Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Teaching of Irish.

32.

asked the Minister for Education if his Department is prepared to recommend a referendum on the suitability of the present system of teaching the Irish language.

If, as would appear to be so, the Deputy has in mind the fact that the study of Irish is obligatory in the case of all Irish pupils then I would refer him to my replies to similar questions on the 3rd March, 1971, and 1st December, 1971. If, on the other hand, he is referring to the methods used in the teaching of Irish these are matters for study by experts in the field of linguistics. Continuing studies in this regard are in fact being carried out.

Would the Minister not agree that the present policy creates great difficulty for some children who are deprived of their leaving certificate because they fail Irish in the examination? Are we not discriminating against these children?

I would not accept that we are discriminating against them. We want to ascertain whether there are any grounds for the allegations that are being made. It has been alleged that making a pass in Irish essential for the award of the leaving certificate is hindering rather than helping the restoration of the language. This can be answered only if and when a deep study has been carried out into the pros and cons of the whole situation. That is being done now.

May I ask the Minister——

I am calling Question No. 33.

The Ceann Comhairle should not mind my asking a further supplementary. Last week the Chair got away lightly when I asked only two supplementaries on seven questions. Would the Minister not consider modifying the arrangement so as to allow children to obtain their leaving certificate without Irish being included?

No change will be made unless and until I am satisfied that the language would gain by doing so.

Meanwhile, children must be discriminated against.

I do not accept that there is discrimination.

Those who fail Irish will not be able to get the certificate.

They will get a statement of their results.