Seanad Éireann - Volume 33 - 12 December, 1946
Mr. Hearne Mr. Hearne
Mr. Hearne: Might I suggest that we sit later than 10 p.m. for the purpose of completing the programme we agreed on yesterday?
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: I think that is a good suggestion. We could complete the Second Stage of the Vocational Education Bill, the whole of the Expiring Laws Bill and the Rates on Agricultural Land Bill, and the Second Stage of the Ministers and Secretaries Bill. For that purpose, the House might sit later than 10 p.m. but not later than 12 midnight.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.
Liam Ó Buachalla Liam Ó Buachalla
Liam Ó Buachalla: Sílim gurb é an rud ba deireannaí a bhí i gceist agam  roimh an sos go bhfeictear dom nach dtuigtear i gceart imeachta gairm-oideachais agus, ar an ábhar sin, bhí áthas orm gur thug an tAire cuntas speisialta ar an méid a rinneadh sna ceard-scoltacha agus sna ranganna ceard-scoltacha le cuidiú, le buanú agus le neartú agus le leathnú na dtionscail nua a cuireadh ar bun le thimcheall 10 mblian sa tír. Chuír an tAire in iúl dúinn gur thuig sé an cheist go maith agus go ndéanfadh sé beart dá réir nuair a gheobhadh sé an deis air. Tá a gheallúint comhlíonta go maith aige mar, idir na deontais speisialta atá sé tar éis a cheadú do choiste áirithe agus an bhreis ioncaim a bheas le fáil de thoradh an Bhille seo, beifear i ndon cur go mór leis an tseirbhís ghairm-oideachais feasta.
Is fiú an t-airgead a chaitheamh ar an obair. Is fiú airgead breise a chatheamh ar gach brainse oideachais. Ach is fiú a lán a chaitheamh ar ghairm-oideachais mar, taobh amuigh dá thairbhe mhór mar oideachas ann féin, is folas go mbrathann meadú ar an ioncam náisiúnta ar oiliúint, ar mheabhair, ar stuaim agus ar dhílseacht oibrithe na tíre. Is do réir a n-éifeacht siadsan a bheas an t-ioncam ann le breis chabhrach a thabhairt do na brainsí eile oideachais agus léinn agus fós is ar a n-éifeacht siúd a bhrathas sé cé acu is féidir leanacht ar chaighdeán maireachtála an phobail i gcoiteanta a mhéadú.
Ní beag atá déanta ag córas an ghairm-oideachais go dtí seo. Níl fostoír sa tír nach bhfuil faoi chomaoin mhóir aige. Ní áiféis ar bith a rá gur beag a d'fhéadfaí a dhéanamh le bunú, neartú agus leathnú tionnscal na tíre sna blianta atá caite murach an chabhair a bhí le fáil chuige sna scoltacha gairm-oideachais. An sompla is deireannaí ar an gcabhair inmholta sin, tréineáil na n-oibrithe le haghaidh an tionnscail nua atá á bhunú i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe, ba mhaith liom mo comhgháirdeachais a dhéanamh leis an Aire Oideachais, leis an Roinn Oideachais agus le Coisde Gairm-Oideachais Chontae na Gaillimhne as an Acht.
Ach maidir le breis tréinéala ceardúla sa nGaeltacht, tá moladh curtha isteach chuig an Roinn cheana ar lorg a cabhrach leis an bhfiodóireacht a  chur á feabhasú. Táthar ag iarraidh fíodóirí óga na Gealtachta a thabhairt le chéile agus cúrsaí maithe a thabhairt ar gach aon ghné de cheird na fiodoireachta. Is tionscail é seo ar fiú aire a thabhairt dó; agus creidim féin, ach beart a dhéanamh do réir an mholta atá curtha isteach ag Coiste Gairm-Oideachais Chontae na Gallimhe, go bhféadfaí mórchuid feabhais ó thaobh teicniciúlachta agus eacnomaíochta a chur air. Iarraim anois ar an Aire an cheist seo a iniúchadh go pearsanta agus an cabhair riachtanach a sholáthair.
Tá aon phointe amháin eile ar mian liom tagairt di, agus sílim go n-aontófar liom, agus pointe tábhachtach í. Is iomdha cineál seirbhíseach poiblí atá againn ach ní mheastím go bhfuil aon dream ann is fearr a thugas seirbhís don tír ná na Príomh-Oifigigh Ghairm-Oideachais. Níl aon dream, ar m-eolas sa go háirithe, is lú a smaoiníos orthu féin ná is lú a spárálan iad féin ina gcuid oibre ná na príomh-oifigigh céanna. Duine ar bith a scrúdós airgeadas na gCoistí, ní fhéadfaidh sé gan iongnadh a bheith air faoin a laghad don ioncam agus a caitear ar riarachán. Tá moladh mór ag dul do na príomh-oifigigh dá bharr sin; tá moladh ag dul dóibh a fheabhas agus a éiríos a bheith tíobhasach sa riarachán ionas go mbeidh an oiread agus is féidir ann le caitheamh ar theagasc.
Ach sílim go bhfuil sé in am—nó b'fhéidir tamall maith thar am—go ndéanfar athbhreithniú ar scálaí a gcuid tuarastail. Níl fúm comórtas a dhéanamh idir tuarastail oifigeach éagsúla. Ní bheadh sé ceart ar an ócáid seo go háirithe. Ach molaim go láidir don Aire obair agus mortabháil phríomh-oifigeach Contae na Gaillimhe agus phríomh-oifigeach Chontae Mhuigheo mar shomplaí a scrúdú. I gcomhréir leis an méid airgid atá le caitheamh go bliantúil acu, i gcomhréir le fairsinge a gcuid scéimeanna, líonmhare a gcuid scoltachta agus ranganna, níl cothrom na féinne á fháil acu. Cuimhnítear go bhfuil limistéir mhóra Gaeltachta agus Galltachta faoi n-a gcúram chomh maith, agus tuigfear go réidh chomh trom agus tá cúram orthu. Ba mhaith liom, agus iarraim go díoghraiseach ar an Aire,  geallúint a thabhairt dúinn go scrúdódh sé an pointe seo. Má níonn sé sin, níl aon aimhreas orm faoi chéard a dhéanfas sé. Tá tagairt déanta cheana do alt a cúig den Bhille agus don “canvass” atá déanta ag aicme áirithe ina thaobh. Tá súil agam nach n-athróidh an Seanad an t-alt seo. Tá sé riachtanach. Ba chóir go mbeadh caighdeán an oideachais agus caighdeán an teagaisc agus caighdeán an riaracháin chomh hárd agus is féidir. Cuideoidh an t-alt seo leis an méid sin a chur in áirithe. Oifigeach, múinteoir nó seirbhíseach a níos a cuid oibre go maith, níl aon ghá imní a bheith air. Is tábhachtaí leas na ndaoine a bheith i n-áirithe ná cosaint a thabhairt d'aon oifigeach nó seirbhíseach mí éifeachtach nó mí-fheiliúnach, is cuma cé hé. Ach is dócha go mbeidh tuilleamh faoin gceist seo ar ball.
Is maith liom an Bille agus is maith liom an tuairisc atá tugtha inniu dhúinn ag an Aire ar an obair atá déanta agus ar an méid atá beartaithe aige. Bíodh a fhios aige go bhfuil obair déanta aige agus go bhfuil obair beartaithe nach bhfhéadfaí é a mholadh sáthach árd chóiche dá bhárr.
Is iongnadh liom nach raibh aon tagairt go dtí seo do alt a 5 sa mBille. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé ro-luath, ach ba mhaith liom a chomhairliú don tSeanad a bheith daingean agus láidir ar alt a 5 fhágáil sa mBille agus gan é athrú. Caithfimid cuimhniú ar leas na ndaoine óg atá sna scoltacha. Caithfimid cuimhniú ar leas na ceardaíochta sa tir, mar adéarfá in aon fhocal amhain, caithfimid cuimhniú ar leas na tíre fré chéile. Gan an t-alt a bheith mar atá sé, is furasta a thuigsint go bhféadfaí obair na scoltacha a mhilleadh de bharr daoine a cheapadh chun dul i mbun oibre agus gan iad a bheith feiliúnach don obair, beag ná mór. B'fhéidir nach ceart a thuille do rá anois; b'fhéidir gur fearr é fhágáil go dtí an Tríú Céim, ach mholfainn go ndéanfadh lucht an tSeanaid staidéar ar an méid adúras agus ar bhrí an ailt sin agus ar bhrí an ailt sa Príomh-Acht agus go ndéanfadh siad d'intinn seasamh leis an Aire agus an córas sin oideachais atá i gceist aige a fhágáil sa mBille.
An méid adúradh anseo anocht, ní dóigh liom gur ceart domsa aon rud a  rá faoi. Ní doigh liom gur ceart mórán do rá faoi. Is ceist í nach ceart aon run a rá fuithí ach amháin go bhfeicthear dom go bhfuil sé in am, b'bhéidir, príbhléidí Seanadóra a scrúdú féachaint an ceart go mbeadh údarás, go mbeadh saoirse acu éirí suas sa Seanad agus daoine a ionsaí nach bhfuil i láthair agus nach bhfuil an deis acu iad féin a chosaint ná freagra a thabhairt ar na nithe a cuirtear ina leith. Feicthear dom nach dtaithníonn an priomhchigire atá i gceist leis an Seanadóir O hAodha. Is cosúil gurb shin é tús agus deireadh an sceil. An fear atá i gceist is duine sár-oilte é, múinteoir tréineálta, fear a fuair an-chuid duaiseanna as a chuid léinn. Ba mhac léinn é i gColáiste na hOllscoile i mBaile Atha Cliath agus fear é a bhain a chuid scrúdú amach gach uair a sheas sé iad. In Éirinn is maith linn lucht léinn a chur i gcéin ó Ollscoil na hÉireann. Is maith linn am ar bith is féidir linn ár gcuid mac léinn a chur i gcéin ar mhaithe leis an eolas. An fear seo, chuaigh sé i gcéin agus chuaigh sé isteach in ollscoil agus bhain sé ardchéim amach san ollscoil sin i gcéin. Shílfeá ón tagairt a rinne dó tráthnóna go mba duine gan intleacht é. Sin rud nach gcreidim, go háirithe ar an mbealach tugadh faoi tráthnóna.
Mar gheall ar scéal na Gaeilge sna scoltacha gairm-oideachais, is fíor, agus caithfimid a admháil, nach mbíonn na múinteoirí sna scoltacha sin sáthach oilte ar obair a dhéanamh i nGaeilge. An Seanadóir Ó hAodha tráthnóna, bhí sé ag caint i dtaobh cigire ag dul isteach ag caint i nGaeilge le múinteoir agus gur thuig an rang céard a bhí ar bun, ach an Seanadóir céanna, dúirt sé nach bhfuil Gaeilge ag na daoine óga. Ní thuig leis an dá thráigh a fhreastal. Tá Gaeilge acu nó níl Gaeilge acu. Le feidhm a bhaint as a lán cúrsaí i nGaeilge, caithfimid cúrsaí practiciúla—an modh díreach— a chur ar bun má tá eolas réasúnta ar an múinteoir ar an nGaeilge agus fios a cheirde aige mar mhuinteoir. Is fíor nach bhfuil dóthain daoine sna scoltacha ceard-oideachas oilte ar an nGaeilge go dtí le gairid agus aontaím gur theastaigh go géar go gcuirfí in iúl do na múinteoirí go raibh dualgas orthu cleachtadh a dhéanamh ar an  nGaeilge ina cuid teagasc. Ba díchéillí an rud é go mbeadh na daoine óga sna bun-scoltacha agus sna meánscoltacha ag fáil a gcuid teagaisc trí Ghaeilge agus sna scoltacha practiciúla go bhfágfaí an Ghaeilge ar leataobh. Is é an rud ba mhaith liom a déanfaí agus is é an rud ba cheart don tSeanad a iarraidh ar an Aire, gan a bheith sásta go dtí go mbeidh sár-Ghaeilge sna scoltacha sin. Ní ceist í ar chor ar bith lámh láidir a choimeád ar na daoine. Caithidh duine ar bith a dhéanfas scrúdú ar an cheist gur ró-bhog atá an tAire agus a chuid oifigeach in áit a bheith ró-dhian.
Ach, tá scéim molta aige leis na daoine a mhealladh chun spéis a chur i múinteoireacht i nGaeilge agus go dtí go bhfeicimid é á triáil go ceann cupla bliain, beimid foighdeach leis.
Maidir le tréineáil múinteora, is fíor é go bhfaghann a lán acu tréineál mhaith san ollscoil; ach, mar mhúin teoir san Oll-Scoil, ní miste dhom a admháil go dteastaíonn breis tréineála ó na céimithe óga sul a rachaidh siad isteach sna ceard-scoltacha. Is obair speisialta í agus teastaíonn eolas speisialta uathu ar nósanna múinteoireachta. Ní doigh liom go bhfuil san ollscoil againn na gléasanna ná na goiris leis an tréineáil speisialta a thabhairt dóibh agus ar an ábhar sin tá an Roinn Oideachais le moladh faoi chomh tuigseanach agus atá siad ar na riachtanais sin, cúrsaí a chur ar bun ar an mbealach a cuireadh ar bun iad go dtí seo.
Tóg an cás speisialta a luaigh an Seanadóir O hAodha: duine a bhí ag múineadh na Gaeilge. Déanann siad cúrsa maith Gaeilge san ollscoil agus cúrsa maith ar theanga eile b'fhéidir, ach caithfimid cuimhniú ar na múinteoirí a theigheas amach sna ceard-scoltacha agus ranganna ar fud na tíre, go dteastaíonn, ní amháin eolas maith ar an nGaeilge uathu, ach eolas ar mhúinteoireacht na Gaeilge agus go dteastaíonn eolas an-mhaith uathu ar a lán nithe eile seachas an Ghaeilge agus múinteoireacht i nGaeilge, má tá rath ar bith le bheith ar an obair seo, sé sin, seanchas áitiúil, log-ainmneacha, na sean-tionscail, agus na mílte rudaí eile nach féidir an teagasc a fháil orthu sna cúrsaí mar atá siad ceapaithe san  ollscoil. Tá argóint i bhfabhar na tréineála seo. Go neartaí Dia lámh an Aire san obair atá sé a dhéanamh.
Tá an-áthas orm gur thóg an tAire an oiread ama agus a thóg sé tráthnóna agus an cuntas a thabhairt dúinn ar imeachta an ghairm-oideachais ó cuireadh i bhfeidhm, i 1931, é. Tá súil agam go bhfuighidh an ráiteas sin atá tugtha aige an oiread poiblíochta agus a dhlíos sí. Dá dtuigfeadh duine fiú leath an méid atá nochtaithe aige tráthnóna i dtaobh cúrsaí gairm-oideachais, bheadh duine i bhfad níos moltaí ar an obair agus deanfaí i bhfad níos mó le cuidiú agus a déantaí go dtí seo.
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha Padraic Ó Siochfhradha
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha: Is Bille é seo chun leasú a dhéanamh ar an gcóras atá ann fé láthair chun go leathnófaí an obair níos mó. Ní dócha go mbeidh aon mhalairt tuairim fén rud san insan Seanad le linn dúinn a bheith ag breathnú an scéil. Maidir liom fhéin agus mo chuid eolais ar an ngné sin oideachais, tá ceist nó dhó ba mhaith liom a phlé. Im thuairimse, tá dá ghné don chóras oideachais sin ann. Ní hionann an sórt scoileanna agus ní dóigh liom gur ionann an sórt oideachais ba chóir a bheith ins na cathracha agus na bailte móra mar a bhfuil tionscail agus ceardanna teicniúla ar siúl agus na scoileanna d'oirfeadh fén dtuaith. Ní hé an saghas céanna atá riachtanach insan dá áit. Ba mhaith liom go mbeadh an tuigsint sin ag an Aire, nach ionann cúrsaí saoil agus eile ins na cathracha móra mar Baile Átha Cliath, Luimneach agus Gaillimh, agus an rud a oirfeadh i bparáistí tuaithe atá i bhfad amach ó aon áit ina bhfuil gnó tionscail nó saothar teicniúil.
Ní soiléir dom go bhfuil an idirdhealú in aigne na hAireachta i dtaobh na nithe sin. Ba mhaith an ní go mbeadh. Is é an tuigsint atá agamsa maidir leis an scéal fén dtuaith gur mó go mór ba cheart gur cuid an t-oideachas sin atá i gceist de gnáth-shaol sóisialta agus cultúrtha na ndaoine fén dtuaith.
Cúpla bliain ó shoin thugas léacht os comhair Comhdháil Ghairm-Oideachais i gCill Orglan agus thugas iarracht ar an idirdhealú sin a dhéanamh. Ins na scoileanna gairm-oideachais ins na  paróistí fén dtuaithe ba cheart go mbeadh oiliúnt aigeanta agus cultúrtha le fáil ag na daoine chomh maith le heolas ar ghnóthaí tis, gairdinéireachta, siúinéireachta agus mar sin—leis an saol atá dá chaitheamh acu ins na tithe, ar an dtinteán agus na dteagmháil sóisialta le chéile; agus chomh maith le sin, ar a ngnó lasmuich de na tithe, ins na páirceanna agus a gcuid gnótha gairme. Ar an slí sin, bheadh gléas acu chun oideachas agus oiliúint d'fháil, a mhúineadh dóibh gur saol chomh maith, chomh hoilte, chomh taithneamach saol na tuaithe le haon tsaol i mBaile Atha Cliath imeasc na soilse agus na pictúirí. Ba mhaith liom go mbeadh an t-idirdhealú agus an polasaí sin in aigne na Roinne maidir leis an oideachas fén dtuaith. Ba chóir go mbeadh insan oideachas leanúnach sin atá i gceist againn cuid éigin de na gnéithe oideachais a soláthraítear do ghnáth leis na scoileanna do chuir Grundtvig ar bun i dtír eile agus go raibbh tionchur chomh bunúsach buan san acu ar shaol na ndaoine insan dtír sin.
Maidir leis an méid adúirt an Seanadóir O hAodha faoi dhea bhéasa, múineadh agus iompar agus na tréithe sin, nár chóir go mbeadh sé mar pholasaí ag an Roinn Oideachais i gcóir tuaithe na hÉireann i láthair na práinne atá ann chun an dream dúchais do choinneáil ins na háiteanna san; go mbeadh teagasc le fáil acu gurb é a thiocfadh de iad do bheith mórálach as a dtuaith agus as saol na tuaithe go gcreidfidís gur daoine iad atá go maith as maidir le beatha, atá go hoilte maidir le heolas, go huasal maidir le hiompair agus tuigsint dualgaisí cathardha agus atá in aon áit eile in Éirinn.
Is é an tubaist atá fén dtuaith go dtuigtear dóibh gur saol gan tábhacht é, saol gan buaine, saol go dtuigeann na daoine óga ina thaobh gur rud é gur ceart dóibh teitheadh uaidh a luaithe is féidir leo. Ba cheart gur cuid de ghnó na scol leanúnach na daoine idir 14 agus 20 a thabhairt isteach agus treoir agus tuigsint a chur ina gceann nach ceart iad na tuairimí sin atá acu faoi shaol na tuaithe.
Maidir le leathnú na scoileanna, is maith an rud é a thuigsint ón Aire go dtiocfaidh an tráth nuair ná beidh níos mó ná cúig míle le taisteail ag éinne  chun buntáiste na scoileanna do bheith aige. Sin mar is cóir. Ba chóir go mbeadh scoil mhaith ar fáil chun an oideachais sin do dhéanamh chomh coitianta le bun-oideachas ar fud na tíre. Is leanúint ar bhun-oideachas é.
Is cuimhin liom go mbíodh ceisteanna dá bplé ag cruinnithe na gcomhairlí contae ar cheisteanna gairm-oideachais, chun an t-airgead do sholáthar dóibh. Ní fheicim go mba cheart don scéim ghairm-oideachais a bheith ag braith ar rátaí logánta. Ní thuigim agus níor thuigeas ríamh cén fáth ná fuil an saghas oideachais san ag fáil lánchúnamh an Stáit ar nós an bhunoideachais. Ní thuigim cén chúis go gcuirfí ar chomhairlí contae agus comhairlí buirge go mbeadh orthu airgead do sholáthar don tsaghas san oideachais, seachas aon tsórt eile oideachais don ghnáth-phobal.
Ba mhaith liom iúl an Aire do dhíriú ar an sráidbhaile is dúchas dom dom fhéin, Daingean Uí Chúise. Níl aon cheard-scoil chéart insan cheantar ná laistigh de 30 míle den áit. Go dtí go mbeidh ceard-scoil ansan agus oideachas leanúna ar fáil ansan, sin 40 míle de Chiarraidhe gan sonamh an oideachas sin acu. Tá stair ag baint leis an scéal sin. Deich mbliana ó shoin, le fonn chun an t-oideachas san d'fháil, do bhailigh muintir an Daingin airgead agus do cheannaíodar páirc agus do bhronnadar an pháirc sin ar Choiste Ceard-Oideachais Chiarraidhe mar ionad i gcóir na scoile a cheapadar a bhí le fáil acu. Níor cuireadh an scoil ar bun ó shoin dóibh agus ní fios domsa fáth na moille. Níl aon scoil i gCathair Saidhbhín ach an oiread agus tá na háiteanna san chomh tábhachtach leis na bailte eile.
I dtaobh na Gaeilge in sna scoileanna ceard-oideachais nó gairm-oideachais, bíodh go bhfuil daoine ag caint ar bheith ag brú Gaeilge ar dhaoine agus ag lot aigne na ndaoine le hiomad tiomána is baol liom nach mar sin atá. Is é an locht atá agamsa na fuil go leor feidhme dá bhaint as an nGaeilge ins na scoileanna céanna.
Micheál Ó hAodha Micheál Ó hAodha
Micheál Ó hAodha: Ní go leor den bhrú nó go leor don Ghaeilge?
Padraic Ó Shiochfhradha Padraic Ó Shiochfhradha
Padraic Ó Shiochfhradha: Tá mé á rá an rud atá im aigne féin ná fuil  feidhm á baint go hiomlán as an méid Gaeilge atá ag na daoine óga ag dul isteach iontu. Tá sompla againn in sa Choláiste Tís i Sráid Chathal Brúgha. Níl cead ag cuid mhór den lucht foghlama dul isteach sa scoil sin muna bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith acu. Tugann an Aireacht aire gur Gaeilgeoirí iad san a théann ann de thoradh scoláireachtaí. An fíor ná baintear puinn feidhme as an eolas san i ngnáth obair an Choláiste? Do réir mar is clos domsa, taobh amuigh den na ranganna Gaeilge fé leith ní bhíonn puinn eile úsáide á déanamh den teangain. Múintear go fíor an Ghaeilge go maith in sna ranganna Gaeilge ann. Ach bheadh níos mó ná sin ag teastáil uainn. Ba chóir go mbeadh an Ghaeilge mar theangain tinteáin in san áit, go mbeadh atmosféir na Gaeilge ar fud an tí. B'fhéidir go bhfuil eolas níos cruinne ná sin agus tuairisc níos fónta ag an Aire. Níl agamsa ach an scéal a chluinim taobh amuigh—agus bíonn cluas le héisteacht orm.
Micheál Ó hAodha Micheál Ó hAodha
Micheál Ó hAodha: Cadé an leigheas a bheadh ar sin?
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha Padraic Ó Siochfhradha
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha: Feidhm do bhaint as an nGaeilge atá ag na daoine ag dul isteach dóibh.
Micheál Ó hAodha Micheál Ó hAodha
Micheál Ó hAodha: Muna bhfuil siad toilteannach feidhm do bhaint as, comas is féidir iachall do chur orthu?
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha Padraic Ó Siochfhradha
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha: Cuirtear ar shlí éigin orthu an rud eile a dhéanamh.
Micheál Ó hAodha Micheál Ó hAodha
Micheál Ó hAodha: Ní cuirtear.
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha Padraic Ó Siochfhradha
Padraic Ó Siochfhradha: Ba cheart go mbeadh an Ghaeilge mar ghnáththeanga tinteáín in sna scoileanna san. Ins na colaistí ullmhúcháin, ní bhíonn aon rud ach na Ghaeilge ar siúl. Ní bhíonn an tarna ceist mar gheall air. Ba mhaith an rud é go mbeadh an rud céanna i Sráid Chathal Brúgha.
Tá béasa agus iompar cigirí agair imní ar an Seanadóir Ó hAodha. Tá gearán aige ar dhuine ar leith díobh. Is truagh má tá aon bhunús lena ghearán mar is rud é dea-bhéas atá thar luach in aon oifigeach poiblí. Ach ní hanso is cóir scéal aon oifigigh ar leith a phlé i gceist mar sin. Tá slí eile chuige. Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Buachalla is truagh go mbeimís-ne  anseo fé phribhléid an tí seo ag ionsaí daoine nach féidir leo freagra do thabhairt ná iad féin do chosaint. Ní cóir an áit seo d'úsáid fé pribhléid chun ceist mar sin a phlé. Is rud anthábhachtach é maidir le ceart pearsanta an duine nach féidir leis freagra do thabhairt.
Ba cheart dúinn glacadh leis an mBille seo agus cumhacht a thabhairt don Aire chun an t-oideachas seo do leathnú mar chuid de cheart ghnáthphobail na tíre.
Mr. P.J. O'Reilly Mr. P.J. O'Reilly
Mr. P.J. O'Reilly: I would like, in the first place, to make it clear that the remarks of Senator Hayes do not apply generally to inspectors of Irish or other subjects employed by the Department. I know an inspector of Irish whose manners are gentle and inoffensive, a man who would not be capable of offending a child. There is a saying in reference to certain classes of people: “They became more Irish than the Irish themselves.” Courtesy is the hallmark of the vocational education system, and no matter from what other service officers are transferred they soon acquire the tone of our own system and, generally speaking, a very high degree of courtesy will be found among the inspectors. If the inspector does not bring a sense of courtesy with him, he very soon acquires it, because he comes into an atmosphere where it is expected and the position is that in a very short time the attitude of an inspector would not be capable of offending any person. As regards the particular inspector mentioned by Senator Hayes, I venture to suggest that any little faults that may be present in that individual are, perhaps, due rather to an excessive enthusiasm on his part than to anything else. Possibly he is comparatively new to the system and any faults that he may possess—I am not going to say whether there are faults or not—he certainly will lose in a short time.
I wish, in the first place, to speak as a person who has had, perhaps, more than the average experience of vocational education. I want to speak of various issues that are presented by this Bill. I want to refer to a particular section of the Bill to which my colleagues generally take very strong exception. It is the  section which was objected to very much by the body representing all the vocational education committees in Eire. They took strong exception to it. I refer to Section 5, to which there is very general opposition.
In order that the House may understand the nature of the objection, I would like to read out Section 99 (3) of the Vocational Education Act, 1930, the Principal Act:
“Every officer transferred by this section shall not, in the service of the vocational education committee to which he is so transferred, receive less remuneration or, subject to the provisions of this section, be subject to less beneficial conditions of service than the remuneration to which he was entitled and the conditions of service to which he was subject in the service from which he is so transferred.”
That was the charter of security, as it were, for officers who held office in 1930, on the date of the passing of the Principal Act. Fourteen years elapsed and then there was the Vocational Education (Amendment) Act of 1944. That Act contains objectionable sections. For instance, in Section 6 it is set out:
“The Minister may declare any specified age to be the age limit for all offices or for such offices as belong to a specified class, description, or grade or for one or more specified offices.”
That section introduces something which did not exist prior to 1930. I will now pass on to Sections 7 and 8 of the 1944 Act. Under these sections the Minister took power to suspend an officer or to dismiss that officer without any reference to the committee by whom the officer was employed. The serious part of that power is that it would deprive the officer of any protection that the courts are in a position to give him in the event of his not being satisfied that he is being treated justly. That is a new and a very serious provision which deprives officers of their constitutional rights to have recourse in case of need to the courts of the land.
It may be argued that that is not the case, but our advice is that such is  the position. An officer who feels aggrieved might like to take his case further and he might be met at once by the judge saying that he was sorry but the Minister seemed to have the powers that were given him by the Oireachtas and nothing further could be done about it. I would like to remind the House that Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the 1944 Act were very strongly objected to in this House and also in the Dáil. In fact, they were carried only by one vote in this House. There was a Senator absent whom, in the normal course, one would expect to be present. It was rather a lucky thing for the Minister that that Senator was absent. If he were here the voting would have been equal. That shows that the arguments put forward on that occasion apparently satisfied Senators generally, even several members of the Minister's Party, that these were extraordinary sections and they should not be allowed to pass without very serious consideration.
What was the position that developed? Officers rested for a further two years in the belief that the guarantee given by Section 99 (3) was still good and they very soon saw for themselves something that the Minister was advised about afterwards, namely, that there was a very obvious discordance between the sections inserted in the 1944 Act and the charter of security given to officers by Section 99 (3) of the Principal Act. The Minister was advised that he could not act on these sections until something was done. I suggest that the straightforward way would have been to ask for the repeal of Section 99 (3) of the Principal Act. That was not done and now these Sections 6, 7 and 8 are being brought in to take away everything that is valuable in that charter. We are then told that that is the fair and honourable thing to do. Had the officers any suspicion that that section would not be honoured, many of them, to my knowledge, would have long since left the service and taken up other occupations.
I would like to refer to the earlier history of this vocational system.  There were two Acts, one in 1889 and the other in 1899. Soon afterwards the system was put into operation. The conditions then, politically and otherwise, were very much different from what they are to-day. Sir Horace Plunkett was put in charge of the old Department of Agriculture and Technical Education and, probably with the very best intentions, he brought over a number of English and Scottish people and other foreigners to administer the new system. The people who went into the system at that time found themselves endeavouring to put into operation something that seemed to have a very foreign tinge. It was something that involved a very considerable increase in the cost of local services. It involved a levy of ld. or 2d. in the £ and, generally speaking, having regard to the political situation and the personnel of the Department and the increased local charges, the people who were enticed into the system found they had a very difficult card to play.
The system largely was of an itinerant type. There were no transport conveniences and it was uncomfortable work in which to be engaged. In addition to that, Sir Horace Plunkett, in his wisdom, issued a book called Ireland in the New Century. Most of the book was all right, but there were some chapters that were of an explosive nature. I remember very distinctly the furore created by that book. It left the task of those engaged in trying to give the scheme some sort of stability a very difficult one indeed. These difficulties were surmounted in the course of time. Some of the foreign officials, who were very much out of sympathy with the people generally, left after a time and the system gradually took on a more Irish tinge. It acquired a certain degree of stability.
Prior to 1919 the officers engaged in the service had absolutely no security of tenure. They were reappointed annually. They had no pension rights. The local rate was on a purely voluntary basis and it was discontinued by several local authorities. There was the threat of disturbance to vested interests, to certain schools and  types of education, and all these things created problems of a very difficult nature. A lot of the people engaged in the system found that there appeared to be no prospects. They were obliged to defer marriage; they could undertake no responsibilities. They had no security until the 1919 Act gave them some degree of security.
I suggest that the officers who were the pioneers of the system are entitled to some consideration. It is not fair that the Minister should introduce new conditions to the provisions that these officers thought would continue and which did, in fact, continue for 16 years, if we take it up to the present day. It is not fair for the Minister to introduce an element of insecurity. These older officers might have been allowed to peter out their time without the introduction of this discordant element. I suggest that even at the eleventh hour it would be desirable, in the interests of the scheme as a whole, to modify these sections.
I should like the Minister and the House to understand that I am not putting a case forward for the retention of any person who is in the slightest degree inefficient. If a person is reasonably able to carry on, he should be allowed to do so. I make a special appeal for the older people who held office prior to 1930. If the Minister will only go back to 1919 he will limit the operation of the concession very considerably; in fact, he will reduce it almost to infinitesimal proportions.
If he does that, he will be doing something which will help very much to get the good-will of the people in this further development of vocational education which is made possible by the financial provisions of this Bill. I hope that the Minister will sympathetically consider the suggestions I have made regarding Section 5 of the Bill.
I notice that the Bill makes provision for certain officers who are in the employment of the Limerick Vocational Committee and also a particular individual mentioned in the Bill. The Bill seeks to give pensionable status to the officers concerned. I fully approve of everything proposed by the Minister in that direction. The only comment I  have to make about that is this: Has the Minister satisfied himself that there are no other cases which should have been brought into this Bill? If he has so satisfied himself, perhaps he would explain why it is that there is a sort of differentiation, apparently, being made. I understand that a Bill to deal with superannuation will be forthcoming and one would imagine that, if the cases were parallel, they would all be dealt with in the Superannuation Bill. If they are not so parallel, I suppose the Minister will explain the differentiation, if there is a differentiation made. Representations have been made to me that, in the case of certain officers transferred to the Civil Service about that time, their interest may suffer unless some special provision is made. No doubt the Minister has already considered that matter.
The next aspect of the Bill I should like to deal with is the question of finance. In a way, I suppose, that is really the important part of the Bill. Before I come to that, however, I have a note here to which I should like to refer. I should like Senators to remember that the insertion of these clauses in the Bill involves very serious issues. For example, they involve issues such as the validity of contracts, the right of appeal of officers to the courts, the question of local and central control, and the administrative authority of the committees. Here is a very important point that I should like the Minister to take into account, namely, the orientation of the minds of the local officers towards the body which they consider is their employer. If they feel that, after all, the Minister is the employer and that he can dismiss or suspend them without reference to the committees, then the natural thing for the officers to do is simply ignore the committees and to say: “After all, the Minister is the real employer, whatever theory there may be about the subject otherwise”, and they will simply act accordingly. That is going to introduce something which will not be to the advantage of the scheme.
Then there is also the validity of the mechanical method of fixing the retiring age. In the debate in the Dáil I saw that some Deputy mentioned that  the age limit for judges was extended lately to 72 years, instead of 70 as before. That is something to go upon. I would say that very often people at 25 years of age should be retired as unsuitable, just as people of 90 years of age, or somewhere between, might also be retired. It is not any genuine criterion whatever. It is a purely ignorant, stupid, mechanical rule. Instead of dealing with the matter in an intelligent way, you have simply a mechanical guillotine sort of thing which operates indiscriminately and certainly will have the effect of inflicting very much increased liabilities on the nation generally.
In the case of the Beveridge social security scheme in England, I see there are certain conditions proposed for actually inducing people to work until a very advanced age. Here we have this simply introduced because it is considered to be a good average working sort of rule. It saves the Minister the trouble of getting inspectors to exercise their own judgment. In the 1930 Act there was a provision which was quite ample for the Minister if he wanted to do anything. If he wanted to do any of the things he wishes to do under this, he had only to tell the committee that he was not satisfied with a particular officer's work and that he proposed to send down some officer to investigate the matter. Full powers were given to him in that way. He might not even have to resort to that particular method, because it is generally accepted that the inspector is the judge of a person's work. Therefore, if an inspector reports to a committee that such-and-such a person's work is not efficient, no committee will run the risk of a surcharge by retaining that officer. I know the answer the Minister will make; that it is easier to get the guillotine to chop the person's head off. He saves himself all the trouble and annoyance that, perhaps, might arise through representations being made in a particular case.
I want to refer now to the question of finance in the Bill. In the first place, I call attention to the fact that the Act of 1944 increased the rate limit. I intend to deal mainly with the county  schemes. I am fairly well acquainted with the urban schemes, but I am more familiar with those dealing with the counties. My remarks, therefore, will be more applicable to the county schemes. The 1944 Act raised the maximum rate from 4d. to 5d. There was also provision for an extra penny in the event of Part V of the Act being adopted. Therefore, you had a total rate of 6d. The present Bill raises the rate to 7d., with provision also for the extra penny, which means 8d. in the £. In the case of county schemes, there is also a rate for agricultural education, partly for agriculture itself and partly, if you like, for agricultural instruction. The two together, therefore, form a fairly formidable sum and a very high proportion of the total rate for all services.
I could not consistently object to such a rate. My natural feeling would be actually to ask the Minister to increase it. I know the difficulty of carrying on and the difficulties which have been imposed on committees because of this emergency bonus and the fact that the central funds do not, as in the old days, relieve committees in cases where the cost-of-living bonus increases. There is only relief to a very small extent for increases in the cost-of-living bonus because, through some extraordinary arrangement made by the Department of Finance at the time, credit is only given to some committees for officers who were in employment in the standard year. Other officers may have the cost-of-living bonus increased, but there is no relief from the central funds. Therefore, committees find themselves in the position of having to provide £2,000 or £3,000 extra without any visible way of securing the necessary money.
My recommendation to the Minister is that he ought to see that a substantial increase is given to the county committee from central funds. I see that the Minister stated in the Dáil that the proportion was roughly one and a half to one. A lot depends on how that one and a half to one is calculated. I take the last report of the Department of Education and I find that my figure for a county  scheme is 1.2. But even that has to be analysed to see what it means exactly. Under No. 113 of the Statutory Rules and Orders the Minister promises to give £1 from central funds for every £1 given from the local rates in the case of county schemes. But, in the case of urban schemes, he says he will give £4 for every £1 raised. That applies to big places like Cork, Limerick and Waterford, but it does not apply to Dublin City or Dun Laoghaire. In Dun Laoghaire, the ratio is two to one. I believe that Dun Laoghaire had a very serious complaint under that head.
Here is how the arrangement works. It was intended to help small towns. The total local rate was comparatively small and the central funds gave £4 for every £1 raised. In a short time it was found that, instead of that being applied in aid of instruction, it could be applied to capital expenditure. Some towns did not actually need it, but others did. Then an urban district can levy a certain rate in aid and it will get four times that amount. There is nothing to prevent that urban district using portion of that for the repayment of a loan to erect buildings. You can easily understand, therefore, why you have such palatial buildings put up in all the big cities, such as Dublin, Limerick, Cork and so on. But, when we unfortunate people operating a county scheme ask for a couple of thousand pounds, the House would be astonished to hear the torture and torment we have to suffer before it is sanctioned. Anyone who has any experience of a county scheme knows that you get letters telling you not to do this and not to do that. We have a county council willing to give money, but letters come down every day saying: “Do not ask that county council for money because they have sewerage and other schemes to look after.”
Why is that? I am not blaming the Minister or his Department in this case. I know they are perfectly innocent, but there are two other Departments concerned and that is where the trouble comes in. We have Finance. Naturally they adopt the attitude of the watchdog. They are bound to do  so. Then we have Local Government. Local Government says: “If the county council gives a loan or gives a grant under Section 51, there will be a slight increase in the rates. Though on the average, the increase is extremely small because the rate is a county-at-large one, it is our job to look after that and to see that there is no increase in the rates”. On the other hand, Finance says: “It is our job to see that there is no increase in the grants from the Central Fund”. The people in the front trenches, those in the Department of Education, are liable to be shot up from behind if they encourage the local people to go on. I feel that this system should be abolished. I hold, and I have held for years, that the straightforward approach to this matter is to put all these building grants on the Estimates each year. The details of them will then be circulated with the Estimates and the members of the Oireachtas will have an opportunity of deciding who is to get building grants and who is not. The grants will be made public. I am not blaming any individual officers for the present difficulties. It is the system I am blaming. I should like that to be clearly understood.
I should like to deal rapidly with a few other aspects of this question that call for discussion. The rural school is a very difficult problem, and the Minister has dealt with it fairly correctly. One of the great difficulties is that at present, it is catering largely for what is called the surplus population, that is, young people who are not going to live on the land. I think myself that is a perfectly legitimate type of work because if they are not catered for in these schools they will be catered for in some other schools but the fact is that very largely we are not getting the farmer's son who is actually going to work the land. That involves the consideration of how you are going to deal with that question—a very difficult problem. We all started with great enthusiasm. We heard of this rural science, which has a mysterious sort of name, but we were very soon informed that it does not mean what it appears to mean, that it means ordinary science with a slight bias. We soon found that if we were to utilise the services  of a teacher with the degree of Bachelor of Agriculture we might be doing a very dangerous thing. It might come to the knowledge of the Department of Agriculture that instruction was being given by a person who was not in their service and there would be trouble at headquarters or elsewhere. Therefore a person who had his degree found himself becoming atrophied as years went on and became merely an academic person. None of the facilities which the Department has was given to him. He was dried up, and he became an academic person of very little use. That was because of some want of co-operation between the two Departments which is again reflected in the want of co-operation between the vocational education committee and the county committee of agriculture. I say there must be some plan to co-ordinate these services properly and I put forward this suggestion as a way of solving not alone that particular difficulty but of solving other difficulties associated with finance. I consider that there is a lot to be said for the type of school which, in the English Education Act discussions, has been described as the multilateral school. My attention has been drawn by parish priests and others to the fact that young people are passing the doors of technical schools and traveling six and eight miles away to other schools, whereas they could have gone into the technical schools if they were given the same type of instruction as is given in these other schools. I think the suggestion about a room attached to a national school is quite unworkable, and anyone who considers the matter for a few minutes will agree that it is unworkable.
The only way you can deal with the problem really is by means of a central school of some type. If that central school is regarded as a secondary school, then a lot of the problems regarding overhead expenses associated with the small rural schools would be solved and these young people, instead of travelling into towns to attend some school connected with secondary education, would be able to attend and get similar instruction in some local school. I am speaking now of the  secondary section, for technical education is merely a specialised form of secondary education. The word “secondary” connotes something which is supplementary to primary education but that is not the full connotation. It connotes, as a rule, a school which undertakes the work of preparing people for professions. Technical education is also a secondary form of education but it is considered to be more highly specialised than other forms of secondary education. I can see no earthly reason why the two types of school should not work in with each other. Theoretically, we have the Minister in charge of three types of education—primary, vocational and secondary. Why that fact is not reflected in the organisation of the schools it is difficult to say. If it were, you would have a very substantial attendance at these schools and you could deal with the different branches according to the requirements of the people.
With regard to agriculture, I am satisfied that only if Part V is put into operation in the rural areas will you get the boy who is going to work on the farm to attend. The young fellow who is actually going to work on the farm should be required to attend under the provisions of Part V only for a limited portion of the year. It would roughly be about 180 hours in the year. Then there would be some justification for teaching him subjects like rural science and other subjects which are useful from the standpoint of the farm. Consideration of this system would involve also consideration of the system of secondary education, university education and higher technological education. We have in this country a university which does give recognition to a few technical schools but, since the old College of Science was absorbed in the National University, there is no reason why some general recognition should not be given. If it is not possible to achieve that, there should be some effort to restore the old College of Science because the advantage, from the standpoint of the technical schools, would be that young people would not be obliged to take the  matriculation certificate before going on to higher studies. Of course, the Youth Unemployment Commission is considering the question of the raising of the school leaving age and it may deal with a good many other important questions. I have no doubt that when their recommendations are available, the Minister will feel it necessary to come back with an amending Bill—a further amending Bill.
As regards Irish, there has been some discussion about it and I am not going to enter too minutely into the question. The only thing I do say is that if you want to restore Irish as a living language, I am afraid there will have to be some change in the methods at present adopted, not alone in the technical schools but also in primary and other schools. I think the first aim should be to restore it on a living basis. To my mind, too much attention is being given to grammar and to relatively unimportant matters whereas if it were only a question of acquiring a knowledge of the spoken language in the primary stages for the present, until the language becomes more generally used, the problem would be more easily solved and the work of the teachers would be less difficult.
Here is an aspect of the whole system which is important in many ways. I refer to the question of promotion in the service. The most extraordinarily curious things happen in this connection from time to time. People who, to our knowledge, are highly qualified from every standpoint find themselves not in the running when some of the bigger posts are available. Although the person concerned is a particular personal friend of mine, I shall not hesitate to quote his case as an example. In the City of Dublin Technical Schools, a man who was a primary teacher all his life found himself promoted, over the heads of other people who had spent their lives at technical education, to the chief post in the gift of the Government. Surely that is unfair. Surely there should be a system similar to that which obtains in the banks, in the Church and other services if you are to have a loyal and contented staff. There is a great  amount of discontent in that connection and I draw the Minister's attention to the matter. I have dealt briefly with rural science and I think I suggested the desirability of co-operation between the different educational branches in that regard.
Let me talk about the Minister himself. We should like to see him more frequently amongst us than is the case at present. He must know the difficulties with which we have to contend. If we could come amongst us more frequently, with the prestige associated with his office, the people who snipe at us from the rear would, probably, be more careful in their methods. I know that the Minister has many details of administration to deal with but, at the same time, it is important that he should encourage the staff by going amongst them.
In conclusion, I want to refer to an issue which concerns my own committee particularly. I ask the goodwill of the House in listening to the case I have to put forward. Section 97 of the Vocational Education Act of 1930 provided that the assets and liabilities of committees which were being abolished would be taken over by the new committees. Under that section, one committee—and one committee only—was affected, to the extent of about £2,300. That happened to be the County Tipperary Vocational Education Committee. The corporation got involved in a law case which entailed considerable expense. I do not think that the Minister has got the proper hang of this matter. It will crop up year after year until there is some settlement and I suggest that an effort should now be made to settle this case. I mentioned that we had a foreign element in the Department at one time which was out of sympathy with the people generally. Two of these individuals were mixed up with this particular case. The vocational education committee would have had ample funds at their disposal but for the action of one of these two individuals who practically coerced the Clonmel Technical Instruction Committee into spending £2,000 or £3,000 which they had earned through the operation of a scheme worked on behalf of the British pensions body at  that time. A very considerable sum of money was available to the credit of the committee and, during the period that that law case was in progress, this individual visited the committee and told them to go ahead and spend this money because, if they did not, it would be taken from them at the end of the law case and applied in another direction. That is a matter in which the Minister or his Department were not mixed up. Another individual whose name I shall not mention figured in an inquiry which lasted for a considerable time and involved considerable expense to the ratepayers of Limerick City. That individual was working in co-operation with the other two. Here we have an innocent body bearing this burden. It is only a matter of a couple of thousand pounds and I am told that the Minister has power to deal with it under ordinary legislation. Why does he not do so? It would only require an administrative act such as he does day after day. I ask him to consider this matter seriously. I hope that he will also bear in mind what I suggested about Section 5. There are only a small number of persons involved and he would be doing a great deal to secure the goodwill of everybody connected with the system if he were to adopt my suggestion.
Mr. Baxter Mr. Baxter
Mr. Baxter: I cannot pretend to have any enthusiasm for this measure. What is the origin of it? Has there been any demand from local authorities for this power to levy extra money off the rates for the furtherance of vocational education? As a member of a local authority, I have no hesitation in saying that I should be very reluctant to urge my colleagues on that authority to levy an extra farthing for this service. When the original Act was being passed, all of us were parties to it. What we did, we did in good faith and with considerable enthusiasm. But times have changed since then. We started with the minimum expenditure and we reached our maximum. Now we are to have power to increase the levy. So far as many local authorities are concerned, they are asking themselves whether or not they are getting value for their money.
 The vocational committee of which I have been a member on and off for more than 20 years entered with enthusiasm on the scheme, but there is no enthusiasm left. We are quite convinced that the plan was an error of judgment. I distinguish between the large urban areas and the rural districts, with the conditions of which I am acquainted. Under this Bill, the ratepayers are to be empowered to increase their contribution to 8½d. in the £. What are we going to do with this money? I should like the Minister to contemplate the picture in his own Mayo or in my Cavan or in somebody else's Leitrim. Presumably, if we are going to increase the rate, we are going to have more schools and more teachers. We are going to have more and more schools and more and more teachers for fewer and fewer pupils.
That is a fact which is not being faced by the Minister or by anybody else, so far as I can see. It is the gravest problem there is. The Minister cannot pretend not to be properly informed about conditions in rural Ireland and, to me, this is going to be a colossal waste. All our counties, which are, in the main, rural, are, if this plan is persisted in, to saddle themselves with considerable expenditure for the building of new schools and the provision of a number of teachers, and, after a while, long before the time has come for these teachers to retire, we will have our people saddled with teachers and with salaries and no pupils to go to the schools we have built. I can see it all over my county and it is much worse in other counties. I go further and say that, in the judgment of my colleagues on our vocational education committee, we were doing much better work from the point of view of vocational education when we had no technical schools at all, but when we had itinerant teachers, when we had the domestic science teacher and the woodwork teacher packing up their trucks with their equipment and going to one parish and another for a period of three or six months, one year after another, than is being done now. We were giving much more effective training to a far greater number of people than is the case to-day and I am really convinced that it was an error of judgment to have faced the  job of putting up, as some Senator said about the cities, relatively palatial buildings in towns and small villages, to the utter neglect of the rural districts.
Senator O'Reilly, who no doubt has considerable experience of vocational education, seemed to regard the suggestion—I do not know whether it was made by Senator Ó Siochfhradha or some other Senator—that an additional room in the national schools would have met the case as impossible. Whether that suggestion was made to-day or not, I made it on a previous occasion here and, with all respect to Senator O'Reilly's view, I am quite convinced that, in the rural interest, it would be a thousand times better to build a decent room on to the national schools and have the classes there than to do as we have done—to neglect vast areas of the rural districts and build a school here and there in the large towns.
What has happened? Sometimes I come to the city by bus and I see children coming down the byways, from the scattered rural communities, into the bus and into the towns. Travelling on a bus one morning, I tried to find out what these children were going to do, and all that one could be convinced of is that none of us knew what we thought our children ought to be taught to do. If you get into conversation with the children and try to find out what they are doing and why they are doing it, you find they have no idea and that their parents have no idea, and that they are getting no direction from anybody. We are providing teachers in schools, but what we are doing has no relation to our national needs at all. I wish we would concentrate far more on training the young people in the rural districts to equip themselves better for the life we want them to lead in the rural districts. But we are not doing that. We are doing something else.
Children come into domestic science classes in the rural schools. Senator Hayes raised this point and his bona fides cannot be questioned. I do not know whether the Minister would attempt to question mine or not, but Senator Ó Siochfhradha will recollect that, long before the Minister  darkened the portals of this House, we were trying to do something on a commission together with regard to the future of the Irish language. We were much more enthusiastic and optimistic then than we are now, and we made recommendations. Whether we did not understand our people as well as we understand them now, whether we made a complete miscalculation as to the cynicism which later years would bring arising out of our history, I do not know, but we have clear evidence that we have to make a fresh approach to this problem. Children are going into the domestic science classes all over the country and what are they going into these classes for? I heard a story of an inspector who went in to a teacher of domestic science and asked her what she was doing. She told him she was teaching the children Irish through cookery. That is the sort of thing we are trying to do.
But let us follow that a little further. When they get a smattering of cookery—because a good deal of the time is taken up in trying to impart knowledge in a language for which they are very well equipped— as soon as they get a little equipment in the subject, they are cleared out of the country. I am raising these issues because I think they constitute the real problem. We are humbugging ourselves and possibly humbugging ourselves more through our plan of education than through any other service. Senator Ó Siochfhradha and Senator Ó Buachalla made speeches this evening and from what I could gather it seems to me that what we are really doing is blinding ourselves to the facts. If there are young people to-day who have not got the spirit we had through the country 25 or 30 years ago, we are not going to change that situation by trying to stuff something down their throats when they have their teeth shut and we are not going to hammer it into their skulls with batons or anything else. It is necessary to reason with them and to understand the psychology which produces that problem for you.
That is what a great many of us are not doing and we will not solve the  problem in that way. The longer that problem remains unsolved, the nearer will the Irish language be to its death, and the people who will have gone farthest on the road to kill it are the people who are so blinded as not to realise that, if we have not got the courage to examine the problem as it is to-day, we will not be able to pass on the heritage of the language to the children of the future. Our whole scheme of vocational education, very well-intentioned indeed—there is no question about that—is not showing to-day that evidence of reason in the plan for the future and in the working out of that plan, which the necessities of the situation to-day demand.
Senator Ó Siochfhradha asked why this should be a charge on the rates rather than on the Central Fund. If the Minister has a plan for education to which many local authorities, when they subscribe at all, do so with reluctance, a plan which he thinks is the best plan, he will have to go much further in providing the cash for the carrying out of the plan than he has gone up to the present. There may be a few local authorities who would be prepared to embark on a scheme of spending more money on vocational education. I do not think they are justified and I do not think the expenditure will be justified. As Senator Hayes has said with regard to the problem of the Irish language, our vocational scheme at this moment requires re-examination in the light of our experience, an examination which apparently the Minister does not think necessary but which a great many of us are convinced is essential if vocational education is to be made as effective and as valuable as it ought to be for the money spent on it.
Mr. Patrick O'Reilly Mr. Patrick O'Reilly
Mr. Patrick O'Reilly: On other measures that have come before the House, it has happened that I spoke after Senator Baxter and did not always agree with him. I hope he will not think that it is becoming a practice with me to get up and disagree with him. I agree with some of the things that he said, and that this Bill will make it possible for local  authorities to levy an extra rate for the services that it is intended to provide. I am not going to suggest that that service will not be a good service. We are all aware, however, of the tendency in legislation to place greater burdens on the local authorities. I hope that at some time a limit will be reached in that regard.
I do not mean to suggest that the money expended on vocational education is not well spent, because I think it is. Of course, while power is being taken to place this extra burden on the local authorities, we must remember that, so far as the rural areas are concerned, three-fifths of the rate on agricultural holdings under £20 valuation is being indemnified under the Budget. Due to that fact, I suppose it may be said that we in the rural areas are satisfied in a relative way in seeing a measure like this introduced. We can see that a large portion of the money to be raised will be borne by the taxpayer. I should imagine that in the County of Leitrim, which I come from, 75 per cent. of the total poor rate valuation would be under £20, so that three-fifths of the rate on that total valuation will be paid by the taxpayer. We should be broad enough, however, to see that a hardship is going to be placed on the shoulders of people who are not the owners of property other than agricultural land, on people living in towns and on the owners of house property in rural areas. They, in my opinion, will suffer a hardship. The county councils, in view of the fact that the taxpayer is going to pay a substantial amount of the rate levied, will not, I imagine, be too critical in the matter of raising the rate, with the result that a hardship will be placed on the dwellers in villages and on the occupiers of property other than agricultural land. That is a tendency that should be kept in mind by the responsible authorities.
I support this Bill because I see in it the possibility of giving a better educational service to the poor. It is my opinion that it is only through the schemes provided by vocational education committees the children of small farmers and of workers in small towns can get a post-primary education.  In the County of Leitrim we have one boarding-school for girls, and one or two small secondary schools, with, probably, very small attendances. That county has a length of about 80 miles. Therefore, as I say, it is only through these schemes that the children of the classes I speak of can hope to get a post-primary education. Those people are not rich enough to send their children to secondary schools or to the universities. It is only the well-off parents who can afford to do that. There may be a few children lucky enough to win scholarships to enable them to go to a secondary school and later to the university. For that reason I strongly support the measure.
I would like to see these vocational schools built in villages, but not, as has been suggested, as an addition to the primary schools. The vocational school should be a separate building so that it will have a cultural value in the community—that is provided it is properly developed and properly run. Such a school can become a centre of culture, apart altogether from the value of the education imparted to the pupils attending it. I suggest that these vocational schools should be run on pretty broad lines. They should be available for lectures and for drama societies. I do not mean now the production of drama for the sake of making money, but rather with a view to cultivating dramatic talent in the rural areas.
It may be asked whether the children who attend these vocational schools are likely to get jobs as a result of the education they receive in them. Even if the vocational schools do not succeed in getting jobs for the pupils they can still be of value. I am a member of the vocational education committee in my county, and I hold that these vocational schemes have been a success. The pupils who attend them get a high standard of education. It is unfortunate that more children do not attend the classes. After all, we are at the beginning of this system, and I suppose it may be said that you have to educate people to the point of seeing that they should be educated. It may be suggested that some of these vocational schools have  not been built in the most suitable centres. Some of them have had to be closed up, due I suppose to the poor attendance at the classes. That did not happen in my county, but even though they have had to be closed I hold that they have been a success and that, ultimately, they will be reopened. In regard to educational matters, there is now, I suggest, a better outlook on the part of people residing in the rural areas.
With regard to the subjects taught in the vocational schools, I hold that rural science is a subject that should be taught to all the boys, and domestic economy to all the girls, as well, of course, as Irish, English and the general subjects that comprise the higher standards of education. I think that after two or three years, when the children had got a good education in general school subjects, at least a selected few should be taught commercial subjects. Due to the limited scope there is for those who get a training in commercial subjects there is not much point perhaps in giving pupils a training in those subjects at the present time, especially in many of the rural areas and in some of the smaller towns.
I think there should be more scope in the matter of domestic science and rural science. By teaching the boys rural science, we will give them a better agricultural education; by teaching the girls domestic science we will leave them in a better position to face the future. I might say that 99 per cent. of the women have to apply that knowledge, no matter what they may do in later life or where they may go, and for that reason domestic science should be taught. Commercial subjects should not be pushed.
The schools should be situated conveniently, having regard to the statistics relating to children leaving the primary schools. If the schemes develop to a point when those schools would be rather crowded, the tendency should be to move out from that centre some three or four miles and have a one-room or two-room school. In that way you would broaden the service and you would have more  schools. If that were to be followed up properly, you would, over a period, have a school within easy reach of all the children leaving the primary schools.
I take it this will be the last time that provision will be made to make it possible for the local authorities to provide more money. I can see that in many counties that have a low total poor law valuation the amount of money that will be raised by the county councils will not give the revenue to vocational committees that would be required if they go on the lines I have indicated. I hope this is the last time provision will be made for the raising of the levy by the rating authority. I take it that when committees require extra money to develop their schemes, once the schemes justify their existence, that the moneys required will be given by the Minister by way of grant rather than from any other source. In doing that, I do not think the Minister should be a bit worried by the rather critical leading articles one might read in the newspapers about the value derived from the money expended on vocational education. I do not think the Minister should be annoyed about that.
I am satisfied the money will be well spent. I always consider that money spent on education is well spent, unless there is improper supervision or mismanagement. I know that will not apply to the administration of these schemes by vocational committees. It is because of that I support this measure. I hope the scheme will take the lines I have indicated. I feel it will, and I feel that as it develops we will have a better standard of educational facilities available for people in areas where they have no other chance of developing their mentalities. Whether or not they stay at home, the education will be useful to them. We would like to see our young people staying at home, but even if they go to a foreign country they will have a higher standard of education to help them. It is unfortunate that we have to export from our poorer areas, from the West generally, people who  will be merely hewers of wood and drawers of water in other lands. The scheme should not be organised to provide a post-primary education for people who have to leave the country, but rather should it be organised in the hope of giving better educational facilities to the people who are to remain at home.
Mr. Seán Ruane Mr. Seán Ruane
Mr. Seán Ruane: As one who, for a number of years, was closely associated with the vocational education committee of my own county, I have, naturally, a particular interest in this Bill. I was delighted to hear several Senators stressing the need of extending the benefits of vocational education to rural areas. When the erection of new schools in several centres in my native county was discussed ten or 12 years ago, I advocated instead an extension of the system of vocational education to different areas, isolated areas, and I suggested at that time that the national schools should be used for the purpose. My idea was that the building of a permanent structure should be the last thing the committee would consider and it should be considered by them only when the idea of vocational education had sunk properly into their minds and the minds of the people and when there was no danger of the schools being rendered useless subsequently through lack of support or because of poor attendance on the part of the people in the area in which schools were erected.
My experience is that the people who have benefited by vocational training, who have got vocational training in the real sense, are those who attended schools established in extemporised buildings in different parts of the county. I know several boys who attended carpentry classes and to-day they are capable of putting up substantial buildings that would compare favourably with the work of any skilled artisan. That class of education should be extended. While excellent work is being done in the schools in my county, I am at times in doubt whether the pupils are really being taught according to the ideal vocational system. I know that excellent education is being given. The young people are trained in shorthand,  typewriting and accountancy, but unfortunately, when they have finished their courses, there are no positions available in the county or country. The young people are really trained for export. Of course, it is a very good thing, if they have to emigrate, that they possess knowledge that will be of benefit to them in the country to which they go.
I should like to pay a compliment to the instruction given in some of those schools and to the originality or foresight of the teachers employed there. As the emergency developed, the shortage of kerosene or paraffin oil was felt very much throughout the country, in no place more than in the rural areas, where they have no other form of lighting. Prior to the emergency, a teacher in one of the schools in County Mayo had the foresight to give instruction to his class on the principles of the wind-charger. If you pass along the roads that radiate from that particular centre to-day you can see the pylons erected and the people in that area had excellent light at a time when their less fortunate neighbours, who had not the benefit of such instruction, had not even candle-light.
Instruction of that type should be extended and I see no reason why, in vocational schools in certain areas, instruction should not be given in the construction of hydro-electric installations. There are many districts, not alone in my native county but in several parts of the country, where there are perennial waterfalls and these could be utilised with proper instruction. It would be quite a simple matter and it would be a great benefit to the people if their youngsters could be so instructed.
If the system of vocational education in my county has been successful in one way more than in another, it has been in the desire created among the adult section of the population for a better knowledge of the science of agriculture. Some years ago the secretary of the Mayo County Council found it necessary to circularise the teachers in the primary schools that if more pupils did not compete for the two agricultural scholarships offered every year it would be necessary to withdraw them.  Out of ten scholarships from primary to secondary schools offered, two were allocated to agriculture and I regret to say that there was no competition for them. Because of that lack of competition, the county council thought it necessary to threaten to withdraw them.
Latterly, lectures have been arranged under the auspices of the local vocational education committee. An excellent lecture was delivered last Thursday night in my home town on lea farming. Over 50 farmers attended that lecture, some of them having travelled five or six miles on a dark night. From the questions they put to the lecturer afterwards and the discussion which they entered into with him they showed that they had profited by his visit. Lectures of that type should be delivered more frequently, and vocational committees should arrange for them in areas which are not blessed with those beautiful schools which have sprung up in several districts. In that way the benefits of the system would be brought home to the people. While I have nothing but praise for my colleagues on the local committee for the interest they manifested in the development of this system of education, I must say that many of them were more interested in the erection of new buildings in their own areas than in having the benefits spread over the country.
Conditions have undergone a considerable change in the West during the last six or eight years and the change has not been for the better. Many years ago girls who had to emigrate to America always went there with the intention of returning some day and settling down at home. I know hundreds of such girls who came back after ten or 15 years in America and became farmers' or artisans' wives, reared good families and in that way contributed very much to the prosperity and happiness of their districts. Latterly, that has entirely changed. During the war years, several thousand girls emigrated to England because of the wages paid there. I am not speaking from my own observation alone, but from the views expressed by many in a position to study this matter, when I say  that the question of becoming mothers, wives or housekeepers seems entirely absent from the minds of these girls.
I hold that anything that could be done to restore the domestic outlook to the young women of our country is very necessary and that any money spent in such a restoration would be wisely spent. For that reason, I do not see why there should be any objection to holding classes in cookery and laundry and other domestic subjects in the national schools throughout the country. I know that the managers would be only too delighted to place the schools at the disposal of the vocational committees. In that way the benefits of this system would be brought into the isolated areas and, eventually, when permanent structures are erected, there will be no possibility of their being ever used for any other purpose but the purpose for which they are intended, namely, education on a vocational basis.
I was sorry to hear that the relationship between the inspectorate and the teachers in the Dublin area is not as happy as I know it is in my own county and, generally speaking, throughout the province. The central executive officer in Mayo and the teachers engaged in the different schools, as well as the part-time teachers who go out to the places where classes are held, have nothing but praise for the inspectors and they always welcome their visits. The inspectors go there not so much to find fault as to give the benefit of their experience to the schools which they visit. Their visits are always looked forward to. I hold that that should be the case everywhere. When a person has a diplomatic way of suggesting a correction of faults without being offensive either to the teachers, the officials or pupils he is bound to be successful and helpful.
I trust that this Bill will bring the benefits of vocational training into areas that have not yet had the opportunity of enjoying them. I am satisfied that if use was made of existing buildings and if the number of teachers in carpentry, metal work and farrier work is increased, there will be no lack  of attendance or of support in any particular area to which these teachers would be allocated.
Mr. Hawkins Mr. Hawkins
Mr. Hawkins: I believe that the necessity for this Bill has been brought about by increased knowledge of the good work carried out in vocational and technical schools throughout the country. That knowledge is shared by the working people and by the employers. I am glad to say that the old hostility of trade union organisations to technical and vocational training has departed and has been replaced by co-operation and assistance in the furthering of that training. While vocational education has been availed of to a greater extent by our people generally, there is one section that I am afraid is lacking in its support, and that is the section which needs that training most, namely, the young boys and girls of the working classes who are compelled by economic necessity to leave school at 14 years. These young people have to be put to work by their parents in some cases owing to the wages which they are able to bring in. I have often thought it would be a good national investment if some allowance were given to parents for the attendance of their children at vocational or technical schools so that their children would be able to avail of vocational education.
Senator Baxter criticised vocational training through the medium of Irish. He mentioned cookery in particular and said that that was a hindrance rather than a help to the advancement of the language. I do not agree with that statement because this instruction is given to young persons of 15 or 16 years of age who have received a sound knowledge of the Irish language in the national schools and are quite capable of fully appreciating instruction through the medium of Irish.
Mr. O'Callaghan Mr. O'Callaghan
Mr. O'Callaghan: I was glad to hear Senator Baxter in his usual critical mood. I am sorry if conditions such as he described as existing in County Cavan exist in other counties. He said that there were big buildings, many teachers and few pupils. If that is the position in Cavan and other counties, surely the system of vocational education  has to be inquired into very fully. He was very critical as to whether we are getting good value for the money spent on vocational education or not. No other speaker, as far as I could see, agreed with him and certainly, as far as I know vocational education in County Cork, it would not be just or fair to describe it in the terms which Senator Baxter used.
Senator O'Reilly made the point that there was not as much co-ordination between agricultural education and vocational education as there should be. I agree thoroughly with him in that. I do not know who is to blame, whether it is the local bodies or not. In County Cork there are vocational committees and committees of agriculture and there is no co-ordination of any kind between them, and I think it is a pity that there is not. The vocational schools might be very convenient places for showing films illustrating up-to-date processes by which agriculture is carried on. They could be employed usefully in other ways, for agricultural lectures, forestry lectures and all kinds of lectures in connection with the agricultural industry. But, at present, as far as I know, there is not that co-ordination which Senator O'Reilly suggests there should be. If the Minister could do anything to establish co-ordination it would be a step in the right direction.
Senator Ruane made a point about instruction in the development of hydro-electric schemes. There is a vocational teacher in County Cork who, it is safe to say, is one of the greatest experts in the world on hydro-electric development. He has initiated many small schemes which are a credit to him and to the vocational education system. He has also established windmill electric schemes which are also very successful.
Many such schemes have been established in various parts of the country and they are not carried out on a proper basis. Such a man as I have in mind, who knows his job thoroughly, could be used for much larger schemes than he is engaged on at the moment. He is confined to County Cork and he should be doing work all over the country. His knowledge and skill should be utilised to the greatest extent  possible in developing small electric schemes. There are many mountain streams which could be harnessed to supply light locally at very small cost. The person I have in mind could give instruction and advice in connection with such matters.
Senator O'Reilly suggested that instruction in rural science for boys and domestic science for girls should be carried to the farthest limits. I agree absolutely with that. Domestic science for girls is very important. The vocational schools could be used to a much greater extent in connection with the teaching of agriculture than they are at the moment.
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: One advantage that the Minister for Education has in dealing with vocational education is that, no matter what criticisms may be made of the Department of which he is for the time being the head, he can at least distribute them because the vocational schemes are under the control of local authorities, the representatives of the people on the local councils. We must judge the success of the schemes by the material that we see on these committees, by the interest the members take in the schemes, the activity they display and the length to which they will go to scrutinise and investigate matters and not be put off with some easy answer if they feel that they are not getting the value they should get or that their conception of what ought to be done is not being carried out or the results they had expected are not being achieved. If one is to be a successful member of a vocational education committee or any other cultural body, one must have some enthusiasm. If one starts off with the idea that we have failed, that we started off wrong and that the only question is how far we shall go in the direction of failure, if one gets into that rather discouraged frame of mind, it is difficult to see how one can lend any enthusiasm where enthusiasm is so necessary.
If those responsible for the administration of local schemes are not themselves enthusiastic, they can scarcely communicate enthusiasm to their staffs. They cannot expect that others who are working with them or the parents and the public generally  will feel that vocational education is worth while. If we cannot get our local representatives to value it, we cannot expect the public to value it.
I think Senator O'Reilly of Leitrim was correct in saying that although the scheme has been some 16 years in operation, under the Vocational Education Act of 1930, it still is only in its infancy. It is only now, for example, that the ideas to which Senator Ruane and others have referred are permeating the country, that the rural school can be made a genuine centre for revitalising country life, for bringing country people together, for enabling them to meet socially and culturally as well as to discuss problems connected with their daily avocations. To have a practical education provided at the nearest centre for their boys and girls will certainly not be a disadvantage to them and will probably be a considerable help, even from the narrow point of view of finding employment.
I should be glad if those who represent rural areas and out-of-the-way districts, that have been frequently referred to, would take more interest in these schemes, would visit the schools, if they are members of the committees, would try to be helpful. County Leitrim, although it is the poorest county we have to deal with, although its rating powers are extremely small, is an example of one of those schemes where you cannot have a very successful scheme without substantial Government aid. But I am glad to say that County Leitrim is deserving of that aid. They have a very good scheme. They have a number of schools, a number of teachers, and they are working pretty satisfactorily. If Senator O'Reilly is an example of the members of the Leitrim committee and if they think the same way as he does about the problems of vocational education, I would say there is every hope indeed that vocational education in that county will go ahead, even though it is a poor county and what can be raised from the rates is limited.
There is no such excuse in other areas. Most of the other counties, with  the exception of the poorer congested areas, have ample rating facilities and have not reached their maximum at all under their present rating powers. One would imagine, listening to Senator Baxter, that one can get things done in education without spending any money. Perhaps one could, if, as I have said, you have teachers with personality, teachers with enthusiasm and if you have committees behind these teachers who have similar enthusiasm and who want to be helpful and constructive and to get results. No doubt you will get a great many more results in that way. But if you are niggardly, if you think about every halfpenny you are going to spend, what the small farmers are going to say about the extra halfpenny that it is proposed to raise—if you can think of nothing else in connection with vocational education development but the reaction on particular elements of the rural community of having to pay another halfpenny, then you are not creating the necessary atmosphere for proper educational development. You must create the atmosphere. If you are spending all this money and if you think that too much is being spent, that there should be more value for it, why not go and explain to the people that the facilities are there and ask them to take more advantage of these facilities? Some Senators may think that a sufficient number of centres are not being organised in rural areas to cover the rural population, but I have given figures elsewhere to show that it is the rural population mainly who are benefiting; it is the rural children who cycle five or six miles, and perhaps more, into vocational schools or the class centres. If in Cavan or any other county the committee would address itself to developing these schemes with moderate expenditure—we are not asking them to be wasteful—the provisions of this Bill are entirely permissive. There is no compulsion. No local committee is asked to raise a rate if it does not wish to do so. The local forum is there.
Why should those who are charged with the development of education think that the expenditure on vocational education is all waste—I hope many of them do not—and that they  are not getting anywhere with it? If that is the position—I do not believe it is—matters would be very serious. I think what is wrong is that you have not the local direction that is necessary and the local outlook that will bring the best results. The Minister for Agriculture is the authority for agricultural education and whatever we may do in our vocational school must have regard to that fact. That is the position. We have circularised our committees and explained to them that there is a method of liaison by which the Departments can work each within its own sphere. I do not think there is the slightest danger of the Department of Agriculture interfering with the normal work of the local vocational school or in any development which the committee proposes to give better facilities to rural schools. We cannot have schools in every parish unfortunately and, owing to the great fall in our rural population, we cannot avoid saying that it is not in every district that you can have a successful permanent centre. But let us have permanent centres where it is possible to have a sufficient enrolment to make it worth while to have a reasonable school staff and to give them reasonably full employment. Such a centre in addition to giving that regular employment as a permanent matter, will also be a centre for the usual itinerant courses which are held towards the end of the school session, after Easter generally, and through which all the surrounding areas can be in turn covered. I think, as I said in my opening statement, the whole district round about the school is covered by the teaching staff and feels the influence of the school.
We shall probably hear more about Section 5 so I need only say at this stage that the intention of the 1944 Act, in connection with Sections 6, 7 and 8 was quite clear, that they should apply to transferred officers. A doubt has been expressed as to whether that is done in sufficiently specific terms, whether it is sufficiently clear and the purpose of Section 5 is to make the intentions of the 1944 Act in that respect quite clear and put them beyond any doubt. I do  not think I need go into the whole question again. If it is pursued further on the Committee Stage we can deal with it then.
As far as I know, there is no other person in the position of Mr. Flynn, whose case is dealt with in the Bill. It would not have been possible to deal with that case under the local government superannuation amendment legislation because Mr. Flynn is not a local officer at the present time. That legislation will apply only to those who are in the service so that it was necessary to deal with his case specially.
Senator O'Reilly of Tipperary is not correct in suggesting—perhaps he did not make himself sufficiently clear but he certainly gave that impression— that a national teacher had been brought in and put over the senior officers and headmasters working in Dublin City under the Dublin City Vocational Education Committee, when the post of chief executive officer was being filled. The point was that the person in question, of course, had already been in the service for a period. In order to be eligible for one of these posts, when they are advertised, one of the conditions generally is that candidates must have five years' service. In the case of a chief executive officership, candidates would be expected to have five years' service as headmasters. This candidate, of course, had that and in addition he had been responsible for the administration of Comhairle Leas Oige—the scheme for juvenile training in the City of Dublin. In any case, I want to make it quite clear that it was not a case that he came in as a national teacher and was selected in preference to others who were longer in the service. He fulfilled the necessary conditions in regard to experience in the vocational education service.
I do not think I can promise Senator O'Reilly of Leitrim that this will be the last occasion on which we shall have to amend the vocational education code because I do not know what the exact terms of the recommendations, which I expect we may receive from the Commission on Youth Unemployment, may be in regard to the school-leaving age. I have reason to believe  that a recommendation will be made that the school-leaving age should be raised but until we see the exact terms in which that recommendation is made, and the arguments supporting it, it would be difficult to say what the repercussions upon vocational education would be. I take it that, in the city at any rate, there is no doubt that greatly increased accommodation will be necessary.
Therefore, I ask my friends in Dublin who are interested in vocational education—particularly, the members of the committee who are alive to the needs of the city—to do what they can to push forward the completion of the new schools. Even with these new schools, we shall be able to reach only a small proportion— not even one-third, I should say—of the young people for whom it would be necessary to find place if compulsory education were in force from 14 years to 16 years. We should, probably, be able to find room for 2,000 in the five new regional schools but, so far as my recollection serves, we should require accommodation for about 7,000 if we were to meet the demand of those who would be affected if the school-leaving age were to be raised to 16 and if the young people concerned were to be accommodated in vocational or technical schools.
Rinne an Seanadóir Ó Buachalla tagairt do na cúrsaí ceardúla agus is dóigh liom go bhfuil an ceart aige nuair adéir sé go ndearna na cúrsaí seo a lán maitheasa. Maidir le scéimeanna i gcóir fiodóireachta agus ceirde eile, má tá baint acu le saol na Gaeltachta nó saol na tuaithe, deanfaidh mé mo dhícheall cuidiú leo.
If Galway Vocational Education Committee put up a scheme for training workers in weaving or other trades which have a particular affiliation with the Gaeltacht areas or with rural areas—the same applies to other counties; it is not a thing we need confine to the Gaeltacht—I should be very glad to examine it with a view to seeing what co-operation we might be able to give in forwarding it. I should like very much to see more training courses held under the auspices of  local committees throughout the country. There is no reason whatever why the county committees should not organise their own training courses and have them at their own centres, with those students who have shown a special aptitude, or those workers who would benefit, in attendance.
The opening speaker, Senator Hayes, referred, as I understood, to the necessity for speaking English and being decent.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: I did not add that.
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: Lest the parents of the country might not understand the reasons for the policy that is being followed regarding the Irish language in educational matters. I presume what he meant was that I should address the Seanad in English. Since I have become Minister for Education, I have spoken in Irish so far as possible. I think that it would be very incongruous if I were to ask others to do what they could for the revival of Irish and, in my own official capacity, when speaking, for instance, on this Bill, should fail to avail of the opportunity to give good example. Senator Hayes would be rather surprised if I were to fail to do that. If it were possible to provide every Senator who could not follow my remarks in Irish with a translation in English, I should be glad to do so. It has not been possible, so far, to do that, but I think most of the Senators understood what I was saying. I think it would be rather an assumption of failure in this 25th year after the signing of the Treaty, about which we heard so much, and the setting up of an Irish Government, to have to take this line regarding the Irish language. The difference between us seems to me to be that we take the Irish language for granted and, if one knows Irish, we see no reason why Irish should not be spoken. If people do not know Irish, that is a different matter. People who know Irish, who are in positions of responsibility, who advocate a certain policy with regard to the revival of the language and are doing certain things in their official capacity to advance that policy should be expected to give good example. Senator Hayes and his friends seem to have a complex  that somebody is forcing Irish down the throats of the people. He contradicted himself, in fact, when he pointed out that, in the primary and secondary branches, consideration was being shown to teachers where there are special difficulties, as at the present time. On other occasions, he might have another tune. Why should it be charged against the inspectors that they are an unreasonable body of men? The Minister himself is, apparently, a reasonable person, but the inspectors, who are responsible to him, are unreasonable and are flouting the official regulations——
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: Surely, I never said anything of the kind. Let us be fair.
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: The suggestion is that the inspectors——
Mr. Baxter Mr. Baxter
Mr. Baxter: An inspector.
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: This thing has been coming up from the same source for many years—this suggestion that Irish is being forced on people who do not want it. In what way can that happen? It can happen only through the inspectors deliberately disobeying orders or refusing to carry out the written and other instructions they are getting to adhere to the policy of the Department. That is the only way in which that could happen. Senator Hayes raised a question with regard to the chief inspector of vocational education. He took advantage of his position—I was rather surprised at Senator Hayes having regard to the responsible office he held in this State—to make an attack on an important officer in the educational service who is not in a position to meet the attack or to defend himself. Senator Hayes must have known that I was not fully acquainted with the evidence upon which his statements were made. When he and his colleagues make such statements here, they fail to give any evidence. It generally boils down to “somebody told me”. In conversation with Senator Hayes, it is true that he mentioned one of these matters. He did not suggest—if I am wrong, he will correct me—that he had personal knowledge of it. He said he had heard a conversation between girls who were students at a certain institution  in which they made the statement that the inspector had said a certain thing of the teacher. If Senator Hayes had any confidence in my judgment or my sense of responsibility, he might, perhaps, have left the matter there and assumed that I would, if I considered it necessary, take further action regarding it. The Senator was not satisfied with that. He came along and added other instances this evening, having given me no notice whatever of the matter. He has made a public attack on an official who cannot explain what actually happened. Nor am I in a position to do so. Surely Senator Hayes, as an educationist and a responsible public man, ought to know, after so many years' experience, that one cannot make serious charges of that kind in public on mere hearsay. As suggested by one of the Senators on my left, the authorities responsible should have been given the opportunity of showing whether or not they would follow up the matter if they considered it serious.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: Does the Minister put it to us that he has no knowledge of the discontent which exists in the City of Dublin Vocational Schools on this matter?
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: I do not know whether Senator Hayes is speaking just as a political leader and trying to bring his little political tricks into the educational field, or whether he is speaking with the sincerity he assumes and would like us to believe he holds with regard to the Irish language—and his remarks have thrown serious doubt on it——
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: If my sincerity is in doubt, I may say that I gave proof of my sincerity when the Minister was engaged in very obnoxious work against the Irish language and the people who were trying to teach it. There is no use in the Minister trying to talk about mock sincerity. He has a great deal to prove in that respect and a great many things to forget before he can prove sincerity.
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: The Senator heard what An Seabhac said regarding a particular institution and if he were sincere about the Irish language, he  would know that there is a very strong feeling that sufficient is not being done with regard to the promulgation of Irish there. He knows that there is another point of view, and, if he does not, he should not have gone into this matter at all. If he has any sense of fairness whatever or any sense of decency, he could easily have ascertained what the position is from the other point of view.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: The point is that more cannot be done by bad manners.
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: The Senator gets up here, and, on the strength of a conversation he heard between two or three girls, according to his account of it to me, makes an attack. He does not spare the official in question in his present position but goes back and refers to something that happened previously, about which I daresay he knows very little. When you feel you can attack a public official in that manner and get away with it, so why spare him, when you are attacking him, why not do as much damage as possible, knowing that you are likely to get away with it and that the official cannot reply here and now in an effective way——
Mr. Baxter Mr. Baxter
Mr. Baxter: Did the Minister not know what he was like before he appointed him?
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: I am not responsible to Senator Baxter or Senator Hayes for the appointments I make and I hope I never shall be. I am responsible to other people and I shall answer for my responsibility to other people. According to these Senators on my right, it is quite impossible to create a new spirit with regard to the Irish language because they themselves have lost heart, because they have run up the white flag, because apparently, having lost interest in the Irish language to that extent——
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
Mr. Hayes: Are we playing politics now?
Mr. Derrig Mr. Derrig
Mr. Derrig: ——the rest of us are to follow. Thank God, we have not got those ideas about Irish. We believe  that Irish can be revived, but we certainly do not believe it can be revived by people who have no belief in it themselves, who have no heart in it and who cannot inspire the young people of the country to believe that this is a task to which we ought to bend our energies very seriously and to which we ought to devote a great deal of our attention. Had the Senator examined the position or given any attention to it, had he, for example, gone down to the neighbouring county of Meath and asked himself what development had taken place there under the vocational education scheme, he would have found that there was an extraordinary development in the number of classes there. Not since the Treaty, which the Senator was celebrating recently, was signed, was there such enthusiasm or such widespread interest in the Irish language as there is at present in County Meath and it is not the only county. There are other counties. It is too much that I should have to come here and listen to people who have really no knowledge of vocational education, of what is going on in the country and who do not take the trouble to acquaint themselves with the most elementary facts before getting up here and making charges of this nature.
Apparently, according to Senator Hayes, it would be the greatest treason that anybody should suggest that a university graduate should receive any further training before, having completed his degree, he goes out to teach in a vocational school. There is such an award in the university, of the staff of which Senator Hayes is at present a member, called the Higher Diploma in Education. That diploma is awarded on the practical work and the written work of students who have completed their primary degrees and who want to continue for a further period in order to equip themselves for careers as teachers. We had the old system of Gaelic League classes and the classes under the vocational education schemes 20 and 25 years ago. They were very suitable at that time.
Now we have the position that our young people who have been attending primary schools or, perhaps, in certain  cases, secondary schools, and who subsequently attend vocational education schools are much better equipped in regard to Irish than their predecessors 25 years ago.
We cannot, therefore, assume that the young teachers who are to handle that material, either in day or night classes, do not require further equipment, and it was with a view to giving these teachers the necessary training in teaching methods, the necessary further education to enable them to deal with the problem in a way in which it has not been dealt with so far in our vocational schemes, that these courses were held. A certain number of university graduates attended them and the university graduates, even those who are seeking to enter responsible posts in the Civil Service, have not always got that oral knowledge of Irish that one would expect. I am not finding any fault with them. I simply say that is the position.
If they are to go into vocational schools, even if they are university graduates, and if they are expected to teach at least some portion of the work through Irish, if they are expected to do their share, if they are teachers of Irish, in teaching the language as a living language, it is necessary that they should have a new outlook in regard to it, that they should be so equipped that they will stir up the enthusiasm of the people whom they are teaching, and that they will provide centres so far as is possible where the Irish language will be spoken, where it will be debated and where it will be treated as a mode of intercourse for serious discussion. It was to prepare these teacher candidates for work of that nature and to give them the necessary foundation that these courses were held. A great number of the persons who attended them were already teaching in a part-time or whole-time capacity, but, before we sent them out to the country as fully recognised whole-time teachers who would spend the remainder of their lives teaching under vocational education schemes, it was our business to see that, if they were to have anything to do with teaching the Irish language, or teaching through the Irish  language, they should be as well prepared as it lay within our power to make them.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 15th January.
Seanad Éireann 33 Late Sitting.