minister, while sympathetic with the notion that it would be a good thing and assuring us that his own Department of Education was going into the question, said, at column 115, that he would like me to

"set out a scheme by which the number of children, boys and girls, going through the Intermediate Certificate and Leaving Certificate examinations would be orally examined in Irish—in an examination which, so far as the Intermediate Certificate is concerned at any rate, is, to some extent, a competitive examination so far as certain results from that examination are concerned."

The implication there is that, because there is competition in an examination, and because that examination deals with large numbers of children, it would not be possible in this particular way to change the official attitude towards Irish as a spoken language, however much that may be desired. The Minister went on to speak in column 116 of

"the extent to which the Department of Education in this country is put to the pin of its collar to provide examiners for the Intermediate and Leaving Certificates, as these examinations stand."

He says that any Senator would understand:—

"that there might be a little additional difficulty and that if he had to undertake an oral examination it might be the last straw that would break the camel's back."

He adds a little further down in the same column:—

"While I suffer from the fears of a breakdown of the examination system for the Intermediate and Leaving Certificates, under the strain to which it is subject at present, I am not going to consider in any kind of a practical way... the whole question of oral examinations."

I feel disturbed by that, because I feel that there is a misapprehension in the Minister's own Department in relation to the possibility of finding more examiners to examine in Irish. I should like to put it to the Minister that one way to find more is to pay more. I reject utterly the suggestion that it is impossible to treat Irish as a vernacular tongue in official State examinations. The Minister thinks that, with the best will in the world, it is not possible, and that the whole system might break down. It is because of that doctrine of despair—he has accused me of being depressed and plunged in despair—but it is because of his own attitude of despair in relation to the subject that I feel it necessary to put down this amendment, so as to indicate that we do not believe it is an impossible thing, that you cannot find examiners or make arrangements for oral examinations in Irish in the Intermediate and Leaving Certificate examinations. I believe that if we underwrite that principle and insert it here as part of the function of the new Gaeltacht department, we will be asserting our belief that it can be done, despite the despair in the matter on the part of the Minister.

The Senator, I think, is getting mixed up in his sequences and on the particular point on which this thing arose. The Senator broached this question of the examination in Irish originally when we were here on the Second Stage for the purpose of showing that I, as a Minister, had been a failure in certain respects, and that not only did age tell against me in the matter of doing certain things but that there were young men who required to be brought in for a real fresh start, a real drive; and, in column 114, he brought this thing out and showed that this outstanding failure could be written against me.

Might I ask the Minister to read for us the passage in which I said that he had failed?

It is printed down there in column 114.

The Minister will recall that I credited him with the best of intentions and very active concern himself.

Yes, but it sounds as if there was failure stamped in a matter that I was vitally interested in myself and, no doubt, putting all the energies into that I could put. However, I do not want to misinterpret the Senator, but I do want to recall him to the way in which he started, and then I would ask the Seanad to realise this, that if the position with regard to the Department of Education in relation to the work of the Irish language in the schools and in its examinations, that is, in all the examinations conducted by the Department of Education, is that the treatment of Irish as a living and spoken language is to be dealt with by the Department of Education, that is a subject that is eminently worth discussing in an atmosphere and in circumstances in which you will be responsible for facing up to the details of it, and the implications of it, and the various intricate aspects of it.

I was rather of the opinion from the order point of view, that it was outside the scope of this Bill, but I realise that it could be argued that it is within the scope of the Bill, and if that is so, the list of things within the scope of this Bill could be extended and I leave it to Senators to imagine all the amendments that could be put in in this particular form, notably amendments to endeavour to have Irish treated as a living spoken language. Senators can fill in all the necessary things after that.

Indeed, there are other kinds of amendments that could be put in, but it is the wrong place to discuss the matter. It could not be discussed effectively here and, as I say, it is out of piece with the Bill, constructed as it is. From the point of view of the Gaeltacht ministry's work and its dealings with the language as a vernacular used inside the Gaeltacht and spreading outside, we are providing machinery for discussion with the Minister for Education, and we have the machinery of the Department of Education for discussion as to what could or should be done in the way of oral examinations, if that is a matter that appears to have any strong or vital influence in maintaining or spreading the language as a vernacular. Again, it is a question of looking for machinery to do work rather than having talk or having something in a Bill pointing a way here and there, which is, as I say, something out of keeping with the structure of the Bill.

Gidh go bhfuilim saghas taobhach leis an leasú atá thíos ag an Seanadóir Skeffington, mar sin féin, is dóigh liom go bhfuil a lán den cheart ag an Aire nuair adeireann sé nach é seo an ócáid ceart chun cheist seo na scrúduithe a cuirtear ar bun faoin Roinn Oideachais do chur fé dhíospóireacht, ach, ar a shon san is uile, ní ceart dúinn é a caitheamh uainn ar fad, mar tá ceist an oideachais fite fuaite, gan amhras, le scéal na Gaeltachta agus, nuair a bhí an díospóireacht ar siúl anseo againn ar an Dara Léamh, do dheineas féin tagairt do cheist seo an oideachais agus do chuireas roinnt noltaí fé bhráid an Aire i dtaobh conas ba dhóigh liom a cuirfí chun feabhas do chur ar scéal an oideachais sa Ghaeltacht féin agus córas do bheith ann— gléas do bheith ann, mar adúirt an tAire—a tharraingeodh daoine isteach sa Ghaeltacht chun oideachas den tsaghas atá i gceist againn d'fháil ó mhuintir na Gaeltachta.

Go deimhin, maidir leis na scrúduithe seo a chuireann an Roinn Oideachais ar bun ó bhliain go bliain, ceist andheacair, an-achrannach, sea é, béal scrúdú do chur ar bun maidir leis an scrúdú sin a bhíonn sna bunscoileanna gach bliain agus maidir leis na meánscoileanna. Ach, mar sin féin, cé go admhaím gur deacair é, is ceist é ar ceart athscrúdú a dhéanamh air agus tá fhios agam go maith go ndéanfaidh an tAire athscrúdú air mar, nuair a bímid ag cur síos ar cheist seo na Gaeilge ní ceart dúinn achrannacht an scéil do chur san áireamh go rómhór. Aon rud a dhéanfaimid ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht beidh deacracht ag baint leis agus beidh costas ag baint leis chomh maith, agus caithimíd bheith sásta leis an achrann agus leis an gcostas más mian linn dul ar aghaidh le hathbheochaint na Gaeilge. Sin a bhfuil le rá agam ar an leasú.

D'fhéadfaimis díospóireacht anleathan a bheith againn ar cheist seo an oideachais maidir leis an nGaeltacht. Ní dóigh liom gurab í seo——

B'fhédir gurab í seo an áit ach ní hé seo an t-am.

Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé in ordú.

Ba mhaith an rud machnamh a dhéanamh ar an scrúdú Gaeilge. Ba mhaith an rud dá mb'fhéidir aon tseift a cheapadh chun an béal-scrúdú a chur ar siúl. Mura bhfuil daoine a chuireann suim sa cheist i ndon a dhéanamh amach cad é an tslí is ceart chun na deacrachtaí a bhaineann leis an scrúdú do leigheas, ní réiteofar in aon chor iad.

I should be grateful if Senators who understand how important an oral examination is in languages, particularly in the Irish language, would give some consideration to the matter and would endeavour to see in what way an oral examination could be worked, even leaving the competitive side of things out, that would strengthen the teaching of the language in the schools. As far as that is concerned, the Department of Education gives grants for excellence in oral Irish to certain secondary schools, following a particular type of examination, but that is a grant to the school as a whole. To that extent, something is done in a small way to maintain and to encourage oral Irish in the schools.

So far as any Senators consider, however, that it would be a good thing— and I consider that it would be a very good thing—if we had oral examinations in Irish in relation to the intermediate and the leaving certificate examinations, there is the question of the practicability of doing the work, and the question of having an element of competition in relation to scholarships, as far as the leaving certificate is concerned and there is, no doubt, the question of money. If that is a matter that, in the mind of any Senator, is worthy of being put in a special place by itself into a Bill dealing with the Gaeltacht, then I consider that it is worth considering and discussing on its merits. As I say, this is not the time for discussion of it, but the Seanad surely is a place where a question of this kind could be discussed.

I should like to answer two points. The first is the question of whether such an amendment comes within the scope of this section. It seemed to me that the matter is of sufficient importance to be, I will not say singled out because several other important matters are included in the sub-section, but to be specifically mentioned. I would regard it as fundamental to the proper teaching of any living language that it shall be regarded as a living thing when it comes to testing proficiency in its use. As I said previously, students in schools and teachers inevitably are largely conditioned by the examination system. I think perhaps that is unfortunate, but there it is. Consequently, if they know that, in the big examination, there will not be an oral test—I will not say they do not bother about it—they stress it rather less than if they knew the children will be tested in oral Irish.

Secondly, I would refer to what I would call the impossibilism of the Minister. He seems to suggest he is very much in favour of it but there is always some obstacle which he cannot surmount. There is always something outside his power—money, or that he cannot get examiners, or that there is a "competitive element", or that he does not know how it could be organised. I do not know if the Minister is aware that, under the British General Certificate of Education, it is possible to take Irish as a subject, and that the authorities there regard Irish as a living language and examine in it orally and in written tests. That also applies in the North of Ireland. What has been found possible there, and across the water, in relation to Irish, is not possible for us!

If the Minister says: "Yes, but the number of children involved here would clearly be much larger", I would repeat the example I gave before. Look at the French system where they deal with far more children than we do. They treat every living language, including French, as requiring an oral examination. Therefore, I would appeal to the Minister to get his advisers to look a little further afield and not to accept it that this is impossible. The insertion of such an amendment to the sub-section might have a stimulating effect on the new Minister or his successor.

On the question of being outside the scope of the Bill, I do not know exactly how the Bill, as drafted, constrains in the Seanad, but, certainly the Bill constrains in the Dáil. I should have thought the amendment outside the scope of the Bill as drafted. However, the Cathaoirleach has ruled that it is inside the scope of the Bill. I am not questioning that. I am not questioning that the spirit in which the Bill is drafted would admit, that there is nothing in the Bill that constrains the Minister for the Gaeltacht from taking an interest in that matter.

I feel that the second point, the impossibilisms that apparently attach to me in relation to an oral examination, attach very, very much to the members of the Seanad. If they do not, I should be very glad if the members of the Seanad, feeling that there is a way around these impossibilisms, would direct their minds in a constructive way to this matter because any of the impossibilisms that have been circumvented in the country in one way or another have been circumvented only by a lot of people joining together to get round the difficulty. Therefore, let the Senator not lie down and say that the Minister is stuffed up with impossibilisms and that one cannot expect anything from him. In relation to this matter, I can expect anything from the Seanad.

Amendment put and declared lost, Senators Miss Pearse and Dr. Sheehy Skeffington dissenting.


Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

Sara scaraimíd leis an alt seo, tá cúpla focal eile ba mhaith liom a rá. Bíodh is gur dhein mé rún nuair a bhí mé ag teacht anseo inniu ná labharfainn focal Béarla ar an mBille seo, tá orm an rún sin do bhriseadh anois, bíodh is nach gá dhom é sin do dhéanamh, b'fhéidir; ach, mar sin féin, tá an-chuid Seanadóirí anseo nach bhfuil go leor Gaeilge acu chun tuiscint cheart a bheith acu ar na rudaí atá fé dhiospóireacht againn.

Before we part with this section of the Bill, there is just one other matter which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister and the Seanad. We have the wording of the Bill here in Irish and in English. No doubt the objects set forth in the section— especially in sub-section (2)—are very worthy ones, but if the present trend of things is permitted to continue in certain directions, I am afraid it will be found difficult to carry out the very worthy objects that are set forth in sub-section (2) of Section 3—to promote the cultural, social and economic welfare of the Gaeltacht, to encourage the preservation and extension of the use of Irish as the vernacular language, and so forth. I am afraid that if the present policy being pursued by certain Departments of State is permitted to be continued, it will be found very difficult, if not impossible, to carry out the objects here described.

The Minister will be up against a certain tendency that has been noticeable in some of the Departments to make use of the English language when they could and should make use of Irish. Quite recently in the West of Ireland there was a certain competition, Rásaí na gCurrach, the Currach Races, and those participating in the races were Irish speakers. As far as I can ascertain, Irish was the language of the day. Everything was grand, but interviewers went down from Radio Éireann to that function and interviewed the people there in English. That is my information. That kind of thing should not be tolerated. If that is going to be the policy of Radio Éireann as regards the revival or the restoration of the Irish language, then the sooner Radio Éireann is dealt with the better. I just want to put that matter before the Minister as an example of how another Department of State can nullify the efforts made to preserve and spread the Irish language.

Sin a bhfuil agam le rá ar an bpointe sin anois. Tá súil agam go gcuirfidh an tAire é sin fé bhráid an Aire eile, an tAire Poist agus Telegrafa go bhfuil sé de chúram air an Radio sin do scrúdú agus, ní hamháin gan scaoileadh leis na rudaí atá i gceist agam, ach feabhas do chur ar an ngléas sin ar a lán slite eile chun cultúr dúchasach na tíre do chur chun cinn.

Is maith liom gur luaigh an Seanadóir é sin. Táim deimhnitheach go dtabharfar do rudaí den tsaghas sin níos mó aire nuair a cuirfear an Aireacht nua ar bun ná mar is féidir a dhéanamh i láthair na huaire. Nuair a cuirfear an Aireacht nua ar bun leigheasfar na deachrachtaí sin agus na rudaí nach ceart a dhéanamh.

I expect that the Ministry will be established before the end of June. I should also like to say that, when the Bill was passing through the Dáil, a question was raised in regard to the matter of titles under Section 3. It was suggested that the titles in regard to the member of the Government and the Department of the Gaeltacht should be in Irish in both sections.

Reference was made to the fact that there are bodies such as the Garda Síochána, C.I.E. and Bórd na Móna whose titles are in Irish only and that they are recognised and accepted as such. It was thought that it would be rather inconsistent that the Gaeltacht Ministry should be called the Department of the Gaeltacht and the Minister called the Minister for the Gaeltacht. At first, I thought that was a reasonable thing and that we might introduce an amendment in the Seanad that would meet the point raised in the Dáil.

However, having considered the matter with the parliamentary draftsman, it was pointed out—the matter was further discussed with the Government—that the various Departments and sections of the Government are recognised as a group by the people indicating the different Departments under which different sections of the work of the Government as a unified body are carried out. Having regard to the constitutional position in respect of the two languages and the necessity for keeping a clear unified picture of what the Government consisted of, it was felt that it would be too much out of accord with that idea to change the words "Department of the Gaeltacht" and "Minister for the Gaeltacht" into Irish.

It is clear that the word "Gaeltacht" is maintained as the name of the area to which this Bill will refer. That is preserved in English as well as in the Irish section. I think it is worth while mentioning that matter, in view of the discussion in the Dáil and the way I replied to that discussion.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:—

Before Section 4 to insert a new section as follows:—

As soon as reasonably practicable the central office of the new Department of the Gaeltacht shall be established in the Gaeltacht area.

I put this amendment down with the double purpose of drawing attention to the fact that we have in this new Ministry an opportunity which could not be so easily taken in relation to any other Department, that is to say, to achieve a degree of decentralisation of Government, at any rate. It is quite clear that any other Department must be situated in or near Dublin for the purpose of central administration, but here it seems to me we have an exception.

The main orbit of action of the new Department will be the area which it itself defines as being the Gaeltacht area. It seems to me that most effective action could be done, if it itself was situated within the Gaeltacht area. It is obvious that there would have to be contacts with Dublin and I think it is quite conceivable that we would have a Dublin branch office.

The point was made that the Minister will be at Cabinet level, and sit at Cabinet meetings, and be able to put his point of view and the point of view of his Department to the Cabinet. That is a valuable thing, but I see no reason why the Minister for the Gaeltacht should not live in the Gaeltacht and come to Dublin for Cabinet meetings in precisely the same way as Deputies or Senators come to Dublin for meetings of the Oireachtas.

I believe that in fact the imaginative quality of such a step, the decision to place the Gaeltacht Department in the Gaeltacht area, would have a very stimulating effect on the area. I do not think it would be fitting for us now to suggest a particular town or centre. I do not think it need necessarily be a large town but it is quite obvious that if the day-to-day activity of this Department is to be effective there must be a Department which will be accessible to the ordinary people living in the Gaeltacht. I would stress the word "accessible" because I believe it is a valuable part of the machinery of democracy that the people can get at the particular people dealing with certain questions, matters related to industry and commerce, education or whatever it may be.

I think the people living in the Gaeltacht areas would feel the Minister was closer to them in every way if he was closer to them physically, and could be approached and his senior officials approached at any reasonable time during the week without the necessity of travelling to Dublin. It is obvious that the Civil Service apparatus would be very reluctant to make such a change; that there would be all kinds of obstacles and difficulties. To make a change like that would appear revolutionary in the eyes of some, but I would appeal to the Seanad to regard it as a valuable experiment and a useful thing from the point of view of the apparatus of Government itself, and also from the point of view of the purpose for which this Bill is introduced. It is for that reason that I move this amendment which proposes that a fresh section be inserted.

I should like to support Senator Sheehy Skeffington in his attitude to this amendment. My first reason is that I think it will be a move in the right direction of decentralisation of administration. I realise that the principle of decentralisation is very often a principle invented by some Departments for others; that is, the Department of Industry and Commerce may be quite satisfied to send the E.S.B. or some other Department down the country, but it is not in favour of going there itself. I think that in this case there is a lot to be said for having the new Department in the Gaeltacht. Senator Sheehy Skeffington is in favour of decentralisation. I think you may run the risk of other parts of the Gaeltacht being jealous of the district which gets the Department, but I think that, on balance, it would be an imaginative gesture which would restore the confidence of the people of the Gaeltacht in Government measures to revive their culture and to take care of their economic welfare.

I think part of the despondent picture which you find very often when you go to live in the Gaeltacht for a while to improve your blas is that a young man will say, if he wants to get a job in Cork or elsewhere outside the Gaeltacht, he has to learn English. He will ask you why you bother to learn Irish or to polish up the Irish you have. I think that despondency would cease, if the Department were to be set up in the Gaeltacht. This will be a small Department, and I think its establishment in the Gaeltacht would considerably help the work of the voluntary Gaelic bodies such as Comhdháil Náisiúnta and Muintir na Gaeltachta.

I would also argue that its location on the spot would give the Department a unique chance of assessing the immediate needs in a manner which is not altogether possible when you have the Department in Dublin. It would have to contend less with Party politics and with situations like that which would be created when one Party sets up glasshouses for tomato growing and another Party is automatically against them. I think a Department on the spot would be enabled to reach more objective decisions on matters of that kind. For those reasons, I would support the amendment.

The amendment says: "As soon as reasonably practicable". I take it "Gaeltacht area" means a Gaeltacht area, but I would point out that the areas which are to be defined for the purposes of the Bill have not yet been delimited. It would appear to me to be simpler to leave the question over until certain work has been done. In fact a proposal to put the Gaeltacht Ministry in the Gaeltacht means putting it either in West Galway or Donegal. There are no other proposals one could visualise, because there is no Gaeltacht in Munster which would bear consideration from that point of view. One of the results of putting the Ministry in one of these areas would be that the Ministry would be as far away from any other Gaeltacht as if it were in Dublin because each one of these areas is as far away from the others as Dublin is from them all. That is one aspect of it. If you did not confine the Ministry to a large city adjacent to a Gaeltacht area like Galway, you would have to establish it in a very small place and the Minister would find much greater difficulty in doing the work set down in Section 3 of the Bill, which is of very great difficulty, involving considerable personal contacts.

Speaking in a personal way, I would say that if I were the Minister for the Gaeltacht I would deem it a great disadvantage to leave Dublin and to correspond with Ministers rather than to meet them and to talk to them. A great deal of Government work is done not by correspondence but by personal contact between Ministers. The new Minister for the Gaeltacht will have to do more of that kind of work than any Minister does at present. I feel that the Minister for the Gaeltacht, if he were put down in some remote place—and that is what the amendment means—would be at a very considerable disadvantage. He would lose his influence in the Cabinet for the very difficult and complicated work which this places upon him.

I therefore think that from the practical viewpoint it would not be a good idea at all to have the Minister isolated in one of the Gaeltacht areas. From the point of view of doing effective work for the Gaeltacht, the new Ministry should be centred in Dublin. The amendment, as drafted, would not mean anything at the moment because the words "reasonably practicable" are so vague that they can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It might be useful for us to consider this by way of motion after the Ministry has been in operation; it might be advisable to see whether in whole or in part the Ministry could be transferred, but this amendment, as drafted, would not serve any purpose. The idea is not a good one at the moment, although it has its attractions. Since a considerable portion of the work must be done in the Gaeltacht, the Minister himself will, in the nature of things, spend a lot of his time there.

This seems clearly to be one of these cases where there is a great deal to be said on both sides. I would agree with Senator Hayes that more would be lost by isolating the new Minister than would be gained by putting him in a Gaeltacht area. On balance, I think it would be better to keep him closely in touch with his colleagues in Dublin.

I do not see any merit in this proposal. The question of accessibility has been stressed. Dublin is, on the average, as accessible to most parts of the Gaeltacht as is what we might term the centre of the Gaeltacht, Galway. Dublin is at least as accessible to Donegal as Galway would be.

I rose specially to mention the question of the Gaelic colleges, the preparatory colleges. When they were established 30 years ago, the idea was to have them placed in Gaeltacht areas, because it was thought that, by having them there, the students would more or less imbibe the real spirit of the Gaeltacht. It was thought that there was something in the air that would help. As a matter of fact, that has not been the case. The students might as well have been placed anywhere else. During the war years, most of these colleges had to be transferred to Dublin, to Marlboro Hall in Glasnevin, and the story is that they were more successful there than down the country. It is generally believed that it has had no special effect from the point of view of the language where these colleges are placed.

Possibly if the Ministry were placed in any of the Gaeltacht areas, as has been pointed out by Senator McHugh, there would be jealousy as between, say, Donegal, and the West and Kerry as to where it should be placed. I do not think you would get general agreement among the Gaeltacht areas on fessor Hayes, it would be best, for the present, at any rate, to have the Ministry here, especially as it will be necessary for the Minister to have fairly constant contact with the other members of the Government. I do not think anything would be gained by having it in the Gaeltacht. You might as well take the Ministry of Lands and put it down in Galway, or Roscommon, or somewhere like that, where there is so much land to be divided. There may be something in decentralisation, but I was never struck about the idea.

I should like to deal with one or two points made. One is that the Minister would in some way be "isolated" from his colleagues, if he were to be in a Gaeltacht area. I do not know whether Senators or Deputies who live in Gaeltacht areas feel a similar isolation from their Dublin colleagues. I speak as a Dubliner myself, like Senator Hayes, and I fear that sometimes we in Dublin tend to think of Dublin as being the natural place for everything to be decreed and organised.

Dublin is Ireland.

Some Senators, it is true, think of other parts as being the natural place for things to be decided! It seems to me that here in relation to the Gaeltacht the natural place for such decisions ought to be the Gaeltacht. It might be that it would be a question either of isolating the Minister to some extent from his colleagues, or isolating him and his Department from the people in the Gaeltacht. It is all very well to say that Dublin is just as available and accessible, but the ordinary people have not the means to be running up to Dublin to put a request or a suggestion to a Gaeltacht Ministry, so it would be more isolated from the Gaeltacht if it were in Dublin than if it were in Donegal or the West. The case made that, after all, if it were in Galway, Donegal would be just as far from it as if it were in Dublin, is not a case at all, because quite clearly the western Gaeltacht would be equally close to the Donegal Gaeltacht. It would not be further away. I believe that the point I made originally, in which I was supported by Senator McHugh, of the value of the accessibility of such a Department to the ordinary people, is of high importance, and even more so, perhaps, in relation to matters with which the new Minister will be concerned. Senator McHugh also made a good point that if the Minister and his officials are located there on the spot they will see the needs, and become more immediately aware of them and the problems for examination and so on, than if the Minister simply sees them in statistics on his desk in Dublin.

Senator Hayes made a slightly involved point. He said you could not do it immediately because the Gaeltacht areas have not been defined yet under the Acts. That, of course, was not what I said. I said that it should be done "as soon as was reasonably practicable". But then he objected to that phrase, and said that it did not mean enough, or was not sufficiently precise and immediate for him. It is a good phrase, because it does not tie the Minister immediately to do it. It ties him simply to do it as soon as it can be seen to be reasonably practicable. If some people think it is, and others that it is not, it will be for the Minister to say why it is not yet reasonably practicable. In other words, his hands are not tied, but there would be an expression of sentiment on the part of the framers of the Bill that on the whole the Seanad and the Oireachtas would like to see the setting up of the central office of this new Department in a Gaeltacht area.

I would suggest to Senator Sheehy Skeffington that the words mean nothing from a legislative point of view. They could not possibly have any legislative effect, and that must be understood in connection with the matter. I am not saying whether the Ministry should be in a Gaeltacht or in Dublin, and I am accepting the responsibility imposed upon me to establish a Ministry and to let that Ministry, as an effective, thinking, corporate piece of machinery, see, as part of its work, where ultimately it should be. There is no question that, while the Ministry is in Dublin, any part of the Gaeltacht will be without an authoritative office—say, one in Donegal, another in Galway, another in a suitable place in Munster—to which people can go, if they want to. That office will be there for the purpose of having a real advanced base from which the directors who are doing the work and co-ordinating the work and acting as the principal executive officers of the Ministry will have their place.

Some Senators speak as if they were accepting the kind of thing that has arisen very much in the country. It is possible for a Minister, when he has been brought down in any constituency to a dance, to be stopped half-way up the stairs by somebody saying: "I want to tell you so and so. I would like you to do something that wants to be done, a really important thing" and then looking at the Minister and saying: "Have you e`er a piece of paper?" At this responsible end of our administration, we ought to realise that we want to get our people out of the habit of waiting for six months, or 12 months, or 18 months, until they find the Minister going around the corner some place and stopping him to talk to him about something or another.

I would expect the Gaeltacht Ministry to be established to stretch the firm and timely arms of administration deep into the centres of the people and their problems, and to encourage them to co-operate in doing their own work, including writing a short letter in January, 1955, instead of waiting until November, 1958, to meet a Minister or a Deputy strolling round the place.

There is no other place in which I see that the Ministry can be set up, from the point of view of doing effective work in relation to the Gaeltacht or in relation to co-ordinating things, than Dublin at the moment. That is all I say, and nothing that we might put into a Bill will change or affect that situation radically. It is only mistaking the whole character of people and the whole purpose of our institution, if we have to put into a Bill an admonitory phrase or a kind of hopeful phrase, hoping that they will do something that appears to some people to be more practical to-day than what exactly has to be done to meet the necessities of to-day. I would submit to the Senator that that would just be a blot on a statute rather than anything else.

I am rather shocked by the Minister's attitude towards the insertion or the non-insertion of such a clause. I realise, of course, that the Minister could not be forced on any specific date to institute the central office in the Gaeltacht, if this amendment were to be passed, but to say that to pass it would not have legislative effect because it simply asks that the thing be done in a reasonable time, "as soon as reasonably practicable," is, I think, wrong. After all, in Section 3, this Bill states that the function of the Department shall be "to promote," shall be "to encourage," shall be "to extend" and it is quite obvious that there are 50 different interpretations of "to promote, to encourage, to extend," yet it is obvious that one could not say that that did not have legislative effect, because someone could say: "You did not promote; you did not encourage; and you did not extend." Similarly, I think it possible to say that if the Oireachtas were to state that the view of the Oireachtas was that, in the foreseeable future, this new Department should have its central office in the Gaeltacht, then it would be legitimate, after the passage of some years, to ask the then Minister why it had not been found practicable, and to refer back to this ideal enshrined in the Bill.

I deliberately phrased it in such a way as not to make it absurdly and immediately mandatory, but I do not believe at all that it is simply a pious hope unrelated to reality, and I think that that, in fact, has been disproved by the points that have been made by others.

The Minister has told us now that he intends to have local offices in many of the Gaeltacht areas, but I am inclined to wonder whether that really makes for accessibility to the Department. The Department of Posts and Telegraphs has a number of offices all over the country, but I am not quite sure that that makes the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs more immediately accessible to the people than any other Minister.

When the Minister says that people prefer to wait 18 months to see the Minister going upstairs or around a corner rather than write a letter, he has mentioned something that certainly happens and which is to be deplored, but I cannot help feeling that perhaps one reason why people wait until they can buttonhole the Minister is that they know that when they write to the Minister, they do not get a reply.

It is very absurd for any Senator to say that when people write to a Minister, they do not get a reply.

It took me four months to get a reply.

We are back again.

The Senator had had his reply.

It took four months and it was a reply that said nothing.

The Senator is referring to a dispute over a rather involved matter between himself as a Senator and myself as a Minister in the House. I think he is stretching it very far to apply it to a piece of legislation, that the reason why people do not write to a Minister is that they do not get replies.

There is the impression abroad that such a reply is slow in coming, shall we say?

At any rate, the Senator is clear that it would be reasonable after a few years' experience of the work of the Gaeltacht Ministry that a Senator would be able to ask the Minister what were the difficulties that had arisen that had prevented the headquarters of the Ministry being transferred to the Gaeltacht. Only to-day there was an example of a piece of legislation introduced into the Seanad being passed through all stages in the Seanad and that ultimately will become law. There is nothing to prevent, in a year's time, in two years' time, in three years' time, any Senator with experience of what is happening in the Gaeltacht and of the operations of the Gaeltacht Ministry introducing a Bill, as the Oil Pollution of the Sea Bill was introduced, making it a matter of statutory requirement that the headquarters of the Gaeltacht Ministry shall be wherever he wants to suggest, from his practical experience, it ought to be.

So far as that is concerned, the Senator is apparently satisfied now that he could not put a spot on where it ought to be and he could not put a spot on the time at which it ought to be anywhere in the Gaeltacht, apart from anywhere else. All the machinery is here for the Senator to bring in at any time he likes in future a Bill in the way in which the Oil Pollution of the Sea Bill was brought in here, and have it discussed in the Seanad and, if it is passed in the Seanad, have it discussed in the Dáil. There is no door shut to pointing out anything in the situation that would make it desirable that the headquarters of the Gaeltacht Ministry or any other Ministry should be anywhere else. That door is completely open and the reason why it is open is that we are setting up a Ministry; in a very short time, the higher responsible officers of the Ministry will, I hope, be appointed; the Ministry will be established and then we will all begin our experience of what the Gaeltacht Ministry is, what it is capable of doing and the reaction of its work on the Gaeltacht, and we will be able to say then whether its officers should be here, there or elsewhere and where its Minister should be.

I had not intended to speak again, but, in regard to that last point, the Minister is making an argument that is unsound, because, if the new Gaeltacht Department sets out now with the knowledge that it will be expected in a few years' time to have its central office situated in the Gaeltacht, it will take steps which will be quite different from those it will take if it sets out now without that knowledge. If we do not pass this amendment now and if we wait for a few years the Gaeltacht Department will be congealed here in Dublin and then the Minister will come in and say: "If only you had suggested this when we were setting up the new Department. Now it is too late and you can talk your head off, propose any amendments you like; it is too late; we could not now transfer it." That is why I think the principle should be in the minds of those now setting up the new Department when they set it up. It is not that we demand that it be immediately done but that that shall be the trend and the aim within a reasonable time.

Our minds are fresh and open.

Amendment put and declared lost.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

How many Senators desire a division?

Senators Miss Pearse, Bergin, McHugh, and Sheehy Skeffington rose.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senators' names will be recorded in the proceedings of the Seanad.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In sub-section (1), line 31, after "(Amendment)" to insert "(Department of the Gaeltacht)".

I do not intend to speak at any length on this. This is really a technical amendment, and I put it forward for the reason that I think it is a matter for regret if you cannot see by the Title of the Bill what matters are dealt with by the Bill. I should like to see the Bill called "The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) (Department of the Gaeltacht) Bill, 1956." If it remains as it is—"Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 1956"— anybody seeing the Title will not know what it is all about. It is a small point, but it is a matter about which we ought to be concerned as legislators that a Bill shall have on the face of it, and that by its Title it shall be apparent, what it is about.

This is a matter for the legal people and the draftsman's tradition. The Long Title of a Bill is printed in the Statute Books as well as the Short Title and the Long Title is intended to convey the information the Senator speaks of. There have been a number of amendments to the Ministers and Secretaries Act and they all took the form of "Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill." You will meet "Local Government Bill" and "Local Government (Amendment) Bill."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

With the utmost brevity, on behalf of the university I represent, may I wish the new Department every success? I can assure the Minister anything Dublin University can do towards promoting that success will be done.

Thanks very much.

Question put and agreed to.