asked the Minister for Education if he is aware that Cumann na nGaedheal meetings are being held, and were held, in the National School, Breaghy, and in the National School, Ballinalee, in the parish of Clonbroney, County Longford; whether it is the policy of his Department to allow political party meetings to be held in National Schools; and, if so, whether he will order that National Schools be made available for meetings of all political parties.
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - POLITICAL MEETINGS AND NATIONAL SCHOOLS.
I have communicated with the manager of the schools referred to, and he has replied that no political meetings have been or are being held in these schools. He states that, in connection with the formation of credit societies and the provision of loans to farmers, permission was asked to discuss these matters with the priests in the schools. Further, more recently the unemployed labourers and some farmers made a similar request for the use of the schools in connection with the allocation of the £150,000 grant. These requests were acceded to by the manager, and he opened his schools to his people of all shades of opinion.
It is not proposed to withdraw the regulation which prohibits the holding of political meetings in National Schools.
Is the Minister aware that these meetings are advertised in the local paper, that the Cumann na nGaedheal political representative attends them and that they are also advertised on the chapel gates for weeks?
Is the Minister aware that these meetings were convened for the purpose of considering unemployment that existed in the district, that they were convened at the instigation of the people principally concerned, and that the public representatives of the district were invited to attend those meetings to give their views upon the matter? Some of the public representatives did attend, others did not. I would like to know the reason why Deputy Killane did not attend.
Nothing that Deputy Killane has said or that Deputy Connolly has said conflicts in any way with the answer I have given.
Will the Minister for Education see that the schools are available in the same way for every political organisation just as well as for Cumann na nGaedheal?
There is an implication in that quite at variance with the answer which I gave and which was based on the information given me by the manager of the school. I have no reason whatever to cast the slightest doubt on the information given me by the manager.
I wish to ask the Minister does he deny that meetings have been held in these schools under the auspices of the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation?
I have no information whatsoever of the kind. If the Deputy listened to the answer he would see that quite clearly. In the supplementary questions that was not even stated.
Is the Minister for Education incapable of getting the information?
I am afraid the Deputy does not know much about the management of schools. The schools do not belong to the Minister for Education. I asked the manager of the schools, who represents the trustees of the schools, whether political meetings were held and he says no. He describes the kind of meetings that were held and I have no reason whatever to doubt his word.