I suppose that the reason that this Bill is not certified as a Money Bill is because of the inclusion in it of the third section. All the rest of the Bill, as regards the money to be given to the college in Galway, is purely a matter of money. There is some reason why an increase in the annual grant should be given. I do not suppose that any member of this House would at all object to the education imparted in Galway College being made as efficient as possible by having sufficient grants to carry it on, but when we come to Section 3, I wonder whether the House has studied it. It says:—
It shall be the duty of the Senate of the National University of Ireland, the Governing Body of the College, or the President of the College (as the case may be), when making an appointment to any office or situation in the College, to appoint to such office or situation a person who is competent to discharge the duties thereof through the medium of the Irish language, provided a person so competent and also suitable in all other respects is to be found amongst the persons who are candidates or otherwise available for such appointment.
Many people would say that that is of no importance, probably because such an individual does not exist at present. Probably there may be one or two, but there cannot be many more, persons who are capable of teaching Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Medicine, Surgery, or anything else in the Irish language. If this is merely meant as an expression of opinion, that at some distant day we shall have the Irish language so spoken in learned circles that men capable of filling these posts can be appointed, there is not very much in it, but one ought to look at it a little further. One has the reputation of the Free State a bit at heart, and when you think of any senate of a university that is bound to make appointments under such an order of that kind, and when you think of the senates of the universities of the world looking at what we, Free Staters, are doing, I am afraid that everyone of us must say that we are putting education at a very low level. Of course, it may be possible for people to teach these other subjects through the medium of Irish, but the ordinary individual who is educated in a university or college must know that he himself must first of all have a competent knowledge of the Irish language if he is to be taught in that language. The first thing that one would say as regards poor Galway College is that there cannot at present be under-graduates there who could possibly take their education in that way. We know exactly what state the Irish language is in in this country. How could any class of under-graduates be got together at present to study medicine, surgery, mathematics, or any other subject if the mode of teaching is through the Irish language? Surely professors in a university should be chosen because they know the subject which they are going to teach and not because they have a little knowledge of something else which has nothing to do with the subject which they are going to teach. Why it is necessary to tack on that section in the Bill I cannot see, though everyone of us is perfectly willing to pass the Bill and to help Galway College in every way possible.
I do not suppose that at present it is any use opposing the Bill because that clause is in it. I think a great many of those who are listening to me have as much interest in Irish education and the reputation of our Irish colleges and universities as I have, and I do not think that we should let it go out amongst the universities of the world that that is the kind of education which the Free State is trying to put forward. This, in my opinion, is a very great pity. That it cannot be carried out, and that it will probably not injure Galway College at present I perfectly agree, but when you take it as an expression of what the two Houses of the Oireachtas propose to do with their universities, and the kind of standard which they propose to apply to the professors and lecturers in the universities as to the knowledge which they must possess, I think it is a very great pity. If it has to be done, it has to be done. It may be a gesture, but it is one that I would be very hard pressed to defend in any university centre in any part of the world. I think that in Ireland we ought to try, if we can, to keep our heads in the air and see that the education imparted in our schools and universities is fit to be compared with the educational systems of other countries, and that the men who teach in our schools and universities are chosen with as high a standard of competence as could be found anywhere. I do not think that anybody could defend this clause in the Bill.