Dáil Éireann - Volume 282 - 19 June, 1975

Excess Vote, 1972-73. - Vote 33: Higher Education.

Minister for Lands (Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick, Cavan): I move:

That a sum not exceeding £21,127,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1975, for grants-in-aid of An tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachais, certain Higher Education Institutions and Services and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Mr. Wilson: I should like to know whether the non-capital grants mentioned at A.2 include some which will help the university colleges out of their serious financial position at the moment. I am talking about the current accounts of the university colleges. There has not been very much talk about it recently but no money has, as yet, been allocated to the university colleges. They are in pretty dire straits. Does the Parliamentary Secretary know anything about this?

Mr. Bruton: Representations received in relation to this matter are still under consideration.

[1145] Mr. Wilson: They are under consideration for a long time. The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that some of the lecturers in University College Dublin were told that they would lose one month's salary. That kind of talk was going around and confidence was fading away from the university colleges. Would the Parliamentray Secretary get the Minister working on this because the money is badly needed?

With regard to A.1 An tÚdarás Ard Oideachais—general expenses, £98,000—I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to convey my wishes to the Minister that he consult An tÚdarás Ard Oideachais when he is making his decisions. As far as possible he should adhere to the expert opinions on higher education.

Mr. Bruton: The Minister has consulted with An tÚdarás Ard Oideachais.

Mr. Brosnan: Are there any plans for the future of University College, Cork, other than those contained in the Government's decisions as announced by the Minister for Education last December? Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware of a statement recently by a high official of his Department to the effect that these decisions were no longer as inflexible as we were given to believe?

Mr. Bruton: I am not in a position to add to the statement made by the Government in relation to this matter beyond saying that the decisions will be elaborated on further at a later date. The situation in Cork will be dealt with then.

Mr. Brosnan: Can the Parliamentary Secretary reconcile the statement made by the Minister in relation to those decisions, which was to the effect that they were inflexible, with the statements made by Mr. Ó Floinn? Does the Parliamentary Secretary know anything at all about this matter?

Mr. Bruton: I am not aware of any essential conflict between the two statements.

[1146] Mr. Wilson: Would the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that the Minister said that these were not proposals, although that word was used on the document I received, but decisions and they would not be changed. As far as the NCEA are concerned the change has already taken place. The senior official of the Department said, more or less, that the whole series of proposals could be modified; that their rigidity no longer obtained.

Mr. Bruton: These are basic policy decisions taken by the Government but the Government are always prepared to listen to any suggestions. It does not mean that they are going to turn a deaf ear to every amendment put forward by the Opposition or anyone else.

Mr. Wilson: That was the original impression.

Vote put and agreed to.