Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 27 Mar 1969

Vol. 239 No. 8

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - College of Art.


asked the Minister for Education what powers will be vested in the proposed council for the College of Art; and if its proposals will be binding.


asked the Minister for Education why the College of Art has not yet reopened.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 50 together. The College of Art has not reopened because of the continued refusal of the students to agree to attend classes. I was prepared to set up a council for the college comprised of the director, five outside persons concerned with art teaching, three representatives of the teachers and three representatives of students. I gave an assurance that any reasonable recommendation that the council might put forward would be implemented as soon as might be practicable. I also agreed to have student/ teacher committees equally composed of students and teachers associated with each of the schools in the college. When they speak of an executive committee the students ignore the fact that under the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, I am responsible to this House for the affairs of the college and also that the secretary of my Department is accountable to the Public Accounts Committee for the moneys expended in the running of the college. I cannot divest myself of my responsibility pending the introduction of legislation which I propose to introduce establishing an autonomous board to govern the college. I feel that in all the circumstances the proposals I have put forward are very reasonable.

Would the Minister agree that his proposals in their present form do not alter the Civil Service control of the College of Art which has been universally condemned in the reports of experts since 1960? The Scandinavian Design Report and other reports have criticised the fact that the College of Art was unique and had little chance of success while it was solely controlled by the Department of Education.

This is precisely what I propose to do. For the first time one tries to do something about the situation but this is all the thanks that one gets. I am now preparing legislation designed to divest myself of this control but this cannot be done overnight. Legislation must take its due course through both Houses of the Oireachtas before it becomes law. In the meantime we propose to set up an advisory council manned in such a way, as I said earlier, to give students equal representation with teachers. This council would be directly responsible to me in the interim period pending the legislation which will divest me and the Department of Education of the control of the College of Art. I might say that I am meeting the students again at 4 o'clock to try to get this very elementary message home to them.

Would the Minister agree that part of the problem stems from a misconception about how long this legislation he refers to may take? Would the Minister further agree that this is a non-contentious matter on which all Parties would agree and that, following the events in UCD, there must be some changes in the governing bodies of all institutes of higher learning allowing for more teacher and pupil representation and that such a Bill could in fact be brought in early in the next session and cleared rapidly?

Having regard to the process of legislation this is something which could be done, I should say, within the next six months.

This is not simply a minor matter. The College of Art is essential to the whole idea of design in Ireland.

Something is now being done about it but this is all the thanks one gets.