Private Business. - Rules for National Schools: Motion (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That the Seanad would welcome a reconsideration by the Minister for Education of recent changes made by him in the Rules for National Schools.
—(Senator Sheehy Skeffington).

I had a few minutes last week to start my reply and I want to finish this evening, if possible. I am sorry the Minister cannot be present but I appreciate that there are a lot of calls on his time. I am grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for being present. I would like, first of all, to answer some of the points made by Senators. The first speech I want to deal with is that of Senator Ó Maoláin. He made some, what seemed to me, fantastic remarks about my speech being the gory story of sadistic teachers. I was making the point last time that I never used the word "sadistic", either in my opening speech or on any occasion when I raised the question of corporal punishment. Senator Yeats also seemed to think I made some "sadistic" references. My main contention has been that the vast majority of cases of corporal punishment are for minor offences which may not do any harm but are so rife that attention should be paid to them. The quantity of those minor beatings, furthermore, may become a basis for extreme cases.

Senator Ó Maoláin startled me, and rather frightened me, by saying: "The ghost of Cromwell walks the land today." This naturally is geared to frighten any Senator walking out in the dark after a meeting. I never understood his reference to the ghost of Cromwell. Apparently, the identification here was pretty well between myself and Cromwell. I never understood that Cromwell was a vehement opponent of corporal punishment. I rather thought the contrary, that he was an exponent of it. I do not agree the cap fits here.

If the Senator read the rest of the paragraph, he would understand what the reference was.

I struggled to understand it. I remember, in fact, the point he was making. Cromwell treated teachers very badly and I was similarly treating them very badly. Therefore, Cromwell and I were on the same level. James Joyce, Seán O'Casey and myself also came more or less into the same bracket. I should be very proud to be considered in the same bracket, but I do not really feel that this is a strong argument. In fact, I am inclined to ask what kind of nonsense is this, in relation to this motion. All I can say in relation to Senator Ó Maoláin's remarks in this connection is that I am quite convinced the major portion of the more nonsensical views and speeches he makes he does not believe in at all. I give him credit for that. Why does he do it? Why does he make this kind of speech? I have a sort of feeling it is in order to show that there is a big difference between the extreme reactionary, which he pretends momentarily to be, but which he is not, and myself, whom he might regard as an extreme in the other direction. This would allow the Minister to tread the middle path and look very liberal because he does not go all the way with Senator Ó Maoláin and all the way with me. This is the only explanation I can find for Senator Ó Maoláin going to such lengths of absurdity.

Senator Ó Maoláin also said that the Irish revolutionaries, whom we are soon to honour, were all produced by national schools. I intervened and reminded him of what Pádraig Pearse, who is regarded as the symbol of those men, thought of the national schools of his day. I have a copy of his pamphlet here. He called them the murder machines of the day. He compared the English educational system in Ireland with the systems of slave education which existed in the ancient pagan republics side by side with the systems intended for the education of freemen. He went on to say:

To the children of the free were taught all noble and goodly things which would tend to make them strong and proud and valiant; from the children of the slaves all such dangerous knowledge was hidden. They were taught not to be strong and proud and valiant, but to be sleek, to be obsequious, to be dexterous: the object was not to make them good men but to make them good slaves. And so in Ireland. The education system here was designed by our masters in order to make us willing or at least manageable slaves.

Senator Ó Maoláin spoke about those "splendid" schools, the schools which "formed" people like Pádraig Pearse. This is what Pearse thought of the national schools of his day, and I feel his argument will have some strength.

They were the very schools that produced the flying column of the IRA.

I would say the rebels produced by those schools were in rebellion against authority, as Senator Ó Maoláin and his Party very frequently were, and very frequently, if not always, to their credit. You cannot have it both ways. The men who came out and the men who fought were not sleek and obsequious but that is what Pádraig Pearse thought was the aim of the national schools in his day. I could give further quotations but I shall not weary the House on that point.

Senator Ó Maoláin also said that "restrictions" on corporal punishment, as he said, "must be got rid of." I wonder what the late Tomás Ó Deirig, who introduced in 1946 these restrictions, would have thought? Why should his restrictions be got rid of? I think he, in introducing amendments to those regulations, was doing a very good job. I do not feel he was imposing either irrational or harmful restrictions.

Senator Ó Maoláin would also ask us to believe that teachers would not be "robbed of their authority" if we did not allow them to use corporal punishment. From whom or from what is this authority derived? From whom in fact is the authority of our national school system derived? If you go back to the Council of Education Report, you will find, of course, it derives in a major extent from the British administration, going right back to the Lord Lieutenant and his rules and regulations. The authority of the Minister, and the authority of the school managers, and in particular, the managerial system, was the British system. It was welcomed by many of the authorities then despised by Pádraig Pearse but it is still in operation. This authority and, of course, the vesting of this authority more theoretically than in practice in the parents of the parish, goes, in fact, to the school managers who need not in fact, under the law, be clergy. They can be any prominent or respect-worthy citizen but, in practice as we know, almost all of them are clerical school managers, but their "authority" derives directly from the old Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

I think it worth mentioning, when we talk about authority, the case of the teacher McGahern who was given leave of absence by the Minister. The Minister paid his salary while he was a teacher for seven and a half years, and I have it on good authority from pupils under his care that he was regarded as one of the best teachers in the school. I also heard, indeed, that he was granted a special award some years before as an outstandingly good teacher, but the fact is, of course, that he was given leave of absence by the Minister, and was paid by the Minister, but when he was dismissed, deprived of his livelihood by the school manager, not only did the Minister have nothing to say to it but he has, we were told, no responsibility, no control, no authority in the matter. That is the point I am making—the authority in the school is all too often not vested in the Minister at all; he has no power, in other words. I should like to ask the question whether, in a particular case like that, involving ministerial authority, from whom did the Minister receive the order to cease paying a salary to this dismissed teacher?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair is a little troubled about the relevance of this to the changes in regulations which are the subject of the motion.

I wanted to make the point that if teachers are being robbed of their "authority"——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

If the Senator is going to leave it, he need not summarise what he said.

I turn to the speech of Senator Garret FitzGerald and he said quite reasonably that it was for me, on my side of the debate, to show that corporal punishment can be done without. I shall try to satisfy him on that point. I should first like to quote a letter in The Times of London dated November 11th, 1965, signed by the headmaster of a Jewish school in London.

He says, in relation to corporal punishment:

Caning is an indignity for the child as well as for the teacher who administers it and too frequently is not efficacious.

In the Rosh Pinah Jewish Day School, of which I have the honour to be Principal, corporal punishment is unknown and no lack of discipline results. Generally speaking one can, over a period of time, create a climate of happy discipline, which obviates the treating of children as some ignorant people treat the lower animals.

In the Scandinavian countries, and in France—about which I know a fair amount—it is found possible throughout the whole educational system to abolish corporal punishment altogether. Even the Les Fréres de la Doctrine Chrétienne in France and their counterparts in Italy teach there effectively without recourse to corporal punishment. How can this be? If corporal punishment can be done without by this teaching order in France and Italy, why is it necessary in Ireland? Is it because Irish children have a greater dose of original sin, or is it because Irish teachers have a greater dose of original sin? Why is it necessary here, if it can be done without in the Scandinavian countries and in France?

I will say this also, to come nearer to home. In Ireland, as Senators know, some of the teaching orders—and by no means the least effective ones— never use corporal punishment. I would regard this as a central proof that it can effectively be done without by the others. I should like to quote Fr. O'Doherty, Professor of Psychology in University College, Dublin, who was quoted by Michael Viney lately as saying—I will paraphrase but, essentially, this is what he said: No person who willingly inflicts pain upon a child can be considered civilised.

That is the opinion of the Professor of Psychology in University College, Dublin. It does not necessarily mean we have to accept that without question but it does mean that we have to see it as being in favour of the dropping or modification of the application of corporal punishment in our schools.

I should like to cite the case of a boy-he is now a young man-whom I questioned on a previous occasion when I was inquiring in all directions as to the extent of corporal punishment in schools—and I knew he was a boy who had been in a primary and secondary school of a well-known teaching order. I asked him if corporal punishment extended to the secondary school level and he said: "Yes." I said: "Up to what class?" He said: "Up to the Leaving Certificate form." This was a boy who got 75 per cent in Leaving Certificate Honours in chemistry and physics. I asked him further how many were in the class and he replied "30". I then asked what age were they and he replied: "About 17½." I asked how many approximately would be beaten on an average? He paused and said: "About ten per week". These were senior boys in a relatively small class going up for Leaving Certificate Honours. I asked him another question: "Were there any Brothers who did not use corporal punishment?" He said: "There were two who never laid a finger on us." I asked if they were any use, and he replied: "Ah, the best."

Again, I regard this as an argument showing that it is not necessary in Ireland to have corporal punishment as commonly applied as it is in our schools. Just one final point about that particular boy which struck me: he was a lightearted, intelligent and cheerful person, and yet when he was answering these questions—and in fact the only time I ever saw it happen— he was trembling with hatred. I feel that this is not a normal condition for a boy; he had left the school two or three years before that occasion, when he was asked a number of questions about his schooling. Yet he was apparently still filled with hatred.

In further answer to Senator Garret FitzGerald's question as to whether it could be shown that corporal punishment could be done away with, a Yorkshire survey, the West Riding of Yorkshire, again as illustrated by Michael Viney, showed, in a detailed survey on schools which had given up corporal punishment, that there was no question but that discipline improved and the delinquency figures diminished after the abolition of corporal forms of punishment.

I should like to make one final quotation. It is from a book in the Library downstairs called The Challenge of the Retarded Child. It is by a nun—Sr. Mary Theodore, OSF, published in 1964, and this is one of the things she says:

Unless discipline becomes self-discipline, it has little permanent value. The attempt to forestall misbehaviour through fear of punishment will not help the child to control his conduct when the threat is removed.

That seems to me a very balanced statement. I refer Senators to the book, which is in our own Library downstairs.

So in answer to Senator Garret FitzGerald's question of whether or not corporal punishment can be done without, I suggest that it can, for those six reasons I have given; and they are examples of why I think it can be done without, and fruitfully done without.

Senator Garret FitzGerald also asked the Minister why the rules in regard to corporal punishment had been changed, and the answer he got from the Minister was a pretty dusty one, I am afraid. The answer was that the Minister is proud of his "positive approach"—and the word is his—to the new rules. I should like now to do what perhaps I should have done before. I should like to quote side by side the old rules and the new rules so that they may be on record. I shall quote first of all from section 3 of Rule 95 of the old rules. It reads:

To evince a regard for the improvement and general welfare of their pupils; to treat them with kindness, combined with firmness; and to aim at governing them by their affections and reason, rather by harshness and severity.

Rule 96 of the old Rules reads:

(1) Corporal punishment should be administered only for grave transgressions. In no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered for mere failure at lessons.

(2) Only the principal teacher, or such other member of the staff as may be duly authorised by the manager for the purpose, should inflict corporal punishment.

(3) Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children's ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with sever penalties.

(4) No teacher should carry about a cane or other instrument of punishment.

(5) Frequent recourse to corporal punishment will be considered by the Minister as indicating bad tone and ineffective discipline.

Those were the old Rules. The new Rule, number 130 at page 74 reads as follows:

(1) Teachers should have a lively regard for the improvement and general welfare of their pupils, treat them with kindness combined with firmness and should aim at governing them through their affections and reason and not by harshness and severity. Ridicule, sarcasm or remarks likely to undermine a pupil's self-confidence should be avoided.

(2) Corporal punishment should be administered only in cases of serious misbehaviour and should not be administered for mere failure at lessons.

(3) Corporal punishment should be administered only by the principal teacher or other member of the school staff authorised by the manager for the purpose.

(4) Any teacher who inflicts improper or excessive punishment will be regarded as guilty of conduct unbefitting a teacher and will be subject to severe disciplinary action.

Having quoted one after the other the old and the new Rule, I should like to make the point that in the new Rule there are, in fact, five sentences in all. Four of these sentences are negative in effect, I think, and the other is already there in the old Rules as I have quoted them. Five sentences, four are negative and one positive, and that one is already in the old Rule. What becomes, therefore, of the Minister's plea that the change in the Rules represents a "new" positive approach? He has five sentences. One is positive, and it was already in the old Rule and the other four are negative. I regard his defence of the change as eyewash.

Senator FitzGerald was perfectly right on another point he made, in regard to parent-teacher associations, which I should like to see evolving, about crankiness on the part of some parents being dealt with in practive by parental public opinion. That is the best way to deal with it. It does not, in fact, provide a problem. The mere fact that there is an occasional crank or crackpot does not mean you must not allow teachers and parents to come together. It makes it easier because the parents themselves will deal with unreasonable parents.

Senator FitzGerald made very strongly the point that parents should be encouraged to come into the schools. I should like to read the new Rule 13 on page 11. Section 1 reads thus:

Any person may, with the manager's permission, visit a national school during school hours for the purpose of observing the ordinary working of the school, but such visitor may not interfere with the business of the school or divert the attention of the teachers or pupils from their work.

The old Rule 3 on page 9 was:

The teachers should receive visitors courteously and afford them an opportunity of observing the ordinary working of the school.

There is here again a significant change in the Rule. Previously the parents could go freely to the schools provided they did not disturb the work. Now they can go only with the manager's permission. I asked the Minister for an explanation of this change, but I did not get any answer on the point.

I want to turn now to the speech made by Senator McAuliffe. He suggested that I was bound to raise this question at the very first opportunity and so on, and apparently he was disappointed that I was not elected to the Seanad the last time. He felt in a sense—perhaps I am being unjust— that they had wasted their time in getting Senator Brosnahan in here to answer me when I was not here to be answered. We are both here today, I am glad to say. I think the Senator will do this justice to me: I want to point out that on July 28th and 29th I spoke—and not briefly—on the Appropriation Bill and I mentioned education. I spoke about the Minister's plans and about the Minister himself. I gave him a great deal of praise, and though in one passage I did mention corporal punishment, it certainly was not the major portion of what I said. I should like to feel—but I am not innocent enough to believe it—that the Minister might have read what I said then, because certainly what I said was very much in favour of what the new Minister said in his speech on the Estimate in the Dáil.

I come now, however, to Senator McAuliffe's reference to my "attacks on national school teacher". I do not think I attack or have attacked national school teachers. I recognise that teachers are caught between the upper and the nether millstone, the upper millstone being the managers above them, and the nether millstone being the overcrowded classes under their charge. I have said again and again that I recognise that the vast majority of teachers do not maltreat their students. For instance, on 19th April, 1956, as reported at column 1950 of the Official Report, I said:

These are extreme cases. I have never suggested that this type of case is the rule. But I am satisfied that the extreme cases show a background, a general pattern, of beating for minor offences, that is to say, not grave transgressions, and I suggest that that goes on to the certain knowledge of most of the parents of the country in far too many schools, and that it applies to girls as well as to boys.

On June 30th, 1955, as reported at column 105, I said:

...when any protest or criticism is made of beating in schools, one sees an unhappy "closing of the ranks", and unfortunately, the good teacher who, I am convinced, is in the big majority, feels bound to defend the transgressors from a sort of false sense of loyalty.

That is my attitude towards teachers. The good teacher is in the vast majority. That is what I have said all along. I do not like to be credited with making a kind of all-out and indiscriminate attack upon the teaching profession. In fact, on 30th June, 1955, when I raised this on the Adjournment as reported at column 100 of the Official Report, I said:

In relation to the teachers, I know that the teachers themselves are uneasy about the whole question of corporal punishment, that the National Conference of the INTO had several resolutions down calling for the abolition of corporal punishment in primary schools—and indeed I think that in that direction lies perhaps the best solution.

My sympathy goes to the teacher. I myself am a teacher; I am the son of teachers, and I do not want anything I say subsequently to be taken as a sort of general attack upon the teaching profession.

These three quotations I think should suffice to indicate that I am not making a slashing and all-out attack on the teachers for the situation in relation to corporal punishment in our schools.

I quote one final passage from the Seanad debate of June 30th, 1955, when I said at column 105:

I should like to ask also what is the teacher to do? We know that they are teaching sometimes close on 60 to 70 children in overcrowded conditions. We know that many of them are under-trained teachers. We know that most of them are underpaid. We know that there are no recreational facilities for the children. That is all very true, but is this the fault of the children of six and upwards in the schools? Why should these children pay for neglect of duty by the Department, by the Minister, by society, by all of us, and pay dearly for it, in terms of pain and fear and tears?

I think I have demonstrated therefore that Senator McAuliffe was less than just when he accuses me of making constant attacks on national teachers. Clearly I did not make general attacks on national teachers, and I never have.

Senator McAuliffe thinks it is a slur on or an insult to the teacher to say: "Do not box this child's ear or pull his hair". I would ask him to consider whether it is an insult, for instance, to the country folk to say: "Do not make poteen". Is it an insult to a factory to say: "Do not have insanitary premises or unsafe machines"? Do they feel offended if we pass legislation and post up rules for safety regulations in factories? Is it an insult to a motorist to say: "Do not drink" or "Do not exceed 30 miles an hour in a built-up area"? No insult is involved; no slur is intended and the same applies to rules for school discipline.

Senator McAuliffe also referred to "Constance O'Connell type of propaganda". Propaganda is properly defined, I think, in the American phrase, as "The other side put so well that it makes you mad". What in fact have Mr. and Mrs. O'Connell, and the School Children's Protection Association which they helped to found, done? What they did primarily, and the major impact and import of their work, was quite simply to make the Rules widely known to the parents. They have said all along—and I differ from them in degree—that all they wanted was the application of the Rules. They did not want abolition. They made the Rules widely known to parents, and this is regarded by some as not merely making the Rules widely known but necessarily also making it widely known that the Rules were being widely broken. Therefore it seemed to be concluded that since now the Rules were known and it was now widely known that they were being broken, the only action the Minister could take was to have the Rules changed. If only the School Children's Protection Organisation and Mr. and Mrs. O'Connell had kept quiet, then the Rules need not have been changed, because though they were in fact being broken with impunity but most parents would have been none the wiser.

The strap, under the new dispensation, is now permitted, and its use need no longer be confined to the hand. I do not know whether the Seanad have seen the strap, the sort of current article, but I have one of them here and I do not know whether the House would consider it a dangerous instrument or not.

Will the Senator lay it on the Table of the House?

Certainly, and I am prepared to lay it on any volunteer Senator, for that matter. They can all recognise that it makes itself both heard and felt. This is the strap which has become legitimate under the new Rules. I will be happy to put it in the archives of the Library, which would be a very good place to put it. I am assured that one teaching order in fact orders 12 dozen of these straps in the year. I do not know what the mortality of an individual strap is, and it may well be that many of them disappear and could be found in private archives of many pupils of these schools, but this figure has been cited to me. I wonder if the number purchased will increase, now that the strap can be used without breaking the Rules. It may be that the number will not increase because the departmental Rules have been flouted with impunity all along.

I come now to Senator Brosnahan and I must confess—I hope he will not be offended—that his whirling words and flailing arms cause me to reflect how much I would rather, if I had to choose, be in a class of Senator McAuliffe's than in a class of Senator Brosnahan's. He did not frighten me quite as much as Senator Ó Maoláin and his ghost of Cromwell but certainly he had me scared. He seemed to be wilder, less controlled, less equable, more insecure, if he will permit me to say so, and more uneasy than Senator McAuliffe who was a good deal more peaceful and equable.

Senator Brosnahan did not, I think, understand the purpose of my references to the Keeley case in Ballyfermot, or the Hurley case in Raharoon, West Cork. My object in referring to the Keeley case was to show by example what type of punishment would not be considered, in the words of the new Rules, "excessive or improper", and I cited a specific case which was not considered excessive or improper. I was not making the case that this was a typical example. I was making the case that it would not be considered improper or excessive.

I referred to the Raharoon case in order to refer to the ministerial inquiries and to illustrate their secret and furtive nature.

In the Keeley case, Senator Brosnahan said that, in the phrase used by the school manager, Canon Troy, "examined the child" and found him to be a liar about the cause of the beating. I would recall to the Seanad, however, that the school manager refused to examine the child about the effect of the beating. We have here a situation in which a mother brings a seven-year-old child to the school manager and says: "My child has 10 weals on his back. Will you look at what happened to him?" And the manager refuses even to look at what is stated to be the result of school punishment. The child is a liar, and this is enough. I feel that to say that the school manager "examined" the child is perhaps an incomplete statement. "The child is a liar"— perhaps he is. Many seven-year-old children are liars, and I would almost say that if such a child always told the absolute truth, there would be something abnormal there which would need watching. I would also say that some adults, shall we put it, have different interpretations of the truth.

I notice, for instance, that in this particular case the defendant teacher swore on oath that he had given three or four strokes to the child. His colleague, Mr. Kenealy, swore also on oath that he had witnessed five strokes being given; the dispensary doctor swore, also on oath, that ten weals were on the child's back, some of them three or four inches long; and the defence doctor swore that the worst mark he saw on the child's back was only an inch long. These clearly are different interpretations of the truth, and I feel that in these circumstances he who is without sin perhaps might well be best qualified to throw the first stone at the boy who may not be a staunch adherent of the truth.

Two defence witnesses in this case testified on oath that the Department representative had investigated——

This case has been tried in the High Court by a judge and jury——

Is this in order?

It is a point of order.

Is it a point of order, a Leas-Chathaoirligh?

This is not a court of appeal. I leave it to the Leas-Chathaoirleach.

This is a point on which Senator Brosnahan held forth at great length and I now propose to reply to him. Surely I have the right to put the other point of view without being stifled——

I am not trying to stifle the Senator. I am entitled to make a point of order. The point of order I am endeavouring to make is that this case has been tried by judge and jury in the High Court and a decision has been handed down. It is ultra vires the functions of this House to hear the evidence right through again with the idea of reversing the decision of the court.

This is not my idea and I have not said so.

It is not, because the Senator has been selecting everything he said.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I have the substance of the point of order being made.

I wish to make my point of order without further interruption.

I have no intention of contravening order——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair has no intention of listening further to either Senator. Senators should always exercise great care in discussions on matters which have been through the courts. It has been a custom of this House that decisions of judges in the courts should not be criticised. I have been examining very carefully what Senator Sheehy Skeffington has been saying during the past few minutes. He started out by referring to what had been the interpretation of the phrase "reasonable punishment". He developed that at greater length than the Chair would have wished. In my opinion, he was very close to the bounds of order but not out of order.

I had not finished making my point.

Making your speech.

I maintain that Senator Sheehy Skeffington now and on a previous occasion tried to get around the Ballyfermot case by mentioning it en passant.

Senator Nash dealt with it at great length and there was no objection from Senator Brosnahan.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This case has been referred to repeatedly during the debate and almost all Senators went very near the bounds of order. As far as the Chair is concerned, Senator Sheehy Skeffington has not yet——

In stating that wrong evidence was given in two courts?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I have not heard him say that.

If I may now proceed in an orderly fashion, if Senator Brosnahan will maintain discipline in class, we might get ahead. I do not threaten him with this strap because I am not an advocate of such methods.

A little of it would not have done him any harm.

This demonstrates the attitude of mind of the Senator, which is not very attractive or helpful. The point I was making relates not only to what Senator Brosnahan said about the case at length but also to a point Senator Nash made. Senator Nash asked me if, in the light of what he said, I would modify what I said. Senator Brosnahan tried to have this ruled out of order. Two defence witnesses testified on oath that the Department's representative who investigated the case exonerated the teacher.

Senator Nash made the case—I certainly believe what he said—that this arose not from an official report from the Department but from a casual remark by the inspector involved, and that, therefore, in good faith, these two witnesses might well have said that an official of the Department had investigated the case and had exonerated the teacher. This is quite a probable explanation of the apparent discrepancy between this sworn testimony and what the Minister said on the point in the Dáil. I quote from column 765 of Volume 218 of the Official Report.

Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Education whether he caused an investigation to be carried out into a complaint of beating in a school (details supplied); if so, the date and nature of such investigation; whether the pupil in question or his parents or medical advisers were consulted by the Department's inspector; if not, why; and whether the findings of any such investigation were communicated to (a) the school manager (b) the teacher and (c) the parents of the pupil.

Mr. Colley: As in the normal practice in such cases, when resort was had to legal proceedings the official investigation by my Department was suspended. The Deputy is no doubt aware of the outcome of these proceedings and in view of it I do not propose to take any further action in the matter.

Mr. Ryan: Is the Minister aware that a statement was made in court regarding the findings of an inquiry which the Minister now tells us was never held?

Mr. Colley: I am not aware of any such thing.

Mr. Ryan: I would ask the Minister to look up the records. It is a very serious matter.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.

Before the interval I had just quoted from the question in the Dáil put to the Minister for Education by Deputy Richie Ryan and the supplementary questions and answer which I considered relevant, and which Senator Nash had not available when he was quoting the question. It was made clear in the quotation, which I just gave, that the Minister was not fully aware that a statement had been made on oath in court regarding the findings of an inquiry which the Minister now tells us was never held. Apparently, the Minister heard about this for the first time when Deputy Richie Ryan mentioned it in the Dáil.

Senator Nash asked me to recognise that the statements by those two witnesses might well be in accordance with the facts, arising possibly from the fact that the inspector made a remark in private conversation which was interpreted by the two defence witnesses as meaning that he had reached a judicial conclusion to an investigation which, in actual fact, was never concluded, according to the Minister. I wrote to the Minister on this point since the Seanad debate, and I inspector in question as to whether an injudicious remark in private conversation had been made which might lead the authorities in the school to think that the investigation was completed and the teacher exonerated as was said subsequently in court. Unfortunately, the Minister has replied to me that the inspector in question has retired from the service and apparently he cannot be got in touch with. I do not know the details, but I am prepared to accept what I have been told.

Has the inspector retired from writing?

I would not like to suggest that he has been held incommunicado, but apparently the Minister cannot get in touch with him. For some reason it is not possible to put this question in such a way that he could answer it. However, I am prepared to accept that those two witnesses said in good faith in court that the case had been investigated and the inspector had exonerated the teacher. I would say, according to the facts before them, that this seemed to be the truth. I would think, however, it would have been necessary, in order to tell the whole truth, to tell the court that this was in casual conversation, not in official reply from the Department.

I am glad to see Senator Nash is back here now, because he told us he was giving us the facts on this Keeley case. I do not want, at tedious length, to go back over that. I do not, in fact, challenge very much of what Senator Nash said but what I have to say merely adds some facts to which, like the Minister's reply to the supplementary question, he apparently had not got access in his brief. The alleged beating of the child took place on 2nd October, 1964. The assault case was taken arising therefrom. Of course, it became necessary for the defendant to show that no more force than necessary was used in order to prove that this was an assault. The various facts were presented, but I need not go into that in detail. The mother complained and brought the child to the manager. The manager became convinced that the child was telling lies. He did not have a look at what the mother alleged about the wounds of the child. He then suspended the child from the school.

There is a relevant point here that has not been made but which I should like to put before the Seanad, that is, that no previous complaint had been made to the parents by the school as to the language or behaviour of this boy, about whom it was said later he was an extremely bad boy, a bad influence, using bad language and so on. I should like to read, therefore, to the Seanad a letter, first of all, from the manager of the school to the parents, arising out of the incident. This is October 15th, 1964, from the Presbytery, Ballyfermot. It is signed by the school manager, Canon M.C. Troy. It says:

Dear Mrs. Keeley,

We have a high standard of discipline in our Parish Schools—Our Lady Queen of Angels. I am fortunate in having excellent teachers who take personal interest in all the boys in training in hygiene and cleanliness, good manners, games and discipline.

We are fortunate also in having excellent boys who co-operate with the teachers, by being studious, obedient and respectful.

I regret that your boy, coming with a record of boldness from his previous school, has maintained that bold attitude by being unruly and disobedient with displays of bad temper and bad language. In justice to the other excellent children and their parents, I cannot allow this bad example to continue as it would ruin the discipline and the good name of the school.

Since his return to school this unsettled unruly conduct has continued. Accordingly, I find myself in duty bound to the other children, and indeed in an effort to cure the boy, to suspend him from the school for one week as from Monday next, October 19th to Monday, October 26th.

It is your obligation primarily to correct him sufficiently, so that he will conduct himself on his return to school.

Should there be no improvement after this warning and suspension, it will be my painful, though very necessary, duty to expel him from the school.

I would like to do all that I can to make a good boy of him. So I suggest for your consideration that if you feel that he is beyond your power to control and improve him you should send him to a child psychiatrist for expert treatment.

I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Now Mr. and Mrs. Keely were distressed by this, the first indication to them from the school of any bad conduct on the part of their boy. So, on their behalf, Messrs. Ryan and Wallace wrote to the Very Reverend Michael Canon Troy.

The Chair would like the Senator to relate these matters to the recent changes made by the Minister in the Regulations for National Schools.

In the speeches made subsequent to my opening of this motion, I was challenged very strongly about the factual details of this case and, in particular, with relation to my query as to the suspension of the boy. Senator Nash was allowed —and I think rightly allowed—to trace the facts of the case as he saw them and I would submit, with respect, that in answering, I should have a similar right to mention some of the facts he did not mention at all, probably because he was not aware of them. This is related, in fact, to a case which was dealt with in quite a lot of detail by these two other Senators. I beg leave to read the letter, which is very important, on behalf of the parents written by the solicitors bringing out the fact that they asked for specific information about this.

In so far as it relates to what I stated—I gave certain facts—I would ask the Senator to quote from what I said if he wishes. If there be any portion of it he can contradict, I would ask him to contradict it. If what I said happens to be true, I would ask him to agree that it is true. But he is going far beyond that. Either he agrees with it or he does not.

I am concerned with the whole truth.

So are we all.

The Senator would be entitled to answer the specific matters raised by Senator Nash, but not to introduce matters which are completely extraneous to the debate.

I agree, but I suggest, with respect, that this is not extraneous but is specifically related to the case in which the boy received punishment which the courts decided was not excessive or improper.

It seems to be extraneous to the motion set down. However, the Senator to continue and to get away from that particular aspect.

I shall bear in mind what the Chair says but I should like to leave this by quoting the letter from the solicitors as to what could be done in relation to the boy. With your permission, I shall then read the letter.

I want to remind the Senator that we are not in court.

On a point of order, Sir, you may not be aware that so far the Senator has been discussing this one court case for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

I would feel that I am entitled to a certain amount of injury time for interruptions!

I know of at least five Senators who have spoken on this particular matter from their own points of view, as they were fully entitled to. I think the person who has been the subject of the attacks they have launched should be allowed to make his case.

The Senator is entitled to answer matters mentioned in the course of the debate.

I shall now read the letter from Messrs. Ryan and Wallace to the Very Rev. Michael Canon Troy:

Dear Reverend Father,

We act on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Keeley of 176 Blackditch Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10, who have handed us your letter of the 15th October in which you informed them that you had suspended their son, Seamus, for one week from 15th October.

Our clients instruct us that your letter came as a great shock to them, especially as this was the first time that they had ever received any complaint about their son's conduct either from you, the Principal Teacher, or any of his other teachers. While our clients appreciate the need for dicipline and correction and do not except their son, Seamus, from the ordinary faults and failings of children of his age and from the need constantly to correct and supervise him, they naturally resent the stigma you have placed upon him by suspending him, without prior warning or consultation, as to the best means of dealing with him.

We have perused the Rules and Regulations for National Schools and fail to find therein any authority under which you are entitled to suspend their child from the school, or to expel, as you threaten in your letter. We are instructed to inform you that should you proceed to expel their son, they will be obliged to have recourse to the Courts to enforce the constitutional right of their son to free primary education.

Our clients are deeply conscious of their obligations to their child and have no desire to have their son singled out from his school mates by being identified with Court proceedings or anything else which might tend to injure him.

With a view to obviating further trouble in their child's schooling and so that he may grow up like other children, they would appreciate your and his teacher's assistance and cooperation at every stage. In order that they may correct his school faults, they would be obliged if you would let us know in greater detail:—

(1) How has he been unruly and disobedient?

(2) The occasions he has displayed bad temper and some idea of the bad language he is said to use.

It is our clients' intention to discuss their son's conduct with him and to keep a watchful eye at home over such of his bad habits that might give rise to disciplinary action at school.

Yours faithfully,

The Chair has heard the Senator quite fully on this matter. The Senator should now discuss to the terms of the motion.

On that point, I should mention that, to that letter, there was no reply whatever, not even an acknowledgment.

Now the case was traced by Senator Nash, but he omitted to say that, although the defence denied that the infant plaintiff suffered personal injury at all, the defendant lodged £26 in court and £8 for special damages including medical treatment necessary. Five guineas was accepted by the defendant's father on account of medical treatment for this "inexcessive" punishment. I think it highly relevant to notice that it is possible to punish a child in school legitimately to the extent of incurring five guineas damages—for which the medical treatment would cost five guineas—without this being considered "improper" or "excessive". It is very relevant to the change in the Rules, because this is the phrase which is used. I am not suggesting that five guineas is the ceiling. It may be possible to do more expensive damage to the child, but I am suggesting that you can do at least this amount of damage, financially assessed to the extent of five guineas, without the punishment being necessarily regarded as excessive.

That is not correct.

What I am saying is correct. What I argue from it is arguable, and that is what I am doing. Eight pounds were paid to the defendant, of which five guineas were for medical treatment for the injury the child had received. This is factually established.

The Chair would suggest that the Senator should go to the recent changes made by the Minister in regard to the Rules for National Schools.

I would proceed more smoothly on each point I make if, at intervals, two or three Senators did not persist in saying: "That is not correct."

It cannot possibly be correct. The money is lodged without admission of liability. In this case, no money was drawn out of court.

There was. The Senator said £8 was taken out.

I should like to read from a circuit court document, Record No. 4,553/64.

On a point of order, has any of this any relevance to the Department's rules?

It is relevant to what can be done under the Rules.

If I am to be interrupted and my facts challenged, and if when I am prepared to give documentary proof that my facts are correct and that is challenged as being out of order, I think I can claim your protection, Sir, and get it.

I will hear the Senator's reply, but I again urge him to come to the terms of the motion.

This circuit court document says:

Take notice that the second named Plaintiff accepts the amount of £8 lodged in Court in satisfaction of the claim of him the second named Plaintiff.

Anyone who wants to see this legal document which proves what I say, and disproves what Senator Nash is trying to say, can see that there were two cases, that £26 was lodged in one and £8 in the other, and £5 of that £8 accepted was for medical costs.

Has this anything to do with the Department's Rules?

It shows what can be done.

I could finish if I were not constantly heckled by people who do not know what they are talking about in relation to this case.

Perhaps the Senator will leave the legal matter aside and come to the question raised in the motion.

He is determined to re-hash that case.

He has spent 30 minutes on it.

How much was injury time? We should have a whistle here.

About three minutes was relevant so far.

Senator Yeats was irrelevant the whole way through his speech. He was deliberately dishonest in his whole approach.


Senator McQuillan will address the Chair.

I have a great affection for Senator Yeats, but I cannot accept him as the arbiter of order in this House. Senator Yeats will recall that the Leas-Chathaoirleach had great trouble in keeping him in order when he tried to deal with the one- and two-teacher schools arising out of this motion, and when he was challenged as to what particular Rule he was referring to, he had to confess he was quoting not the Rules but the syllabus!

I quoted five Rules.

The Chair appreciates Senator Sheehy Skeffington's respect for Senator Yeats and again urges him to come to the terms of the motion.

I also have respect for Senator Sheehy Skeffington. Senator Brosnahan quoted at length from a judgment in the High Court, and I should like with your permission, Sir, to quote from a judgment in the Supreme Court, if I may. This judgment is given in the case of Bourke, an Infant v. CIE and Sarah Nolan. It arises out of an application under section 63 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961. I will not weary the Seanad by reading the section but it can be looked up and quoted if necessary. The judgment was given by Justice Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and contains the following:

But whether complex or simple, the section requires the judge to decide what should be done. If he decides in favour of acceptance then the case is at an end; if not satisfied of the adequacy of the lodgment then he orders the case to go to trial. In the latter instance circumstances may arise where a judge may think it proper to make a speaking order if he considers that there is something he wishes to bring to the notice of the judge who will later be called upon to rule on costs.

That demonstrates that in the first application of this case in the circuit court the judge had two alternatives, either to rule that the £26 lodged was enough and dismiss the case, or that it was not enough and that it should go forward for trial. In fact, what happened was that he would not rule either way despite his legal obligation, in the opinion of the Supreme Court, to do so. I suggest that the child at that juncture, therefore, had a right to one judicial determination in his favour which he did not get, under section 63 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961.

The Chair has been very lenient with the Senator and again calls on him to come to the question of the recent changes made by the Minister in the Rules for National Schools.

I relate what I have been saying closely to what I regard as regrettable in the reframing of the Rules. In the previous Rules there was a precise definition of what constituted "excessive punishment". Most of that definition has gone. Several Senators asked the Minister to define more precisely the terms "excessive" and "improper". I am afraid I must say the Minister was either unwilling or unable to give a more precise definition. Consequently, this strengthened my desire that he should have a fresh look at the regulations that have been changed in this respect and see whether it would not be better to re-phrase and re-frame them, and make the definition of what is"excessive" and "improper" more precise, more readily available, and more readily understandable by the teachers, the managers, the children, and the courts if necessary.

I pass now to what Senator Brosnahan said in relation to the fact that the INTO—I hope I will not misrepresent him—will not stand over excessive punishment administered by a teacher. My purpose in referring earlier to the Raharoon case was to indicate the ineffectual, secretive and furtive nature of ministerial inquiries by the Department of Education. In the Raharoon case as Senators may remember, £25 damages was awarded to an 11-years old girl, and it was accepted by the court that she had received 11 heavy strokes of a cane on the hands. In this case there was a judicial finding that excessive punishment had been administered by a teacher, but the INTO far from not standing over it, did stand over it and backed the teacher, not only before the court case which was quite proper, but after the teacher was found guilty and fined £25 for what must be termed excessive punishment, since the case was brought for an assault on a child. Yet, both before and after the teacher in question was completely backed by the INTO.

That seems to me to be one example which demonstrates that the claim made in this connection by Senator Brosnahan is not soundly grounded. Furthermore, he said that in this same case many parents in the locality were for the teacher. In fact, he said 34 out of 37 families—I hope I have his alleged figures correctly—were in favour of the teacher. He omitted to mention that there was an unofficial threat by his organisation to boycott the school if the inquiry found against the teacher. Arising out of that fact it may well be that the petition which was canvassed from door to door was signed by as many as 34 out of 37 families.

What kind of thing is an unofficial threat by an official organisation?

I do not know whether that is a point of order.

It is as much in order as what you have been saying all night.

That is a grave reflection on the Chair.

I think that since Senator Brosnahan is not occupying the Chair he is not in a position to rule upon points of order.

I would say further that in this case the Department's inquiry—and that is the relevance of my mentioning the case at all—led to no official action, and according to Senator Brosnahan, himself the teacher who did in fact leave the school after the father and his ten children had left the country, the father having sold his 159 acre farm, did so "voluntarily"; despite the fact that 34 out of 37 families were in his favour, and presumably one of the opposing 3 had gone over to London, having sold his farm, so that by a majority of 34 out of 36, the families wanted the teacher to stay! This is what Senator Brosnahan asks us to accept, that he left "voluntarily". I put this question: how does Senator Brosnahan know that the Department took no action in this case; because, as we all know, if the Minister is questioned in the Dáil on such matters, all he will say is that suitable investigation was made and appropriate action was taken. Nobody knows what action.

The Senator said that the teacher was sent into the wilderness.

I mentioned that the teacher went or was sent to Inishere. I am prepared to accept that he went voluntarily, though from the figures I am asked to believe he had almost unanimous local support. How does Senator Brosnahan know that the Department took no action? He may be right, but the Dáil will not be told, no Senator will be told, and I question whether Senator Brosnahan himself will be told.

I pass to another point of a more general character, that is, that Senator Brosnahan spoke—and he shares this with quite a number of speakers in the debate—about the necessity for punishment in order to have discipline as if unconsciously he regarded punishment as always being corporal punishment. It should be quite clear that there are a variety of forms of punishment which are not corporal punishment, and it would be quite possible to employ various punishments such as depriving of privilege or withholding of privilege which would constitute punishment, but which is not necessarily corporal punishment. I am contending that if one establishes the necessity for punishment, one has not necessarily established the necessity for corporal punishment.

Senator Brosnahan also said, in what seemed to me to be rather a sneering tone, that I could only quote two cases in 15 years. I would suggest that in this case Senator Brosnahan did not do his homework. I do not intend to impose any punishment on him for this, but for his information, the 15 years to which he referred in 1965, went back to the first occasion on which I raised this in the Seanad, which was 1955. Simple arithmetic makes this ten, not 15 years, so that on that particular point there is an exaggeration of 50 per cent. I do not know why it is felt necessary so to inflate things.

Furthermore, if he will take the trouble of reading what I said on the various occasions that I raised the matter—on June 30th, 1955, July 19th, 1955, February 10th, 1956, and April 19th, 1956—he will find that I raised case after case after case, including, most significantly, 32 cases which were already on the Minister's files, all of which had been sent to him in the previous 12 months, all of which he identified not by the parents' name but by the date and signature of the acknowledgment from his officials. All of these were within the year before I raised the matter, and a year exactly almost to the day before he stated both in the Seanad and the Dáil—General Mulcahy was Minister at the time—that his Department never received more than one complaint of this nature a month—it "never" received more than 12 a year. I was able to draw attention to 32 in the previous year which his Department had actually acknowledged. I do not propose to go further into that in detail, but I mention these figures to protest against the suggestion that in 15 years I managed to bring up only two cases.

Whatever about 15 years ago, the Senator must come back to this question of recent changes made by the Minister.

Earlier this evening I read the old regulations——


I read the old regulations and I read the new, and I made very specifically the case that the new in this connection are a change for the worse. In my opening speech last November, I mentioned a whole lot of other Rules to which I will make slight reference presently, but this particular Rule—the one about corporal punishment—was the one upon which Senators challenged me—those who did challenge me—and I think I am entitled to make that answer to Senator Brosnahan, who taunts me with not being able to find more than two cases in 15 years.

I would like to mention a series of cases about which the present Minister is personally informed and concerned. There is the case of a school in Brittas, County Dublin. The parents of children in this school have been complaining about the treatment meted out to the children there for years, and I have documentary evidence of that fact going back to 1963. They came to me and to others interested in this kind of thing. When they came, they were decided on holding a school strike. It was put to them very strongly both by the Schoolchildren's Protection Association and by myself, that they would be better to seek an interview with the new Minister, who seemed to be very much concerned with this kind of thing. They did this, and the Minister received the deputation of seven fathers from this district.

I might say in parenthesis that this is something of a record, because we must recognise to our shame that in Ireland when the welfare of the child is involved, nine times out of ten it is the mother who is expected to do all the protesting and take any action that may be required. There is nothing unusual in the Minister's receiving a deputation, but there is something unusual in seven fathers from the district of Brittas in County Dublin going in to see the Minister about these cases of alleged mistreatment of the children in the school.

They were very well received by the Minister and he listened to all the cases. He was clearly sympathetic, and he asked the Chairman of the Committee to collect the complaints from the various parents of this fairly extensive farming district and to send them in in writing. This was a perfectly legitimate and reasonable request. The Chairman and two or three others of those fathers went around and collected the complaints in writing and they were sent to the Minister. There were 19 sent. An inquiry was held on 18th November, 1965 which went on for four days. There was a supervening week-end. I am sorry to say that the INTO representative at the inquiry accused of conspiracy the parents who obeyed the Minister's instructions to go around and collect complaints and to send them in in writing. This word was used by the INTO representative to the parents at the inquiry and was used a dozen times. This is a small point, but it is an attitude of mind which is a little bit unfortunate when the parents did what the Minister asked them to do and they are then accused of "conspiracy".

I want to leave this and, when dealing with the Minister's speech I want, with the permission of the Cathaoirleach, to return briefly to that inquiry. I read some of the complaints arising out of this particular school, which seemed to me to be quite unusual. I am not suggesting at all that this is a common occurrence. In fact, there is evidence that neighbouring schools are totally different in their approach because some of the children who left this school and went to Kilbride school got on very well and were extremely happy there. I am not suggesting that this school is typical but it is a school in which an inquiry has been held. When I recall some of the accusations and allegations that were made recently, when we were talking about the damage by warble fly on cattle, I could not help regretting that the hides of Irish children have not got a cash value, because there would be wider concern for them if prices were involved. I again recognise that this school is an exception and far from being the rule.

I turn now to the speech of Senator O'Kennedy. He said, quite correctly, that I wanted corporal punishment abolished altogether. This is true and I said so quite clearly, but I made it clear that this is not what is requested in my motion. The suggestion in my motion is that the Minister look again at the Rules. I made the point that the old Rules, the Ó Deirg Rules, were good. I said they were imperfectly adhered to, due either to ministerial weakness, or to managerial contempt for ministerial authority, but they were better Rules than the present Rules. Arising from the recent changes, Senator O'Kennedy rightly said that while he did not agree with abolishing corporal punishment it should not happen for failure at lessons, and yet it does happen and widely in our schools. This is something that is still prohibited under the new Rules. Here in his own words is that statement at column 607, volume 60, No. 6:

In the majority of cases where corporal punishment is inflicted in schools it is for failure in lessons.

This is what Senator O'Kennedy said and I have every reason to believe it is correct. He also said at column 608:

Unless a strong case is made against it, this regulation should be honoured and I am afraid at the present it is not being honoured.

Again, I put the case strongly that the Minister might look at his Rules and see whether he cannot improve on the changed Rules and also—this is very important in view of the points made by other Senators—ensure that all the existing Rules are adhered to.

I am glad to see Senator Lenehan here. He gave us a living example of the unhealthy results derived from being beaten all over the place by his teachers. He has survived, and he is obviously thoroughly alive and kicking but he admitted that all his teachers were driven to the grave. Every one of them was dead and gone: they did not survive. None of the teachers survived after teaching Senator Lenehan.

Thank God.

This may have been due to the amount of muscular effort required, because Senator Lenehan told us in some detail about the value of the beatings he got. In fact, it looked for one moment as if he was going to engage in a sort of striptease act to demonstrate there were no marks on his body.

Thanks for the advertisement in the Irish Times.

When Senator Lenehan who, as he said, has been fully and accurately quoted, which is a thing he enjoys, declares that severe corporal punishment never did him any harm, I am inclined to put the question: in that case, what did do the harm?

What did the Senator harm?

You would want notice of that question.

I turn now to Senator Rooney. He argued judicially—I do not agree by any means with everything he said—that reasonable punishment is necessary. I would put the question again. Need it be corporal? I would certainly agree that punishment is necessary. Senator Rooney asked the Minister to specify what he meant by "improper" and "excessive". I am afraid he did not really get an answer to that. It should be specified what is meant by "improper" and "excessive" and I would argue from that it is necessary, at least, to change the Rules, if only to clarify the definition of "excessive" and "improper".

Senator Alton referred to the opinion of reasonable doctors. Speaking not as "an extremist" but as a balanced doctor, he said they would allow corporal punishment. He gave the necessity for corporal punishment as the opinion of reasonable doctors, balanced doctors. He said they were not against total abolition, but they insisted that it be on the open hand only. This is Senator Alton speaking judicially, not taking the extremist view. He was giving the view of the medical profession, the reasonable and logical section of it. He insisted that it be inflicted on the open hand only. Therefore, I would argue that the old Rule, which prohibits its administration on any part of the body other than the hand, was better than the changed Rule.

The Senator also made the point— it is worth underlining, I think—that all the circumstances surrounding a beating incident, disobedience or serious misbehaviour on the part of a child should be investigated, although it is quite clear that no teacher instructing 60 or 70 children has time to do so, and no manager has the time. Senator Alton suggested—perhaps he is being over innocent but I think we should be taken seriously—a service akin to the almoner service in hospitals in relation to schools where seriously maladjusted children, who normally look as if they are wilfully misbehaving, can have the surrounding circumstances investigated. I am glad to see the Minister has set up a committee of psychologists. This is something to which they might perhaps usefully turn their attention and there might be some modification, perhaps, when the Minister comes to reconsider these Rules.

Senator Mrs. Ahern thought "a little slapping" does not do any harm, and without this, as it were, the teacher would "lose authority". I am not prepared really to accept that. I would argue that in the book which I quoted earlier The Challenge of the Retarded Child Sister Mary Theodore is nearer the truth when she said:

The person imbued with Christ-like charity will discover ways for a friendly approach to negative children. Her attitude will not be: "I will show you who is the boss", but rather "I will show you how much love and kindness can do to bring happiness and security into your lives".

I feel that Senator Mrs. Ahern places too much emphasis upon the "authority" of teachers, and I do not think she is right in saying that if teachers lose the right to strike children, they will lost authority. I would suggest that the authority of teachers is based on respect won by the teachers. This is the case with the vast majority of our teachers in our national schools, whether they use corporal punishment or not. Authority is based not on the way in which they inflict corporal punishment, but on the respect of the children. I would even say that there is capacity on the part of the children to forgive the teachers for inflicting even corporal punishment if they think it is justly administered. Senator Mrs. Ahern seemed then to think that the only form of punishment was corporal. I do not think so and I do not think, in fact, that girls should have corporal punishment administered to them at all.

In relation to this question of authority, I would furthermore suggest to Senator Mrs. Ahern that after all, the authority in the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis, which she so competently chaired on occasions, was not based upon enforced respect for the Chair but respect for the holder of the office. I do not think it would be increased if some coercive action were placed at the disposal of the chairman or chairwoman. The point I do make is that, after all, Fianna Fáil, in their coming to power, have not got a record of absolutely unimpeachable acceptance of legally constituted authority. I would argue that on many occasions, when they defied authority, they were right; but they cannot have it both ways.

I turn to what Senator Mrs. Ahern said about Scotland. She said that even in Scotland, which has a good educational system, they were still using the strap. I quote from the Manchester Guardian of 15th October, 1965:

The Scottish Education Department may soon announce an agreed policy on the controversial issue of corporal punishment in schools This will probably keep strapping as a carefully controlled ultimate sanction but will aim—sooner rather than later—at its abolition. This might be done by instalments.

There is just one other quotation from the same article:

Scotland's past tendency towards more corporal punishment than the average has caused her educationalists much concern and increased the desire to find effective alternatives.

I quote that simply in answer to the point made by Senator Mrs. Ahern, that the Scotch themselves who were noted for their educational theory practice, were retaining corporal punishment. I think the quotations I have given rather modify this view.

Senator Murphy compared the new Rules and the old and found that the Minister's defence of the new Rules was unconvincing, and rightly asked also for some definition of "excessive" and "improper".

Senator McQuillan noted that there is no corporal punishment for criminals and that it is retained for school children only. He made two valuable suggestions. He said it should be incorporated in the Rules that corporal punishment should be used only if the teacher's authority was seriously challenged. His second suggestion was that there should be a punishment record book in every school so that the quantity and extent of the punishment could be noted and seen.

Senator Dolan spoke against me. He referred to letters to the editor. I do not think he was wholly serious when he suggested that perhaps I wrote some of the letters which I quoted myself. This was just a joke. I would not take it seriously, but I do draw attention to the fact that all the letters to the editor which I quoted were signed; they were not anonymous. Senator Dolan mentioned, and was allowed to mention in some detail—and read—a full letter from the teacher involved in the case of the two Perry boys in Drumcondra. This is on the records of the House and I should like to be allowed to quote the Minister's observation on this case, to which I shall refer first and also the parent's. I do not propose to read all the father's comment although the teacher's letter was put in in full. The Minister says, writing to the father, Mr. Patrick Perry, on 13th January, 1966:

I am to refer to the letter received from you on 23rd November last regarding the treatment of your son, Vincent, a pupil of the above-named school, by the principal teacher, and I am to inform you that the Minister for Education is satisfied, from the investigations that have been carried out, that the complaints made by you in that letter are unwarranted.

The fact is, of course, and I made this clear in my first speech, that the complaints arose from the treatment of two boys.

The Chair has allowed a discussion on this matter already.

I bow to your ruling, Sir, but I would urge you to recognise that the full letter of the teacher is on the records of the House. I am asking to be allowed to quote simply two paragraphs of the father's letter. This seems to be relevant, particularly since I drew the Minister's attention to the fact that two boys were involved, and the younger boy was the boy who had just come out of hospital, who had been six months in Blanchardstown, and the father wants to know what can be done, what can they do. Would you permit me to read the relevant portion of the father's letter?

The Chair will hear the Senator.

It reads:

I have now received reply from Secretary, Department of Education, in relation to this complaint which I enclose. As you will see by this reply, he only refers to my son, Vincent, as I complained about the Head Master hitting my other son, Brian, on the back of the ear and this boy spent six months on his back on Blanchardstown Hospital.

This was when he had just come back to school. The father says, further on in the letter:

I do not think that a proper investigation was carried out in this matter. My boys, Vincent and Brian, have informed me that an inspector visited the school and, in the presence of the Head Master and another master, asked the boys in the class did they see him strike Vincent and Brian. Some said "yes". One boy said he definitely saw him, and that seems to have ended the matter as far as I am aware.

That is not the truth. The second boy did not enter the picture.

I will have great pleasure in taking that matter up with Senator Brosnahan. Senator Brosnahan has just said that the second boy never entered into the picture at all. I referred to the second boy in the Seanad in my first speech and no reference is made to him whatsoever by the Minister's letter.

The Senator will now come away from this and resume his speech.

That is what I was doing, and the reverting to other matters was not wholly my doing.

Senator O'Quigley was kind enough to pay a tribute to me in answer to what Senator Dolan had said, for which I thank him, naturally. But I think no offence was meant by Senator Dolan in this; he was just pulling my leg. Senator O'Quigley made the point that he would not abolish corporal punishment because he thinks, in certain cases, it is necessary. I should like to stress the fact that mv motion is not asking for the abolition of corporal punishment; it is asking for a reconsideration of recent changes, the most significant of which have been made in relation to corporal punishment. Senator O'Quigley thinks it might be a good thing to incorporate in the Rules a teachers' disciplinary committee. This, I think, also would be a good thing—that is to say, if this could be done with teachers in general, by the INTO, in conjunction with the parents. This was suggested at a meeting of the Irish Civil Liberties Association some years ago, but the INTO refused at that time. Perhaps they might consider it now.

Senator Nash made the point that hanging up the Rules in the schools was a monstrous thing to do. I suggested that posting safety regulations in a factory was not insulting the owner of the factory. He mentioned at some length the case I have largely dealt with. One point he did make— and he has now left the chamber— was that he did challenge me that if I saw any inaccuracies in what he said to be sure to point them out to him. I should hate to disappoint him in that matter. He said, for instance, that in the Circuit Court, Canon Troy, the manager of the school, did not give evidence.

On a point of order, is it usual in this House to carry on a debate without some member of the Government being present?

It is quite in order.

Is it an expression of the Minister's views on this House?

I am delighted to know Senator McQuillan is so anxious to carry on this debate. I am also very anxious to carry it on and, out of courtesy to the House, I have arranged for a succession of Parliamentary Secretaries and Ministers to come here. Another Minister is coming here now. He will be here in a few seconds and I hope he will get an opportunity to deal with another matter which I announced on the Order of Business today.

Let us hope he gets here.

Do not worry; he will get here.

This is not the first time I have spoken to an empty ministerial chair. I am quite sure, however, that Senator Ó Maoláin has been doing his level best to keep that chair occupied. I appreciate the coming here of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government. I am not quite sure whom we will be seeing next, but I am sure it is all extremely educational.

The point was made by Senator Nash in relation to the evidence given by Canon Troy in the High Court that he did not give evidence in the Circuit Court. If I am to believe the Irish Press of May 6th, 1965, Canon Michael Troy gave evidence in the Circuit Court. I believe that the Irish Press is correct in this matter——

I do not think Senator Nash was correctly briefed on that point. He was very anxious to be corrected if he was wrong. He has now been corrected on that point. I do not think I want to challenge any of the other points he raised, but I regard some of them as incomplete. He did not know about Deputy Ryan's supplementary question. He did not get the Dáil debates.

I want to come now to the Minister's speech. My first point is particularly appropriate, because I am glad to see the Minister for Justice now here. He is a good strong man, and he will certainly be able to convey what I say here to the Minister for Education. I also have the greatest respect for the Minister for Education. My point is that the Minister could easily have said : "These Rules are not perfect. They were made with good intentions. I have been in office for a short time only and these Rules were framed six months before I took office. I think it not unreasonable to have another look at them. If reconsideration leads me to reframe them, I will do so." That would seem to me to be in accordance with a correct ministerial attitude.

(Longford): He said that, in effect.

He did not say he would reconsider them. A very relevant example which I want to mention was given by Senator McQuillan of the attitude of the Minister for Justice towards the Succession Bill. He found himself piloting a Bill which had been framed by his predecessor, but he did not feel himself bound by every clause. It is an accident that he happens to be now present, and that does not change what I was going to say. We recognise that his attitude was flexible and strong, flexible without showing weakness on the question of amendments. I feel that this should be the attitude of the Minister for Education. I was disappointed that he felt he had to defend every dot and comma of the changed Rules.

I notice also that his brief dealt with corporal punishment only and he was silent on the other points I raised. I mentioned eight or nine other Rules which had been changed, some for the better and some for the worse. He was silent on these points and ignored them totally. He said I raised the other points as a "smokescreen". That is a little over-convenient. I asked why Rule No. 10 had been modified and I got no answer except that I was using it as a smokescreen. I asked why Rule No. 15, section 4, dealing with a written undertaking by the managers to obey Rules had been modified, and I got no answer. I asked about Rule No. 20 which relates to various recommendations for the school managers and I got no answer. I urged the desirability of parent-teacher groups and I got no answer, until when he challenged me for some constructive suggestion, I reminded him that that is a constructive suggestion, and all I got in reply was nebulous lip service and no active steps.

This whole question of parent-teacher groups is becoming more and more urgently necessary. I asked the Minister was he prepared to change the Rules so as to urge the desirability upon the managers of having parent-teacher groups and the only answer I got was nebulous lip service.

I praised Rule No. 31 and I asked related questions on Rule No. 44 which relates to overcrowding in the schools and I got no answer, except the all-covering answer that it was a smokescreen. I asked a question about section 3 of Rule 71 which says that English may be an optional subject in infant classes. I asked why the change was made and again I got no answer. I asked the Minister how he interpreted the "inalienable" rights of parents referred to in the preamble to the Rules and I got no answer. I asked did he think that the Constitution means that they could not be transferred and I got no answer.

The Minister mentioned at the start of his speech my reference to the fact that a motion of this type might be delayed. He seemed to think that was an accusation against himself which it certainly was not. My fear derived from past experience of motions being delayed. I put down a motion on the corporal punishment Rules on December 16th, 1955, and it was finally dealt with on April 19th, 1956. This time the motion was not perhaps unduly postponed, though I first raised this matter in October, 1965, and this is March 9th, 1966.

I should like to quote now what the Minister said about the printing strike and about nailing falsehoods in this connection. At column 587, volume 60 of the Seanad Official Report he said:

In doing that, I want, first of all, to nail one falsehood which appeared, I think, in some newspaper and has steadily been repeated and propagated since until we had it again here today from Senator Sheehy Skeffington. There is a suggestion that these Rules were produced by stealth during the newspaper strike. The facts of the matter are that the new Rules were issued to school managers and principal teachers in June of this year and they came into force on the 1st July, 1965. The newspaper strike commenced on the 5th July, 1965.

And then he said that we cannot "put forward, as an alleged fact, that the Department sneaked these Rules out when there were no newspapers". The reference to me is not exact. I did not say that the Rules were sneaked out. With your permission, I would like to put on the record what I did say. This is at column 520 of the same volume. I said that

the new Rules were signed by his predecessor in office, Dr. Hillery, on the 22nd January, 1965; they were printed, as the Seanad will remember, early in July of this year when there was not a newspaper to be had in Dublin and consequently there was not much knowledge of the changes, really, until about a month ago.

There was no accusation there. There was a statement of fact. There is also a misstatement by the Minister that they were brought out on 1st July and that the newspaper strike started on the 5th. The rules came out on 1st July, and on 2nd July we had the newspaper strike. This is a small point but I would like to get the record straight on that.

The Minister went on to say that he would like to find ways of finding out the facts about the schools. I would suggest that is the kind of information which an intelligent and regular-running parent-teacher group in relation to the schools would help to find out. The Seanad will remember that in July I quoted nine years of effort to find out the facts about how many classes there were in Dublin with more than 40 children and less than 50, more than 50 and less than 60, and so on, and that although I gave notice of the question and asked only for the latest available figures, the Minister was not able to give any. I do notice that we are promised these figures——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I would ask the Senator to curtail his lecture, which is not directly relevant to the debate.

I was just making the point that these figures are going to come out in the Annexe to the Investment in Education Report, the second volume of which will soon be appearing. I would like to ask the Minister, in his absence, when it is coming out because I will be very glad to quote the overcrowding facts when they at last become available.

And misquote them.

This is an uncharitable misinterpretation by Senator Brosnahan.

It is not. You were misquoting.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Sheehy Skeffington, replying to points raised in the debate.

There is always an obstreperous boy in every class and Senator Brosnahan has a certain licence in this regard.

In the interests of truth.

I will not say a buffoon's licence, but a licence. The facts should be at the command of the Department but they are apparently not readily available. I can assure the Seanad that if and when these facts come out, I shall quote them, and quote them correctly.

A Leas-Chathaoirleach, do I take it that you agree that speeches can continue to be made in this House in the absence of a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary? I remember the first time I spoke here I was asked to desist from speaking while the Minister had to go to the other House for a Division. I presume the same courtesy should apply in this particular instance.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is a matter for the Senator who happens to be in possession whether he wishes to continue in the absence of a member of the Government or not.

In view of the fact that the Minister has been so courteous as to come, I would prefer on the whole to wait until he comes back.

I want to say that it is not necessary at all, as the Chair pointed out earlier, for a Minister to be here, and if the Senator is going to adopt the attitude that Senator Sheehy Skeffington has adopted, I shall know what to do in the future.

What I said was that since the Minister was so courteous as to come, I would like to wait until he is back. I am not adopting an attitude. I do not think Senator Ó Maoláin is quite fair to me on that.

(Longford): Since the reply resembles very much the trial of O'Donovan Rossa, who read the complete files of a newspaper, and since the judge in that case could not leave, it is only reasonable that the defendant in this case should insist on having the Minister present.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I do not think that any Senator on any side of the House should be described as a defendant in this matter.

I would have thought that he was the prosecutor.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is a matter for the House to order its own business and it is customary, I think, to defer to the wishes of the speaker in possession.

I would like to point out that time after time I get complaints and protests that motions are not taken. I am doing my best to have them taken, in particular the motion which Senator McQuillan was so anxious to have. I see now what is happening—enough said.

We all appreciate the efforts of the Leader of the House.

He is bursting with generosity.

I am glad now to see the Minister for Justice looming on the horizon. I will not say I am disappointed to see that it is the same Minister because I appreciate his presence, but I had a kind of sneaking feeling that if as large a proportion as possible of the Cabinet could come through while I was speaking, it might have an educational effect, and we might even eventually get the Minister for Education.

The Senator has had him. He listened to you already.

I am only making a quip. I am not demanding his presence. I feel sure he will read the debate carefully.

I had come to the point where the Minister said he would welcome suggestions. When he gets suggestions, such as suggestions made by parent-teacher groups, he seems to shy away from them. I suggested that he could add to the things for which he urges desirability in the Rules, the desirability of having parent-teacher groups. The Minister said, in a correspondence in which we engaged in the newspapers, that he did not want to do it in this way, because if he were to change the Rules, so as to urge the desirability of parent-teacher groups, it "might have overtones of Ministerial orders". That was his phrase, which surprised me, I must say. It might have overtone of Ministerial orders if he were to urge the desirability, not only of libraries and of lectures, which he does, but of parent-teacher meetings.

I feel this is an over-reluctant attitude towards those groups and a departure from what he said as a Deputy about parent-teacher groups. He said here he does "not take back one iota" of what he said as a Deputy about parent-teacher groups, when he declared that "interest by parents in education is actively discouraged by the teachers, the churches, and the Department. I feel the Minister should take active steps to encourage the foundation of parents' committees." I asked then what had he done? His answer was that he had "watched certain developments with considerable interest." He says he takes back not one iota and yet this is all he has done! He said the Minister ought to take active steps to encourage the foundation of parents' committees. This is what he said when he was a Deputy. When he is Minister, he says he takes back not one iota of that. I want the Minister then to take active steps.

Indeed, in the Dáil when asked by Deputy Crowley—I quote now from the Dáil Debates, Volume 219, No. 6, column 891 of 14th December, 1965—if the Minister was contemplating the introduction of a parent-teacher organisation, he went so far as to say that the Rules prevented him:

Under our system of national education the managers are the persons charged with the direct government of the schools. There is no way under the Rules for National Schools by which I could accord formal recognition to a parent-teacher association but any such organisation, established in co-operation with the school authorities, would have my full moral support and approval.

This is the same man who said he was not content with lip service. He wanted his predecessor to take "active steps" yet, when he becomes a Minister, what he gives, I am afraid, is not active steps but this "moral support and approval". If and when the parents and teachers form these groups themselves with the co-operation of the school authorities, from which he excludes himself apparently——

Who are the school authorities?

——then he will give his full moral support and approval. He excludes himself from the phrase "school authorities". What, I ask, is stopping him from taking the active step which he wanted his predecessor to take? Doctor Hillery, when Minister for Education, said in this House, in answer to my motion on parent-teacher groups in 1961, that he was in favour of them, and if anybody started one, he would approve of it. This did not satisfy Mr. Colley the Deputy. What has changed him? I am afraid it is a gradual passage to that malady or condition which might be called "ministeria".

In many changes the Minister has shown himself not to be a weak man —he is not a man without courage— and I would urge upon him, through his colleague here, to be courageous in this field also, the field of acquiring in relation to each national school, a parent-teacher organisation, which I feel would, in many cases, give strong support to many of the policies he is now having difficulty in putting through.

There is another change I should like to see the Minister consider in relation to the Rules respecting departmental inquiries. The Seanad will remember that I asked for the right to attend the Brittas inquiry as an observer. The Minister says that these inquiries are fair and impartial investigations, and he assured me in a letter which I quoted that "justice would be seen to be done by the people concerned". I asked the question: "How can it be seen to be done; how is it seen to be done in practice". I refer again to the inquiry in Brittas and I have here letters addressed to the then Minister on 20th June, 1963, signed by 12 parents. I need not give the details here but they are specific complaints and they will be on the file of the Department of Education.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

To what point in the debate does this relate?

I am making the point that, even when finally an inquiry comes up into cases which would merit attention, nothing emerges. The Minister has called these inquiries "fair and impartial investigations". I do not want to pause too long on this but I should like to make the point that, of the 19 cases submitted to this inquiry, only 16 appear on the official Department list of the complaints to be inquired into and many of these 16 are incompletely given. When the inspector in charge of the inquiry is asked: "What about the other cases by representatives of the parents", he replies: "I am sorry; I am only dealing with the cases officially presented to me by the Department".

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair is still puzzled by the particular relevance of this in the concluding speech.

I am stating here that the Minister, when he decides, as he did in this case, to hold an inquiry——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair would like to know to what point in the debate is the Senator replying?

I am replying to a point made by the Minister that whenever a complaint is made, it is given a full and impartial investigation. Also, when I asked to be allowed to be present, in order to see that justice would be done, he said: "It is all right; the people concerned will see that it is done." I want to demonstrate that in this case the people concerned did not see that justice was done. Only a selected portion of those complaints lodged was put before the inquiry. Therefore, the inquiry was not impartial, was not complete, and the people involved did not see that justice was done.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair is somewhat troubled in regard to which of the Rules this particular point arose during the debate.

This arises out of the Rule which was changed about corporal punishment, and one of the Minister's answers to this is that, in the case of any complaint, it is fully investigated and, if necessary, an inquiry is held, and Brittas is an example of such an inquiry in practice.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Arising out of such an incident.

Arising out of 19 such incidents.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

In breach of the Rule on corporal punishment?

Yes: I have a copy of the whole 19. I take it the House does not want to hear them.

I do not think that was what the Chair was looking for.

I have already made the point that the official list was only a select number and select portions of those which were sent to the Minister.

I can cite many examples. I would simply ask the Minister to compare these letters—the letters on his files— with the document which was issued by his Department purporting to place all the complaints before the inquiry. For example a complaint was made against a teacher in Brittas national school, Co. Dublin. I suggest to the Minister that he will find that the complaint submitted did not fully represent the complaint submitted by the parents. The case relates to a boy named Eustace, about whom the Minister was very concerned. The boy was expelled from school because he was taking Irish dancing lessons from a teacher at a neighbouring school. He was told: "If that is the case, you can go, bag and baggage."

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair finds it rather difficult to get the connection between Irish dancing and corporal punishment.

This arises out of corporal punishment of this boy Eustace, which apparently was connected in the mind of the teacher with the fact that he was deriving his skill at Irish dancing—he won prizes —from another teacher from a neighbouring school and, in a fit of temper, she expelled him from the school. When the Minister heard that, he asked for full details, and the father and the boy both wrote in to the Minister. This boy has succeeded very well from the other school. He is now 15 years and he is in good employment. The father and the boy attended at the inquiry, but neither would be heard, although the Minister specifically asked for details of the case to be investigated.

It seems to me, therefore, that the Minister's claim, which I am sure is sincere, that there are full and impartial inquiries, is not soundly based. The Minister told these people they could "go back ten years" if they liked. He was very struck by this Eustace case but, in fact, the boy was not allowed to give evidence.

Barred under the Statute of Limitations, no doubt.

This case had not been ten years back. The boy is only 15 years. It happened about three years ago. I could quote from other letters, but I know they are on the Minister's files. He will be surprised to find that complaints submitted to inquiry do not represent the full complaints made by the parents. Furthermore, this is 9th March, and so far the parents involved have heard nothing of the result of the inquiry which terminated on November 23 last. How then can the Minister justify what he said in a letter to me, that the people concerned will see that justice has been done? They have not, and I do not think they will. I venture to suggest they will never be told what the result of the inquiry was.

I will pass from that. The House will be glad to know, not that I have quite concluded—I should not like to raise hopes too high—but that I am reaching the end of what I want to say about the Minister's speech. I should like to mention one case which came up recently. It was a case in which a member of the public wrote to me from somewhere in Munster and complained that she had met a small boy who seemed to be terrified—he was aged five years—because he was frequently beaten at school. She asked me to pass the letter on to the Minister, and I did.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair is again troubled that the correspondence between the Senator and the Minister is not relevant to this debate. All that is relevant at this stage is a rebuttal of statements and arguments made by other speakers.

This is a further point made by the Minister. In reply he said that any complaint that came to him was fully and adequately investigated. A complaint was submitted on 18th January of this year to which he answered:

While it is difficult to pinpoint the teacher concerned from the information available, it would appear that the lady in question is employed merely in a temporary capacity. In that connection it may be explained that it is sometimes necessary to appoint temporarily in a national school a person holding the Leaving Certificate. Such a person is given no formal recognition and her employment is terminated on the appointment of a qualified assistant.

The point I am making is that I do not think it is satisfactory to deal with such a case where children are unjustly beaten—if this is true—by saying that the teacher is employed in a temporary capacity and that she may not be there for more than a year or two. I do not want to pre-judge this case. It may be that investigation would not, in fact, bear out what was said, but I am suggesting that the Minister is too easily satisfied with an imperfect inquiry into complaints.

In his reply the Minister asked how could one frame Rules to deal adequately with punishment. His late predecessor, Tomás Ó Deirg, had a good shot at it in 1946. He made a most useful attempt, and perhaps the Minister could do even better by reconsidering the Rules framed by his immediate predecessor last year, and not accept them holus-bolus as if they were incapable of useful modification. My submission here tonight and in my original motion is that they are capable of useful modification, after reconsideration.

A suggestion has been made—and I would back it up—that, in each school, punishment records should be kept giving the date, the name of the punisher, the authoriser, the child's sex, name and age, the reason for the punishment, the number of blows or slaps, the instrument used, the part of the body struck, the time involved. This could be regularly sent by the school manager to the Minister for his information and comparison and, if necessary, for his comment. A punishment book or punishment card, or a series of cards, could make this possible, and if corporal punishment is as rare in the schools as we are told it is, these details would not take very long. It is only if it is far more widespread than we are told it is that it would take a lot of time.

I am sure the Senator will oblige the Minister if he is going on the run again.

I feel very sure the Government would not fall by reason of losing one vote. I can finish in less than ten minutes.

We do not want to rush the Senator unduly. We can meet tomorrow morning.

I am prepared to finish in five minutes.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Does the Senator wish to continue now?

I may as well. I think I have made it clear that I am opposed to all corporal punishment. I think that the inculcation of fear through physical pain is bad educationally, and that it produces either bullies or toadies. That is not the point of the motion but it is related thereto. The old Rules, if applied, permit corporal punishment. I am asking for reconsideration of the changes in the Rules. The old Rules did give reasonably good protection, although I think they might have been modified to exclude altogether corporal punishment for girls. I think even Senator Yeats agreed with me on that. Therefore, I think the Minister should reconsider that aspect of the Rule. I do not believe that if we so modified the Rules as to exclude corporal punishment for girls this would cause our entire educational system to collapse. I do not believe that discipline would break down.

The new Rules, in my contention, make corporal punishment, among other things, more widely permissible than it was under the old Rules. There is no question that this is so.

I challenge the Minister to deny the following facts: (1) that grave transgression in a child is a rarer and weightier eventuality than serious misbehaviour. Grave transgression was necessary for corporal punishment to be applied under the old Rules; serious misbehaviour is all that is required under the new Rules, and I therefore submit that the new Rules widen the scope of the application of corporal punishment; (2) the boxing of ears was totally prohibited under the old Rules; now not only is is not specifically prohibited but the Minister, who was asked specifically about it in the Dáil, said that he could not give "a blanket answer" to the question as to whether it would constitute "excessive" or "improper" punishment now: therefore the scope has been widened; (3) the instrument of punishment under the old Rules was confined to a light rod or cane: this restriction is now abolished and here too the scope is extended; (4) punishment used to be confined to the open hand: this restriction is now removed, therefore the scope of corporal punishment is here too extended.

A clear example was in fact the Keeley case, where under the old Rules the teacher was clearly breaking the Rules if he struck the boy on the body, which he admitted in evidence that he did. Under the new Rules, this would not be against the rules unless it could be shown to be "improper" or "excessive". It is true that this instance was in 1964 when the old Rules applied; yet the Minister told the Dáil that he would not even conclude the investigation he had started. In this instance, the Rules of 1964 were openly broken, and apparently the Minister does not care.

I contend therefore that although the conditions of overcrowding and the failure to segregate backward children from the normal child make it extremely difficult for a teacher to maintain discipline in present conditions, nevertheless I suggest that there is, unfortunately, deriving from these facts, which are not the fault of teacher or children, a widespread use of corporal punishment with no records of punishment kept, and that this can lead to abuses, however infrequent. Furthermore, it teaches by example that the big may strike the small, the strong may strike the weak, and it teaches the weak to show cowardly deference to the wielders of force, or else resort themselves to the use of weapons.

If the two great causes of the widespread use of corporal punishment in national schools were removed—over-crowding and the inclusion of backward children with normal children— the good teacher, who is in the big majority, would never need to use it. If he did use it, it would be extremely rare. As I have shown, the new Rules in this connection widen in effect the whole scope of the application of corporal punishment. There is strong evidence, as I have tried to show, that public opinion, and in particular parental opinion, is against these recent changes in the Rules for National Schools.

There are also several other Rules capable, in my submission and that of several other Senators, of useful amendment or fruitful amplification, and these other Rules, too, would benefit from a reconsideration by the Minister. I therefore ask the Seanad to agree that it would welcome a reconsideration of these Rules by the Minister. As I said, the Minister could have said that these Rules are not perfect, and that as a new Minister, he was quite prepared to have another look at them. I am disappointed that he did not say that.

I want to make the point, in concluding, that in voting for this motion, those of us who do so are not asking for this or that specific change in the Rule, though several such changes have been suggested by several Senators. We ask merely that the Minister shall take a fresh look at his Rules for National Schools and the changes recently made therein. The motion reads: "That the Seanad would welcome a reconsideration by the Minister for Education of recent changes made by him in the Rules for National Schools." I hope the majority of Senators will vote in favour and will even go so far, if necessary, as for once to defy that parliamentary symbol of corporal punishment, the Party Whip.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 7; Níl, 26.

  • Cole, John C.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
  • Fitzgerald, John.
  • McQuillan, Jack.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.


  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Alton, Bryan G.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, John J.
  • Brosnahan, Seán.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Lenehan, Joseph R.
  • McAuliffe, Timothy.
  • McGlinchey, Bernard.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • Ó Conalláin, Dónall.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • Ormonde, John.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
  • Yeats, Michael.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Murphy and Sheehy Skeffington; Níl: Senators Browne and Farrell.
Question declared lost.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

No. 8, motion in the name of Senator McQuillan.

I do not intend to move that motion.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The motion lapses and the business ordered for today has now been concluded.

Do I understand that if Senator McQuillan's motion is not being taken, it is being withdrawn?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Yes; it is removed from the Order Paper.

The Seanad adjourned at 9.40 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 23rd March, 1966.