Committee on Finance. - Vote 43: Posts and Telegraphs (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £48,619,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the period commencing on the 1st day of April, 1974, and ending on the 31st day of December, 1974, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and of certain other services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.
—(Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.)

I have already answered as well as I could a considerable number of matters raised by Deputies on the Estimate for my Department. I should like to refer to a couple of developments which have occurred since my remarks some time ago.

I spoke then about the question of the national culture in the relevant section of the Broadcasting Act. I have tried to cover the question of what is meant generally by "the national culture" and, in the concluding part of my remarks I should like to discuss Irish language policy with specific reference to the responsibilities of my Department under the Broadcasting Act in relation to the use of Irish in broadcasting. I would also like to amplify some remarks I made earlier about the use of radio.

Since I last spoke the new international telephone exchange was opened. I do not propose to say a great deal about that because I made a statement when opening it setting out its nature and functions. This was published in the Press. As Deputies are aware of it I do not propose to repeat it here.

The new international telephone exchange which was brought into service on 15th June has greatly improved our international telephone service. I should specify, of course, that when I say "international telephone service" I am speaking of the service which links this country with other countries outside these islands and not specifically with the telephone service to Britain. Delays of up to two hours which were experienced at times on some routes up to the time of the opening of the new exchange have been eliminated and there is now a "demand" service. This means that the subscriber can get in touch with the operator immediately. Calls to certain countries which are not served through the international exchange are still being delayed. In these cases we are awaiting completion of circuits or other technical arrangements abroad. We hope that the routes concerned will be served through the new exchange on a nodelay basis within the next few months and some within a matter of days.

I referred in my opening statement to the proposed establishment of a Post Office Users' Council. I am now happy to announce that Mr. A.C. Crichton has accepted my invitation to be chairman of this council. Mr. Crichton is a director of Irish Distillers Limited and a former governor of the Bank of Ireland. I have written to the following organisations asking them to nominate persons for appointment to the council: Consumers' Association of Ireland, Irish Farmers' Association, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Association of Chambers of Commerce of Ireland, Confederation of Irish Industry, General Council of County Councils and Comhairle na Gaeilge. I have also invited the following large users to nominate members: Waterford Glass Limited, Cork Co-Operative Marts Limited, Stephen Feller of Galway, Dublin Newspaper Managers Committee, Electricity Supply Board, Córas Tráchtála and the Industrial Development Authority. I should clarify, of course, that I have invited these users to nominate members but I have not yet received replies. I thought I should use this opportunity to acquaint the House of the present state of affairs in this matter which affects everybody in this country since we all, in one way or another, make use of the postal services

I would like to amplify some of the remarks I made in reply to Deputy Colley on 13th June in regard to the use of the radio networks. I am glad to come back to this matter because many Deputies placed great emphasis on radio and their wish to see the development of the radio services. Significant capital investment has been made in radio in recent years. The first VHF network, provided to supplement the inadequate medium frequency coverage of the Athlone transmitter and give high quality interference-free reception, could become available for alternative programme use when the new high power Tullamore medium frequency installation, giving coverage to the whole island, is completed in the middle of next year. In the meantime, I will give every encouragement to increasing the provision of choice in RTE radio programming on days and at times when this is most necessary, through separate utilisation of the medium frequency and VHF networks. The second VHF network, which carries the Radio na Gaeltachta service in the evening, is now broadcasting test transmissions of music for the trade in the morning and afternoon; it is hoped that these transmissions will encourage interest in Radio na Gaeltachta and also the spread of VHF receivers and the use of VHF reception by listeners. It is also hoped that the proposed pilot radio service for Gaeltacht national schools will begin transmission at the end of the year.

The new radio centre at Donny-brook is nearing completion and work is in hands on the development of facilities at provisional centres to improve the capacity for regional programme contribution to the national networks. A fully equipped mobile radio studio will be brought into operation shortly and will be available for programme origination from provincial centres. The first steps in local broadcasting have already been taken with the experimental programming from the Cork medium frequency transmitter.

A new development is that a daily half-hour programme from Monday to Friday is being provided for a period of two months from 24th June. This service has the benefit of guidance and advice from the newly established Cork Radio Advisory Committee. The Cork experience in the next few months will be important in indicating the possibility or development of other such services. If the results of the Cork experiment are encouraging, I hope to see it developed in other areas. We will be watching the experiment with great interest.

I should like to deal with the question of the role of the Irish language, particularly in relation to broadcasting, but before we can consider it specifically in this regard we must consider more generally the question of what the Irish language policy is, can be and should be. I will divide my remarks into a discussion of that situation generally and then a consideration of its application to broadcasting.

With regard to the controversy generally, I made a statement some time ago in Waterford which led to a considerable amount of public controversy. I do not regret that; I think public controversy is a healthy part of our national culture, one we should be prepared to encourage and participate in, trying always to keep it above the level of personal slanging and making it a discussion of ideas.

Considerable heat was generated in the controversy and, as often, the intensity of the heat led to some distortion of some of the things said including what I said myself. I do not complain of that because I realise that a certain amount of distortion is almost inevitable in controversy and if we engage in it we must accept that fact. I stand entirely over the substance of my remarks at Waterford but some people whom I greatly respect and whose attitude to the Irish language I respect have told me that the tone and manner in which I approached this subject on that occasion were unnecessarily abrasive and wounding. I accept that criticism and I shall try to be guided by it for the future.

I suffer, perhaps, from the disability that sometimes when attacking a set of ideas I believe to be false I fail to respect adequately the feelings of people who cherish these ideas. I am trying to cure myself of this disability; a number of critics are giving me some assistance here and I thank them for it. I should like to point out that it is difficult in this area, as well as in other areas, to criticise ideas that should be criticised without giving some offence to those who hold them. The problem arises here whether we should acquiesce in what we believe to be illusions in order not to hurt the feelings of others. Perhaps we are inclined to do just that; it is a part of our culture, in some ways it is an amiable trait but it can be costly. Some of the illusions we have let alone, the sacred cows that we have allowed to wander, have now got out of control. The problem remains of how to criticise ideas while giving the minimum of offence to others, although it must be realised that in making the criticism we will necessarily give some offence. That will be my approach to this controversy as I speak here.

The Broadcasting Act states that in performing its function An tÚdarás shall bear constantly in mind the national aim of restoring the Irish language, preserving and developing the national culture, and shall endeavour to promote the attainment of these aims. In the earlier part of my remarks I dealt with the question of national culture in other areas than the Irish language. It is just the aspect of the Irish language I should like to deal with here.

We speak of the national aim of restoring the Irish language. It has never been quite clear to me what exactly we mean when we speak of the restoration of the Irish language. I put that question to a professor of Irish when we were on television — Deputy Brugha was present also — and I asked him if it meant restoring it to the position it occupied, say, in 1169. Perhaps it was a rather abrasive formulation, although I hope not. The answer the professor gave flabbergasted me. He said "No," that he would be satisfied with restoring it to the position it occupied in 1600. How could we restore the language to the position it occupied in 1600 unless we also restored the whole state of affairs at that time, the social, economic and other circumstances? Do we really want to do that? That reply certainly is not adequate.

I should like to assure the Minister that those views are not necessarily shared by others, including myself.

I understand that. This is part of the problem. Among those who aim at some way to restore the Irish language, or doing some good thing for the Irish language, there is quite a wide spectrum. In fact, although apparently I have not conveyed that message accurately, I am a part of that spectrum. I hope I shall make this more clear here. This formulation which is in the Broadcasting Act and, therefore, is pertinent to consider here—the restoration of the Irish language—is wrong because it suggests that what we are really trying to do is to change this country, which is now almost all the time English-speaking for most of the people, so drastically that it will become an Irish-speaking country with English as some kind of second language. I know that many people who are active in the Irish language movement no longer regard that as a genuine and realistic aim but the wording "restoration of the language" suggests in some sense that it is the aim and, therefore, it ought to be changed because, in my opinion, the setting of impossible aims is damaging to us in a number of ways. The aims which are described on those benches over there as national aims, restoration of the language and the unification of the country, these two going together mean that what we are setting out to do is to achieve a united Irish-speaking Ireland.

That is so far out of the reach of anything we can achieve that it is bad for us. The setting of impossible aims traps us into a position either of despair or at least of permanent shame at not being able to do these things, or cynicism about lip service. Therefore, we ought to lower our sights a bit. We ought to see what can really be achieved about the Irish language; what do we want to achieve; and then set about that, and in our legislation and in our administration that is what we should be about.

Repetition of these national aims assume that the country is now in the same mood as it was in the 1918 elections, conceives things in the same ideological terms as the leaders of opinion did then. I do not think that is true. Deputy Brugha chided me the other day, perhaps rightly, for dwelling too much on the past, but I dwell on the past sometimes in order not to dwell in the past.

We can dwell on the past usefully.

We all try in our different ways to be useful. We are doing our best. An attitude to the Irish language which is realistic and at the same time positive requires a benevolent acceptance and promotion of bilingualism. Deputy Brugha nods and I know that he and many others are in agreement with that. This is extremely important. The child—and we are speaking more particularly perhaps of children; there is not an awful lot that can be done with adults in this sphere—growing up in an environment which is mainly English-speaking must not be brought to feel that English and Irish are hostile aspects of his culture and that he must choose between them. If he or she does —we are speaking as much of girls as of boys—first of all, it will be psychologically bad in inducing a sense of conflict; secondly, in the overwhelming majority of cases, granted the nature of the context in which the child is placed, if this hostility is felt to be there by the child, it is the English language which he will choose. He may again feel some shame about that, but that is what he will do. Quite often, having made the choice he may feel a sense of actual hostility towards the language he has rejected and shame about the language he is using. All this is psychologically very bad, bad for our children and bad for that which we are seeking to promote, the Irish language.

I read the other day of an incident which I think typifies all that is worst in certain attitudes to the Irish language. The report was of a young girl taken by some group on an organised holiday to the Gaeltacht, of which apparently a condition was that no word of English should be uttered. This was upheld with draconian methods. The girl, experiencing consternation at not being able to find her bicycle on a platform, said a sentence in English, whereupon the dread word "abhaile" was pronounced and the girl was sent home. My goodness, that girl will hardly become a pillar of the Irish language movement later. The experience was hurtful, humiliating, and must have been generally distressing. Believe me, I am not seeking to present this as typical of everything that the Irish language movement stands for. I know it does not. I know it is quite an exceptional thing, but I mention the incident only to pinpoint what I regard as the worst and most negative feature in this movement, that is the sense of hostility or at best grudgingness towards the English language; the English language is something you put up with; the Irish language is what you love, and if others will not love it, by golly they had better. That sort of attitude gets in the way.

My own small son is at what is described, and rightly, as an Irish language school, Scoil Neasáin in Artane. I have been very impressed by what I see of that, because the six-year old boy there is learning Irish. His Irish is coming along very nicely, but Irish is taught in that school not by an exclusion of English but in a linguistically ecumenical context, if you like. The children who go there, as far as I know, do not experience a sense of conflict and hostility between Irish and English, a feeling that they must choose one or the other and feel bad about it. They associate Irish with the pleasure of learning it and with no friction between it and the language which they use more generally. I observe that this little boy and his friends are using Irish more and more and using it unaffectedly and in a matter of fact way, and this surely is what we want.

The thing was put very well the other day by the general secretary of the Post Office Workers' Union. He was speaking, oddly enough, in the same place as I made my famous or notorious address on the self-same subject, in the Ardree Hotel in Waterford. Speaking on the 5th June he referred briefly to my own remarks and said:

It merely put into different words the different sentiments on the same subject that arrive in my office from disadvantaged members of the union.

That is, speaking of the Post Office Workers Union, which is a large union, as the House knows. He goes on to say:

I doubt if very many people remain who have a hostility towards their own Irish language. Neither do I doubt the motives of those who seek its preservation but defend their viewpoint as they may, their efforts have not produced a national dynamic for its extension. Instead we seem to have élitist pockets private mini-republics, unintentionally no doubt, but unfortunately no less, giving the impression that they are surrounded with walls of intellectual bigotry creating anything but affection for our language. If Irish was synonymous with joy or less associated with sorrow, loss and punishment its survival and extension would be more assured.

He went on then to say something which is not directly relevant but it is peripherally relevant to what we are considering here:

Visualise the present practice in the Civil Service of notifying in Irish only, special holiday facilities in the Gaeltacht, despite strong staff side protests that such notices should be printed bilingually in order to ensure knowledge of these courses was disseminated far and wide. The fact of the matter is that, if one could read those circulars quickly and with ease, one should not be sent to the Gaeltacht.

I do not agree with that but I see what he means.

Is the Gaeltacht to be a closed shop for the enthusiast and the Gaelic speakers? Surely it is the hesitant and reluctant to whom the encouraging hand should be stretched and not the dedicated who have already been won over. What efforts have ever been made to bring the children from the back streets and the high rise flats into contact with the Gaeltacht? Must their only acquaintance with Irish be through the cane or the dry-asdust grammar book?

As regards general Irish language policy in the Civil Service, I can do no more than bring those last remarks, which seem to me to be very pertinent, to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for the Public Service. Of course, the key sentence in that is the words: "If Irish were synonymous with joy and less associated with sorrow, loss and punishment its survival and extension would be more assured". I think that puts into better words than any we have ourselves yet been able to find the principle that underlies Government policy in this area, and I should like to stress here that it is one Government policy, that I and all my colleagues firmly support; I refer, of course, to the policies put forward by the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Deputy Tom O'Donnell.

Suggestions were made at various times that there were some differences in policy between the Minister for the Gaeltacht and myself. There is absolutely no difference in policy and there is no difference in approach. There is, I am afraid, a difference in style and, I repeat, I should like to learn a little from the Minister for the Gaeltacht in this area without, however, altogether sacrificing whatever is positive in my own approach. But it is a difference purely in style. There is no difference in substance. The idea of encouragement rather than compulsion and the setting of attainable realistic goals in relation to the use of Irish is the centre of it and, as I say, it was put in very good words, indeed, by the Minister for the Gaeltacht.

I should like now to come a little closer to the subject of how all this applies to broadcasting. First of all, I should like to make it absolutely clear, because of very frequent and persistent misrepresentation in this particular sphere, that I have not at any time been urging, demanding, requiring or wishing that there should be less use of Irish in broadcasting. That is not so. Neither was I attacking any persons in RTE for their attitude to the Irish language. I was attacking, or criticising at any rate, the attitude of mind that lay behind that section of the Broadcasting Act the wording of which I have criticised. That Act, of course, was framed not by RTE, whose only responsibility is to work under the Act, but by politicians here in this House and I propose—I shall be coming back later this year in more detail and precision to this subject— to change that wording in that Act and I have been endeavouring to show why this should be done.

Comhairle na Gaeilge made an interesting submission to the Broadcasting Review Committee and I should like to quote some part of that submission here because of its intrinsic interest and most direct relevance to what we are about here. I do not know if Deputy Brugha has seen the report. If he has not, I shall be happy to let him have a copy.

I have seen it. I was a member of the body.

The Deputy will forgive me, but I should like to put part of this on the record. The document was submitted in both Irish and English and I am reading from page 11 of the English text. It says:

For our purpose the audience for radio and television programmes can be roughly divided into the following groups.

Group A—Gaeltacht: The first and normal community language of the people of the Gaeltacht is Irish. They speak it, not for any ideological reasons, but because it is a normal part of their traditional way of life.

The Census of 1961 shows that the total Irish speaking population of the Gaeltacht areas is about 64,000. This is indeed a small number, being less than 2 per cent of the population of the State. The importance of the Gaeltacht from the point of view of our national identity and aspirations cannot however be defined in terms of numbers alone, because it constitutes the regional base of the Irish language and ensures that it continues to have native speakers, without which a language is dead.

Taking the State as a whole, Irish might be described primarily as a minority language being spoken mainly in one particular part of the country—the Gaeltacht. As an area, the Gaeltacht is of course regionally fragmented and, in addition, no strong sense of identity exists between the different parts. For historic reasons, the Irish-speaking community has been deprived of the internal unifying forces of convergence which exist in a viable society and this can only be detrimental to the maintenance of Irish. It is, though something which the broadcasting media can help to rectify.

I should like to add here that presumably it is being rectified to some extent by Radio na Gaeltachta. That is Group A, the people of the Gaeltacht, about 2 per cent. Group B—the Language Loyalists; the wording is distinctly pre-1974:

This group is distinguished on the basis of its members' loyalty to the Irish language and their determination for ideological reasons to speak and use it to the greatest possible extent. This group has played an important part in bringing about a restoration of Irish high culture (literature, thought, et cetera, but, without effective participation by the broadcasting systems, among other cultural and economic forces in the community, their efforts have not had the effect they might have had on the language loyalty and selfesteem of the Gaeltacht population. It is difficult to determine the size of this group as population censuses are unable to distinguish between those who constitute this group and those who claim merely to have a knowledge of the language.

Could we guess at the size of the group? Is it as high as 10 per cent? Not more, I think.

Those who claim a knowledge of the language?

No, the Language Loyalists. These are people who are loyal to the Irish language and who are determined to speak it and use it to the greatest possible extent.

I would have a little doubt about the word "loyalists" at the moment.

This report was prepared some years ago when the word did not have the same emotive associations it has now.

The most recent survey which was taken about ten years ago shows that the number of people who say they have a good knowledge of Irish is around 27 per cent.

These are the people who are really prepared to work at it. I think that is not 27 per cent. I think it is a good deal lower. Group C is rather quaintly labelled, "The Ethnically Aware". That is an odd one.

This group spans a wide range. At one end it includes those who are strongly ethnic, and those who while their knowledge or use of the language is less than those in Group B, yet have a good knowledge of or use the language from time to time. At the other end of the scale it includes those who are only marginally ethnic.

I feel that I fall into that point of the spectrum somehow:

It may, therefore, be said perhaps to include two sub-groups which we can express as C1 and C2.

As a group it is the largest of all. It consists of all those who accept Irish as the ancestral tongue——

In parenthesis, if we are speaking of all the people of this island, there is more than one ancestral tongue.

——and, accordingly it is a sign of our national distinctiveness. The majority of the group would regard the language as a cultural desideratum and would on occasion show considerable interest in it, (c.f. sales of Buntús Gaeilge, Buntús Cainte, ratings of Watch your Language, etc.) Generally members of this group have a sort of nostalgic respect for the language and feel it suited to use in some limited domains such as introducing nationalistic or highly ritualised speeches, stereotyped greeting and so on.

Nevertheless many of them may be quite lukewarm or even hostile towards the implementation of practical policies designed to ensure its viability, and will respond only to a judicious approach. This kind of discrepancy between practice and attitudinal positions is, of course, common in human societies (e.g., the position of religion in urban Britain) and one must accept it as such. In general, though, this group constitutes a large reservoir of goodwill towards efforts to maintain our language and cultivate our ethnic individuality. It is from this group that activists in the movement may be said to receive their mandate to define and implement policy.

It goes on to poor group D who are "The Ethnically Unaware".

This is probably not a large group. It consists of those who are characterised by a negative attitude to Irish, regarding it as irrelevant and of no significance to them. Some of this group may, of course, have a knowledge of Irish and be quite prepared to use it when the occasion requires such behaviour.

It goes on to speak of "General Policy".

These groups will have different needs and requirements. As RTE will have an important influence over a wide sphere of thought, activity and language use, a special study should be made of these needs and requirements in a diglossia situation. In this connection Máirtín Ó Murchu's paper "Language and Community" (Comhairle na Gaeilge Occasional Paper No. 1) and the Comhairle na Gaeilge report "Towards a Language Policy" are relevant.

Fair dealing alone would dictate that Irish speakers, and Group A particularly, should be catered for. RTE might also set itself some further objectives—increasing the viability of the Gaeltacht as a cultural unit by contributing to the development of a sense of unity. The gradual and sensitive promotion of a formal spoken variety of Gaeltacht Irish, which would be acceptable to the people of the Gaeltacht, would enhance the language's image in the eyes of native speakers—and this could be promoted in formal domains of language use in broadcasting. Suitable staffs should be recruited and/or trained to the desired professional level so as to make this aim practical.

It should be said that the existing RTE policy has produced some worthwhile results. Generally, the sound of Irish has been introduced as a normal experience for the radio and television audiences in many Irish homes. There are some good programmes on both radio and TV, more frequently indeed on radio. The latest schedules——

This was a long time ago.

—show some improvement. The establishment of Radio na Gaeltachta will no doubt help to improve the situation but it is important that this should not lead to a less frequent use of Irish on the national service.

"Consideration of Present Policy and Programmes." The main criticisms are that at present the programmes in Irish are too few and too rare, that they are planned somewhat haphazardly—not surprisingly, since the concept of diglossia is only being developed—and that they are not planned as part of an overall plan to cater specifically for the different groups listed above.

Even allowing for the limited number of TV sets in the Gaeltacht, programmes geared specifically to the Gaeltacht's interests are few, the greater number reflecting group C.

Group C, if we remember rightly, is "The Ethnically Aware."

The Irish used, particularly in continuity, is often of a substandard variety, the bilingual approach seems sporadic and unplanned, and the total percentage of Irish used is small. RTE as the national broadcasting authority should ensure that only competent speakers are entrusted with continuity, newscasting and advertising and that continuous training should be provided so that suitable staffs are always available.

Some of these comments are reflected, apparently, in the Broadcasting Review Committee's Report; It goes on:

A proper language model is needed not only for the reasons mentioned above, but also for people teaching, learning and speaking Irish all over Ireland. This model should be determined as far as possible by reference to the usage of good native speakers properly trained in enunciation, presentation, etc.

The "bilingual" policy of RTE requires examination.

It appears to reduce the number of the identifiable Irish language programmes, thus not giving Group A, particularly, and Group B a fair deal. It also carries the risk of depriving the language of the prestige of full programmes.

It is not scientifically patterned and while, as recognised below, the instinctive response of professional, genuinely bilingual, broadcasters in this case may be a good general guide in the matter of natural language-switching, it would be more beneficial if it had the support of qualified linguistic advice so as to ensure a closer relation with the linguistic objective which it is desired to attain in diglossia.

One should not ignore the value of programmes which support and reinforce the acceptance of Irish particularly those which enlist the support of Group C. That is the Ethnically Aware.

This may be a by-product of certain prestige programmes, and even the main product, unintentionally, of some other good programmes, e.g. the public relations effect of Buntús Cainte or the direct result of such programmes as Watch your Language.

Given the foregoing considerations, RTE should review its policy for Irish, with the object of giving it status while being judicious in not provoking negative reaction.

It then suggests certain guidelines for Irish programmes which go into some detail and are basically more for the programme-makers than at this level for this House. In the final part under the heading "Direction and Structure", which is pertinent to our discussion, it says:

A view exists that the provisions of the Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960, do not give RTE the direction or powers required to pursue the necessary policy if we are to increase even the receptive use of Irish significantly; according to this view, something more would be required than "bearing in mind" and "endeavouring to promote"— in a word, a more positive direction should be formulated. This view is based of course on the experience of the initial ten years of RTE's existence, in particular in relation to its television service, while effective structures were being evolved.

There is an executive in charge of Irish language programmes on television, but there is a need for a function which would provide for comprehensive language planning over all types of programme output, on radio and television. This function should provide for liaison with Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann, for the appropriate training of staff and for overall execution of the linguistic planning in relation to all Irish language programmes, and the language content of programmes embracing current affairs, light entertainment and sports, drama and the arts, religious programmes, agricultural programmes, features, educational programmes and children's programmes and the general policy concerning bilingualism and the diglossia concept. It is doubtful if any single individual below the level of Director General would have the requisite power status and responsibility to ensure effective discharge of such a function.

I regarded that as of sufficient interest and importance to justify placing it on the record of this House. I think much of it is impressive and much of it would certainly have to be borne in mind in shaping policy here. I am sure that RTE is actually bearing it in mind. At the same time, I must confess that I have some misgivings about the somewhat hierarchical breakdown of sections of the population into group A, the Gaeltacht, group B the Language Loyalists, group C the Ethnically Aware, and group D the Ethnically Unaware. There seems to be a descending arrangement of the population there with a small number, an élite of a sort, at the top. I do not find that altogether reassuring. There seems to be a general implication of a few people to manipulate, to mould a mask. I see that to some extent this is something that does happen in cultural affairs but there does not seem to be any necessary disquiet about the process which I think should be there.

We agree that the word "loyalist" is unfortunate but was of the time. I find "The Ethnically Aware" a bit worrying. Ethnic is, of course, strictly racial. As a country we are of mixed stock both biologically and culturally. and I think that ought to be recognised. There seems to be in the use of this description—it may not be intended—a suggestion that the language of the race is there, that this is what the race ought to use. There is the use of this word "Irish" as the ancestral tongue. It is certainly not the ancestral tongue of all the people of this island and even in the Republic many of our ancestors have been speaking English on this side of the country for many generations. Are those ancestors not to count? Is our historic association with and contribution to the English language not to count?

There is a tendency to treat the English language as a sort of obstruction, an unfortunate incubus. I think that is wrong for a number of reasons. During the debate one or two Deputies referred to our misfortune of speaking the English language. I can see what they mean. What they mean is that when most Irish people ceased to be Irish speaking more than a century ago something was lost, and that was a misfortune. That is undoubtedly true. It was a major event and a tremendously sad event occurring in terribly sad circumstances in the middle of the 19th century. That event, and the circumstances in which it occurred, have left great scars on our national psyche and if that is what they mean by a misfortune then I agree that a misfortune did occur.

That is on the loss side, but on the positive side the fact that we possess and have contributed, in no small measure, to one of the great languages of the world in terms of its dissemination and variety of its dissemination in itself is not a misfortune. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach speaking to me just now about this matter referred to our experience on our common television programme, the first one——

That was uncommon.

——when a professor told the audience, and through the audience the people, a large number of whom actually watched the "Late Late Show", that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for not speaking Irish.

As I said before what the professor said is not necessarily my view.

I appreciate that. That was his personal view. He speaks for some others and it is this attitude again that we are trying to get out of the works in order to get ahead with something. Deputy Brugha and I, while we are not completely on common ground on this, have quite a lot of common ground between us, as also we both have with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach who also differs quite a lot from me and probably agrees more with Deputy Brugha's part of it. This is not simply a party controversy by any means. He made a point, a valid point to a degree but not fully, that I was right to object to what the professor said in so far as one ought not to say to other people, "you ought to be ashamed of yourself for not being like me", but on the contrary it is right for me to say, "I feel it, I am ashamed of not speaking and not using the language which my grandparents used".

I respect the distinction and I understand its validity for some people but I cannot share it. I cannot feel personally ashamed because of past historic events. I do not feel ashamed because we lost the battle of Kinsale. I accept the fact that we did lose it.

It was not the Minister's fault.

Thank you. I am glad to know that will be on the record.

Or Clontarf for that matter.

I would agree that even the Deputy's people were not in power at that time.

Some of them were not even in the country.

I can certainly feel regret at what was lost, and regret at the impact of the loss on us which is felt now in various ways, including some of the ways we are talking about. I feel all that, but I am not certainly about to feel ashamed of not speaking the language that some of my great grandparents spoke. The role of shame in this is interesting. Shame is not necessarily a negative emotion. If it stimulates you into doing something and correcting a course of conduct and so on, that can be good but to be encouraged to feel what amounts to a vague, subconscious sense of shame about something that you intend to do nothing about, that is very bad and that exists here. In fact, what has resulted is a rather general sense of shame in the attitudes to both the languages in question. As regards the English language we have been affected by the feeling that maybe we do not speak English the way the English speak it and maybe we ought to, and this is not very good for us; and then in using English we are encouraged to be ashamed that it is not Irish we are using. All this induces a sense of tentativeness and insecurity and even jumpiness, which is quite un-necessary and bad for us and quite bad for the prospect of actually getting to like Irish and using it more. Again, that would come back to what Mr. Quinlan said. I would repeat his words. They can hardly be repeated often enough:

If Irish was synonymous with joy or less associated with sorrow, loss and punishment——

and I would add shame

——its survival and extension would be more assured.

I think Mr. Quinlan could be quoting from some parts of things I had said in the past — not all.

I see. I would be delighted. I recognise a continuity between the two and I would, indeed, say something my wife said to me. She said after my Waterford speech, "You had only said there in the most pugnacious possible fashion what many of us in the Irish language movement have been saying in Irish but since we said it in Irish it was not registering in the media." That is an interesting comment.

Has Máire MacEntee any different word for "enthnically aware"?

I will put it to her when I go home.

There should be.

And I will report to the Parliamentary Secretary. I may say that I have never heard her pronounce the words "ethnically aware" or "ethnically unaware". I do not think she would be likely to do so.

We use it a lot in tourism.

That is how it crept in. I see it all now. Yes. At the core of this—this is in paragraph 4.3 —there is this strange concept. When I say it is a strange concept. I mean just that. I do not mean that it is necessarily altogether wrong. I find it strange and it makes me uneasy. This is the concept of the mandate. This is a paragraph about "The Ethnically Unaware". Members of this group generally emerge looking rather funny. I quote:

Generally, members of this group have a sort of nostalgic respect for the language and feel it suited to use in some limited domains such as introducing nationalistic or highly ritualistic speeches, stereotyped greetings and so on.

A sort of Myles na gCopaleen concept, someone out of the country council in Faustus Kelly is rather the impression you get of these people.

Nevertheless many of them may be quite lukewarm or even hostile towards the implementation of practical policies designed to ensure its viability.

The paragraph concludes:

It is from this group that activists in the movement may be said to receive their mandate to define and implement policy.

So this quite different group, the admitted hard core described as "Language Realists" get their man-date——

Using that word again wrongly.

I am sorry. It is in the report. They get their mandate to act, to frame policy, from this group who might unkindly be described as frauds, people who believe in using a few words to introduce their nationalistic speeches and whatever, who are against practical policies. From these people who are against practical policies the first group is said to receive its mandate for implementing the practical policies. All that is a bit shaky and there is a sort of Indian rope trick here and I think that requires rather careful looking at.

I would agree that any mandate has something a bit nebulous about it. The people who are interpreting the mandate and the people who give the mandate are a bit different. There is a reference to a judicious approach and I think there is "guidance" somewhere. I find that a bit tricky in every sense.

I do not believe in the reality of the mandate of Group B from Group C to define policies. To put my finger on it, that is the core to which I object here. I do not see that Group C has conferred any mandate but I think the general sentiment which pervades Group C, which is present in the country, has a distinct relevance to the situation.

Let me refer here to the Language Freedom Movement. When I refer to them I do not refer either in complete agreement or with anything like a sneer. I think that they are an entirely legitimate lobby in this area, just as legitimate as the Irish language lobby and perhaps some of their members, like some members of the Irish language lobby, are inclined to go out on a limb sometimes, but if they say, as sometimes they do, that there is actually an excessive use of Irish in broadcasting in proportion to the actual use made of it in the life around us, it is true in the sense that, there is more use of Irish in broadcasting, I believe, than among the people generally but, if they say that, I think there is an answer there. There are some recent figures which have not yet been published, which I am not in a position to quote, but they tend to show that the group of people who have a general goodwill for the language without being prepared to do very much about it is very large, and it is clear, therefore, that this group would not wish a reduction in broadcasting in Irish and also it does indicate that there could be favourable ground, receptive ground, for the Irish language to grow in if the right methods were adopted and, as I say, I do not think these right methods include setting impossible aims.

What I cannot accept is this idea that it is from this group that activists in the movement may be said to receive their mandate to define and implement policy. This means that these activists have a mandate to define and implement policy from so vague a group as this which did not, in fact, elect them. The Deputy was elected by somebody. I was elected by somebody. Everybody in this House was elected by somebody. We, I am happy to say, were elected by a few people more. We went out and said: "Here are our policies." A number of people like us more than others who were there at the same time and voted us in. We can speak of a mandate. As I said, there may be a certain blurring at the edges of the mandate but at the same time the mandate has a reality. We know what we are talking about. We know how many people voted for us and our policy programmes. These activists did not go before the huge slab of the Ethnically Aware and the Ethnically Unaware and say: "These are our policies, give us a mandate." If they had they would not have got it.

I have read out the passage in which Comhairle na Gaeilge says what it means. That is not a term which has ever passed my lips before. All I know is what it says there. I do not want to seem pedantic but it seems to me that there is something important here which has to do with democracy and a tendency in that movement to set itself above democracy in the name of another thing. It speaks of a mandate to define and implement policy in relation to activists in the movement. Activists in a movement do not have a mandate to define and implement policy. The people who have a mandate to define and implement a policy are the Government and nobody else. The activists are not set above the Government by the rather vague and smokey mandate which they are said to receive from the people, many of whom are actually said to be opposed to the practical policies for which they claim a mandate.

This is a very well written and interesting document but it contains, I suggest, at its core an improper principle. The correct principle is that legislators and Government should be aware of all these bodies, including the poor, miserable Ethnically Unawares who have votes too. We should be aware of these elements and take all of them, not just one, into account when making policies. Above all we should not be guided or affect to be guided solely by the views of the one group, the language loyalists. They deserve to have their views taken into account, to an extent somewhat in excess of their actual numbers by reason of a proven commitment to the issue. A commitment should be taken into account as well as numbers. That is different from saying that policy on the Irish language is to be defined and implemented merely by the activists, the so-called language loyalists. I do not accept that. These groups should be taken into account.

There is much less fault to be found with their practical suggestions about the implementation of policy than about the ideological framework, as expressed in this concept of a mandate to the activists which ought to be rejected. When the present controller of radio was asked whether he thought there should be more or fewer broadcasts in Irish, he said: "It is not a question of fewer; it is a question of better". I agree.

Quality not quantity.

I would be happy to see more in quantity provided the quality of the programmes was such as to attract more people and thereby build up more actual demand. There is no use broadcasting in Irish to people who are not listening or viewing. This is basic. We get back all the time to this question of encouraging interest. I would be prepared to give support to RTE within the framework of those general concepts.

I spoke earlier about my experience with Scoil Neasáin and the use of Irish in a deliberately bilingual framework in a situation where no one suggests to the child that the two languages are hostile. Both languages are playing an important part in his or her life, and the child grows up with that in mind. Children's programmes on RTE should be conducted in that spirit. I hope no one will distort what I am saying. I am not speaking of Deputy Brugha who never distorts what I say but——

I can make mistakes too.

I hope my words will not be distorted. I am not saying that I think the only place for Irish is in the children's programmes.

"Amuigh Faoin Spéir" is a very good example of this.

I agree. It is an excellent example and I should like to see more programmes along those lines. I have no responsibility for programming. I have only the statutory responsibilities which a Minister carries. I will discuss it with the chairman of the authority whom we all know to be directed towards the use of intelligence for the growth of Irish. I agree with him on that.

I do not know if it would be advisable to have an advisory group in that area with teachers who have experience of a bilingual play approach.

Do not have another advisory group. We have too many already.

I have a lot of sympathy for this idea. I would not set up an advisory group for the sheer mad joy of having another group.

Do not do it.

Sometimes they can help and we can learn something from them. This may be the case here or it may be necessary, or possible to pursue the same and in a much more informal fashion merely by talking to a few people. Broadly speaking, we should restate our aims more modestly in terms of things achievable now. We should get rid of any suggestion of hostility to the English language or shame about it. We should encourage biligualism, the development of competence in both languages and love for both languages. We should have regard to the contribution of our own people not just to one language but to both. If we do that consistently, and if we are seen to live up to what we are trying to do, in that way we shall help to encourage love for the Irish language, a positive feeling for it, a better psychology in the country generally, and thus make progress.

I have spoken of broadcasting because I have responsibility for it but it is only a part of all this. It can help but it cannot be an instrument for achieving the impossible, nor yet can it be controlled by a mandate for activist policy. In this, as in other matters, it comes back finally to the democratically elected Government of the country.

Whatever short-comings the Minister may have, he does not seem to me to have lost his capacity to generate discussion. There are other publications of Comhairle na Gaeilge which I am sure the Minister has seen. Generally these publications display an updating of the questions he has been discussing and I hope they will be beneficial in future in this area.

With regard to the Estimate, I take it that with the introduction of the new automatic exchanges there will be some improvement in the telephone service in Dublin? Can the Minister state if at some future date the Department will issue a new postal district map of Dublin? When the Minister spoke in the debate on the previous occasion he referred to an additional half-hour programme for Radio na Gaeltachta and I asked him at what time of the day this would likely occur. Perhaps he may have some information on this matter now.

The Minister referred to a television programme. On a subsequent programme on television I am afraid I misinterpreted the Minister. Because of an interruption I thought I heard him say he could not be bothered looking at RTE programmes and the Minister corrected me. What I did not realise at that stage was that the Minister was quoting somebody else. I should like to express my regrets to him for misinterpreting what he said. I should not like to misinterpret the Minister or anyone else.

I should like to thank the Deputy, in particular for his last remark. It is unusual in this House and most edifying to hear someone apologise for misinterpreting somebody else. I think we should almost observe a minute's silence for such an event.

With regard to the Deputy's question regarding telephone services in the Dublin area, we can expect some improvement as a result of the new exchanges. With regard to his suggestion about a new postal map, my Department will look into the matter and I shall communicate with him. With regard to Radio na Gaeltachta, we have not got the required information but I will convey it to the Deputy as soon as I receive it.

Question put, and a division being demanded, it was postponed in accordance with the Order of the Dáil of this day until 10.15 p.m. on Wednesday, 3rd July, 1974.