Dáil Éireann - Volume 479 - 13 May, 1997
Adjournment Debate. - UCD School of Diagnostic Imaging.
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: My objective in raising this issue is to obtain some movement from the Minister and Government. Indeed I regret that I have had to bring it to the floor of the House to highlight it  and obtain some solution, particularly in the interests of the students involved.
The staff of UCD School of Diagnostic Imaging will not be providing summer examinations for any of its radiography students undertaking its four-year honours undergraduate degree this year. This action is the culmination of a ten year dispute, aimed at establishing a transfer of the school from the auspices of the Department of Health to those of the Department of Education, thus introducing employment conditions and recognition of radiography lecturers equal to their university counterparts. The first examination was due to be held on Friday, 25 April 1997.
This school has seven teaching staff and an acting principal. The staff undertakes the range of duties required of university staff and are listed in the university calendar. Despite that, they are not employed as full university staff and cannot, therefore, attend faculty meetings, cannot vote in university elections or apply for occasional grants offered by the university to facilitate research. In addition, the acting principal can attend faculty meetings only as an observer.
To quote the United Kingdom model, teaching staff in all 28 radiography education centres there are employed as full university staff at lecturer or senior lecturer level. It is paradoxical that here the staff of one of the foremost European teaching and research radiography institutions are not appropriately employed. These circumstances have obtained since the UCD School of Diagnostic Imaging initiated the first radiography degree in Europe in 1987. In the same year a firm commitment was given that the staff would be employed as university lecturers, which did not happen despite a number of additional assurances having been given.
In 1995 staff informed UCD that, because of the circumstances continuing to prevail, they would not be taking up their positions of assistant examiners in the 1996 summer examinations which had been undertaken previously on the basis of good will. This action was deferred in May 1996 following a written assurance that a decision was imminent but, by January 1997 no progress had been recorded. On 3 February last the staff informed appropriate university personnel they would not be taking up their assistant examinership roles in the forthcoming 1997 summer examinations.
Resolution of this problem is dependent on documented evidence of a commitment to the transfer of the School of Diagnostic Imaging to the Department of Education within an acceptable timescale. The issue here is the transference of responsibility and management from the Department of Health to the Department of Education. My understanding is that the Department of Education has been dragging its feet for some time past and has been reluctant to assume responsibility for this school. This is regrettable and it is a pity it should arise at this stage because it undermines the careers of the students involved.  This ongoing dispute is a cause of stress and worry for the students whose examinations have been disrupted. When students' examinations have been disrupted, the Minister should move fast to endeavour to resolve the issue. It is clear how this dispute can be resolved. Will the Minister indicate when the School of Diagnostic Imaging, which is based in UCD, will come under the auspices of the Department of Education? I would appreciate some news on this issue.
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. O'Shea) Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. O'Shea)
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. O'Shea): Neither I nor my Department has any objection to transferring the schools of radiography at both St. Vincent's Hospital and St. Luke's-St. Anne's Hospital to the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority. A tripartite working group comprising officials of my Department and the Department of Education and chaired by the Higher Education Authority is currently examining the feasibility of the transfer of responsibilities. The working group has met with representatives of Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin and has also visited both schools of radiography.
The working group is confident of having its report finalised at the end of this month. The report will then be submitted to both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Education for consideration of its recommendations. The Higher Education Authority recently advised both universities of the work schedule for the working group and it is hoped that this will facilitate the staff of both schools to participate in the examinations process.
Dáil Éireann 479 Adjournment Debate. UCD School of Diagnostic Imaging.