Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 31 May 1939

Vol. 76 No. 3

Vote 28—Universities and Colleges.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £81,180 chun slánuithe na suime is ga chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1940, chun Deontaisí d'Ollscoileanna agus do Choláistí (8 Edw. 7, c. 38; Uimh. 42 de 1923; Uimh. 32 de 1926; Uimh. 35 de 1929; agus Uimh. 27 de 1934).

That a sum not exceeding £81,180 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, 1940, for Grants to Universities and Colleges (8 Edw. 7, c. 38; No. 42 of 1923; No. 32 of 1926; No. 35 of 1929; and No. 27 of 1934).

I should like to raise a question on this Estimate that I feel I rather raised in vain with the Minister for Education on the Education Estimate. It is part of the general policy of the State to restore the Irish language as the normal language of as large a section of the people as is possible in the shortest possible time, and it is alleged that a large part of our educational policy has been directed to that end. I pointed out to the Minister for Education that one of the gaps in the review of the work being done in the shcools occurs between the secondary schools and the Universities. I suggested that the staffs in the Universities who deal with Irish are in a very pivotal position to estimate the linguistic capacity in Irish for the purpose of receiving further educational instruction through the medium of the language, and that there are no people better placed to estimate the extent and quality of the real work towards bringing the secondary school pupils to the point at which they have a real, vital, living grip of the language than are the people dealing with the Irish faculties in the Universities.

I asked the Minister for Education to arrange for collaboration, or to arrange for conferences, informal, if necessary, between the Irish staffs in the universities and some of the inspectors or people in the Department of Education who are specially responsible for superintending the secondary schools. The Minister for Education has gone no distance either in accepting the argument which I made that that contact is desirable or that there should be a review of the work in the secondary schools by people so advantageously placed as the teaching staffs in the universities. I know that there is an appreciation of the situation, and that there is a certain amount of information and advice that could be got by the Minister for Education from the people in the universities. It is absurd, to my mind, to see money added to the funds of the universities specially for looking after Irish and for giving instruction through the medium of Irish in a wide range of subjects, and to pull down the blind so completely and so ignorantly between the universities and the secondary schools in the way in which it is being done.

I should like to ask the Minister for Finance, when asking us to pass certain sums for the development of modern Irish language work, and for the carrying on of the work of the Irish language generally in the universities, what he thinks he is asking this money for. Is it not to bring about a position in the universities, so that Irish will be used over a certain range of work where students are qualified to take instruction through the medium of Irish, and that Irish will be used, to some extent in that way, and to an ever increasing extent from year to year? If it is for that, why this sharp cutting off of any consultation between those in the Department of Education who are directing a policy in the secondary schools, and in the primary schools, which is alleged to be intended to bring about a better speaking capacity in the Irish language, and a better grip for the Irish language, to deal with the ordinary affairs of life? The thing seems to me to be so absurd and so impossible of understanding, that I found it difficult to raise the matter. I raised it in this form to ask the Minister for Finance what he thinks he is passing this money for, and whether he thinks the power of the children reaching the universities from the secondary schools to transact their work in Irish, or to accept instruction in Irish, is not a very important part of the scheme. If that is so, why should there not be some consultation to-day, either between the people responsible for the conduct of secondary schools, and those responsible for supervising them, and people in the universities who are expected to handle the material that comes from the secondary schools to the universities, and give them instruction through the medium of Irish?

I think the Deputy misconceives my function in regard to the universities. I have, in fact, no function with regard to them.

What is the Minister asking us to give them money for Irish purposes for?

I am asking the Dáil to give these moneys because the Dáil has already decided by statute that these amounts are to be paid to the Universities.

Surely the annual passing of the money is the occasion for seeing whether the purpose of the statute is being carried out.

I think, perhaps, that could be raised more effectively on the Vote of the Minister for Education.

It is now we are passing this money.

The Deputy has to bear in mind the limitations which are imposed even on the Minister for Finance. Candidly, I should like that the question the Deputy raised could be discussed here in the Dáil, but that touches the autonomy of the Universities—an issue which was raised in a very acute way five or six years ago. My function in relation to the Universities begins and ends by seeing that the necessary money is provided to implement the provisions of the relevant statutes. There are several statutes. There is the original University Act, there is an additional grant under the Irish University Act, 1905, a grant to Trinity College under Section 15 of the Land Act, and an annual grant under sub-section (1) of the Dublin University Act, and it is to give effect to the provisions of these statutes that this money is submitted to the Dáil. I have no discretion in the matter, and I do not feel that I am at liberty to discuss the point which the Deputy has raised. It is one relating entirely to the question of education. I am not the Minister responsible for that Department of State, and I do not think I could with any sort of decorum or discretion, enter into a discussion on the matter which the Deputy raised.

It is an extraordinary thing that while futile and highfalutin' nonsense is talked about the Irish language by Ministers, both here and on platforms, when any matter vitally concerning the real organic machinery, without which we cannot bring back the Irish language, is raised, we are sent from Billy to Jack.

I think the Deputy has got the chance to make his statement, and possibly that will suffice.

Question put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.40 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 1st.