Oideachas sa Ghaeltacht agus Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge: Tairiscint.

Tairgim:

Molann Seanad Éireann go mbunófaí Bord Oideachais le freastal ar oideachas sa nGaeltacht agus ar na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge.

If there is to be a vote, I would be happy if it were taken before 8 p.m. given the alternative cultural attractions available this evening and the number of culture vultures, including myself, in this Chamber.

Anois, ní chuirfidh mé aon am amu ag tagairt don aighneas náisiúnta ná aon rud mar sin. Ní chuige sin atáim anocht, ach chun ár n-aire a dhíriú ar staid na teanga sa chóras oideachais i gcoitinne, agus ar na deacrachtaí speisialta atá le réiteach ag na Gaelscoileanna agus ag na scoileanna sa Ghaeltacht ach go háirithe. Léigh mé cúpla abairt ón aighneacht a chuir an grúpa anailíse faoi na húdaráis oideachais áitiúla i dtoll a chéile faoi na Gaelscoileanna an bhliain seo caite. Tá ár n-aire á dhíriú air sin agus deirtear ansin, ó thaobh na Gaelscolaíochta de, is gá go n-aithneofaí gur tír dhátheangach í Éire agus go bhfuil polasaí dátheangach ag an Stát, is cuma cé chomh teoranta is atá sé ó thaobh feidhmithe de. Mar sin is gá freastal ar na scoileanna Gaeilge ar dhá bhealach leathana: ó thaobh seirbhíse de agus ó thaobh struchtúir de. Anois, ní leanfaidh mé ar aghaidh leis sin ar feadh cúpla nóiméad, ach san iris is déanaí de Ghaelscoileanna tá alt an-speisialta. Tá fógraithe ag an Aire go mbunófar comhairlí réigiúnacha oideachais ar fud an Stáit. Ní féidir a áitiú nach mbeidh a leithéid de struchtúr tubaisteach maidir leis an nGaelscolaíocht. Dá dhonacht é an córas atá anois ann agus dá dheacracht iad na coinníollacha aitheantais atá le comhlíonadh ag Gaelscoileanna nua tá tuismitheoirí na scoileanna sin ag plé le hoifigigh de chuid na Roinne Oideachtais agus meastar gach iarratas as a fhiúntas féin ar bhonn cothrom oibiachtúil.

That may be one of the most backhanded compliments the Department of Education has ever been paid. I hope the Minister will recognise there is genuine concern among Gaelscoileanna and those concerned with education in and through Irish about the potential implications of the neglect of these schools in the White Paper. In chapter 14, which deals with the establishment of education boards, a whole series of objectives and functions are listed in which education in Irish is completely neglected. It is one of the most striking omissions in the White Paper.

I am not proposing — there has been misunderstanding about this — a series of boards to mark the proposed ten education boards for gaelscoileanna and various Gaeltacht areas within the proposed regional areas. I propose a national organisation with national responsibility for the problems common to teaching in what is a minority language for practical purposes in a country which is officially bilingual but for which little specific pedagogic provision is made for teaching through the minority language. There are major issues here which require to be teased out and confronted in a systematic way and not to be evaded.

My disappointment with the White Paper on Education is that it does not begin to recognise the issues which emerge in that regard. As far as the overall approach to the policy decisions listed in the chapter on the establishment of education boards is concerned, several can be met more effectively at this stage, as far as the Gaelscoileanna and the Gaeltacht schools are concerned, by a national board. In terms of parental involvement, for example, the Gaelscoileanna are parent driven. It is a remarkable organisation in terms of the voluntary involvement of parents in our education system. Whatever one thinks of the decisions parents may take, one should recognise the intensity of parent's commitment in the Gaelscoil movement to the education objectives. It states that the regional boards' activities should be consistent with and contribute to the realisation of overall national educational policy and objectives.

It seems impractical — I am open to correction — that in ten educational boards, where a small number of Gaelscoileanna are within the remit of the individual boards, there will be the expertise, whatever about the commitment, to cope with the challenges presented by teaching in a minority language. I find it difficult to believe that, whatever the commitment of individuals, more than a tiny factor of their time can be devoted to considering all the implications which arise in terms of the optimum type of resourcing, the curriculum and the pedagogian role, about which I am concerned, of all-Irish schools and what regional educational boards can be expected to contribute. It seems unrealistic to assume, given the small number of schools within any individual board's remit, that this will feature prominently or that they will have the staff capable of dealing through Irish with the schools.

It has been one of the main problems of what I would call the anglicisation of the educational system that the State has been one of the main agents of anglicisation in the Gaeltacht. This is not exclusive to the Department of Education, but every State agency and organisation has played a role in diminishing the place of Irish in the Gaeltacht, even when national policy was directed in the contrary direction. There is ample empirical evidence available in this regard. It seems to be imposing an unrealistic expectation on the regional boards to assume that they can do full justice to the demands of education through Irish in the Gaelscoileanna at this time.

The Gaelscoileanna satisfy a number of the principles which the White Paper on Education elucidates. The report on the National Education Convention noted a concern that the highly centralised character of education administration has also fostered a culture of dependency with an over reliance placed by institution of a Department's role which may have resulted in a sapping of self-reliance and innovative approaches at local level. There may be a good case here in general terms, whatever our criterion of local may be. There is no educational movement in the country which has displayed greater self-reliance and greater capacity for innovation than the Gaelscoileanna, which in many respects are a model of what one would hope other schools would be.

The demand which will be made on the Gaelscoileanna in dealing with ten regional educational bodies will divert a lot of the energy which could be focused more constructively on building on what they have already achieved. I stress that I am not a supporter of boards for the sake of boards. It is a consistent theme in my writing and in my speeches that we have too much fragmentation in this country. I support local initiatives, whether that is achieved most effectively through the type of regional body the Minister has in mind or not. I do not support fragmentation or more boards for the sake of more boards.

One must always ask if there is a particular challenge to be confronted, if there is a specific problem and what is the most effective institutional arrangement for dealing with it in present circumstances. A board capable of providing services on a national level, whose thinking is immersed in the most advanced international thinking on education through a minority language, is in our current state of development, the most effective way of approaching this problem. It involves co-operation with regional boards in those areas where co-operation makes sense. I cannot see — I am open to correction — how any regional board, as envisaged, will have either the resources or the expertise to provide the most effective possible service in terms of conceptualisation of how one can progress education through the Irish language and how one can progress the purpose of the Gaelscoileanna unless there is a significant national will. We cannot divide it up into ten groups because there is no core to split into ten areas.

This comes back to the weight one lays on the objective of promoting Irish in education and education through Irish. There were disastrous results in Irish in this year's leaving certificate. These were even more disastrous than it seemed because we focused attention on the failure rate on the ordinary paper. However, it does not stop there. If one tried to conduct a sustained discussion in Irish with many of those who passed, one would not be able to do so because they cannot put two sentences together.

There is a lot of disinvestment in the Irish language programme in schools. The Gaelscoileanna have provided a purpose, a focus and a return on the investment in terms of the declared objectives of the State which provides some ray of hope that it is possible to promote education effectively through Irish to bring people to a level where Irish can be a normal part of their vernacular. We need to sustain this development. There is not a word in the White Paper about the responsibility of the regional councils in the direction of the Irish language. If we are to achieve those objectives, which we pronounce to be national objectives, we need a national body capable of sustaining the momentum they have already achieved and of ensuring that in the Gaeltacht areas the constant erosion of the Gaeltacht schools will be reversed if that is possible.

I second the motion.

I bhFraincis, nuair a labhraíonn duine go drochmheasúil, deir sé faoi dhuine eile go bhfuil blas vache espagnole, nó bó Spáinní ar a chuid cainte. Mo léan, níl mé chomh líofa ná chomh snasta sin ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, mar blas bó United Europe atá agamsa anois.

I am not going to attempt to converse as Gaeilge and I am ashamed to do so. I went back to school a couple of years ago and did my five or six weeks in Merrion Square where I was delighted to learn there are other ways of learning Irish than those I had experienced in my school days. In just a few weeks I learned what I had failed to learn in 13 or 14 years at school.

I rise to support Senator Lee, therefore, in order to find a way to teach Irish in a more effective way. This needs to be done both in the Gaeltacht itself and in the Gaelscoileanna that are now becoming so popular around the country.

My children attended Gaelscoileanna and went to Ring for full year courses. There is a love for the language in the country and a demand to learn it. Senator Lee has touched a nerve and out of frustration he is saying that we are not facing up to the challenge in a modern way. We are teaching Irish in a manner which is not succeeding, but Senator Lee has said he is not certain this motion is the only way to go about improving it.

With the regional boards we have the opportunity to face up to this challenge in a different way. Like Senator Lee, I am concerned about the creation of more boards. I personally have experience in the leaving certificate applied programme area where the Minister has faced the challenge and has grabbed hold of an opportunity to make sure that 90 per cent of school children will go on to sit the leaving certificate.

There is an ability to face up to the challenge of teaching and learning Irish differently from the methods used in the past. I am not sure that setting up boards for Gaelscoileanna or for the Gaeltacht schools is the right way. However, I support Senator Lee's motion. It gives the Minister an opportunity to respond with concern for the manner in which we have been learning Irish for the last 70 years and which is clearly not succeeding.

The Minister's response will be well thought out and I hope it will take into account the challenges that Senator Lee has put before us. I am sure the Minister will respond with concern, but let us face the fact that we have not succeeded.

The report on education has not been able to face up to the challenge through the regional boards. If the answer is to have boards dedicated to teaching the Irish language then we may have to do that. I hope there is an alternative and I look forward to hearing it.

I move amendment No. 1:

Scrios amach na focla go léir tar éis "Molann Seanad Éireann" agus cuir na focla seo leanas ina n-áit:

"go sásófar na riachtanais ar leith atá ag scoileanna agus oideachas Gaeltachta agus scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge sna Boird Oideachais atá molta sa Pháipéar Bán Oideachais.".

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le Seandóirí Lee agus Quinn as ucht an tairiscint seo a chur faoinár mbráid, ach ba mhaith liom leasú a mholadh don Teach.

I move the amendment in the hope that we will not have a division on it. This debate is valuable and focuses on the policies we have had towards the Irish language since the foundation of the State. As Senator Quinn said, it is self evident that those policies have not been successful. Not many Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas could speak for half an hour as Gaeilge, even though many of us have had a fairly good grounding in Irish. The fact is, however, that the conditions have not been there to allow or motivate us to continue to speak Irish as adults. Most of us have chosen not to.

As the years have rolled by it has also been evident that the motivation to learn Irish has deteriorated as well. Having been a teacher myself, I know that one of the greatest difficulties teachers of Irish have is that their students are not well motivated. This is central to the topic we are discussing.

Gaelscoileanna and schools in Gaeltacht areas have genuine concerns about the way they are treated by the Department of Education. They see themselves as being very different from ordinary schools and they feel their needs are not being properly represented. This is a good opportunity to place these difficulties before the Minister and to see how they might be resolved, because such schools have grievances.

It may well be that the Department of Education needs to change its attitude, not just to Gaeltacht schools but to all schools. Perhaps we need a more customer friendly attitude from them. Some Departments are trying to restate their mission and becoming more customer friendly is on top of their agendas. The Revenue Commissioners, for example, have succeeded in becoming far more customer friendly over the past couple of years. They are getting a much better reaction from the public as a result. There may be a need to examine how the Department of Education is dealing with schools in general, including Gaelscoileanna and schools in the Gaeltacht.

On a few occasions this year the Minister has had discussions with the people who have put forward a national policy that we should have an education board to look after Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools. I have no doubt that as a result of those discussions the Minister has been told in detail what the deficiencies are. I was glad to hear that this is not seen as the be all and end all of solving the difficulties concerning our Irish language policy; nor is it seen as the panacea for all ills in Gaelscoileanna and schools in the Gaeltacht areas. It opens up a valuable discussion which we should focus on as much as we can.

We have spent a lot of money, energy and time discussing policies for the development of Irish. It is our national objective, and always has been, to try to revive the language. One of the major steps taken with the support of various Governments in that direction concerned the growth of Gaelscoileanna across the country. I meet ten year old children who are happily multi-lingual and who find it easy to converse in Irish and English. They can switch on and off as required when speaking to people and it is wonderful to see that. I have no doubt that it helps them to be better linguists in general, thus learning and using other languages later on. It is a shame that the school day is not longer so that pupils could have more time to learn a third language with Irish and English.

Our policies have not been too fruitful. They have been given a considerable injection by the growth in Gaelscoileanna. Those of us who are interested in the Irish language would like to see that growth continuing and more parents coming together to form such schools to promote the language.

Is it a good idea to have a separate board look after the interests of these schools which are scattered through the country? I do not it believe that it would be a good thing. From my experience I have found that the parents who come together to set up Gaelscoileanna are highly motivated. The interaction of these parents with those of children in ordinary schools would be very beneficial and would help to redirect people's thinking. If people become aware of the activities in Gaelscoileanna and the fine results they achieve, it would motivate others to put the Irish language in its proper context and it would help rather than hinder the development of the language.

The motion is of considerable value and I hope we will not have a vote on it. This topic may be looked at again. We can return with another proposal to put before the House perhaps a different way to deal with this. It deserves more attention than we can give it and I am sure the proposers would agree that nobody can deal adequately with the subject before us in eight or none minutes. We have been dealing with this issue since the State was founded and we have not yet dealt with it adequately. While the Minister cannot agree to set up an education board, I know she has a deep interest in the language and in supporting schools involved in trying to promote it.

Tá tábhacht ag baint le rún seo an tSeanadóra Lee. Dar le Fianna Fáil, tá gá le seirbhís speisialta oideachais maidir leis an nGaeilge agus leis an nGaeltacht. Tá fadhbanna speisialta ann ó thaobh oideachais trí Ghaeilge, fadhbanna a bhaineann le siollabais, téacsleabhair, áiseanna agus le teagasc i gcoitinne. Tá gá freisin le tacaíocht agus traenáil in-seirbhíse do mhúinteoirí agus le seirbhísí síceolaíocha. Tá mé ag caint faoi na mílte mac léinn agus le Raidió na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta agus, le cúnamh Dé, Teilifís na Gaeilge, cén fáth nach féidir le haonad speisialta freastal ar chúrsaí oideachais trí Ghaeilge. Go bunúsach, nil an tAire ná an Roinn dáiríre faoin nGaeilge. Mar shampla, an Páipéar Bán a tháinig amach cúpla mí ó shin, níl oiread is focal amháin Gaeilge ann agus níor tháinig an páipéar sin amach i nGaeilge fós.

The reason I support this motion is that there is a need for a special unit in the Department of Education to look after Gaeltacht areas and Gaelscoileanna. If a teacher telephones the Department of Education and wishes to conduct the conversation in Irish, they will have great difficulty finding somebody who can converse with ease in the Irish language. Many Irish teachers spoke to me about that. This service is not provided for remedial teachers, those who are on a panel, those involved in the psychological service and for in-service training. That is why a special unit or service for the Gaeltacht and Gaelscoileanna should be available to those who wish to conduct their business through Irish. As in-service training in geography, for example, is usually done through English, teachers seeking this service in Irish must translate it. Surely, that is not good enough. A special unit should be set up in the Department of Education to give extra attention to those who speak Irish.

I did not find one word of Irish in the White Paper on Education. I thought an Irish version would be published, but that has not yet arrived. The Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Higgins, published a Green Paper and simultaneously brought out the Irish version. It is hard to believe that an Irish version of the White Paper on Education has not yet been published. I looked meticulously through the White Paper but could not find any Irish, although I hope I am wrong. We are talking about the service we will provide to Gaeltacht areas and Gaelscoileanna, which was not mentioned in the White Paper. People want to know what service the Minister intends to provide to Gaeltacht areas and Gaelscoileanna.

We are now part of Europe and we want to promote the Irish language and to keep our identity. The Gaeltacht and Gaelscoileanna will help us to nourish that. The number of Gaelscoileanna is increasing in urban areas, yet the Department of Education seems unable to acknowledge them. There is a need for a special unit which should have been in place long ago. We should support Gaeltacht teachers and Gaelscoileanna in their endeavours to promote the Irish language. Such a unit would only be a small extra dimension to the Department of Education. It would consist of a small number of people, including remedial teachers and a psychological service, who could conduct their business through Irish. Textbooks should be at hand and not translated as required. These services should be coming onstream because the teachers are calling for them. They are fair-minded people and are not so overly ambitious as to look for anything to which they are not entitled.

I ask the Minister to examine this area in the Department of Education and consider the creation of a structure to facilitate people looking for information or a service. They should not be going around in circles when they need an Irish remedial teacher or a teacher who will conduct his or her business through the Irish language when that is what the parents want. They choose to send their children to the Gaelscoileanna and yet they are not getting the service. I speak for those parents and teachers who are anxious to provide that service, promote the language and go into the year 2000 with this process in motion and with the backing of the Department of Education.

Sa chéad áit ní mór dúinn dhá cheist thábhachta a choimeád i gcuimhne — dílseacht an Rialtais don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht agus cén fáth go mbeidh córas oideachais níos fearr againn de bharr bunú na mBord Oideachais.

Tá muinín agam féin agus ag an Rialtas i bhforbairt na Gaeilge i measc an phobail agus gur féidir linn an Ghaeilge a theagasc go héifeachtúil sna scoileanna. Tá an muinín seo léirithe i gClár an Rialtais Government of Renewal, áit a bhfuil an abairt seo a leanas:

The State must play a leading role in expanding the degree of bilingualism in Irish society and, in particular, in achieving a greater use of Irish.

Maidir leis an nGaeltacht deirtear sa doiciméad:

Is sa Ghaeltacht is mó a labhartar an Ghaeilge mar ghnáth-theanga phobail agus caithfear iarrachtaí ar leith a dhéanamh chun í a chaomhnú agus a fhorbairt.

Léiríonn sé seo dearcadh láidir an Rialtais maidir le forbairt chultúrtha, shóisialta, structúrtha agus eacnamaíoch sa Ghaeltacht. Cén fáth go bhfuil boird oideachais á mbunú ag an Rialtas? Creidimid gur gá do phobail áitiúla agus réigiúnacha feabhas a chur ar fhiúntas na seirbhísí Oideachais. Is mór againn tionchar na bpobal áitiúla agus réigiúnacha agus teastaíonn uainn iad a bheith lánpháirteach sna scoileanna áitiúla acu.

Ní ceart go mbeadh an Roinn i Sráid Maoilbhríde gafa ó lá go lá leis na cúraim a bhaineann le riaradh an 4,000 scoil atá sa chóras againn. Ba cheart go mbeadh an t-am aici chun tacú le heagrú an chórais ar mhaithe lenár mic léinn, lenár n-aosaigh agus leo siúd a bhfuil riachtanais ar leith acu, agus chun maoirseacht a dhéanamh ar an gcóras.

Tá daoine ann a bhfuil eagla orthu nach ndéanfaidh na boird nua cúram ceart den Ghaeilge ná de chur chun cinn na teanga sna scoileanna lánGhaeilge. Sin é an chúis go bhfuil bord ar leith ag teastáil uathu. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an ceart acu. Measaim gurb amhlaidh a dhéanfadh bord ar leith dochar do chaighdeán an oideachais sa Ghaeltacht agus sna scoileanna lánGhaeilge. Léireoidh mé daoibh cén fáth a cheapaim sin.

Deirtear sa Pháipéar Bán go gcaithfidh na boird feidhmiú i gcónaí de réir critéir áirithe mar seo a leanas — go gcaithfidh an méid a dhéanfaidh siad tacú le forbairt an pholasaí náisiúnta agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge san áireamh agus go gcaithfidh siad aicmí éagsúla scoileanna a fhorbairt. Beidh na scoileanna Gaeltachta agus na scoileanna lánGhaeilge ina gcuid riachtanach den fhorbairt sin agus beidh feidhm dlí ag an riachtanas sin.

The plans and operations of the education boards will be subject to the review and scrutiny of the Minister and the Department of Education. Any board which is not making proper provision for the teaching of Irish can be statutorily directed to do so. The White Paper indicates that each board must provide for the systematic planning and co-ordination of the provision of education in its area; provide a range of support services to the schools; ensure the empowerment and participation of local communities in the education system and provide fully for the diversity which exists in the community, including the Gaeltacht community and the community of all-Irish schools, not to mention other areas of interest such as special education needs, multi-denominational needs and traveller education needs.

The proposed boards of education will have the following advantages when dealing with the Irish language. Their location will be in proximity to the schools and to the communities which they will serve. Each board will be empowered to establish committees and/or specialist groups to advise and assist it, as appropriate, in the implementation of policy. The Irish language or the needs of Gaeltacht and/or all-Irish schools are appropriate as issues for which a board might see fit to establish such a committee. I cannot visualise that boards which have Gaeltachtaí or Irish-medium schools in their areas would fail to give a high priority to their needs and I would expect that all of the boards would establish subcommittees to deal with the special concerns of these schools.

A separate education board for Irish-medium schools, whether Gaeltacht or scoileanna lán-Ghaeilige would run counter to the two objectives which I set out at the beginning of my statement— the promotion of Irish and the improvement of the education system. Let us look at a few examples.

The Gaeltactaí are spread through the areas of five education boards and through seven counties from Cork to Donegal and from Galway to Meath. At present, only four counties do not have scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge. Any location for a headquarters of a board which would co-ordinate all of these schools would be as remote from the majority of them as the Department of Education is now. The advantages associated with proximity of the schools to their boards would be lost in such an arrangement. If there was a separate board dealing exclusively with the Irish-medium schools it would have as much occasion for such a range of subcommittees as any other board. However, the lack of geographical integrity inherent in such a separate education board would make such subcommittees totally unworkable and prohibitively expensive to manage.

The principle of pluralism is one of the most important principles which the education boards are designed to advance. The existence of Irish-medium schools or of Gaeltacht schools in any board area enriches the system enormously. Grouping all the Irish-medium schools under the one education board would run counter to this principle in two ways. It would limit the diversity within the separate board itself and it would impoverish the other boards culturally because of the absence in them of any Irish-medium education provision.

What I am stressing here is that I do not want to ghettoise the Gaeltacht, the teaching of Irish or Irish-medium schools. After all, the children in Cois Fharraige or the Kerry Gaeltachtaí are more likely to identify with their neighbours in other rural schools in Galway or Kerry than with children attending Irish-medium schools in Dublin or other urban areas. Conversely, children attending an Irish-medium school in Black-rock or Dungarvan are more likely to identify with schools in their immediate neighbourhoods. I will not ghettoise Irish. I will not deal with the Irish language in its teaching, in its living community, in a chapter entitled "Oideachas tríGhaeilge".

Ní bheadh dóthain achmhainní ag bord amháin chun freastal i gceart ar na scoileanna Gaeltachta agus na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge. Conas a d'fhéadfadh scoileanna ar an gCeathrú Rua agus sa Daingean teacht i gcabhair ar a chéile? Bheadh sé níos éasca dóibh comhoibriú le scoileanna eile i gContae na Gaillimhe agus i gContae Chiarraí. B'fhéidir gur i sruth lán-Ghaeilge i meánscoil áitiúil a dhéanfaí teagasc trí Ghaeilge. Bheadh sé mar chúram ag gach bord oideachais féachaint chuige go mbeadh rogha ag daltaí bunscoileanna lán-Ghaeilge chun meánoideachas trí Ghaeilge a fháil.

Tá a fhios agam nach bhfuil scoileanna Gaeltachta agus scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge ar aon dul ar fad le scoileanna eile. Mar sin, ní mór roinnt socruithe ar leith a dhéanamh. B'fhéidir gurbh fhearr téacsleabhair agus ábhar teagaisc trí Ghaeilge a chur ar fáil ag an léibhéal náisiúnta agus b'fhéidir gurbh fhearr cúrsaí inseirbhíse do mhúinteoirí a eagrú ar an mbonn céanna.

Measaim gur beag atá idir rún an tSeanadóra Lee agus leasú an tSeanadóra Manning. Creideann an bheirt acu gur cóir teanga na Gaeilge a chaomhnú agus a fhorbairt i ngach ceann dár scoileanna, ach dá gcuirfí bord oideachais ar leith ar bun don Ghaeilge d'fhéadfaí dochar a dhéanamh don Ghaeilge sa chóras oideachais. Creidim féin go bhfuil stádas na Gaeilge slán.

Beidh mé ag caint leosan go léir atá ar aon intinn liom faoi bheith dílis don Ghaeilge. Beidh mé ag caint leo ar mhaithe le cabhrú le scoileanna Gaeltachta agus chun scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge a fhorbairt i ngach réigiún de gach bord oideachas ar fud na tíre. Beidh mé ag éisteacht agus déanfaidh mé pé rud is gá.

Caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil plé na ceiste seo deacair orm anocht. Chríochnaigh an tAire le píosa ansin mar gheall ar iadsan ar fad atá dílis don teanga. D'fheadfá an méid céanna a rá mar gheall ar gach duine atá tar éis labhairt anseo anocht. D'fhéadfá a rá go bhfuil an dóchas agus an dílseacht iontú don teanga. Ar an taobh eile den scéal, an rud atá i gceist anseo anocht ná conas is fearr dul chun cinn a dhéanamh ar an méid atá molta ag gluaiseachtaí agus grupaí eile sa tír.

Dúirt an tAire ina óráid nach raibh mórán idir an rún atá curtha ar aghaidh ag an Seanadóir Lee agus an leasú atá curtha ar aghaidh ag an Ríaltas. N'fheadar an fíor sin, ach is fíor le rá go bhféadfá tacaíocht a thabhairt don dá cheann, ag féachaint ar an méid atá ráite ag an mbeirt Seanadóirí atá tar éis an rún a mholadh agus an leasú a mholadh.

Caithfidh mé a rá nach raibh mé riamh róthógtha le réigiúinachas. Tá sé á phlé eadrainn anois is dócha le nach mór 25 bliana agus i dtosach an phlé sin, ní raibh me ró-thógtha leis. Fiú féin, go dtí cúpla bliain ó shin ní raibh mé ró-thógtha leis. Is cuimhin liom nuair a bhí sé á phlé sa Chaisleán, roimh fhoilsiú an Pháipéir Bháin, bhí a lán rá ag daoine i bhfábhar agus i gcoinne an réigiúnachais. Bhíos féin go mór i gcoinne an iomarca réigiún nó an iomarca vocational education committees nó pé rud a bhí ann go dtí seo a bheith ann arís. Cheapas go raibh an tír róbhéag chun go mbeadh, mar shampla, ceann i ngach contae sa tír mar a bhí molta ag Fianna Fáil, más buan mo chuimhne.

Ag feachaint ar na hargóintí ar an dá thaobh, afách, tháinig mé i bhfábhar uimhir áirithe réigiún. Mhol an tAire ar dtús go mbeadh ocht réigiúin ann. Tá sé sin méadaithe anois go dtí deich gcinn nó dhá cheann déag. Ní raibh mé sásta leis an ocht réigiúin an uair sin agus duirt mé sin ar an bpointe. Is cuimhin liom go raibh ceann amháin a chuaigh leis an teorainn ó Dhún na nGall soir go Droichead Átha agus ní raibh mé róshásta le sin, ach ceapaim, ó thaobh réigiúnachais, go mbeadh an méid atá molta ag an bpointe seo i bhfad níos áisiúla ná an chéad rud a bhí molta ag an Aire. Dúirt mé sin sa Teach seo ag an ám.

Anois, chun teacht ar an méid atá ráite agus atá molta ag mo chomhSheanadoirí, an Seanadoir Lee agus an Seanadoir Quinn anocht. Molann siad go mbeadh pé ríarachán a bheadh ann do chúrsaí Gaeilge ar fad in aon bhord amháin. Cuireann sin sort sceoin orm féin. Sa mhéid sin aontaím leis an Aire. Níor mhaith liom go mbeadh aon sort ghettoisation, mar a dúirt sí féin, ar siúl. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé sin róláidir mar fhocal. Tá mé cinnte gur daoine iad na gluaiseachtaí agus na daoine atá ag moladh seo go bhfuil a mhalairt á iarraidh á bhaint amach acu.

Dá mba rud é go raibh an Seanadór ag moladh, mar shampla, go mbeadh réigiúin ag Údarás na Gaeltachta faoin bprionsabal réigiúnachais, go bhféadfá réigiún nua, mar shampla, a chur ar bun ag freastal ar chursaí Gaeltachta, mar a dúirt an tAire ina hóráid, b'fhéidir go mbeadh sé deacair teacht ar aon sórt comheagair idir scoil sa Daingean agus scoil ar an Spidéal. N'fheadar an bhféadfá é sin a dhéanamh, ach má tá réigiúnachas le bheith againn, ba chóir go mbeadh sé bunaithe ar an bprionsabal sin de réigiúnachas. Dá mba rud é gur bhunaíomar bord nua chun cúrsaí Gaeilge a riar, an deacracht a bheadh ansin ná, cad é an chéad chéim eile ina dhiaidh sin? An t-aon rud loighciúil a thiocfadh as sin ná an méid a bhí ráite agus seanráite ag daoine nuair a bhíomar sa Chaisleán, go mbeadh na hargóintí céanna ann d'oideachas speisialta, dóibh siúd a bhfuil freagreacht acu ar leanaí na tíre go bhfuil deacrachtaí áirithe nó go bhfuil freagrachtaí áirithe ag baint leo. Bheadh oideachas speisialta ar bhord eile ansin.

Is féidir dul ar aghaidh céim ar chéim le sin agus is féidir an argóint chéanna a chur ann i bhfabhar bord nua a bheith ann, mar shampla, do scoileanna nó áiteanna atá faoi mhíbhuntáiste. Ansin bheadh macnamh á dheanamh ar an bprionsabal ó thús. Nílim ag rá go bhfuil aon rud mícheart leis an gcóras oideachas a ríar sa tslí sin más sin atá i gceist againn, ach más é sin atá i gceist againn, ní réigiúnachas é sin agus caithfimid réigiúnachas a chur ar leataobh agus dul ar aghaidh i slí eile, go mbeadh stiúradh lárnach ar ghnéithe áirithe den chóras oideachais agus go bhféadfaimis dul ar aghaidh céim ar chéim mar sin. Is féidir le daoine é sin a phlé. Tá sé seanphléite agus táimid tagtha anois go dtí an pointe go gceapann daoine nár cheart go mbeadh daoine i Sráid Marlborough ag déanamh gach cinneadh ar leith do scoileanna i ngach cuid den tír. Sin é an fáth gur tháinig daoine i bhfábhar an réigiúnachais.

Nílim chun an argóint sin a thosú arís, ach ba mhaith liom cúpla rud a rá go ginearálta ar a lán de na rudaí atá ráite go dtí seo. Tá sé ráite agam roimhe seo agus déarfaidh mé arís é, go gceapaim féin go bhfuil scoileanna Gaeltachta na tíre seo faoi mhíbhuntáiste. Tá sin ráite agam go minic. Ceann de na deacrachtaí atá ag muintir na Gaeltachta ná seo: a lán acu tá tithe nua acu atá togtha le deontais agus tá ambience na Gaeltachta, go mórmhór i rith an tSamhraidh, it looks a lovely comfortable place to live in. Dáiríre níl mórán airgid ag munitir na Gaeltachta agus tá sé andeacair fiú an Ghaeilge féin a mhuineadh do leanaí na Gaeltachta ag an bpointe seo. D'fhreastail mé féin ar scoil Ghaeltachta, agus nuair a bhuaileas isteach ar scoil Ghaeltachta dhá mhí ó shin bhí mé ag caint leis an mbunmhuinteóir i rang na naíonán, agus dúirt sí liom go raibh 28 leanaí sa rang agus ní raibh Gaeilge ón gcliabhán ach ag ceathrar acu agus bheadh deacrachtaí aici an teanga a chur ar aghaidh. Is é an rud is tábhachtaí atá ráite ag mo chara an Seanadóir Lee anocht ná go bhfuil ganntanas tacaíochta ann do mhúinteoirí Gaeilge i ngach cearn den tír. Tá a lán acu i mbunscoileanna ar fud na tíre, caithfear cúrsaí inseirbhíse a chur ar fáil dóibh, caithfear cúrsaí nua foghlamtha a chur ar fáil, agus an pointe deireanach, tuismitheoirí agus leanaí a bhfuil claonadh i bhfabhar na Gaeilge acu, ba mhaith liomsa go mbeadh siadsan measctha le gnáthdhaoine na háite sa dóigh is go mbeadh an dea-thionchar ann. Pé rud a dhéanann tú, a Aire, ba chóir go mbeadh critéir agus rialacha náisiúnta ann maidir le coibhneas idir leanaí agus múinteoirí, go mbeadh critéir náisiúnta ann a chuirfí i bhfeidhm go háitiúil.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte mhór a chur roimh an Aire. Tar éis bheith ag éisteacht leis an Seanadóir Lee, tá orm a rá nach bhfuil mórán Gaeilge agam. Dá bhrí sin, leanfaidh mé ar aghaidh i mBéarla.

I do not believe I can match the speed or eloquence of Senator O'Toole in speaking Irish, therefore I will revert to using English for the moment.

I have a slight difficulty with the motion tabled by Senator Lee. When Senator Ormonde expressed support for the motion, I perceived a completely different picture from the one described by Senator Lee. Perhaps my confusion in this regard might be clarified later. As I understand it, the regional boards oversee the daily operation of all schools in their region, from the colour of the paint on the front door to the management of relations with parents and problems experienced in relation to staffing. However, I would be in favour of Senator Ormonde's suggestion that a special unit be established in the Department of Education which would focus on Irish. The main responsibilities of such a committee would be to promote the in-service training of teachers, deal with linguistic policy in relation to the Irish language, encourage those responsible for teaching it and offer guidance to all-Irish schools. The latter could take the form of a support group and not interfere with the daily operation of the school.

I mo bhaile féin tá Gaelscoil agus Gaelcholáiste, dhá choláiste agus trí bhunscoil eile sa pharóiste, agus dá bhrí sin bheadh dhá bhord ann, bord do na Gaelscoileanna agus bord do na scoileanna eile. Bheadh difríochtaí ann, taisteal chun na scoile ar bhusanna, srl. I foresee major problems arising between the two boards in relation to the daily organisation of school life.

Ceapaim freisin go bhfuil an-difríocht idir scoil bheag i nDaingean Uí Chúise agus Gaelscoil láidir i mBaile Átha Cliath, mar scoil tuaithe atá sa scoil i nDaingean Uí Chúise agus scoil chathrach atá sa cheann eile. Bhí mé ag caint le daoine in Uibh Rathach i gCiarraí an bhliain seo caite agus bhí an-eagla orthu go mbeadh an-chumhacht ar fad ag na Gaelscoileanna, mar gur mhó an bhéim ar Ghaeilge na cathrach ná an teanga dhúchasach sna scoileanna Ghaeltachta. Tá an Gaelcholáiste faoi stiúradh an vocational education committee freisin agus tugann a lán daoine an-chabhair ansin. Bíonn múinteoir speisialta ann idir an vocational education committee agus an Gaelcholáiste, idir mhúinteoirí Francíse agus adhmaid, agus go leor múinteoirí eile agus iad ag freastal ar na scoileanna éagsúla.

Senator Ormonde argued earlier that the vocational education committees have a great role to play and can help enormously and take a great pride and interest in the Gaelscoil.

Some time ago I tabled a Motion chun campus amháin idir an Ghaelscoil agus an Gaelcholáiste a bhunú agus tá súil agam go gcuirfear sin i gcrích.

I am afraid that too much is being left to the Ghaelscoileanna and that all hope for the Irish language will be left in their care. If they are separated from the other schools in an area, the Irish language becomes their responsibility and the primary schools can take a more relaxed approach in this regard.

Under the chapter entitled "The Irish Language" the White Paper states:

It is the function of the education system to provide the means for students to learn the Irish language and to make them aware of its inherent value. Students' proficiency in a language is crucially related to their motivation and the opportunities for them to use the language outside the classroom. These in turn depend on the attitudes of parents in the community, the extent to which the home encourages the learning and use of Irish and how far Irish is used, encouraged and appreciated in a community. Without significant support from both home and community, even the best language programmes and pedagogical methods will have limited success.

While people are dedicated to maintaining an interest in the Irish language through the medium of Gaelscoileanna — the Minister stated that there are only four counties in Ireland which do not have a Gaelscoil — and promoting it within the greater regional board, other Irish teachers in ordinary primary schools will be encouraged to take a greater interest.

It could be counter-productive, in the long-term interests of the Irish language, to have a board which deals specifically with Gaelscoileanna and scoileanna sa Ghaeltacht. I agree with Senator Ormonde's suggestion that a special unit be established in the Department of Education to consider the area of policy and encourage teachers to improve their methods.

I dtosach báire, caithfidh mé a rá go bhfuil deacrachtaí agam leis an rún agus leis an leasú atá os ár gcomhair um thráthnóna. Is é mo thuairim nár cheart smaoineamh ar bhord oideachais nua ar bith a bhunú go dtí go réiteofar an t-aighneas atá ar siúl maidir leis na boird réigiúnacha atá molta sa Pháipéar Bán Oideachais.

I have some difficulties with both the motion and the amendment to it. The motion is somewhat premature. That does not mean I do not welcome the opportunity which the motion provides to discuss the issues involved, which are important and complex. They are also extremely relevant to both the development of the education service generally and the promotion and wellbeing of the Irish language.

The motion is premature because it was only today, this afternoon in fact, that the gaelscoileanna, Eagraíocht Scoileanna Gaeltachta and Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge launched their policy document for the establishment of an education board for the Gaeltacht and all-Irish schools. It would be better if we had some time to study and reflect on the arguments and case put forward in that document before the proposals contained therein came before the House in the form of a motion.

My second reservation is that this proposal is being put forward in the context of the proposal in the White Paper on Education to establish regional education boards. It is important to bear in mind at this stage that the White Paper proposals in this regard have been rejected by practically all local authorities and vocational education committees in the country as well as by the General Council of County Councils and the IVEA. My personal view is it would be premature to give consideration to the establishment of any new education board until there is some general consensus and agreement on the format of the intermediate education structure.

The second big question mark I have in my mind concerns the advisability of establishing a board which would, in effect, be a sectoral one. There are many sectoral interests which combine to make up the educational landscape. There are many schools throughout the country which have been designated as disadvantaged. There are many multi-denominational schools and schools which cater for children with special needs also. A case could be made in the same way for the establishment of an education board to look after the special needs of any of these categories of schools. The question we must ask is whether or not that is the road along which we should go. I would need a lot of convincing at this stage that this is the best way forward. That is not to say that the schools to which are the motion refers do not have special and particular needs. Of course, they do.

The policy document which we received today deals in great detail with the specific linguistic and educational requirements which need to be addressed as far as these schools are concerned. They have needs in relation to a long list of areas, such as the provision of Irish medium teaching resources and textbooks, linguistic and educational research, language planning, the development of Irish medium remedial teaching services, career guidance services, the establishment of a computer network for the Gaeltacht and for other Irish-medium schools, the provision of a suitable assessment system and syllabi, the provision of language support teachers for pupils in Gaeltacht schools who do not have access to Irish at home and, indeed, for parents residing in the Gaeltacht who do not speak Irish, and the provision of services from agencies such as the health boards, which, of course, should be provided through the medium of Irish. These are just some of the specific needs of these schools. All these needs should be provided for, and I must say I was surprised to learn the Department of Education has been so remiss in this regard to date. However, I must ask whether it is necessary to establish a new bureaucratic structure for the purpose of addressing these matters and if that is the only or best way to ensure they are addressed. Senator Ormonde suggested they might be addressed through the provision of a special unit within the Department of Education and I feel that suggestion has considerable merit and should be examined closely.

My view is that before any decision is made on this issue, a wide-ranging and considered debate should be undertaken. There should be the greatest possible degree of consultation with all the interests involved in education as well as with the Irish language organisations. The views of the teacher unions should be ascertained, as should those of the teachers in the schools in question. I would be concerned about the risk of sectoral friction if we were to go down this particular road. I would be concerned at any development which might give rise to a perception that there is not a level playing pitch for schools in different parts of the country and between primary schools in particular. I would be concerned about the implications this perception might have for attitudes towards the Irish language and the teaching and learning of Irish in schools which would be outside the remit of the proposed board.

These are all factors which should be considered carefully before any decision is reached to establish the type of board called for in this motion. In addition, the difficulties and differences of opinion which have arisen in relation to the format of the intermediate education structure would need to have been resolved.

I reiterate that I agree that the specific linguistic and educational requirements of Gaeltacht schools and all-Irish schools need to be addressed, but I remain to be convinced of the desirability of rushing into the establishment of a body to be known as An Bord Oideachais do Scoileanna Gaeltachta agus lánGhaeilge in order to achieve this aim.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. Is trua liom go bhfuil an Ghaeilge caillte agam cuid mhaith ach déanfaidh mé iarracht í a labhairt ar feadh cúpla nóiméad.

Tugann gach Páirtí i dTeach Laighean tacaíocht do chur chun cinn agus d'fhorbairt na Gaeilge agus glacann siad leis gurb í an chuid is luachmhaire dár n-oidhreacht chultúrtha. Is é an aidhm atá ag na páirtithe go léir agus, ar ndóigh, ag na Ríaltais go léir, ná Stát dátheangach a fhorbairt. Nuair a bunaíodh an Páirtí Daonlathach, d'fhógraíomar go poiblí ár lántacaíocht don pholasaí dátheangach, agus b'shinne an chéad Pháirtí a d'fhoilsigh cáipéis chuimsitheach i leith ár bpolasaí maidir le forbairt na Gaeilge, a réitigh Comhdháil Náisiúnta dár bPáirtí.

Tá sé curtha in iúl cheana féin ag urlabhraí ár bPáirtí ar an nGaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht, go dtugann an Páirtí Daonlathach lántacaíocht don mholadh atá os ár gcomhair anocht ó na Seanadóirí Neamhspléacha. Tá siad tar éis an cheist a ardú leis an Aire Oideachais agus leis an Aire Ealaíon, Cultúir agus Gaeltachta trí ceisteanna Dála a chur síos agus labhair sé i bhfabhar an mholta ag an gcruinniú stairiúil sa Cheathrú Rua, 18 Samhain 1995.

Aithníonn an Páirtí Daonlathach an cuspóir tábhachtach atá ag scoileanna Gaeltachta agus scoileanna lánGaeilge an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn agus an chabhair a thugann siad don Stát a pholasaí a bhaint amach i leith an teanga a fhorbairt, agus aithnímid go bhfuil an tacaíocht speisialta do na scoileanna seo cóir toisc na dualgaisí breise atá glactha orthu féin agus na deacrachtaí speisialta atá rompu.

Tá eolas maith ag pobal na Gaeltachta agus daoine atá ag tógáil a leanaí trí mhéan na Gaeilge ar na fadhbanna atá sa bhealach rompu nuair a bhíonn siad ag lorg a gcearta laistigh de na húdaráis áitiúla — agus tá roinnt mhaith díobh siúd ann — boird sláinte agus boird turasóireachta, mar shampla. Toisc an chiall ceannaithe atá acu ó bheith ag plé leis na boird éagsúla seo, tá fhios ag na scoileanna Gaeltachta agus na scoileanna lánGhaeilge go bhfuil sé riachtanach go mbunófar bord neamhspléach lena mbeadh siad in ann comhcheangal a dhéanamh.

Having struggled with that contribution, allow me to make some sense.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

You made good sense.

I am relieved to hear it because I am frequently told that I make no sense whatsoever in English.

He may have made more sense then than he will now.

It is essential that a separate board is set up to which they could affiliate if their special needs and difficulties are to be adequately provided for under the Government's proposals to establish the regional education boards.

The difficulties faced by parents and students in Irish schools have been catalogued here. Among them is the increasing difficulty of filling vacancies with teachers of adequate fluency, knowledge and skills to teach through Irish, the lack of textbooks in the Irish language, the special need to keep small Gaeltacht schools in existence even when the numbers of pupils have fallen below the Department of Education's requirements and the special transport needs of pupils who wish to attend all-Irish schools. These are only some of the special needs which in themselves highlight the need for a special board, especially as direct access to the Department will be removed by the Minister's proposals.

My party was most disappointed with the responses given to Deputy Molloy who asked parliamentary questions to the Minister for Education, Deputy Bhreathnach, and the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Higgins, who has Cabinet responsibility to promote the use of the Irish language in our society. This can never be achieved if side by side with that objective, we allow the Gaeltacht and all Irish speaking schools to languish in a regional board system where their special needs will not be entitled to any special considerations.

The Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht had a Labour Party representative present at the Carraroe meeting expressing his full support for the proposals in this motion. It strikes me as being disingenuous that the Minister would state on the one hand that he supports the proposal while on the other as a Cabinet Minister, support the Minister for Education who published a Government White Paper on education refusing the proposal put forward by the Independent Senators. For all those reasons, the Progressive Democrats will be supporting the motion.

Ba mhaith liom tagairt go tapa do na pointí a tháinig amach sa díospóireacht a bhí againn. I am in two minds on the Minister's contribution. It comes down to how much credibility one attaches to her declaration of governmental high principles to which she referred. Hitherto, in all my attitudes towards Government proposals, I have tried to avoid reflecting on motives. It seems we are coming close to a situation where the gap between the declaration of principle and the actual details which subsequently follow is becoming almost unendurable.

On page 4 I notice the following: "Creidimid gur gá do phobail áitiúla agus réigiúnacha feabhas a chur ar fhiúntas na seirbhísí oideachais, etc."

"Áitiúla" suddenly surges in; this is different from "reigiúnach" in the context. If a regional board, which will be reputedly closer to the Gaeltacht and many Gaelscoileanna, is located, for example, in the Cork-Kerry area, the gap between that and Dunquin is, for practical purposes, nearly as wide as a gap between that and Dublin and Dunquin. This proximity to which the Minister refers does not seem to make much sense in the context of her proposed regional boards. It would be a different matter if there were some devolution of these boards to local level, but that is one of the main issues between the various parties on this matter.

The Minister claims the proposal of a board of this type would damage education in the Gaeltacht and the Gaelscoileanna. I cannot see how she has demonstrated that. She also argues that to get support, "go gcaithfid na boird feidhmiú i gcónaí de réir critéir áirithe, go gcaithfidh an méid a dhéanann siad tacú le forbairt an pholasaí náisiúnta agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge."

They are under the injunction to operate in support of the national policy, including the promotion of Irish. National policy in promoting Irish has failed up to now. If there is no policy in place other than the one which has failed, to impose that injunction on regional boards is simply a recipe for further failure. The injunction is meaningless.

I do not accept the argument advanced by the Minister and by some of my colleagues that if one makes provision for Gaelscoileanna or Irish language teaching, this will open the door to a whole range of other special interests. It seems that in terms of national policy, the constitutional situation and of the pedagogy of teaching through a second or minority language, it is a case en fait. It does not involve principles of the same type applied to other categories from a purely pedagogic point of view. However, I will not argue that point at length because we could spend a great deal of time on it.

The Minister also said that each board will be empowered to establish committees and/or specialist groups to advise and assist it in the implementation of policy. What the White Paper said was that such specialist committees will not normally be permanent but will have a specific remit for a particular issue. I can imagine nothing less likely to be transitory or ephemeral than the support required by the Gaelscoileanna and Irish language education in general for and far beyond the foreseeable future.

While I am encouraged by the Minister's reference to this as a possible way forward in encouraging regional education committees, it would be necessary to stiffen it up as far as potential legislation is concerned before one could regard it as an adequate substitute. The board only might see fit to establish such a committee. The Minister talks about a location for a headquarters of a board which will co-ordinate all these schools. However, it would be as remote from most of them as the Department of Education is now.

There is a difference between the geographic and intellectual, ideological, conceptual and pedagogical principle remoteness about which the proposal for a board was concerned. There should be a wavelength which would relate to the Gaelscoileanna in a way which, as far as the White Paper is concerned, seems unlikely at present. I will not linger on the arguments about lack of diversity because time is short but they no make no sense to me.

Having said that, the Minister did make some encouraging comments such as:

"Bheadh sé mar chúram ag gach bord oideachais féachaint chuige go mbeadh rogha ag daltaí bunscoileanna lánGhaeilge dul ar aghaidh go sruthanna lánGhaeilge chun meánoideachas trí Ghaeilge a fháil."

If that could be fleshed out in legislation, it would be a potentially important advance on the current tone of the White Paper. The question of textbooks is left in a permissive rather than a compulsory way but at least this is some recognition.

The Minister concludes by saying "beidh mé ag caint leo ar mhaithe le cabhair ó scoileanna Gaeltachta agus scoileanna lánGhaeilge a fhorbairt," I emphasise the word "forbairt", i ngach réigiún de gach bord oideachais ar fud na tíre."

I am in a dilemma. I am not pressing a vote on the basis of the credibility I attach to the Minister's integrity on that statement. I am prepared, to the great relief of everybody, to accept that statement at face value, maybe even at more than that, on this occasion, not because of anything the Minister has said in this document but because of observations made by you, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, by Senator Ormonde, Senator Kelly and others that the implications of the proposal require further fleshing out, and a number of valid points were made which would require detailed exploration there.

However, I remain committed to the principle that the Gaelscoileanna, and education in Irish and through Irish — the education of Irish in a way — now requires a programme that I cannot see the Government, whatever its rhetorical commitment to the promotion of Irish, has any ideas how to promote beyond the current stage. If it were not for the Gaelscoileanna, for that private initiative, one of the most enterprising taken, we would have already fallen far behind where we are even now.

I make very few party political observations in the House, but I was pleasantly surprised by the commitment of Senator Dardis in addition to the quality of his Irish which he grossly under-estimated in his self-deprecatory comments. I was not aware that his views were an expression of the policy of the Progressive Democrats. I rather assumed their policy was the opposite. If any hope has emerged this evening it is that at least the Progressive Democrats have committed themselves — perhaps they were already committed without my being aware of it — to a policy which appears to offer some hope.

When legislation following the White Paper emerges, the extent to which the indications of possible developments beyond the White Paper, as outlined in the Minister's speech, and the degree to which they are incorporated in legislation will be, for me, a fundamental criterion in terms of evaluating the totality of that legislation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

When is it proposed to sit again?

At 10.30 tomorrow morning.