I wish to express the hope that the Seanad will not carry this amendment. I am opposing it because it is not in accordance with the general idea we had in mind when framing the Bill. In drafting this measure our notion of how things would proceed was that we should set out in legal form the object to be aimed at, that we should indicate, as we do indicate in this section, that we assist the College in moving towards that object, but we do not try to tie up the College, or the Governing Body of the College, or we could have put many provisions in the Bill which would coerce them along that particular line. I believe that none of the multitudinous provisions we could put into this Bill for strengthening the position of Irish in the College would be of any real avail unless the Governing Body of the College itself, and the various officers of the College, are anxious to push Irish. I am very anxious that Galway College should become a truly Gaelic or Irish University at the earliest possible date, but I believe that will be done only when the people in the College realise thoroughly that if the College is to have an important future it will have that important future by doing everything it can in Irish and for Irish.
I think that the only way to get ahead is to lay that duty on the College in a legal form and to indicate, as is indicated in this Bill, that they will get assistance in doing that work, and then leave it to those in the College who believe in the future of the Irish language and in the need for fully restoring the Irish language to its proper place in the national life. I believe that the time is not far distant when the Governing Body itself will be prepared to make a temporary appointment rather than appoint some person not capable of carrying out instruction through Irish, provided it sees somebody in the offing who is likely to fill the office. If there is nobody in the offing who is likely to fill the office, it would be better to appoint a good professor who will do his work through English than to appoint an indifferent professor who would do his work through Irish. I believe that we will not increase the prestige of the language itself by having subjects taught through Irish by people who are not really competent to teach these subjects through Irish. On the other hand, it will often happen that the Governing Body will be able to say that while there is nobody at present available who can teach the subject through Irish there will soon be somebody. I know a particular subject that at the moment there is nobody at all in this country able to teach through the medium of Irish up to a University standard, but I know that there is an exceptionally brilliant student in that subject with a splendid knowledge of Irish. I think that in that particular case in two or three years time it will be possible to make an appointment of a person who can give instruction through Irish.
I believe that the Governing Body of Galway College will realise that great things, from the College point of view, depend on their doing their best, and that where such an applicant is likely to come forward in a short time they will themselves voluntarily keep the place open for him. I have known colleges to do it when there was no question of Irish involved; I have known them to hold places open for brilliant young people who were coming on, and I believe that Galway College itself will voluntarily hold places open. They will be more likely to do that if they are not tied up with this five years limit, because while an appointment might be only for five years, a person who would be available in two years' time might not be available in five years' time. I could devise a whole code for tying up the Governing Body of the College, but I deliberately, in directing the drafting of this Bill, refrained from putting such provisions in, because I know that even the best person who is put in will not be able to do anything if he has not the assistance and the general support of the College. I know that there have been many cases of professors, actually appointed, who might give instruction through Irish but who have not done it and who might not do it, because for a long time it would be heavier work for any professor to give instruction through the Irish language in nearly every subject than it would be if he gave it through English, and unless you have the right spirit in the College, the problem will not be by any means solved simply by appointing people who will be capable of giving instruction through Irish, because after their appointment they may proceed to give that instruction through English.
I think that the difficulties about giving instruction through Irish have been greatly exaggerated in the discussions here, and I also think that people who have been too ready to forget that there is a wide difference between excluding the Irish language altogether from a particular classroom and giving instruction entirely through Irish in that classroom. In certain cases I believe that if you have a person who knows the subject and who knows Irish he can give all his lectures in Irish, though he may perhaps have to refer the students to various textbooks in other languages. As a matter of fact, in a great many subjects, although the lectures are given through English, the students are referred to textbooks in languages other than English, and it would certainly be the case that in certain subjects, even if the lectures were given through Irish, the students would have to work with textbooks in other languages. But it would be a great gain, even if the students had to work with textbooks in other languages, from the point of Irish to have the lectures given through Irish. A Senator referred to the question of folklore. Folklore is important, and it is a thing that will not be available in another generation or two if not attended to and collected. But I am positive that the Irish language cannot live as a fireside or a country language merely; it can only live if it is used and has to be used by all classes and for all the purposes for which a language is used, by people of education as well as by people of no education. I am extremely anxious that it should be increasingly used in the Universities, and I think that it will be increasingly used, in spite of such difficulties as exist, say, in the matter of textbooks.
In respect of some subjects I think it will be possible to remedy to a very large extent the textbook difficulty without great delay or great expense. It should be remembered that even if all the textbooks that students will be required to use are not available in Irish, if there is a reasonable number of textbooks available, instruction can be very efficiently done through Irish, and if you have a good enough professor it can be done efficiently even without textbooks. But when the textbooks are available, the task of the professor who is teaching through Irish will be very greatly lightened. For the present it will be heavy.
I would like to come back to my original point, that if the Governing Body of Galway College does not want to promote the use of Irish all sorts of pretences can be put up. There is nothing I would be more afraid of than the thing which Senator Kenny suggested, that a man might be put in for a period of five years and that he would make himself able to give instruction through Irish within five years, that his appointment might be continued, because you could have people carrying on in some kind of way with some sort of Irish, but it would really be much better for the language if they frankly gave their lectures in English. Unless a man who was not qualified at the time of his appointment voluntarily obtained a proper knowledge of the language I would rather allow him to continue his lectures in English. There are people at present in various colleges who would undertake to give their lectures through Irish if any pressure were applied to them, but I think it would be of no advantage to the language to have them giving their lectures in halting, inefficient and incorrect Irish. I think that they would be better left alone. It is an important thing not to have that particular temptation put in the way of the University. There is no doubt that if a man has been in a position for five years, if he is liked amongst his fellows, is otherwise popular in the University, if he talks any sort of Irish and makes any sort of attempt to do his work through Irish, a point will be stretched in his favour and people will say: "Do not deprive him of his livelihood. Look at his young family," and so on. He will be kept on and he will do a great deal of harm instead of good to the Irish language.
I have given a great deal of consideration to this matter during the past two years, and nothing that has been said here has at all shaken me in the belief that the thing cannot be done by any form of coercion or regulation. If we are driven to coercion and regulation we will have to take complete State control of the College, have State appointments and power of dismissal, and all that sort of thing. I do not advocate that, but if we cannot believe that we can convince the Governing Body that it is their duty and their interest to go ahead with the work, the right thing to do would simply be to have State control.
I do think that there is some point in the argument that was raised in opposition. I do believe that you will not have very good candidates coming forward. It will happen for some years that people able to teach a subject through Irish will not be available, and that somebody who has not a knowledge of Irish will have to be appointed. You will not have good candidates coming forward. Some people will stand out altogether, in the belief that when they do not know Irish their chances are no good, knowing in any case that if they did get such appointments they would only be for a five-years' period and that they would be pretty sure to go at the end of the five years. I think that very mediocre candidates, or candidates that were scarcely even mediocre, will come forward. I think that the appointment of such candidates and the effect that it would have on the reputation of the College would do more harm than good. As I said in the Dáil, I am satisfied that already, since the settlement, which is really confirmed by this Bill, was made with University College, Galway, a great change has come over the spirit of that College, and while, of course, there are still people in it who are opposed to doing anything for Irish, those who are in favour of doing things for Irish have their hands strengthened and are able to make their weight felt, and that position is going to improve every year. I feel quite confident that Senators need have no doubt that things will be done as well as any of us could desire them to be done, and that they will be done, taking everything into account, as soon as possible.