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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 21 Feb 2018

Vol. 256 No. 5

Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor, to the House. Before we commence I remind Senators that a Senator may speak only once on Report Stage except for the proposer of an amendment who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. In addition, on Report Stage each amendment must be seconded.

Amendment No. 1 is in the names of Senators Lynn Ruane and Alice-Mary Higgins. It arises out of committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, are related. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are physical alternatives to amendment No. 1. Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

We can talk on the section?

There are no sections as such. We are talking about the amendments only.

Yes, but when it comes to the-----

We are just dealing with amendments today.

So there is no discussion on the sections?

No, unless there is an amendment on that section and that is being discussed.

A section cannot be discussed unless there is an amendment about it on the Order Paper. Amendment No. 1 is in Senator Ruane's name.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 9, lines 34 to 36, to delete all words from and including “student”, where it secondly occurs, in line 34 down to and including “university” in line 36 and substitute the following:

“representative body elected by students and recognised by the institute or technological university, which promotes the interests of students”.

I can speak to the three amendments together?

I thank the Chair and the Minister of State for her time. We have three amendments tabled in this section. They all relate to how a student union is defined in the legislation. In the new technological universities structure the development of the academic institutions is going to happen quickly. The early period following their creation will be crucial in setting the practices of how these universities are going to operate for decades to come. It is important the student voice is not only at the centre of these discussions and development but also has statutory protection in how it contributes to the governance of these universities.

These student unions will essentially be new and starting afresh. They will have to learn quickly how to best represent the interests of the student body in the management of their universities. They need to be protected and supported in this developmental process. They will not have the many years of experience present in our current student union cohorts in our universities and that is the spirit in which these amendments have been tabled.

It is crucially important to get the definition of "student union" right from the outset. In every part of the Bill where student representation is mentioned, it is through reference to the university's students union that a role and a voice is given in the governing structure. We have to strike the right balance and ensure a level of equality of status exists between university administrations and the representatives of the students they are educating.

I have said this to the Minister before, but I shall repeat the point. The current definition of student union does not strike this balance. The current definition completely ignores the democratic and representative mandate of student unions from which they derive their authority. Instead, student unions in this Bill are given legitimacy solely by virtue of their recognition by the university. Student unions do not derive their representative functions and authority from recognition by the university. They derive them from regular democratic elections of the student body.

The Bill, as currently drafted, completely ignores this. How can a student union be an equal partner in the governance of a technological university if the only reason it is allowed at the table is that the body which it is meant to be holding to account says it is allowed to be there. These are not solid grounds for a full and equal partnership. We are seeking to change this with amendments Nos. 1 to 3.

Amendment No. 1 is a redraft of the amendment we submitted on Committee Stage. It incorporates feedback we received from the Minister of State and Senators in that debate. It acknowledges the representative functions of the union and recognises the mandate the union receives from democratic elections. It clearly defines the union as a body that promotes the interests of students, as distinct from solely being a service provider of education and welfare services. It also allows for the university to play a part through recognition. The current definition would allow for either or both undergraduate or postgraduate unions to be recognised as long as they were elected and representative bodies. The Minister of State mentioned this issue on Committee Stage. It is a good strong definition of the union and a massive improvement over what is currently there. I hope the Minister of State can accept it.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are variations on the theme, if amendment No. 1 is not accepted or passed. Amendment No. 2 removes the ability of another representative student body to be treated as a student union by a university. This amendment simply seeks to guard against a worst-case scenario. I refer to a situation where the relationship between the union and the university is starting to break down over a contentious issue and the university administration decides to treat another, nominally representative body as its student partner and shut out the democratically mandated union from the process. I am not saying this situation is likely but just that it is possible under the current definition. Most student unions and their universities have a great relationship. I certainly did when I was the Trinity College student union president. However, we do not legislate solely for rosy scenarios. We make sure legislation is future-proofed against every possible development that could potentially occur.

The conflict that emerged last summer between Dublin Institute of Technology and its student union over a threat to withdraw funding is exactly the sort of scenario we are trying to safeguard against. That is why we are proposing amendment No. 2.

Amendment No. 3 is the mildest of the three in this section. It has been very deliberately phrased in response to the statements of the Minister of State on Committee Stage. The Minister of State said we cannot change the definition of "student union" in this legislation because it would then not be in line with the definition in the Universities Act 1997. I do not accept that this is the case. The section of the Bill to which the Minister of State referred was not even a definition of "student union" but actually referred to setting out student representation on university governing boards.

Even if we ignore that, the definition that the Minister of State read into the Seanad record was "students of the university who are elected officers of the Students Union or other student representative body in the university recognised by the governing authority". While that definition largely mirrors the definition in this Bill, a critical part is being excluded. There is a part in the Universities Act that refers to "elected officers" of the student union. At every single opportunity, the Minister of State has rejected calls to alter the definition in the Bill because of the definition set out in the Universities Act, yet she has not included any reference to an elected mandate of the student union in the current Bill.

Therefore, what we are trying to do in amendment No. 3 is agree with the Minister of State. If she says we cannot alter the definition beyond what is in the Universities Act, which I do not accept, we must include every aspect of the 1997 definition, a definition that refers clearly to the elected mandate of a student union. A student union does not derive its legitimacy from recognition by a university; it derives it from student democracy and regular elections. The Universities Act recognises this.

Since the Minister of State is so set on that legislation being the model we must follow, I cannot possibly see how she could not accept amendment No. 3 - the mildest option on the table. It would simply allow for a reference to this democratic mandate, as in the Universities Act, and allow for the correct balance of power to exist between a student union and the technological university. This is a small, but crucial, change the student unions around the country are clamouring for. The Government should show them that it is listening to their concerns. I really hope the amendment will be accepted. If not, it will illustrate that the Minister of State did not come into the Seanad ready to engage with us on this Bill and is willingly open to contradicting herself just so we do not have to send the Bill back to the Dáil. That is really not good enough. I look forward to the Minister of State's response.

To a certain extent, this is a theoretical exercise. I do not believe for a second that the Minister of State is going to accept a single amendment from this House. She is smiling so I am obviously right. It is a theoretical exercise. We are setting out the arguments but I hope they will be taken up in the other House.

Senator Ruane has demonstrated a very clear reason for the Minister of State to accept the proposal. There is nothing whatever in the Minister of State's position to militate against amendment No. 3, which concerns election by students. As the Senator has pointed out so effectively, it is in the Universities Act, which the Minister of State has been consistently quoting. Therefore, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

If we must slavishly adhere to the definition of "student union" contained in the Universities Act, the least we could do is give the full definition. This will be a critical test case. If the Minister of State refuses to accept amendment No. 3, it will be perfectly obvious that what we are doing here this afternoon is an academic exercise. What the students are looking for is autonomy, independence and democratic accountability. That is not a great deal to expect from an Irish Minister of State in 2018.

I have received quite a lot of correspondence on this matter. I will put just two emails on the record of the House. The first is from a gentleman called Mr. Kieran McNulty, who from 2016 to 2017 was the president of the student union in Trinity College, where I used to teach. After a little preamble, he states:

Autonomy is always an issue for students' unions. TCDSU is lucky to have a loud voice in the governance of Trinity and thus students are able to engage in the running of the university. We are by far the largest stakeholders in the college. Indeed last year, we passed a historic student partnership agreement which cemented students as partners in Trinity governance. [Well done Trinity.] This would not have been possible if we did not sit on committees and were not recognised as student representatives. Please support the amendments to this bill, in regards to the definition of a Students' Union and 'Student representation on Academic Council'. They make sense and ensure that students' unions can do their job of representing students, without the bureaucratic hurdles they may face if they are not recognised as legitimate. This is crucial for the student voice.

This email was from somebody who was president of one of the most important student bodies in Ireland.

I have another email, this time from the president of the Union of Students in Ireland, Mr. Michael Kerrigan. Here again we are hearing a representative of the student voice. These are the democratically elected people. These are the people with whom the Minister of State is posing as being in discussion and to whose arguments she says she is listening. It is a bit like dialogue with the Vatican, as if to say: "Sit down and shut up. I am the Minister and you are just a collection of little brats." Mr. Kerrigan states:

The engagement of students in Higher Education in Ireland has changed rapidly in recent years, with internationally recognised initiatives such as the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP), the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (NFETL) and the creation of National Quality Assurance Guidelines by the QQI all strengthening the role of students as partners in their education.

A lot of legislation is going in the direction of increasing the participation and recognition of student unions but this Bill is going against that. It is contradicting that movement. To contradict the Minister of State's very sotto voce denial, which I am sure the microphone did not pick up, the very next paragraph of the letter states: "Unfortunately, the Technological Universities Bill, as it stands, does not value students as equal partners in their education." This is what the Union of Students in Ireland is saying.

The email also states:

USI have engaged with the Department and Ministers in the process of developing Technological Universities for a number of years, with many of our concerns being ignored. [There is the dialogue. They talk and nobody listens.] We have found the past number of months frustrating as a large number of amendments have been either thrown out or rejected on disputable technicalities. Today, we are asking for your support on a number of amendments as the Bill reaches the Report Stage in the Seanad. The current definition of a Students' Union in the Bill outlines that the SU must be recognised by the TU. There is, however, no mention of this body being recognised, governed or elected by students. [Students are just left out of the definition.] The first amendment does not make huge changes to the definition, but adds certainty that this body will be democratically elected by students. [There is the nub of the matter.] On several occasions to date, amendments on an increase in student representation on the Governing Body have been thrown out due to a possible cost to the state. Currently, there are no cases of students receiving payments for sitting on this body, however, if a Governing Body is held on a satellite campus, they may be entitled to expenses. That this amendment was thrown out on such a technicality shows how little the student voice is valued.

It also demonstrates how little Seanad Éireann is valued. It is utter nonsense that one can throw out an amendment because it makes some kind of putative charge, however small and insignificant. It means that, theoretically, one could disbar any amendment whatever because there is a cost to every amendment. It may be tiny or marginal but even the cost of printing an amendment is a cost on the Exchequer. Therefore, Seanad Éireann, under the Constitution and Standing Orders of this House, as currently held, has no right to make any amendment whatsoever.

If we were to adhere strictly to the formulation of words that governs amendments in this House, we would never have an amendment allowed. Every amendment carries a charge. The question of how small or insignificant the charge is does not matter to the application of this rule. The very fact that the charge is created on the Exchequer rules the amendment out of order.

Therefore, no amendments whatever should be allowed in Seanad Éireann. That is the kind of nonsense we are confronted with and the sooner we clear up this matter the better. I will strongly support these amendments. I am not sure whether Senator Ruane is expecting a positive response. If I may make a sexist comment, I note she is wearing very becoming lipstick and so perhaps she is expecting a positive result to the amendments. In any case I think they are very well argued and I will strongly support them.

Before I call the next Senator, I welcome Councillor Nicholas Crossan from Buncrana and some members of his family and his friends in the Gallery. He is a very important local government representative in that part of the world. He is very welcome to the Chamber. I am sure I express that on behalf of everybody here.

We are hoping for an honest response from the Minister of State in which she engages with our proposals. I imagine how any of us is dressed has little to do with that.

I will not reiterate the points Senator Ruane made; they are very detailed arguments. It is clear that we have been listening to the Minister of State. We are not interested in coming in here simply to score political points or to create difficulty. This House has a legislative remit. All legislation passes through two Houses and all legislation should be responsive to amendments from both Houses. We are trying to ensure that this legalisation is fit for purpose and is a collective project.

We have listened to the Minister of State. The amendments we have proposed today are not the original amendments we put forward. They may have been what we wanted, but we have listened to the Minister of State's words, "elected by". That is what we are putting into it. What she said was in the Bill is not in the Bill. It is in the Universities Act. The third amendment, in particular, is literally an echoing of the Minister of State's own wording on the record as well as what is in the Universities Act. We could not be clearer or more reasonable in the phrasing that we have proposed.

Of course, we would like to do other things. There is a key point in terms of the interpretation of whether we move forwards or backwards. I do not accept that we cannot move forward from the Universities Act because, of course, that Act - we will come to this later - was introduced before the Bologna Process, which is a pan-European process on the improvement of standards and student participation in university life, a process Ireland has signed up to. There is an entire subsequent process that we engaged with after the Universities Act was passed, which was meant to be about increasing and strengthening student participation.

We should be moving forward, but if we are not moving forward, we certainly cannot afford to move backwards. As currently worded, it would be a backwards move whereas we propose that basic provision of "elected by". We are no longer attempting to remove the recognition of the university. Of course they have their governance constraints and they need to recognise that. We are trying to ensure there is also a clear electoral mandate. I think it is very straightforward. It would send an extremely poor signal if we not only roll back from the Universities Act, but also roll back from the Minister of State's own statements on the record when we last debated the Bill in this House.

We have talked about legislating for the best-case or worst-case scenario. Amendment No. 2 deals with scenarios where there is a dispute and tension may arise. This is not to say that there is tension. Most of us recognise that there are in many cases a compatibility of interest and a benefit to good governance from engagement between students and a university authority. However, amendment No. 2 seeks to provide for a worst-case scenario. Will the Minister of State support amendment No. 2? If not, how does she envisage the worst-case scenario playing out? Does she envisage herself or others, who would be in the role of Minister, engaging or intervening if a governing authority sought to put in place a substitute representative body and no longer recognised a students union? What might we expect? Of course, we need to anticipate those scenarios. I believe we should anticipate them in a protective and constructive way through good legislation and good governance. However, if that is not to be our approach, what will the approach be?

We can move through these amendments. Ideally we would like to be able to finish it today. The Bill returning to the Dáil is not a disaster; it would take half an hour or three quarters of an hour for the Dáil to formally accept the Seanad amendments. When there is a good-faith amendment that is carefully worded and accurate, and reflects the Minister of State's own argument, she should have the grace to accept it so that we can move forwards and get the Bill fully implemented, which is what most of us want.

Without wanting to repeat the points made by the Independent Senators, as Senator Ruane said, this is a redraft of the amendment on Committee Stage. I agree it is an improvement on what exists there. I watched Committee Stage from my office and there was a clear message from the House that the autonomy of the students union in the Bill must be absolute. That message was clear from the Independents, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, whose Senators all spoke in support of the objective outlined in amendment No. 1 and urged the Minister of State to propose amendments that would be satisfactory to the Department. They have redrafted those amendments. I urge the Minister to take these amendments on board.

I do not want to repeat anything that has been said already. The case for accepting the amendment has been extremely well made. While I hope I am wrong, I suspect it might not be accepted. If that is the case, I appeal to our colleagues in Fianna Fáil not to turn their backs on the students in particular. Student unions are very passionate about this issue. We cannot let them down. They should not be excluded in this way. I do not suggest it is intentional. The jury is in from across the Chamber on this issue.

If I may interrupt, it is intended that the Minister of State would answer that.

Senator Gavan without interruption, please.

I take the Senator's point. We have thrashed this out a number of times. I find the Minister of State's reluctance to move very frustrating. I accept it will need to go back to the Dáil, but that is a minor issue compared with not doing the right thing at this point. In the event that the Minister of State does not listen, I appeal to our Fianna Fáil colleagues. This will not bring down the Government. It is a small issue that will make a big difference to the most important people in our third level colleges, the students. Let us not let them down on this.

The definition used in the Technological Universities Bill is in line with the Universities Act 1997. On the composition of the governing authority, section 16(2)(d)(iv) refers to "students of the university who are elected officers of the Students Union or other student representative body in the university recognised by the governing authority". Trade unions and staff associations are recognised in section 9(5)(b) of the Technological Universities Bill in addition to the student union in the context of procedures relating to the resolution of disputes. I have heard that raised here today.

I will, therefore, read what is stated on page 14 of the Bill:

(a) For the purposes of the performance of its functions, a technological university shall establish procedures relating to resolution of disputes.

(b) Procedures established under paragraph (a) shall—

(i) be established following consultation with each trade union and staff association recognised by the technological university and with the student union.

It is clear, therefore, that there must be mutual co-operation between the trade union and the student union and that there can be no dialogue or productive interaction unless they recognise each other. It is in that sense that the concept of recognition pertains.

Recognition by mutual parties should also prevent an unworkable and unwanted situation from occurring were a plethora of single issue bodies purporting to represent student concerns, even of a handful, to require constant interaction with the trade union to the detriment of the representation of concerns of all students by the recognised student union. The concept of recognition has been accepted by the House in the amendments being proposed. The definitions included in the Bill also contain a reference to "other student representative body". This ensures the definition will include the possibility of there being more than one student representative body in the institution in question such as a student union representing postgraduate students.

There is, however, a broader picture to be considered. In that context, I inform the House that last week I received correspondence from the Union of Students Ireland, USI, seeking to progress a national approach to hearing the students' voice. USI wishes to discuss with the Department the role, responsibilities and rights of students in the future of third level education in an holistic manner. Among the issues it raised were how we might together approach the role and responsibilities of student unions and how me might have an honest dialogue between relevant parties. A number of framework principles were cited, including autonomy, accountability, partnership, representation and sustainability. USI has proposed working together with all relevant parties to develop either a national student charter or a partnership document and the creation of working groups to progress dialogue in Ireland. I am of the view that a broader exploration of the key issues across the higher education sector and perhaps the further education and training sector would be a more progressive and productive approach to take. I have asked my officials to engage further with USI on its interesting and progressive proposals. Therefore, I do not propose to accept any amendment to the definition of "student union" included in the Bill.

I do not know if I misunderstand the Minister of State or it is a deliberate misrepresentation of what is included in the Bill. The issue of governance and the nomination of the student body is different from the definition of a student union, one that is recognised as a student union and elected by the students. On page 9, line 35, the Bill states: "'student union', in relation to an institute or technological university, means the student union or other student representative body recognised by the institute or technological university". This definition is not in line with that in the Universities Act 1997.

It does not state "elected by" and cannot be fudged in terms of the process for nominating people to a governing body by a student body or the student union, which is a completely different issue. From day one, the Minister of State has quoted the Universities Act, but the definition completely ignores it as it does not contain the words "elected by". The Minister of State alluded to it being in line with the Universities Act, but clearly it is not. I am quite disappointed. We all have the Bill in front of us and can clearly see that it is not an accurate picture of what is contained in it. Will the Minister of State respond?

I will allow her back in to respond to the Senator. Has the Senator concluded?

The Senator is the only Member I can allow in at this stage. I cannot allow Senator Fintan Warfield to speak again. On Report Stage a Member can only speak once, unless he or she is the proposer of an amendment. I will allow Senator Fintan Warfield in on every other amendment.

It is extraordinary that the Minister of State has quoted USI while standing firm against what it stated as contained in the detailed submission I made based on its letter.

Has Senator Lynn Ruane concluded the points she wished to make?

Yes. Will the Minister of State examine what we are saying about the inclusion of the words "elected by" which are in line with what is contained in the Universities Act? It is clear that the definition included in the Bill is not in line with that contained in the Act which the Minister of State has referenced in the past couple of sessions in dealing with the Bill. The words "elected by" do not appear either in the part dealing with governance.

I remain of the view that the current definition which is in line with that contained in the Universities Act 1997 is preferable.

Therefore, I do not propose to accept the amendment.

Of course the Minister of State does not.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 9, line 35, to delete “or other student representative body”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 9, line 35, after “body” to insert “, elected by students and”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 20.

  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Dolan, John.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kelleher, Colette.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Warfield, Fintan.


  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Lawless, Billy.
  • Lombard, Tim.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony.
Amendment declared lost.

One vote had to be corrected because Senator Paddy Burke inadvertently pressed the wrong button, I presume.

He mistakenly voted the right way.

No, he inadvertently pressed the wrong button.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 11, to delete lines 17 to 20 and substitute the following:

“(2) A technological university shall be allowed to describe itself as a technological university. The Minister, with the consent of the governing authority of a technological university, may by order specify a name, other than the name specified in the order under section 36, by which the technological university may describe itself for operational purposes.”.

I second the amendment.

The Bill is unclear in respect of whether technological universities will be allowed to use the word "university" in their titles. It is clearly the Minister's intention that these new institutions can have the certainty to be able to market themselves as technological universities. The legislation should give effect to the Minister's intentions.

Without this amendment, future Ministers might limit the ability of a new technological university to market itself as a university. It would be simply intolerable if an institution having merged and brought its community through the changes to become a technological university was subsequently denied the right to refer to itself as a university. Furthermore, the amendment limits the power of the Minister to impose a name on a technological university against its wishes. The Minister and the institution have to consent to the name. This is simply a matter of good practice.

Our existing universities spend a small fortune on branding and marketing. The branding expression of these new institutions will not be trivial. Therefore, it is vital that the institution and the Minister have a meeting of minds over the final name, a name that is appropriate and fitting and one that gives the new technological universities the best start in life as universities.

We have plenty of examples in which the names of educational facilities have been impinged on due to politics, including Austin Waldron Regional Technical College in Carlow and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, as I mentioned in the previous debate. Other examples include the rebranding of Maynooth University from NUI Maynooth, the rebranding of the University of Dublin to Trinity College Dublin and so on.

While I accept the good intention of the Minister of State in this regard, protections must be included in the words of the Act.

It is clear that the Bill could give rise to circumstances in which an institution that had gone through the merger process would be denied the use of the word "university" in its title. In Waterford we know how hard people have fought to prevent us from getting our hands on the word "university". I ask the Minister of State to accept the amendment.

As far as I know, Trinity College Dublin still retains the titles of "Trinity College Dublin" and "Dublin University". I think it was intended originally that there would be other colleges of Dublin University but the authorities never got around to doing it. There is a good deal of snobbery. People want to call things "universities". Of course, Waterford Institute of Technology should be recognised as a university. It offers a wide range of courses in the humanities, music, the arts and so on and it is quite right that it should have this status. A number of years ago I fought for the college in Waterford to be looked on as a university. There are situations where one could raise queries about some of these entities being described as universities because they do not offer the full range of courses. I have received communications from within the institute of technology sector. People on the teaching staff have expressed concern to me about the mad rush towards describing everything as a university. They have said the technological third level groups have a noble function in offering apprenticeships and facilitating practical learning, etc.

With regard to the amendment, I agree with the proposal to give the Minister the right to specify a name other than "technological university". It should be possible to describe it as something else, particularly if that if what the students want. This nonsense that everybody has to go to a university is wrong. It confirms or establishes in some way the idea that a university, by its very nature, is better than a technological college. It is wonderful when people are made electronic engineers or carpenters. They should not be ashamed or want to creep in and say "when I was at uni". It is all nonsense. I support the proposal because it is important that the Minister have the right to denominate a name that does not include the word "university". In this House we should be saying technological and practical applied courses are just as good as those involving speculation in remote areas of philosophy and all the rest of it. We should be saying to people whose intelligence is practical rather than academic that they are just as good as any other student.

An order under section 36 of the Bill will provide for the establishment of a technological university and the specification for its name. There is no requirement to specify that the technological university will be allowed to describe itself as such, as that is the purpose of section 36. Section 8(2) provides a mechanism whereby any subsequent decision on a change of name from that originally specified and required for operational purposes may be so specified by the Minister in consultation with the technological university. This is not something that would be imposed arbitrarily by the Minister. The mechanism would be used only with the agreement of both parties. I do not accept that the governing body should have a veto on the Minister making such an order. The provisions included in the Bill, as it stands, allow for a degree of flexibility in this matter if required at any future stage. Therefore, I do not accept the amendment.

The Minister of State gave good reasons for accepting it.

I remind the Senator that the title "university" means a lot to people. It is a great entitlement for those who have spent many years going through a university to have that recognition. It might be all very well for the Senator, having had the opportunity to go to university, to be able to say-----

I never say it.

Many have aspired to reach university standard and are very proud of that fact. That is why the title is so important.

The Senator is arguing against her own amendment.

I accept what the Minister of State said. I recognise that some institutions have been named in unsympathetic or unsuitable ways. It would be best to have it written into the legislation. I accept the Minister of State's point that there would have to be agreement between the Minister of the day who might not be the current incumbent and the institution concerned. In good faith, I will not press the amendment.

I am not surprised, given that the Senator has argued against it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

As amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related and amendment No. 6 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 5, they may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 13, lines 24 to 31, to delete all words from and including "functions—" in line 24 down to and including line 31 and substitute the following:

"functions promoting an ethos that supports entrepreneurship, creativity, autonomy, innovation, and engaged citizenship,".

I second the amendment.

Given that amendment No. 6 is in the name of Senator Grace O'Sullivan, I take it that both of us can speak twice on the amendments.

Only on this one, but we are discussing them together.

Yes, I see. She can speak twice.

No. As amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are being discussed together, the Senators can speak to both amendments. Senator David Norris will have the right of reply on amendment No. 5.

I think Senator Grace O'Sullivan should also have the right of reply.

Only amendment No. 5 has been moved. The Senator will respond to the debate on it.

When Senator Grace O'Sullivan moves amendment No. 6-----

It will already have been discussed with amendment No. 5.

Will she not be able to reply?

That is rather silly.

Is that actually in the rule book?

Can you show me where?

I will dig it out for the Senator.

One would think that after 60 years in the House, Senator David Norris would-----

I have not been here 60 years but a mere 31.

It feels like 60.

I will get out the rule for Senator David Norris. It is long-standing practice.

Let us get down to it.

The mover of an amendment has the right of reply.

As Senator Grace O'Sullivan will be moving amendment No. 6, she should be given the same right. It does not matter.

Amendment No. 5 relates to section 9(1)(k)(iv) which sets out the functions of a technological university in "contributing to the promotion of the economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological development of the State", "respecting the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society", "promoting critical and free enquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate within the technological university and in wider society" and "promoting an entrepreneurial ethos". I have nothing against entrepreneurship, but I make the point that the ethos deals with its underlying values. I have no difficulty with the first three items on the list, but they are separate individual ingredients, not the underlying values which should not be just entrepreneurial. If they are, the institution should go back to being a tech. We are talking about the real values of a university. To say the intellectual and moral ethos - the climate in which the university's intellectual life is conducted - should be merely entrepreneurial and nothing else is a complete and utter betrayal of what it means to be a university.

My amendment seeks to do the following:

to delete all words from and including “functions—” in line 24 down to and including line 31 and substitute the following:

“functions promoting an ethos that supports entrepreneurship, creativity, autonomy, innovation, and engaged citizenship,”.

I listed entrepreneurship first in deference to the Minister of State's obvious wishes but included the words "creativity, autonomy, innovation, and engaged citizenship”. My amendment lists those qualities and activities that are contained in the first three subsections. Nobody can say we have ignored those aspects. We have included them as part of the governing ethos or values of a university.

Does the Minister of State think entrepreneurship on its own is a sufficient statement of the values of a university, that it is all entrepreneurship? What about free intellectual inquiry? What about academic freedom? What about all of the research projects that appear to go nowhere and were not entrepreneurial but simply intellectual inquiry? That is what a university is about. It is not about material end products. It is about intellectual inquiry and exploring the universe around us. If an entity is not doing that, then it is not a university, it is just an entrepreneurial set-up. I repeat that the word "ethos" is significant and paramount in this matter. We are talking about the underlying values of a university and, therefore, the ethos should be much broader than merely entrepreneurship. We are not that silly show called "Dragons' Den". The Minister of State is trying to turn our universities into a collection of dragons' dens-----

-----unless she accepts these kinds of amendments. I will leave it at that but I have the right to reply, unlike Senator Grace O'Sullivan.

I fully support the amendment and the sentiments expressed by Senator Norris. His amendment goes to the very core of our belief system and education. It brings to mind the vacuous statement that has been kicked around the place in recent years that Ireland should be the best little country in the world in which to do business. It really worries me that a Senator of such standing as Senator Norris must table an amendment like this one to scratch away at the very foundation ethos of what we are trying to build.

Are we trying to create economic units to fit into an economy? Do we believe in the liberation of education? The problem is there is a suspicion or a preconceived idea, which may be unfair, that the Bill, the Government and the Department lean towards industry and commerce and not towards the liberation of the mind. With that in mind, my party and I have on three separate occasions, in three different ways, and with three different wordings tried to ensure a member from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, could sit on the board of the governing authority for each technological university. Unfortunately, my party and I have been rebuffed three times. We simply tried to find a counterbalance to the entrepreneurial spirit that will be enshrined in the Bill.

The amendment tabled by Senator Norris and supported by Senator Grace O'Sullivan is crucial. It goes to the very heart of what we, in this Republic, fundamentally believe in when it comes to education. I believe that we should live in a society and not an economy. The purpose of education is to free the mind and not purely to produce entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial spirit is fine and good. It is important for an economy but it is not the reason that we live. It is not the reason that blood courses through our veins or that hair stands up on the back of our necks. Amendment No. 5 is possibly one of the most crucial amendments that we will debate and it will be illuminating to hear the Minister of State's reaction.

I agree with what Senator Norris has said. It is the very fact that he named the cat - entrepreneurship - that has us in trouble. I agree with him that ethos and entrepreneurship is a contradiction in terms. When I think of the word "ethos", I think of the idea of the good and I do not necessarily think of the profit margins for entrepreneurs. One might as well mention the idea of promoting the idea of the spiritual, beauty, common good or the good itself. The legislation keeps an eye on the main chance, which happens in the arts sector as well. By that I mean the consistent default position is how the arts can benefit tourism or the economy and not simply how the arts benefit society.

I mean the genius of the arts and how the arts have an impact on all human heartbeats and on all ages. I think it is the naming of cats. One should remove the word "entrepreneurship" and insert the idea improving all aspects of life and assisting in the development of the human being, without naming one or any subject. Is that not what a university is about? One could also insert the term "financial literacy," which is something extremely bereft in the education of our young people.

It would be good if the Government had some.

Exactly. I agree with the Senator's amendment. I do not like the idea of promoting an entrepreneurial ethos. I do not like its contradictory element. When I think of the word "ethos", I do not think of entrepreneurial skills.

What about ethics?

Yes, I think of ethics.

I also go right back to the lectures on The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman and further back to Plato who put forward the idea of the good. The Minister of State needs to change the legislation. With the naming of cats she has placed the matter in a big profit boundary, which is not what a technological university would set out to do at any level.

I totally disagree. I am a mother of four school-going children. As many as 13,000 students leave the south east every year to attend universities to gain a degree. I am not talking about the rich and poor. I am talking about having a technological university in the south east that provides courses for everybody. I view this matter totally differently from other Senators. As a mother I know that parents cannot afford to send their children to college in Dublin anymore because the Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, grants are nearly dead. Parents cannot afford to send their children to college because they must pay for everything. I am all for courses and degrees being provided by institutes of technology and technological universities.

Hold on. The Senator is not really talking to the amendment that we are discussing.

Yes. I am talking about the functions.

We are discussing the ethos.

The amendment proposes that there should be an ethos that supports entrepreneurship and other things. We are debating whether we should just have entrepreneurship or accept the amendment.

How does Senator Murnane O'Connor feel about that, as a mother?

As many as 100 masters and ordinary degree courses are available at Carlow Institute of Technology. I am speaking about the Carlow institute because earlier Senator Norris said that Waterford Institute of Technology should be granted university status.

Carlow Institute of Technology is excellent. It is outstanding.

A person can get the courses and any extra courses at the Carlow Institute of Technology. I do not believe Carlow needs a technological university.

Nobody has said Carlow should not have one.

I am not saying the Senator disagrees.

We are talking about the ethos.

I know what the Senator is saying.

One of the great things about the Carlow Institute of Technology is that it provides courses in music and the arts.

Earlier the Senator promoted the idea that Waterford Institute of Technology should be granted university status.

I am speaking about a technological university for the south east, which is a region that includes the counties of Carlow, Waterford and Wexford. The Senator did not do so and he told us he did not do so.

I would say that Senator Norris has a point.

The Senator is talking nonsense.

Senator Murnane O'Connor is talking nonsense.

Does the Senator know what ethos means?

I know exactly what ethos means. I am asking the Senator what it means.

I am sure she knows, as a mother.


The mother of seven-----

Sorry, I beg the Acting Chairman's pardon. He has been overwhelmed by the voices.

I was not but Senator Norris was.

On a point of order, even though I may not agree with Senator Murnane O'Connor, she spoke to the functions.

That is the section that is being amended.

Senator Higgins, I am in the Chair and I have ruled that the point made by Senator Murnane O'Connor was not relevant to the amendment.

The point that Senator Murnane O'Connor made was more relevant to the debate generally.

I spoke about the functions of universities for everywhere. My point was relevant.

The amendment refers to the ethos.

There was not a lot of that.

I call Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill to speak to amendment No. 5.

It is hard to follow such a tiff.

I am sure the Senator will achieve great things.

I saw Senators Murnane O'Connor and Norris embrace each other only 25 minutes ago.

Absolutely. Senator Murnane O'Connor is a splendid woman.

Therefore, I know it is only a temporary little tiff and nothing more serious than that.

I ask the Senator to speak through the Chair, please.

I wholeheartedly support the spirit of the amendment.

It goes to the foundation and principle of our educational system. The word ethos is a Greek word. It comes from the meaning of belief and the ideology of something. A belief system or an ideological educational system should foster the educational spirit and advancement of the individual, not just the business ideals of IBEC and these organisations. It has to go much further than that. This amendment is crucial to the future development of technological universities throughout the country. I will support the amendment wholeheartedly. I am not sure if I should speak on amendment No. 6 now, since they are coupled-----

The Senator can.

The amendment put forward by Senator Grace O'Sullivan is also very important and it goes to the heart of the Government's own 20-year Irish language strategy. It is a strategy aimed at-----

No, that is not-----

-----promoting and developing the Irish language among all citizens of the country. The Irish language should be recognised specifically in this legislation so that there can be advancement of the language and that there can be collaboration between technological universities and Irish language organisations in each region, including Foras na Gaeilge and Údarás na Gaeltachta, the social and economic development agencies, in places like Waterford, Galway, Donegal and Mayo where these technological universities will be located. I wholeheartedly support both of these fantastic amendments which I think go to the core of what education should be about. It should not be hijacked just for economic gain. Students do not just go to university for economic reasons. They go for a myriad reasons, including the purposeful self-development and advancement of the individual.

That is if they can afford to go.

This amendment is not about that.

That is the reality here.

Senator Ó Domhnaill, without interruption.

I come from Donegal, where students can no longer afford to come to live in Dublin. That is why we want to make sure that these technological universities can provide for those students and not just be left as economic hubs where people can go simply to advance the region economically. It is not about that. This is about the individual, not just the region, so it is important to make that distinction.

I spoke at some length on a similar amendment on Committee Stage, so I will not speak at the same length on it now. I congratulate Senator Norris on improving the amendment tabled on Committee Stage and strengthening it further. It has been spoken to, and while people may say that this seems like an academic exercise, as was said earlier, this is an academic exercise. We are putting in place new universities and words matter at an academic level.

As has been described, ethos is the underlying principle, spirit and, effectively, ideology or priority of an institution or body. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell put her concern clearly, saying that it would not be an issue if the Bill did not name the cat. Nobody would gratuitously seek to add these elements. There are simply two cats which have been named. The word ethos has been mentioned, and ethos is the underlying spirit, philosophy and principle. That is what that word means. It would be different if the word were used elsewhere in the legislation, but it is not. This is where it is used. The Bill uses that word and concept and specifically only named entrepreneurial. There is a concern. Other parts of the Bill mention economic, social, cultural and technological development. We talk about the diversity of values, critical and free inquiry and informed debate. There are many wonderful things in this Bill and I would acknowledge that many positive functions have been put in place in this Bill. The word "ethos" has only been attached to one element of it, the entrepreneurial element. It is in a section that says "in so far as possible". We know that there has always been debate on how that term should be interpreted.

It is a get-out clause.

"In so far as possible" can be interpreted quite heavily and has been in the past. "In so far as practicable" and "in so far as possible" have been a point of legal debate in this country in the past. There could be a genuine concern, when saying "in so far as possible", that there could be an opportunity for a new area of research to be entrepreneurial in that it may create profit for somebody, perhaps something that has military applications or a medication could be researched and it would be entrepreneurial for a less expensive medication not to be made available. These are key concerns. Will there be points where we say that the technological university has a responsibility in so far as possible in the performance of its functions to promote entrepreneurship? We have a concern about this.

I want to see entrepreneurial development and new companies developing. I am entirely in favour of that. Where there is public interest, concern about creativity and, crucially, engaged citizenship and going through the function of democracy, I want those to be given just as much value and concern when we are deciding it. I do not want a situation where a university has this thrown in its face, so to speak, if, for example, it chooses not to go in a direction that may be more profitable in the short term but may be counter to long-term public interest. If the Bill had stated "promoting entrepreneurial actions" or "promoting entrepreneurial activities", nobody would be complaining. That is fine. There is a word that is very heavily attached in that section, so in that sense, I echo the concerns of last time. I will not go into it at further length.

I will speak to amendment No. 6, which relates to that key responsibility. We spoke about the development of the regions. Many of the universities and institutes of technology, which will be our future technological universities, that we have often serve regions which encompass Gaeltacht areas. We have that in Donegal, Galway and the Ring Gaeltacht in Waterford, among many other areas. This is a very practical amendment put forward by Senator Grace O'Sullivan, not exclusively because of those areas but because of the general rights of all citizens in ensuring the promotion of the Irish language. I did not cosign it. I am just speaking in support of it. It is about promoting the Irish language and collaborating with regional and national agencies to that end. This is Bliain na Gaeilge. We are in the year of the Irish language. If we do one thing in Bliain na Gaeilge, let us make sure that we bear it in mind in a proper way and that, when we look through legislation, we look at how it will serve all regions of our country, including those Gaeltacht areas, and all citizens of our country by including their first language and the promotion of that language. I will support the amendment.

Amendment No. 6 relates to amendment No. 5 in that it is a real regret that the idea of a representative of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, an external member, being included, which was the proposal from our colleagues across the House in the Labour Party, was blocked. While the Minister of State will say that we have the Teachers Union of Ireland, TUI, we have the representatives of the interests of the staff. If one wanted to have the stakeholders in society, surely unions are as much stakeholders in society in that wider perspective as those who may be business holders or business operators?

I cosigned this amendment. I support Senator Norris and have to say that the amendment is better worded than that which I brought through on Committee Stage. The institutions in question have an existing ethos and it is worth exploring it. The report that led to the founding of regional technical colleges, RTCs, in 1967, the Mulcahy report, is the North Star of these institutions.

It states:

[W]e do not foresee any final fixed pattern of courses in the colleges. If they are to make their most effective contributions to the needs of society and the economy, they must be capable of continuing adaptation to social, economic and technological changes. Initiative at local and national levels will largely determine how far this vital characteristic is developed. We are concerned that the progress of these colleges should not be deterred by any artificial limitation of either the scope or the level of their educational achievements.

What was wrong with these words in the Mulcahy report half a century ago as regards ethos? The Minister is introducing a fixed pattern of courses that will limit the "effective contributions to the needs of society and the economy", thus limiting the ability of the universities to adapt and shape their own ethos with this artificial limitation no their scope. Ireland is more than an economy. The universities must be built on the broad progressive and enlightened words used to conjure up the institutes of technology.

With reference to amendment No. 6 in my name on Committee Stage which sought to promote the Irish language and collaboration with regional and national agencies to that end, I am surprised that the Bill has gone through the Dáil and has reached this stage without expressing support for the Irish language. It is a shock, having regard to technological university consortia with a Gaeltacht in their area, that the Irish language has not been referred to specifically. The Minister of State might say this is an issue for the institutions, but this House knows that, faced by other pressing demands such as the achievement of academic excellence, higher education institutions on this island shirk their responsibility to promote the language. I, therefore, ask the Minister of State to consider amendment No. 6.

There are two more speakers, Senators Paul Gavan and Paudie Coffey.

I find this conversation depressing because the arguments are so clear on the reasons we should accept Senator David Norris' amendments. I cannot see how anyone would object to the wording to promote an ethos that supports entrepreneurship, creativity, autonomy, innovation and engaged citizenship. I would love to know which part of the wording is inappropriate? I challenge the Fine Gael Party if it is not going to work with us on the Bill to tell us which part of the wording is not appropriate. Is it the words "engaged citizenship", "autonomy" and "innovation" to which they object? It is frustrating. To be frank, are we wasting our time?

Yes, except in making the argument.

It appears that we are because there have been a number of reasoned contributions made. I was particularly struck by Senator Grace O'Sullivan's contribution. She asked a pertinent question: what was wrong with the existing ethos? Why do we have to boil it down to entrepreneurship? We all know, because of the history of our country, how important jobs are, but I do not believe the purpose of education is purely to be at the service of private industry. Surely we are better than that. I wonder about the ideology that lies at the heart of it, whether it is the ideology of civil servants in Departments, or just the very strong right-wing ideology of the Fine Gael Party, that believes we should boil it down to entrepreneurship above all else. That is straight out of Mrs. Thatcher's play book. I do not accept it. More importantly, across this Chamber there is consensus that it should be changed. I worry about the values the Government is espousing. Is entrepreneurship what we are going to teach young people as they enter third level colleges? Let us narrow the curriculum. There was a person speaking on the "Ryan Tubridy Show" yesterday morning who was discussing the dangers of narrowing education, yet here we have the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills-----

Has the Senator read the Bill?

It is not just about the economy.

The Senator will get his turn.

It is very disappointing to see that there is this ideology. I have pointed this out on several occasions and every time I do so Fine Gael Members go into denial, but the fact of the matter is this is branding to bring the education system in the way of the American system where, effectively, it becomes an adjunct of business. That is what we are talking about and nobody has given us a sufficient explanation as to why it should be just about entrepreneurship. No one has told us what is wrong with the wording of Senator Norris' amendment. I look forward to Senator Paudie Coffey telling us what is wrong with it. I encourage Fine Gael Members, if possible, to move beyond this narrow right-wing reference and try to broaden it to embrace other views. Let us try not to divide the House on the issue. I love that phrase which is always used just before we divide.

We are not going to have a vote this time.

I know that. I cannot see any reasoned argument to object to what the Senator is saying. Equally, as somebody who cannot speak Irish but sends his children to a Gaelscoil, I am genuinely surprised that this issue of the language dealt with in amendment No. 6 has not been addressed. Again, I am genuinely bewildered as to why the Government will not accept the amendment. That bring me back to the key point. Is the Bill just a charade? Are we simply wasting our time because it does not matter how reasonable and reasoned amendments are, as the Minister of State and her colleagues are going to dismiss each and every one of them? If that is the case, it is making a mockery of this Chamber.

It is important that we have a robust debate on the future of the technological universities, their ethos and everything else about them. I do not have a particular difficulty with the wording of what Senator David Norris has proposed, but having read the Bill, I do not have a difficulty with what the Government has proposed. The Minister of State has allowed for a very broad spectrum of understanding as regards the ambitions for the universities. I will read the relevant paragraph because Members are trying to argue that this is just about business, entrepreneurship and the economy, when it is not. It states, in so far as possible in the performance of its functions, "contributing to the promotion of the economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological development of the State." To me, cultural and social development is about the Irish language. The next line goes further - "respecting the diversity of values, beliefs, and traditions in Irish society". What are the traditions in Irish society? The Irish language is one; the Irish culture is another and there is all that goes with it. There is a reference to the humanities, while charity is another strong tradition in Irish society. I will go further. Members are saying we are trying to narrow the ethos of technological universities just to business, but the next line in the Bill reads: "promoting critical and free inquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate". What is public engagement? It is about all of those things within the technological university and wider society.

We are cutting ourselves up over the wording of an amendment, but I understand the main argument of the Opposition is that we are putting too much emphasis on entrepreneurship in the ethos. I could also argue that point. I have argued passionately why people living in all regions should have access to a university education. I have also argued passionately on the strengths of apprenticeships and vocational education in meeting the needs of a modern society. We need to differentiate in what universities will provide for in the future as we cannot have more of the same. We have to have differentiation on the political spectrum, whereby educational courses and the attainment of adequate qualifications by graduates will meet the needs of society. Yes, it is great to have academics, deep thinkers, people in pensive mood and all of that, but we also need to respond to the challenges faced by Irish society. From where are the graduates for the construction sector to come to deliver the new national development plan? From where will the scientists come to meet the challenges faced in a modern society? They will come from the institutes of technology which want to remain as such or from those that wish to escalate their development to full technological university status.

It is important we differentiate those. I certainly do not want more of the same. We should have choice for options to go where they wish. We need to have more places in the educational spectrum and the technological universities can allow for that.

I am certainly not going to be beaten up about this amendment. I understand where Senator Norris is coming from but I argue that this is not just about entrepreneurship. The Minister of State has provided in the Bill a wide spectrum, going across cultural, historical, traditional, social and scientific areas. I am happy to support the Minister of State on this. I have been critical of the Bill in other ways, and I stand over that, but I am happy to support the Minister of State in this because there is a place for technological universities to meet a specific need in this country for the modern skills we will need in future.

Senator Coffey still says he is not against the amendment.

I said I had no problem with the wording.

The amendment deals with ethos, with the institutions promoting an ethos that would support entrepreneurship. The ethos is separate from the laudable matters outlined in the Senator's speech. Senator Gavan mentioned America and I was there. The only support one gets in America is through entrepreneurship. The only grants that governments are willing to give out relate to entrepreneurship. One could be on one's knees but if a person is an entrepreneur, he or she will get something. In my lifetime there has been an increase in the celebration of entrepreneurship, which is fine, but not if the vast majority of the entrepreneurs are not among those wealthy people that we picture, or if entrepreneurs live in poverty. I presume the description of entrepreneurship accepted by the Government is those who are employed independently, such as sole traders, etc. That is not the aspiration of everybody who goes to college. Is this a Government for IBEC or is it a Government for the people? There are issues raised by the amendment from Senators Norris, Boyhan and O'Sullivan, including the creativity element. Every Government strategy, including Culture 2025, which has the aim of putting culture at the heart of our lives and developing a more collaborative approach across all sectors, runs against the grain of what is currently in the Bill so I support the amendment.

When Senator Higgins spoke she acknowledged the positive elements that Senator Coffey referred to. The problem is not that we are ignoring the positive aspects dealing with respect for diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society. We must understand the strength of the word "ethos", which refers to the culture that underpins something. If we looked up the meaning we would see that it refers to the characteristic spirit of a culture. It is about the manifestation of attitudes within a community.

The amendment does not refer to promoting an ethos of diversity of values, beliefs and traditions. It does not have the strong underpinning that comes with "ethos" in the other parts of the definition but it does when it comes to entrepreneurship. It puts it on a stronger footing than the other elements of the section. That is what we are arguing about.

Ethos should take in the whole university and all of those elements. It should not be singled out in one part. That is the crux of the problem. We can get caught up in words all we want but we are moving more to the "marketisation" of people and degrees. People can be seen as economic factors within a university but that should not be the case. When we speak of ethos we should speak about the attitudes and characteristics manifesting in a community and what we are trying to do with students. I ask the Minister of State to consider both amendments but especially the amendment from Senator Norris.

To clarify, we are talking about deleting everything after the word "functions". That subparagraph at 9(1)(k)(iv) should be read as a composite piece in its entirety. Hence clause (I) requires the technological university to contribute in a very broad fashion to, "the promotion of the economic, scientific [...] and technological development of the State", but also to the cultural and social development of the State. These goals must surely be understood to comprise an important function of the institution. Clause (II) requires that the technological university respects, "diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society". I consider this requirement to be a crucial part of the mission of an institution. In a similar vein, clause (III) indicates it shall promote, "critical and free enquiry", which is very important, as well as, "informed intellectual discourse and public debate within the technological university and its wider society". These are all very important and crucial functions for the technological university.

The Senators are suggesting these contributions to the promotion of the economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological development of the State, respecting diversity and promoting critical and free inquiry should be simply removed from the Bill. The provisions I have just cited are very important and fundamental in the context of the technological university performing its functions. Therefore, I cannot support their wholesale removal.

The Senators' alternative wording includes the words "creativity, autonomy, innovation, and engaged citizenship". As I outlined on Committee Stage, these are well covered elsewhere in the Bill. The proposed deletion of clauses (I), (II) and (III) in this subparagraph would lead to an imbalance in the section that I do not accept. Therefore, I cannot currently accept amendment No. 5.

Amendment No. 6 deals with the Irish language. As set out in the programme for Government, the Irish language is of critical importance to our heritage and culture. The programme for Government requires the systematic implementation of the 20-year strategy for the Irish language for 2010 to 2030, to increase the number of people using Irish in their daily lives and to ensure that Irish becomes a more visible language in today's society, both spoken and in areas like signage and literature. As set out in the current Action Plan for Education 2018, which we launched two weeks ago, the Department of Education and Skills is working with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to advance the education elements of the 20-year strategy for the Irish language, including in the third level sector.

In the overarching context of a national policy for higher education, an tÚdarás, or the Higher Education Authority, is legally required under the Higher Education Authority Act 1971, in performing its functions, to constantly bear in mind the national aims of restoring the Irish language and preserving and developing the national culture. It shall endeavour to promote the attainment of these aims.

In regard to the performance of the function in this context, the HEA, an tÚdarás, interacts with the higher education institutions through the system performance framework, including the authority's strategic dialogue and performance compacts with individual institutions. Third level institutions and third level education, through the medium of Irish, needs to be of high quality and delivered in a strategic and co-ordinated way.

These institutions also need to provide for a diverse range of disciplines in response to market requirements for graduates who are proficient in the language and possess a specific skill set. Higher educational institutions are independent bodies and the academic council within each educational institution controls the academic affairs, including the curriculum provided. In the performance of their functions, technological universities shall have regard to policies of the Government, including education and training policies and educational policies related to the furtherance of the 20 year strategy of the Irish language for 2010 to 2030.

At the outset I stated that the Irish language is of critical importance to our heritage and culture. The Technological Universities Bill is unequivocal in seeking to ensure the cultural development and cultural links that are promoted by a technological university. For example, section 9(1)(k)(i) of the Bill provides that one of the functions of a technological university shall be to to serve the community and public interest by "developing and promoting strong social and cultural links ... between the technological university and the community in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located". Section 9(1)(k)(iii)(V) provides that a technological university shall foster close and effective relationships with "organisations representing the social, creative and cultural interests of the community in the region in which the campuses of the technological university are located".

Section 9(1)(k)(iv) provides that technological universities, in so far as is possible in the performance of their functions, shall contribute to "the promotion of the economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological development of the State" and respect "the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish society". Ar an slat tomhais, is gné tábhachtach d'aidhmeanna aon ollscoil teicneolaíochta an cultúr a chur chun cinn agus a fhorbairt, ina measc sin, an gné is bunúsaí dár gcultúr - an Ghaeilge. Sa chomhthéacs seo, ní ghlacaim leis an leasú.

On a point of clarification, I believe-----

I can only allow a point of order. I cannot allow a point of clarification.

It is a point of order.

It is not a point of order.

The Senator just said it was a point of clarification, so it is not a point of order.

It is a point of order because I believe the Minister of State attributed to Senator Norris an intention to remove those sections.

That is not a point of order.

As I understand it, that is not the intention.

Senator Norris is the only one allowed to make a point at this point.

Perhaps he will be able to clarify the situation because there may have been a drafting error.

I call Senator Norris to conclude.

First, I compliment the Minister on her intellectual agility. She says the Irish language is of critical importance. It is of such importance it is not mentioned once in the Bill. That is very important, indeed. In fact, I think I will have to sit down at the extraordinary impact of the importance of the Irish language which is not referred to at all in the Bill. Not once. The Minister of State drags in all kinds of secondary legislation to support the implication that Irish is here, there and everywhere else. It is nowhere in the Bill and what we are speaking to is the Bill. We are not speaking about communities on the Aran Islands or those who think Údarás na Gaeltachta is a wonderful organisation. We are talking about the Irish language but this is something the Minister of State has significantly failed to do, which shows the critical importance of Irish. It is a charade. It is a complete and utter nonsense. Why do we not take down the green flag from the masthead if we are not prepared to accept that Irish is the first official language of the State?

The Senator's amendment does not say anything about the Irish language.

Of course it does not, darling. Senator O'Sullivan's amendment does, however, and that is what I am talking about.

Senator Norris's amendment does not though, and he is speaking to his one.

No, I am not. Now here is another conundrum. Senator Coffey knows what I am talking about. He knows my intentions. God help us. He must be a product of Waterford technological university.

Yes, indeed. Very smart.

I have to say that Senator Norris is being very smart today. I object to that. It is not a nice thing to say.

We will have the niceness police now.

The Senator is being very rude to us all today.

Senator Norris, to continue.

Let me turn to Senator Murnane O'Connor since she has so unwisely drawn attention to herself.

Do I see a little bit of snobbery here, Senator?

She has faked moral courage. She persuaded Fianna Fáil to abstain and I salute her for it but, if I may pay him a compliment, the Acting Chairman was 100% right that she was wandering all over the place. She was nowhere near the amendment at all but I respect the fact that she was making a strong parochial case for Carlow. She ignored the substance of the debate which is about the ethos.

I have said many times during the course of the debate that I recognise colleges such as those in Waterford and Carlow because they have extended the range of activities way beyond the merely commercial and technological.

Would the Senator like me to sit down?

Have we a Trinity snob here?

Senator Norris to conclude, without interruption.

I thought the idea of Trinity snobbery was done away with. Perhaps we should hear Senator Ruane on Trinity snobbery. Perhaps it is just-----

Sorry, Senator Norris. Please conclude on amendments Nos. 5 and 6.

Let me just say to the Minister of State that I have no problem with leaving in clauses (I), (II) and (III). Let me give her that concession. We will give her clauses (I), (II) and (III) because there is nothing wrong with them. They are absolutely fine. Let us leave in clauses (I), (II) and (III) but talk about the ethos as being one that "supports entrepreneurship, creativity, autonomy, innovation, and engaged citizenship". The whole point of the question at issue is the primary role given by this legislation to entrepreneurship because the ethos governs everything.

Senator Murnane O'Connor-----

I have to make that clear. We know what ethos means. He is speaking to us like we are in the classroom.

Senator Murnane O'Connor is not entitled to keep interrupting Senator Norris.

She would never get into my class.

Wrong background altogether.

We know what ethos means.

On a point of order, is it possible to change a line number at which an element is inserted? Can that be clarified by the clerk perhaps?

The amendments that have been tabled are the amendments to be discussed.

Is there any discretion on where the line is inserted?

There is no discretion on the amendments. The amendments that have been tabled have been tabled and they are as they are.

It seems that there has been an inadvertent drafting error in terms of where it is positioned and its impact on clauses (I), (II) and (III). I just wanted to clarify if it was possible to change it.

It is not possible at this stage.

Can it be changed on Final Stage?

It can be changed on Final Stage.

Is that a possibility? Could we get clarification on that?

A drafting error can be changed on Final Stage.

There would be scope for drafting corrections on Final Stage. There is very limited scope but they can be made by the clerk. Does Senator Norris wish to come back in?

The Acting Chairman has placed me in a quandary. Is the Acting Chairman saying that this can be altered on Final Stage?

A comma in the wrong place can perhaps be corrected. Only very minor drafting errors can be corrected.

On a point of order, the amendment states that it is "to delete all words from and including 'functions—' in line 24 down". I therefore do not think there is the possibility to do what the Senators are saying.

I just wanted to clarify it.

The amendments are as they are and they either stand or fall depending on the will of the House.

I am shocked Senator Norris did not know that. I knew it.

This debate is concluding in 11 minutes.

Is the Senator speaking as a Murnane or as an O'Connor or just an ignorant bystander?

I am speaking as Murnane O'Connor.

Double barrelled Ms Murnane O'Connor is accusing me of snobbery. I do not have a hyphen in my name.

Senator Norris, are you concluding?

I have concluded and I am calling for a vote.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 25.

  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kelleher, Colette.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Norris, David.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Warfield, Fintan.


  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Horkan, Gerry.
  • Lawless, Billy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lombard, Tim.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators David Norris and Grace O'Sullivan; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony.
Amendment declared lost.
Debate adjourned.