Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 11 Dec 1956

Vol. 46 No. 14

Civil Service Commissioners Bill, 1956—Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."

There is one question I would like to ask the Minister in relation to lines 27 and 28. Apparently, the distinction once existed or is being made between "Civil Service of the Government" and "Civil Service of the State." I am not quite sure what is meant by that. I notice they are both to be included in the term "The Civil Service". Perhaps we could have clarification on that.

The Senator may be aware of a recent decision in the Supreme Court that made this division. The position is that the Civil Service of the Government covers everyone except the civil servants who are in attendance on the President. I am not quite clear whether "in attendance" is the correct phrase or not, but they are the secretary to the President, the assistant-secretary and so on.

Those in the Attorney-General's section, the civil servants who are working in the Houses of the Oireachtas are not civil servants of the Government; they are civil servants of the State. "Civil servants of the State" covers those classes and also covers what we normally mean by "civil servants".

It is a very fine distinction.

It is a distinction that the Supreme Court took at some length.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 3 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:—

To delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following new sub-section:—

(1) Each commissioner shall hold office under such conditions as shall be determined by the Government and may not be removed from office save for stated reasons.

We are back again to the same topic of discussion as we had during the earlier part of the afternoon. There is exactly the same phraseology in connection with the appointment of the Civil Service Commissioners as has been used in the Bill, the Committee Stage of which we have just disposed of. Senator Murphy and other Senators indicated the harshness of Section 5 of the Civil Service Regulation Bill. and I referred to it as having an authoritarian character. The very same thing applies to this Section 10, under which the Civil Service Commissioners are to be appointed. If we are solicitous about the tenure of office of established civil servants, we should be still more solicitous about the tenure of office of the Civil Service Commissioners by reason of the fact that they occupy more responsible positions than any civil servant. They are given from time to time very onerous duties in connection with Civil Service appointments, appointments of a public nature, and all the arguments that applied to Section 5 of the Civil Service Regulation Bill apply with greater force to Section 10 of this Bill.

I do not propose to go back again on all the points that were made in the other debate. When I read this section, I decided that it should be toned down, that it should be amended. I was undecided as to what type of amendment should be put down. I must confess that I thought of something like the amendment tabled by Senator Murphy, but then I realised that there would be certain difficulties connected with that. I now present the amendment that I suggest to the Seanad. At the same time perhaps it would be as well if the Minister would reconsider the section. I am not at all wedded to this amendment. In fact, it can be said, and probably will be said about it, that it does not go far enough to safeguard the position of the Civil Service Commissioners, their tenure of office and so forth. If the Minister would prefer, I should be agreeable to have Section 10 of this Bill considered in conjunction with Section 5 of the Civil Service Regulation Bill, so that the same, or much the same, solution can be found for both, because, as I have said, what is applicable to one is equally applicable to the other.

I do not think that is so at all. I do not think the regulations applicable to civil servants are in any sense applicable to the Civil Service Commissioners, who are people who have quite different functions and responsibility. I think Senator Kissane's amendment is rather theoretical and rather removed from the facts. I was chairman of the Civil Service Commission for ten years and the Government laid down no conditions, and I think it would be a mistake for the Government to appoint Civil Service Commissioners under certain conditions. I was appointed Chairman of the Civil Service Commission and handed the Civil Service Regulation Act and there were no conditions of any kind laid down, and that applied to the other Civil Service Commissioners.

The Chairmen of the Civil Service Commission, as a matter of practice, have been the persons who have occupied the position of Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann and I do not see what conditions the Government could lay down. It is for the Civil Service Commissioners to administer the Civil Service Regulation Act—that is all—and to control entrance to the Civil Service. It is usual to have a representative of the Department of Finance. Without him, the Civil Service Commissioners could not satisfactorily work. That means that, instead of having correspondence with the Department of Finance, which is a fatal business always, they have actually with them a representative of the Department of Finance, who can speak for the Department and they can transact all their business orally and on the spot.

Who is the third person usually?

The third person for a time was the Secretary of the Department of Education. I think subsequently it was the Secretary to the Government. I am not quite sure who the third person is at the moment.

The Assistant Secretary to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Certainly, two people are fixed—the Ceann Comhairle, by practice, and a representative of the Department of Finance. I think it is quite wrong to ask the Government to lay down conditions. There should be no conditions.

With regard to their removal from office, I do not think anybody has been removed from office so far and I do not think that this is the kind of thing you can regulate by statute. If the Government have to go to the length of removing a Civil Service Commissioner, they will certainly not get away with that in the other House. There is no doubt at all about that. If any Government does that for any reason which can be construed even as a corrupt reason, they are bound to be made to answer for that in public debate and that is a much greater safeguard and the only really possible safeguard, rather than making the Government state a reason, because one can state a reason in the most vague and general terms. The Government will have the assistance of people highly skilled in stating things in vague and general terms which would give no information to anybody.

I suggest that this is an impracticable amendment, that the situation which has obtained heretofore works and that it should be let alone, but I do suggest to Senator Kissane that he is doing the very reverse of what he wants to do by suggesting that they shall hold office under such conditions as shall be determined by the Government. I would be thoroughly opposed to that. With regard to their removal, I would leave that as a matter of public policy—if they do their job. As far as I remember, they did their job themselves. Their job, remember, is a very restricted one. Some people may think the Commissioners have something to do with the Civil Service. They have nothing whatever to do with the Civil Service. They are concerned only with entry into the Civil Service, which is quite a different thing. When that is done, they are finished in the discharge of their functions. I suggest to the Senator that the amendment is an impracticable one and would not improve the situation which has been established by practice over 30 years.

I agree it would be a matter of public policy, but could not the same argument be advanced in the case of established civil servants? Their removal from office would also be a matter of public policy.

It is not quite the same thing as removing a Civil Service Commissioner.

Still, we had a long debate here as to the inadvisability of pursuing that course, of pursuing what was done in Section 5 of that Bill.

One of the reasons for that debate was that there was some apprehension that the dismissal of a civil servant would not, because of the grade of the civil servant concerned, be a matter of public policy and therefore it might never come to the top.

If a man is a Civil Service Commissioner and if a Government removes him for reasons which are not sufficient and if he chooses to make it a public matter, then, in the nature of things, in the nature of parliamentary government as we know it, he is bound to get plenty of opportunity and plenty of support for the ventilation of anything he wants to have ventilated. I would hope that no such thing would occur, but I think inevitably it would occur, if there were any colour at all to be found for a debate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 10 agreed to.
Sections 11 to 14, inclusive, agreed to.

Tairgim leasú a 2:—

In sub-section (3) (b), line 9, after "examination" to add "to be conducted in the Irish language".

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is féidir linne leasuithe 2, 3 agus 4 a ghlacadh le chéile.

Sin é a bhí ar aigne agam-sa fhéin, go bhféadfaimís na trí cinn acu a thógaint i dteannta a chéile, mar sé an bhrí chéana atá i gceist. Isé an fá gur chuireas na leasuithe sin síos, ná fuilim sásta go bhfuilimíd ag dul chun cinn maidir le ceist na Gaeilge fé mar ba mhaith linn go léir. Tá fhios agam go maith nach fuirist rud den tsórt seo a rialú. Go deimhin, tá deachrahtaí sa scéal, ach ní ceart dúinn leigint dóibh sin ár misneach a lagú, sinn a chur ar míthreoir i dtaobh ceist na Gaeilge.

Ní h-amhlaidh táim ag iarraidh rud a dhéanamh ná fuil aon choinne leis. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil coinne ag a lán daoine gur ceart cuspóir níos fearr agus níos éifeachtaí a bheith againn i gcoitinn. Ní fheadar in Éirinn conus a thosnóaimís. Caithfimíd tosnú in áit éigin agus sin í an cheist.

Nach mó is deire é seo ná tosnú?

Ní dóigh liom gurb ea. I have tabled these amendments to Section 15 (3), the section that deals with examinations conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners. I believe that the time has come when we should re-examine the position regarding the Irish language in connection with appointments through the Civil Service Commission for which these examinations are prescribed—a written examination, an oral examination, an interview, a practical examination and any other test or tests considered by the Commissioners to be appropriate. I am dealing with (b), (c) and (d). In regard to an oral examination, the question is: has the time arrived when we should consider having those oral examinations conducted through the medium of the Irish language?

Only. I realise, of course, there are certain difficulties in the way, but perhaps those difficulties are not insurmountable. If we allow difficulties to get in the way of our achieving what we want in this life, then we shall make no progress. I do not want to be described as an extremist in this matter and I am afraid that I will be so described by somebody who may not see eye to eye with me in what I am saying. Anyway, I think it is time that this oral test should be conducted through the medium of the Irish language. That is in regard to paragraph (b), the oral examination.

What about French or German?

I will come to that, if the Senator will permit me. The same thing applies to paragraph (c), an interview. The question is: what kind of an interview is it to be? Is it an interview to be conducted in the English language? Perhaps the Minister has more information about these examinations than I have. At the same time, I want, if possible, to bring about a situation whereby Irish will be used for both the oral examination and the interview. Indeed, there is very little difference between them. As far as I can see, there is no fundamental difference between the two.

Oh, there is, an immense difference, surely.

What immense difference could it be? How is an interview conducted?

An interview might be an interview, for example, to determine whether a man is a good architect.

He would have to be questioned and that in itself would be an oral examination.

There could be an oral examination in a language, for example. However, I do not want to interrupt the Senator. I am sorry.

Paragraph (d) refers to the practical examination. I must confess that I had some difficulty about this practical examination lest the position might be that candidates appearing before a board of examiners would not have at their command the technical terms necessary to enable the practical examination to be conducted entirely through the medium of Irish. I do not know how far the Seanad will go with me in my advocacy of the exclusive use of the Irish language. I mentioned this matter on the Second Reading and I remember that certain Senators were prepared to go a certain distance with me, to go as far as to ensure that candidates would be encouraged to use the Irish language but, at the same time, they were anxious equally to ensure that nothing would be done which would prevent their having a proper command of the English language. I, for one, am not opposed to the English language as such. Neither am I opposed to French or German, as such. I am one who believes that the more languages we have the better it is. At the same time I must point out that the Irish language is a living, virile language and should be brought into more use in connection with these examinations.

I am sure the Minister is in a position to find out to what extent the Irish language is used in these examinations at the moment. Apart from the exclusive use of the Irish language, it is highly desirable that the board of examiners should have on it one or two members sufficiently well-versed in the Irish language to ensure that candidates who present themselves and who wish to have the examination conducted in Irish will be facilitated in that respect. There should be people on the board capable of switching from Irish into English and vice versa.

Would not the Senator's amendment prevent them from doing it in English?

I am coming to that. If Senators think I am going too far, let me say at once that I do not want to go any further than public opinion will go with me. There is no use in trying to do these things if public opinion is not with one. I want now to get the opinion of the Seanad. As I have already said, there are certain difficulties in the way. But there will be certain difficulties in the way in five years' time or ten years' time. We have to commence some time, somewhere. With regard to those Senators who go part of the way with me in stipulating that the Irish language should be used as much as possible but that English and other languages should be used as well, I would like to hear now what they have to say on this matter.

I have every sympathy for the outstanding enthusiasm of Senator Kissane. I always listen with the greatest admiration to his constructive contributions through the medium of the Irish language to our debates here. I am invariably lost in admiration of his consistency. For certain reasons, some of which are practical and others of which I maintain, rightly or wrongly, are legal in character, I cannot support the Senator in these amendments.

From a practical point of view I do not think that Senator Kissane would achieve the objects he has in mind by getting these amendments accepted and reaching the position he has explained to us to-night. From a practical point of view, I think there would more than likely be a breakdown at some point. There would be a breakdown, I should think, where one was trying to recruit to the Civil Service. Suppose, for example, a nuclear physicist were required, one might find it very difficult to conduct an interview with him, let alone an oral examination, through the medium of Irish. It might well be that one could not get such a man inside the country at all. He might be a foreigner. The Senator wants to tie the Civil Service Commissioners up in legal knots, knots which would militate against their getting someone like that.

Again, on the practical side, as I said on the Second Reading of this Bill, we must be realists. We must realise that our officials have to carry on their everyday business with, however much we may regret it, by and large an English speaking community. That English speaking community is, in the last analysis, the employers of the civil servants concerned.

Senator Hayes asked, by way of interjection, what about French and what about German? What about them? I think it is disgraceful that one of our State Departments is permitted to recruit civil servants who do not know any foreign language, who speak nothing except apparently the amount of Irish that was necessary to get them into the Department and ordinary everyday English. I have myself on occasion felt ashamed, when abroad, that our Department of External Affairs should employ officials so ill-qualified for posts abroad.

Coming now to the legalistic point, I would ask the House to consider whether or not the acceptance of these amendments and the embodiment of these regulations in an Act of the Oireachtas, an Act which concerns the employment of Irish citizens, may not well turn out to be contrary not only to the spirit but to the letter of our Constitution. In that respect, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that in recent years our Constitution has had a very considerable Addendum tacked on to it. That Addendum is the European Convention on Human Rights and Protocol signed in Rome in 1950 and ratified by both Houses of the Oireachtas in 1953. That instrument is now part of the Constitution, whether we like it or not, and these two instruments must be read together and interpreted together. If anyone is interested in Article 14 of the Convention on Human Rights, it says:—

"The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion..."

I think that before we plunge hap-hazardly into tying the Civil Service Commissioners by rules and regulations concerning the giving of employment to our citizens, we should make sure not only to uphold the practical point of view, but also to make certain of the legalistic ground on which we stand.

I have sympathy with a good deal of what Senator Crosbie has just said. I think it would be a good thing if our civil servants could be required to have also a knowledge of one continental language. I do not know what language that would be, but it would not matter very much. I think perhaps Senator Crosbie overstated the case a little when he suggested that there were many in the Department of External Affairs abroad who do not speak the language of the foreign country in which they serve——

On the contrary, they are highly efficient——

If I said "many" by mistake, I apologise and withdraw it because while I have met instances, I must say that such officials are the exception rather than the rule.

I am glad Senator Crosbie has made that amendment because I feel he overstated the case when he said he was ashamed. I think very frequently we have reason to be proud of the standard of French, German and Italian that we find among our young civil servants, particularly, and also among the older ones abroad. I think, while Senator Crosbie is right to ask for a high standard, if we look at some of the continental countries themselves, we find among their representatives, not unusually, not a very good knowledge of the language of the country to which they are sent.

On this amendment of Senator Kissane's, I feel, as I think all of us feel, that he goes too far. I think he went rather beyond the terms of the amendment that he originally intended because it would apparently mean that any oral examination that has to be held, would have to be held in Irish. I would go this distance with him: I feel, and I think most Senators feel, that, when Irish as a subject is part of a specific examination test, that test must include oral Irish. In other words, to treat Irish as a dead tongue, simply as a written subject like Latin or Greek is a betrayal, and a major betrayal, of the language and any kind of cultural value it may have, because the speaking of the language, learning the mechanics of throwing one's thoughts into another language, apart from the language first learned—which is English in the case of most of us— is extremely valuable. We lose more than half the value if we treat it as a dead tongue and not a spoken one.

I think, therefore, most of us would sympathise to that extent with Senator Kissane and would hope that when the Civil Service Commissioners are conducting examinations which include an Irish test, there should also be an oral test. I think that has been the practice—I speak subject to correction—of the Commissioners invariably but we must recognise it has never been the practice of the Department of Education. That, of course, is one of the astonishing things about our attitude towards the Irish language. One would expect the Department, in its examinations, would set at least the same standards as they would like to see applied by the Civil Service Commissioners; but we find it is impossible, according to the educational authorities, to institute oral Irish tests in the Intermediate and Leaving Certificate examinations. That is a fact which we may deplore but which I do not think we should conceal, that so far as the Department of Education examinations are concerned, Irish is a dead language. Furthermore, I think we would be disingenuous if we did not face the fact that if we as Senators were to be subjected to an oral test in Irish before elections we would have a sadly depleted Seanad.

Some of us would be still here.

I am prepared to say quite openly that I am afraid I should not and that might be regarded as an advantage.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator is now going outside the terms of the debate.

My point is that if we are to demand in a measure which we are passing here, as a standard the capacity to pass a test in oral Irish, ought we not to examine our own conscience and see how most of us would pass the test? I think we ought to face the facts on that, and I shall not go further. I would repeat what I said, that I go so far with Senator Kissane as to say wherever Irish is included as a subject in an examination, surely we must treat it as a living language and include, in any such examination, an oral test.

I have another word or two to say on these amendments. I think there is some misconception as to what I have in mind in regard to these amendments. What I have in mind is that the Irish language should be the foundation language in these examinations. That does not mean that all other subjects would be ruled out and indeed, if Senators will look at paragraph (e), they will see that there is provision in that for any other test or tests considered by the Commissioners to be appropriate. In other words, the amendments do not prevent. the Commissioners from carrying out a test in English, French, German or any other language or any other subject they may think appropriate. All I want to ensure is that our own language will be recognised as the first language of the State, and that is laid down in the Constitution.

Senator Crosbie referred to the Constitution. In the Constitution, the Irish language is the first language of the State and where there is any conflict between Irish and English in the interpretation of laws, the Irish language version prevails. I want these examinations that are to be conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners brought up to that level.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington mentioned the members of this House. It could not be expected that all the members of the Seanad would be sufficiently versed in the Irish language to speak it freely but it is a different matter with those candidates who will appear before the examining board set up by the Civil Service Commissioners. They will be people who have recently left school and who have the Irish language fresh in their minds and memories.

I should also point out that the language is being taught in all the schools of the country and in certain secondary schools—those schools called A schools in which all the courses are conducted through the medium of Irish. Some of these graduates from the secondary schools could very well be candidates appearing before one of these examination boards. Apart entirely from the letter of the amendments, we ought at least have the spirit of the amendments ensured. If any candidate who has graduated from an A school shows himself to the board of examiners under the Civil Service Commissioners for examination entirely through the medium of Irish, am I to take it that that person will be accommodated and examined entirely through the medium of Irish?

As I said at the outset, sub-section (2) provides what some of the Senators feared would not be possible—that is, that the Civil Service Commissioners can have recourse to any test whatever if they think it appropriate. I mentioned the secondary schools but in the university all the courses are being conducted through the medium of Irish also. I know of certain cases where such a thing was done and where the courses were conducted through the medium of Irish and wonderful successes were achieved. I do not want to go into the details of these cases but if anyone wants to question me about them later in private I am prepared to give them the details of the cases where university courses were conducted entirely through the medium of Irish and where the students achieved successes second to none. I want to give that as an example of how the Irish language can be used in all those cases when we have the will to do so. That is the question. Have we the will to go ahead? We talk about ideals. The revival of the Irish language is an ideal that has come down to us since 1916 and before it. We are wonderful people for expounding ideals but we do not seem to be determined to put these into effect afterwards. I hope the Seanad will consider these amendments, if not in the letter at least in the spirit.

As I understand it, what the Senator really wants to know is what the Civil Service Commissioners do for the Irish language. However, the amendments as put down must be considered as the Senator put them down. The section means that the Civil Service Commissioners have very wide powers through which to conduct tests by almost any method they please. First, there is a written examination. In that written examination at present, if a candidate answers in Irish he gets extra marks. I feel sure the Senator is aware of that. Then there is an oral examination. If the amendment were accepted it would mean that the oral examination would be conducted through the Irish language. There are oral examinations for people seeking to become cadets in the Department of External Affairs: there is an oral examination in Irish to see if the candidates know Irish itself; there is a test in a selected continental language. Surely such an examination could not be conducted in Irish.

It could.

How could it be conducted in Irish?

A music test could be conducted in Irish.

If the Senator is in earnest about all this, he should have taken some thought before putting down his amendments. An oral examination must be capable of being conducted in the language which is suitable for the test. If the Commissioners are conducting an examination in French they conduct the test through the medium of the French language; if in German, through the German language; if in Spanish through the medium of Spanish. As I said, there is an oral examination in Irish and in another selected continental language.

The interview is quite a different matter. The interview does not apply merely to civil servants who come from schools, such as clerical officers and writing assistants. If you are appointing a chemist and if you have an application from an Irishman with a distinguished career in England for the position of State Chemist, that man must be interviewed. The Senator now says that interview must be conducted in Irish. Surely that is impracticable from the point of view of getting the interview board to do it; they would be appointing a person to do a chemist's job not because he knew chemistry but because he knew Irish. That would be foolish and it certainly would not help the Irish language.

Practical examinations are, I take it, held for the appointment of scientists. If the amendments were accepted it would mean that in the laboratory no language but the Irish language could be used. I take it that is not what the Senator wants. What he wants is to discover whether or not the language is favoured by the Commissioners and my answer to that is that it certainly is. I do not think that the Senator's amendments are calculated to improve the Civil Service or to excite more interest in the language, which is what he wants to do and in which I am with him. I think the amendments would have the very reverse effect.

With regard to interviews conducted in Irish I take it these could be arranged; there is always somebody on the board who knows Irish. However, there may be certain difficulties. All kinds of civil servants are appointed. Interviews are normally for people not of school leaving age but for those who are older and have experience. Accordingly it might be difficult to find a board which would be competent to conduct that kind of interview in Irish. I do not think the Senator's amendments are at all practical. If they were inserted in the Bill they would have serious effects and might be to the detriment of the language.

Finally, I should like to say that, as one who has a personal interest in the language, I have very grave doubts as to whether more compulsion means more Irish. I have very grave doubts about that. I do not want to go into the whole question. This is not the time. From the practical point of view, the Senator's amendments are quite unworkable. From the point of view of a person who wants to be examined in Irish, he can be examined in Irish. I am very glad to know that there are some people still left who can perform their duties better through the medium of Irish than in the English language.

I think the principles adopted in the Civil Service Commission from the beginning have been favourable to the Irish language. That they have not had the desired result in general is unfortunately the case. That is not Senator Kissane's fault nor is it mine. It could not be remedied by this type of amendment. There are certain substantial benefits for the Irish language already. With regard to the knowledge of continental languages by certain people in our Department of External Affairs, it seems to me to be very satisfactory but, of course, I cannot speak for everybody.

I do not want to make confusion worse confounded. I have not a very legal mind. However, it seems to me that whether or not Senator Kissane's amendments are adopted, the position is exactly the same. The sub-section says: "Every competition shall consist of such one or more of the following types of test as the Commissioners direct"—note the expression "one or more". If we insert the amendments after subparagraphs (b), (c) and (d) of that sub-section, the Commissioners can still go on the conduct all the tests they like in English and never have one in Irish under sub-paragraph (e) and still fulfil the terms of this sub-section.

That is not right.

Senator Hayes is right on the other point because, under the present section, the test can at present be carried out in Irish at the request of the person being interviewed.

This is a matter into which I hesitate to go at all, for obvious reasons. I should be joining Senator Sheehy Skeffington in exterior darkness in the circumstances he outlined. It seems to me, however, that the appropriate thing to do in relation to this matter is to leave the judgment to the Civil Service Commissioners. They must be in the position of knowing, understanding and appreciating that, in relation to certain types of positions, it would be desirable to conduct perhaps the oral examination, perhaps the interview—perhaps both— in Irish and that, in relation to others, frankly I think it must be accepted that it would not.

One must consider the position from two points of view. In the first place, there is the qualification necessary for the position. With regard to certain technical qualifications, a situation might very easily arise under which the necessary personnel with those qualifications would not be available with an adequate knowledge of Irish. Equally, as Senator Hayes very correctly pointed out, there is no use in providing for an interview in relation to very technical matters unless the persons who are to conduct the interview—the interviewers as apart from the interviewees—are, in themselves, competent.

I can see certain types of interviews in respect of which the Civil Service Commissioners would have the greatest difficulty in obtaining people sufficiently competent in Irish in order to be able to carry out such an interview. I do not know enough about the subject to state it definitely but it is quite possible, for example in regard to something in chemistry pertaining to nuclear fission or something like that, that one would not be able to get a sufficiently competent board to deal with the matter through the medium of Irish. Apart from that, with respect to Senator Kissane, the amendments do not do what he intended them to do. Clearly, the amendments provide that if, for the Department of External Affairs, one wants to recruit an officer with a knowledge of French one has to test his French through the medium of the Irish language.

That could be done.

I will leave the Senator to explain how it can be done. I do not see how it could be done.

I do not think I should press these amendments any further seeing that there are some doubts in Senators' minds as to their practicability. I said myself that there are difficulties. Unfortunately, these difficulties will always be there not merely in connection with these Civil Service examinations but in connection with many things in the commercial life of the country. The question is whether we are going to continue to confine ourselves merely to what is being done in the schools for the Irish language revival. Is that going to the be-all and the end-all of our efforts to revive the Irish language?

Talk about that at the election.

As I said earlier on, unless I can get the members of the Seanad with me in this matter I consider it would be futile to proceed any further. I only hope that the discussion we have had here this evening on these amendments will serve as an indication to the people concerned that we want as much as possible to ensure that these examinations will be conducted through the medium of Irish and that every facility will be provided for people who elect to be examined through the medium of Irish. If that is one of the results of this discussion then we shall have achieved something.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 not moved.
Section 15 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In sub-section (2), to delete paragraph (b).

This amendment and the one which follows it propose the deletion of two paragraphs, one of which gives the Civil Service Commissioners the right to confine examinations to a certain class of persons defined in such manner and by reference to such things (including service in the Civil Service, sex and physical characteristics) as the Commissioners think fit. I propose to take the two amendments together. The second paragraph allows them to require that, where females are not excluded from the competition, a female candidate to be eligible for selection shall be unmarried or a widow.

It is obvious that this is the same principle which we discussed at some length earlier to-day. Consequently, I do not propose to put the same arguments again but rather to put some further arguments. I do not believe that the State must in this way use its power to keep the married woman from competing for such jobs or to keep her out of certain tests simply because she is married. I noticed in the Evening Mail to-night a photograph of our distinguished Olympic Games athletes. In that group there was one married woman who represented us at the Olympic Games. I feel that if our married women are good enough to represent us in the field of international competitive sports we might recognise that the time has come when they can compete in Civil Service examinations, however gruelling such tests may be.

It is also a fact that, although we may deceive ourselves about it, many married women have to do a lot of work and hard work outside the home. I imagine that if we were able to tell farmers' wives to-morrow that on marriage they would have to give up pigfeeding, they would be rather pleased. I could cite a list of rather strenuous occupations which are not the occupations of the housewife but which many women in this country have to engage in without regard for the fact that we have a kind of paternalistic view that, of course, their place is in the home. I suppose it might be dangerous to say that the average Irish farmer's wife works just about twice as hard as the average farmer and that a lot of the work she does is done outside the home. At least one can suggest there are very gruelling jobs done by the farmer's wife and that fact makes non-sense of the notion of the cherished Irish woman sitting daintily at home and merely occupying herself with her children.

It is also true that many Irish married women do an immense amount of valuable work outside the home as well as inside it of a purely voluntary nature. We tend to respect more the work which people do when drawing a salary than when doing work in a voluntary capacity. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that there are even political Parties which have been known to use the services of voluntary workers, who were married women, during election times. There is canvassing to be done, addressing of envelopes and the checking of the electoral list but we insist on observing the principle, not in our Constitution, but in some of our legislation, which says that married women must refrain from all such work outside the home on marriage. I doubt if such a view would be held by election candidates when it comes to election times.

It is said, and rightly said, that where married women have children their first duty is to them and to their homes. I would suggest that some of the best brought up children are the children of those women who play an active part outside as well as inside the home. I would point out furthermore that, in many of the wealthier homes, the children are not there for at least eight months of the year because they are spending all that time in expensive boarding schools where the mother is not in fact looking after them. It does not apply to the middle classes or to the poorer homes but apparently domestic life is not shattered by the fact that the married woman is not in her home looking after her children for three-quarters of the year.

Senator Crosbie referred to the Human Rights Convention under which we are pledged to see that there will be no discrimination against anyone on the grounds of sex or race or language and so on. This paragraph (b) does in fact permit the Civil Service Commissioners to make precisely such a discrimination. Where do we stand? Are we going to appear before the court which will be set up under the Convention and say that it was something which we signed lightly? I am moving these two amendments for the purpose of eliminating this type of discrimination by the State against the married woman.

May I ask permission to interrupt the business for a moment? We should normally adjourn at 10 o'clock and I wonder if the House would agree to finish this Bill to-night as the Minister will be engaged to-morrow in the other House. Will the House agree to sit until 10.30 p.m.? For the purpose of continuing with the Voluntary Health Insurance Bill and finishing the business on the Order Paper, it is proposed that we should meet to-morrow at 11 o'clock. A number of people are anxious that we should meet then instead of at 3 o'clock.


I am very disappointed with Senator Sheehy Skeffington as I was hoping that in relation to clause (b) of sub-section (2) I would have heard from him a vigorous condemnation of the fact that the Civil Service Commissioners may not, and the Minister for Finance would not, permit men to be recruited as writing assistants. The restriction in the paragraph to which the Senator refers is a restriction as regards sex. It is not one aimed only at the female sex. In fact, we will not have male writing assistants and in a competition for writing assistants we provide that they must only be females. I was hoping that the Senator was going to take up the cudgels in relation to that clause on behalf of his own sex.

In relation to the other amendment, it is one we have covered fairly fully on the other Bill. I do not think there is very much that I can add to it to-day. I would say this, however, that if you are going to provide, as we have provided in the Civil Service Regulations Bill, that a civil servant must retire—we decided this principle—on marriage, it would be putting the cart before the horse completely to provide in this section that a civil servant who was married and had been compulsorily retired on marriage under that Bill could again come in under this Bill and get readmission. That would be making a farce of the whole proceedings. The Senator must accept that although technically the two Bills stand apart, there was a decision against him on the other Bill.

On the last point, the Minister has logic on his side. He will recognise that when I put down these amendments I was entitled to rely on the whole House passing them.

Without question.

Despite the fact that logic would appear to be on his side, I feel that, if we were to pass this amendment now, with a change of heart after we have had our tea, this would represent at least one step forward, and when we come to consider the other facts at a later stage in a later Bill, we would be able to say that that was the turning point, that that was when we saw the light. Consequently I would like to press these amendments.

Amendment declared lost.

Will those Senators anxious for a division on this amendment please rise?

Senator Sheehy Skeffington rose.

The Senator will be recorded as dissenting.

Amendment No. 6 not moved.
Section 16 agreed to.
Sections 17 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.
First and Second Schedules and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.55 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 12th December, 1956.