Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 9 Jun 1926

Vol. 16 No. 7


I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £94,800 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1927, chun Deontaisí i gCabhair do Chostaisí Fúndúireachtaí Príomh-Scoile, maraon le Deontaisí fén Irish Universities Act, 1908, agus fén Act Talmhan, 1923.

That a sum not exceeding £94,800 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for Grants in Aid of the Expenses of University Institutions, including Grants under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and the Land Act, 1923.

Deputies will notice, as regards sub-head A, that there is no change. The statutory grants are, for the present, included as they have been in the past. In regard to sub-head B, "Additional Grants," there is set down for University College, Dublin, a sum of £34,000, but that only represents part of the year's provision. The transfer of the functions of the College of Science to University College, Dublin, will not actually take place until 1st October, or thereabouts. There is a partial provision to the College of Science under its own heading and there is a partial provision here. The annual sum represented by the £34,000 is £50,000, which is made up of the two parts. We dissected the expenditure that fell under the heading of the College of Science, and we found that the non-agricultural part of the College of Science cost, annually, £32,000, so that that sum goes to University College, Dublin.

Heretofore, between additional grants of a recurrent character and what was called a non-recurrent grant, though it recurred several times, £20,000 went to University College, Dublin. That is a total of £52,000, but we are actually reducing that sum to £50,000. That means that University College, Dublin, including the College of Science, for the future, will get an annual sum less by £2,000 than what has been paid for the work of the two institutions in the past. On the other hand, we are giving to University College a lump sum of £25,000 to pay off the debt which arose out of the fact that building prices went up during the war and a heavy overdraft remained and interest charged accrued. We will not, however, lose the whole of the £25,000 because, under the provisions of the Bill which was introduced to-day, certain houses which were bought by the Senate of the University will be sold and the proceeds of the sale will revert to the Exchequer. We are estimating that in that way we will get a sum of £10,000, so that there will be a net advance under this, so far as Dublin is concerned, of something like £15,000, and there is a reduction in the annual grant of £2,000, when we take the College of Science and University College, Dublin, together.

By reason of the amalgamation it will be possible for the institution to effect some savings at once and effect further savings as vacancies occur and as a certain amount of duplication can be eliminated at no cost to the State a certain substantial sum will ultimately accrue to the University for the development of its work. In regard to University College, Cork, there is an increase, as compared with last year, of £8,000. University College, Cork, since the value of money has fallen so sharply, has not been able to carry on on the sums it was receiving from the State. It is a college, of course, which has developed substantially since the original endowment was fixed. It had, originally, £20,000, and it was given, in recent years, £12,000 additional, or a total sum of £32,000. It has not been possible for the College to carry on on that sum and, as a matter of fact, there was a deficit last year of over £4,000.

Owing to the great increase in the cost of living, the staff had to be given bonuses and the non-salaried staff had very substantial increases in their wages, so that the general costs have gone up, with the result that within the last three years or so the college in Cork accumulated a debt of about £15,000, which we propose to wipe out. That does not represent the entire debt due by the college in Cork. There is another substantial sum due which arose out of the purchase of playing fields, but our view is that the college itself should find a means of wiping off that debt. Actually, it requires an increase of something like £5,000 in order to enable the Cork college to pay its way and carry on without being obliged to fall into debt. There were necessary developments in the work there which required additional sums. Owing to the general State policy with regard to the teaching of Irish and the increased use of the national language, it was necessary that the college should make certain additional provisions for the teaching of Irish and for the teaching of subjects through the medium of Irish, so that the teachers going out, either to primary or secondary schools, should have a command and control of the language which would not be obtained by the mere teaching of Irish, but which necessitated a certain amount of education through Irish. That necessitated an addition of £1,500 or £2,000 to the sum by which it was necessary to increase the annual grant. An additional £1,500 or £2,000 was given for the general purposes of the college and to enable it to develop its work as it was found necessary to do so.

The colleges in Dublin and Cork have agreed that they will make no further application to the State for increased moneys for a period of at least five years and that they will definitely carry on their work without piling up debts which they might look to the State to liquidate at a later date. I feel this increase is an increase which is not excessive. It is an increase which was due, having regard to the development of the colleges, the increase in the number of students, the fall in the value of money, and the consequently increased charges upon the institutions.

The Committee will notice that there is an increase in this Estimate of £62,000. As the Estimate shows, and as the Minister's statement indicates, this increase, with a promise of further increases, will go to two of the three constituent colleges of the National University There is no reference in the Minister's statement or in the Estimate to any provision being made for the third college, Galway College. I think Galway College and those who represent the West of Ireland have a right to make strong complaint relative to the attitude of the Government. This is not the first time that complaints of this kind have been made, and deservedly made.

The Minister spoke of certain developments in regard to Cork College, especially in the matter of Irish, and he gave that as one of the reasons why an increased grant should go to Cork. He spoke of the necessities of the colleges both in Cork and Dublin. Far be it from me to object to substantial grants being made to Cork or Dublin; but when it is a question of giving grants according to the necessities of the case, there should not be any unfair discrimination against the western college. There is talk of necessity, but surely, if it is a case of necessity, the necessity in the case of Galway College is greater than the necessity of either Cork or Dublin Colleges. Figures have been submitted to the Minister and members of the Government to show that a necessity does exist in Galway College. The salaries paid to the professors in Galway are not anything approaching the salaries paid in Dublin or Cork. They are all connected with the one University and the standard for Dublin, Cork and Galway is the same. They are expected to do as good work in Galway, yet they pay the smallest salaries to their professors.

That has an obvious result. There is always a drag, as it were, on Galway. They cannot afford to keep a good man; they cannot afford to give him a salary which would keep him, and Dublin and Cork will be competing for him. Then the vicious circle begins. The Minister or the Government will say to Galway: "Why do you not do something big or special?" They cannot do anything big or special so long as they are starved, and they are starved because they cannot do anything big or special. You have the thing going in a circle, as it were That is what the Galway people rightly complain of.

This matter was under discussion before and certain proposals were made which have now eventuated. Not alone are substantial grants being given to Cork and Dublin, but a new Faculty of Agriculture is being established in Dublin—they are taking over the College of Science and the Albert Agricultural College—and a new Faculty of Science is being established in Cork. When these proposals were adumbrated some years ago during a debate which occurred in connection with the College of Science, an indication was given of the Government's intention in regard to Galway. Some time ago they were asked what proposals they were prepared to make and a committee was set up on which the Government appointed a representative and on which there were representatives of the Gaelic League and others. Certain conclusions were come to by that committee, and the governing body of the college agreed to adopt its report and take whatever steps were necessary to put the recommendations arrived at into operation. But they can only do that if they are financed. We are now asked to pass this Vote and there is no definite word from the Minister as to what provision, if any, he is going to make in connection with Galway College.

I believe the people of Galway the governing body of the college and the people all over the province of Connaught are at one in this matter. They feel the Government has not given a fair deal to the Galway College. There are people who say that this is only one indication of the fact that since this Government came into existence Connaught has been completely forgotten.

The West's asleep.


The West is being gradually put to sleep.

They are getting plenty of land.


I wish the Deputy were there to see the land and observe what they are being asked to pay for it. Under the old regime it was recognised that the western province was suffering from natural disadvantages, and it was a matter for the Government to make up, as far as it could, for these natural disadvantages. Since our own Government came into control that seems to be forgotten, and it seems to be the policy that if Galway College is a poor college, and if its resources are limited, then it must remain so. It is "to those who have much, much shall be given"—that seems to be the policy of the Government with regard to the constituent colleges. I think it is right that, as representative for the district and as a member of the governing body of the College, I should enter a protest.

Ní maith liom a thabhairt faoi deara nach bhfuil Coláiste na h-Ollsgoile i nGaillimh ag fágháil chothruim san Meastachán seo le Coláisdí Atha Chliath agus Chorcaigh. Níilim-se i gcoinne airgead ar leith le h-aghaidh oideachas ar thalmhuídheacht, a thabhairt do Choláisdí Atha Chliath agus Chorcaigh, acht san am céadna ceapaim nach bhfuil sé ceart, cóir no feileamhnach dearmad uilig a dhéanamh ar aon airgead a thabhairt do Choláiste na Gaillimhe. Tá cineál ar leith thalmhuídheachta agus feilmearachta in go leór áiteacha i gConnacht, thar mar tá aca i roinneanna eile den tír, agus ar an adhbhar sin, ba chóir rud éicint a dhéanamh le h-eolas a bheadh feilteach dóibh i ngnóthaí thalmhuídheachta a thabhairt do aos leighinn i gColáisde na Gaillimhe. Níl a fhios agam an é an fáth é, go bhfuil Connachta i bhfad as láthair, no bhfuil an Chúige go bocht go bhfuil an Rialtas ag déanamh eagcora ar a Coláisde i dtaobh airgead. Tá sean-rádh ann a deireas:

"An té atá thuas óltar deoch air, As an té atá thíos buailtear cos air."

Cebi caoi an bhfuil an sgéal, tá sinne, na Teachtaí ón Iarthar, ag iarraidh cirt agus chothruim a fhágháil dár gColáisde, agus geallaim don Dáil go mbeigh gleo ann muna bhfaighmís sin.

I want to say a few words in support of the claim put forward by Deputy O'Connell in relation to Galway College. The Deputy has put forward a very good case for sympathetic consideration of the claim of Galway College. The college is in the same rank as the colleges at Cork and Dublin and, that being so, surely it is very unfair for the Government to take up the attitude it has assumed towards Galway? The professors in Dublin are paid a certain amount and the professors in Cork are equally paid, but the scale of pay for the professors in Galway College is much below what I might call the economic level. It is a matter of public knowledge that these men are not half paid. That is a very serious position, and I am surprised that the Government does not treat them more generously. Anyone going to Galway, and seeing the college for themselves and its equipment, can realise in what a poor way it is. Sympathy for Galway College is not confined to Galway City and the county of Galway. The entire province of Connaught takes the deepest interest in the welfare of the college. Students go there from all parts of the province. We think that the future of the college should be secured in some way. Deputy O'Máille suggested that an agricultural faculty might be established there. I know nothing about that subject, and I do not suggest that, but I think it is up to the Government to find a specialised programme for this college.

A future for Galway College was indicated in the Dáil on a previous occasion by a former Minister for Education. If we believe that it is possible to restore the language of the nation, we should at least see that one of our Universities made a special study of the Irish language. No one can say that the language is getting particular fair play in the two other colleges. In fact, the reverse is the case in at least one of them. It has been suggested that the college in Galway might be selected for the special teaching of Irish, not for the teaching of other subjects through Irish, but for the study of the living Irish language and for its dialects. If that were done the college would make a name for itself. You would have people interested in the Irish language, in Europe and America, coming there to see for themselves what was being done for the language. Irish as a living language is spoken on the streets of Galway to-day. Everyone who visits Galway knows that. We were told also that there might be a future for the college in connection with the training of national teachers. I only mention that to indicate that in more ways than one work might be found for the college. One might say that the college should be either closed or put on its feet financially. I would not put it that way because the closing of Galway College is unthinkable. I hope the Minister will give sympathetic consideration to the many appeals made to him on behalf of Galway College and of the province, and that he will look into this matter.

Did I understand Deputy Sears to say that he objected to Irish being used as a language for teaching subjects in Galway University?

What I urged was that the college should be made a centre for the study of Irish. I did not urge that Galway College should specialise in teaching other subjects through Irish. I have no objection to that, but I did not urge it. I think I see a future for the college in one way more surely than I do in another, and that is my only reason for saying that.

As an outsider, and with no particular interest in Galway, I must say that the speeches of the last three Deputies were very convincing. Out of a sum of nearly £170,000 which is being devoted to universities and colleges, little more than 10 per cent., or less than £19,000, is to be spent in the province of Connacht. All the rest is to be spent in Dublin and Cork. I think the Deputies who have spoken made a very good case in favour of better provision being made for Galway University.

There is one matter I would like to draw the Minister's attention to, and that is the absence in Ireland of an adequate University Press. A University Press is very essential if our universities are to maintain any kind of reputation for scholarship. The reputation of many universities throughout the world is kept up by their University Presses. Up to fifteen or twenty years ago the University Press of the Queen's College produced very fine books up to the best level of books produced elsewhere. At present that is no longer the case, and through a lack of funds and of modern appliances there is at the present time no adequate University Press in the Irish Free State. Irish scholars, as the Minister well knows, have to go abroad in order to get their works properly produced, with the result that other universities and other countries get the benefit of their work and scholarship. I submit to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Education that this is a matter of the utmost importance in connection with our universities. I hope that in the course of the next year some effort will be made to see if there is any means whereby at least one proper University Press can be set up in this country.

Arising out of what Deputy Esmonde has said, I desire to call the attention of the Deputy and of the House to the fact that in the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture there also appears sums amounting to £69,822 for University Colleges, Dublin and Cork, and that there is none for Galway. That makes the discrimination against Galway all the greater.

I have just two short remarks to make. Deputy Esmonde, if he makes inquiries, will find that the University Press of Trinity College is still functioning. The other point I want to make is, that I heard with pleasure one remark made by the Minister for Finance in which he admitted that it is not to be expected that a University can carry on its work properly at the present day on its pre-war income.

I desire to support the appeal that has been made by other Deputies on behalf of Galway University. For some few years past deputations have been coming up here approaching the Minister for funds to enable the authorities to keep the college open. As Deputy Esmonde has shown, less than 10 per cent. of the sum to be voted for universities and colleges is to be given to the province of Connaught. Galway University has turned out men as well qualified as men turned out by the other universities to hold high positions. I might mention, in connection with the Shannon scheme, that the chief engineer now acting for the Government was one of the professors of Galway University, while several of its engineering students are also engaged on the same scheme. That is something in favour of Galway University. I think it is not fair to the people of the province of Connaught that they should have to be coming to the Government every other day in order to get funds to keep the college open. Certain faculties are given to the other colleges, and I suppose they deserve them, but I think that Galway University deserves more than it is getting from the Government.

I did not refer to Galway because we have no provision in the Estimate as it stands for any change. Deputy Sears spoke of a specialised programme for Galway College. I believe that the college could do work of great national value. If in some respects it has disadvantages from its situation, in other respects it has definite and concrete advantages, and I think that the college and the State ought to avail of those advantages and do the kind of work, especially work in relation to the Irish language, which Galway could do. But it is not merely a matter for the Government. It is a matter for the college to think out proposals and to put them up. There was a Commission, composed mainly of representatives of Galway College, set up. That Commission presented a report, but I think anybody who read it could not fail to see that it was a disappointing document. It did not, to my mind, indicate that the authorities of the college were really in earnest about the question. They are quite in earnest about the question of getting money, but I do not know that they are at all in earnest about the question of doing special work which would entitle them to money. If they would, perhaps, take that remark to heart we might get somewhere.

If Galway is not going to do special work, then frankly as far as I am concerned I do not think it would be a wise course—it might be politically the only possible course to maintain it—to maintain it as a sort of toy college unless it does special work. On the other hand, if it does special work, and if the people concerned will give their minds to devising a scheme and the best method for doing this special work that the college can do, I do not think they will find the Government so difficult to deal with. It was intimated to them a considerable time ago that if something were put up to us which really indicated that the college was going to set about adapting itself to the new conditions and fitting itself to avail of new opportunities that we would meet them. I think some little progress has been made in that way. No progress had been made at the time these Estimates were being framed. There was certainly nothing before the Government that would have justified us in making a change in the Estimates so far as Galway was concerned at that time. I am not sure that there is anything yet, but perhaps there may be when the Estimates for next year come to be framed. There are certain things that have already been said to the representatives of the college. These are that the income that it has, and which is partly conditional, would be assured to it, but beyond that I do not think it is at all possible to go at the moment.

What is being done for Dublin is not costing the Government anything. Although Dublin is getting the advantage, another institution is being incorporated in the Dublin College, and so far as fresh expenditure is concerned we really are doing nothing for Dublin by paying out money and by making new arrangements. We are definitely doing something for Cork. Cork, as a matter of fact, even on the question of Irish, got ahead of Galway. They actually put proposals up to us before Galway put them up. Generally, it seemed to me to be rather more alert and rather more in earnest about the business.

Looking for money?

Not looking for money, but in doing the right and proper and necessary things in order to get money. I admit that it is not right merely to say to Galway: "Do something, even although you have no money for it, and we will see about it afterwards." It is realised further that on its present resources Galway College could not start in and develop new schemes. That is clear enough. I am not satisfied that it really cares a great lot about the Irish language at all. I am not sure, taking the whole body of the authorities of Galway, that they realise that if there is to be a future before that college it must make itself a distinctive and a special institution, and it ought to do work that cannot be done in the same way, or that cannot be done so effectively, elsewhere.

The Minister has spoken much on the same lines as he and other representatives of the Government have spoken from time to time of Galway University College, and its authorities. He spoke of the College not putting up any special schemes but when they do put up schemes and show that in order to carry out these schemes certain expenditure is necessary, no provision is made for that expenditure.

Perhaps the Deputy might say when they put up a scheme.


I am just going to tell the Minister. It is some considerable time ago since they suggested that an Agricultural Faculty should be established in connection with Athenry College. Cold water was thrown on them. University College, Galway, was told it had no resources and owing to its situation and other reasons there was no use in looking for development along that line. The Minister spoke of "a sort of a Commission" that was set up. If it was "a sort of a Commission" with all the inferences that might be drawn from it the Government was responsible for it.

I was not sure that it was a committee or a commission, or what it was called. I withdraw anything that may be taken to be offensive. In fact it was a conference.


I only wanted to say that evidently, from the way the Minister spoke of it, he did not think very much of it, but such as it was it was the Government that was responsible for setting it up. He did not think much of their conclusions either, especially with regard to the matter of Irish. I gathered that from him. There were very many prominent members of the Gaelic League and prominent exponents of the language who signed their names to this report. So far as I would be concerned I would not pretend to question the conclusions, so far as the welfare of the Irish language would be concerned, that would be advocated by those who attached their signatures to it. That is the position I take up, as it is the position, I am sure, that a great many other people would take up. They came forward with this scheme and pointed out what they thought should be done.

Certain expenditure was necessary for various lectureships, increases of salaries to professors and so on. What the authorities of the college are pleading is: if the Government are not satisfied will they indicate in some way what Galway College ought to do to meet their wishes? The Minister says it is up to the college, but the college has put forward schemes, as I have indicated, and shown their willingness to fall in with the views of the Government. The only definite suggestion I heard from the Government was that the college should give up their medical school. They are not prepared to give up their medical school. They believe there is very good reason for keeping it there. I think it should be noted that the various county councils in Connaught have taken action in support of university education that the county councils in no other province have taken. Not only have they granted scholarships that the county councils grant in the ordinary way, but they have struck a special rate for the University College. That shows the interest that they are taking, and their anxiety to see that this college should get fair treatment from the Government.

The Minister said he believed that the college authorities did not care a great deal about the question of Irish. Proposals have been put up on their behalf and they have asked for a special training college. I do not refer to the latest proposal but to one two years ago, when they asked that teachers doing their third year's course of training should do that course in connection with their college, but none of these things has been acceded to by the Government, and it is not fair now to throw all the blame on them. I maintain that they have done everything that was reasonable and necessary to show that they were anxious and willing, if they were provided with the means, to do special work, especially in connection with the development and teaching of the Irish language. If there is any suggestion the Government deem necessary to make they should make it. I am quite sure that Galway College would be quite willing to meet the Government in that regard. I think it is not fair, when proposals are put up and when they are turned down and no provision made whereby any progress could be reached, to throw all the blame for the alleged want of progress on the University College.

I do not want to answer Deputy O'Connell at length. In regard to the question of the Agricultural Faculty the economics of farming in Connaught might be different, but the scientific facts that students would have to learn would be the same in Connaught as elsewhere. In any case it was definitely decided, as a matter of policy, not to go in for duplication in this matter. Consequently we are not providing for a full Agricultural Faculty in Dublin and a full Agricultural Faculty in Cork. We are having a Faculty of General Agriculture in Dublin and a Faculty of Dairy Science in Cork.


It was suggested by Galway before Cork.

Cork is obviously the place for the Faculty of Dairy Science, and Dublin would also be a better place for a general Faculty of Agriculture than Galway. So I do not think that any complaint can be made because the views put forward on behalf of Galway in that respect were not acceded to. In regard to the other matters, it has been arranged that there shall be further meetings between representatives of the Government and representatives of the College with a view to discussion, and, possibly, we would be able to get progress in that way. I would remind the Deputy that the conference which sat recently did not refer to the Agricultural Faculty.


They have abandoned all hope of that, of course.

Perhaps that is right. In regard to the other matters, I can only say that if a practicable scheme can be evolved, and a scheme which is good in itself, and which can be satisfactorily worked in the college, there is no "down" on University College, Galway, but the facts of the situation must be realised. As it stands, it is not an institution of the importance of University College, Dublin, or University College, Cork. Even if, as the Deputy himself said, it does labour under certain disadvantages, it has now an opportunity because of the national policy in regard to the Irish language. An opportunity is opening up for it. I think it is along that line that we must seek for special work for that college. Search is proceeding. The Deputy could hardly suggest that we had reached a point when this Estimate was being framed when anything could have been done. The report of the conference is only dated 16th April. Even if we had been prepared to say that the report of the conference was a wholly satisfactory and illuminating document, as far as we are concerned, and on the strength of it we would do so and so, it would not be in these Estimates. At the very most it would be a question of a Supplementary Estimate.

I would just like to draw attention to the note at the end of this Estimate—"The accounts of the several universities and colleges will be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, in accordance with Section 7 (6) of the Irish Universities Act, 1908." My only intention is to indicate that the audit that is conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor-General is not similar to the audit of the regular Government accounts. He does not pretend to have the same control of the expenditure, and the items do not come within his check in the same way in respect of the universities and colleges as in respect of the Department Votes. I fear that the note at the foot may be apt to mislead certain Deputies.

Question put and agreed to.