Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Higher Education Grants.


andMr. P. Barry asked the Minister for Education if higher education grants are being paid to students in County Cork; and, if not, why.

The making of payments of higher education grants in respect of eligible students in this case is a matter for Cork County Council, subject to compliance with the provisions of the grant scheme. A delegation from the council had a meeting with me on Thursday last, 17th November, and I understand that they intend to consider further certain aspects of the implementation of the scheme in the light of the discussions which took place.

Could the Minister tell me whether a report in this morning's paper that the county council decided to accept six miles from the university as being the "adjacent to" area—outside that would not be adjacent to it, if he follows me—is acceptable to him?

This is a newspaper report of today?

Has the Minister not seen it or what was his suggestion?

No, I made no suggestion other than this, that the scheme must contain provision for adjacent and non-adjacent grants. That was the only point I made to the deputation— I may say a very intelligent deputation, as one would expect, from Cork County Council—that they had to have a scheme——

The Minister has got his promotion; he did not have to flatter.

I did not actually catch that remark but I know that whatever it was it was a kindly one.

It was the usual wit of the Deputy.

The scheme must have provision for adjacent and non-adjacent grants. My Department are concerned with that. We told the Cork deputation that. We are sure that, in their wisdom, which is considerable, Cork County Council will adhere to what is laid down in the scheme.

The report to which I referred appears to define, or evidently there is an acceptance by the county council that a definition of "adjacent" is within six miles of the university. Is that acceptable to the Minister?

I have not had any official communication at all from Cork County Council on the matter. I want to reiterate what I said to them, that the scheme made provision for adjacent and non-adjacent grants and that their scheme would have to conform to that.

If they hold the view that "adjacent" should be defined as within six miles of the university will the Minister accept that?

I will consider it when the scheme comes up from Cork County Council. The point I am making is that there must be adjacent and non-adjacent grants. That is laid down in the scheme and anybody who purports to produce a scheme other than that type of scheme is acting ultra vires.

Could the Minister indicate to the county council exactly what is meant by "adjacent"?

Considering there are so many well-paid lawyers in the State I would not undertake to define anything in a scheme like that.

Therefore, they will keep coming back with suggestions and when they do the Minister will say: "No, that does not fit in with my definition." That would be an endless process and there are students——

I want to point out to the Deputy that this has been in the Department of Education as a problem since 1975. I met a deputation last week. I hope a solution will be forthcoming from that. I do not think I have been neglectful or dilatory in this matter.

Without going into history, it would be fair if the Minister would indicate to the county council what would be acceptable rather than having them trying to guess what is in his mind.

Did the Deputy, when he was Minister, indicate to the county council what was his idea of a definition?

I certainly would have if I had met them but the problem arose for immediate solution——

A final supplementary on the question.

The Deputy knows quite well this has been going on since 1968.

Not at this level.

Surely if the Minister was asking them to make provision for "adjacent" and "non-adjacent" he himself knew what was the meaning of adjacent and non-adjacent. Would he tell the House what is the meaning of "adjacent" and "non-adjacent"?

Would the Deputy, if he is deeply interested in it, also refer to university towns other than Cork who have had no difficulty at all in defining "adjacent" and "non-adjacent" since 1968 when the Act was introduced?

Will the Minister not answer the question straight?

The Minister is answering the question straight.