That a sum not exceeding £13,400 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, 1961, for a Grant to An Chomhairle Ealaíon (No. 9 of 1951).
The report and accounts of An Chomhairle for the year ended 31st March last have been presented separately to the Oireachtas. I am sure they have been studied by Deputies who are interested in the work of the Comhairle and that there is no need for me now to comment on them in detail.
Deputies are aware that the Right Reverend Monsignor Pádraig de Brún who was appointed on 1st November last to fill the then vacant post of Director of the Comhairle died last month. His death was a very real loss to the nation and to Irish scholarship and, in a very particular way, to An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Go ndeana Dia trochaire ar a anam.
Monsignor de Brún had, I know, some very definite ideas regarding the development of the activities of An Chomhairle and I had arranged to meet him, with the other members, to discuss these, prior to his fatal illness. Because of his death, that meeting did not take place.
The Reverend Donal O'Sullivan, S.J., who was formerly a member of An Chomhairle, has since been appointed Director. In Father O'Sullivan we have, I think, another Director of outstanding qualifications and I am sure that An Chomhairle, under his guidance, will play an increasingly important rôle in stimulating interest in, and promoting knowledge and appreciation of, the Arts and in all the other purposes of An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
The vacancy amongst the ordinary members, which was created by the appointment of Father O'Sullivan as Director, has been filled by the appointment of Dr. C.S. Andrews. Otherwise, the membership has remained unchanged. I think I should tell the House that I told Father O'Sullivan, when discussing with him the matter of his nomination as Director, that the only possible objection to his selection was that the appointment of two clerics in succession might be regarded as setting a pattern. I did not think that was a very serious objection and the outstanding qualifications of both Monsignor de Brún and Father O'Sullivan give all the explanation that is required. When the next Director comes to be appointed, whoever has then the responsibility will be free to select the best qualified person available and need not consider himself bound, or committed in any way, by what has been done.
As I said, I do not propose to deal with the work of An Chomhairle during the year. It is fairly fully recorded in the annual report but, in view of a discussion which we had on this Estimate last year, I think I should mention that recently the measures in operation to improve the quality of Irish industrial designs were examined by the Economic Development Branch of the Department of Finance. That examination showed that, while An Chomhairle Ealaíon was not able to do very much in that field, another Government organisation. An Córas Tráchtála, was very actively engaged in encouraging development. The view of the Economic Development Branch, with which I agree, is that it would be desirable formally to release. An Chomhairle Ealaíon from obligation to extend its activities in respect of industrial design and to make it clear that An Córas Tráchtála is the main Government agency dealing with it. The scholarship in industrial design, which An Chomhairle Ealaíon has offered, was awarded this year. The arrangements for the continuation of that scholarship is one of the matters now receiving attention.
Although it may not be entirely relevant to this Estimate, I think Deputies may be interested in knowing the position in regard to the Lane pictures. Before the pictures could be put on display in the Municipal Art Gallery, certain alterations were required there. These alterations, which include the installation of security arrangements, fire and burglary alarm systems, will I am informed, be completed in October and it is probable, therefore, that the first lot of the Lane pictures will be on display there about November next.
One final matter I shall mention. Consideration has been given for some time past to the general question of the suitability of all our existing arrangements for the promotion of cultural activities and to the possibility of improving these arrangements. No decisions have yet been taken and I do not now wish to indicate what the decisions may be, but it is possible that some changes in the character and scope of the activities of An Chomhairle Ealaíon may be involved. I asked that certain reports should be prepared and these have now, I understand, been completed even though I have not seen them, but I hope during the Recess to be able to devote some time to that subject which, I think, is in need of attention. Indeed, that need has been recognised for many years past.