MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 16adh Bealtaine, 1935.
Thursday, 16th May, 1935.
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
Seóirse Mag Craith (Ard-Sgrúdóir) and Mr. A. D. Codling (An Roinn Airgid) called and examined.
ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN.
1. Deputy Murphy.—I have great pleasure in proposing that Deputy Fitzgerald be appointed Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.
Deputy Smith.—I second.
Question agreed to.
Deputy Fitzgerald.—I thank you, gentlemen, very much for the honour. We will do our best to get our business through in as expeditious, businesslike and friendly a way as possible. I have received a letter from the Accounting Officer of the Department of Education, asking leave to be represented before the Committee by Messrs. Morrissey and O’Duffy.
It is agreed, then, that the Department of Education be represented by these officers for evidence purposes. A postponement is asked only in respect of Primary Education.
VOTE 45—OFFICE OF THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION.
Mr. T. J. Morrissey called and examined.
1a. Chairman.—With regard to subhead AA—National Programme Conference—what does that item cover?—Representatives of teachers were associated with officials in considering changes in the Programme. Some of those teachers had to come from the country and this was to cover their expenses.
2. With regard to sub-head C—Preparation of Irish Vocabularies—are they published?—Yes, five volumes dealing with different subjects have been published—History and Geography, Grammar and Literature, Science, Music and History.
3. Deputy McMenamin.—Are these specialised vocabularies appertaining to these subjects?—Appertaining to each subject.
4. Brought out in single units?—Yes, issued separately.
VOTE 47—SECONDARY EDUCATION.
Mr. F. O’Duffy called and examined.
5. Chairman.—Some of you gentlemen may not know that, owing to illness, Mr. Doolin, of the Department of Finance, is not able to attend at present, and as the Comptroller and Auditor-General has raised quite a number of points on Primary Education, it will be necessary to examine him as a witness. As he is unable to attend, with everybody’s permission, we are agreeing to postpone that Vote until Mr. Doolin is sufficiently recovered to come before us. With regard to sub-head E—Grants towards the Publication of Irish Textbooks, is there any reason why the expansion of these publications was postponed?
Mr. O’Duffy.—The small amount of expenditure was due chiefly to delays in printing and delay in output, rather than to any holding up of the scheme. It is also true that the number of textbooks that came in for publication was not as large as we expected.
6. It is an outside printing firm that delayed you?—The printing is arranged for us through the Stationery Office. The firm gets the contract, and the firm in this case had more work on hands than they could discharge, and the delays were much longer than we expected.
7. Deputy McMenamin.—Are these the Gúm books?—One section of what are called the Gúm books. There are other provisions for general literature, but this is confined to books used as textbooks in schools. Other works in Irish are provided for under the Science and Arts Vote.
Chairman.—The Gúm is for new ordinary literature and translations.
VOTE 48—TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION.
Mr. F. O’Duffy further examined.
8. Chairman.—There is a note on page 11 of the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s Report:—
“The charge to sub-head A includes £281 11s. 0d. in respect of six scholarships in Sugar Technology awarded for training for Technical Posts in Comhlucht Siúicre Eireann, Teoranta. In addition, a sum of £13 10s. 3d. for advertisements is charged to Vote 45, sub-head A (4). The total amount expended in connection with the scheme was £779 15s. 9d., of which one-third was repaid by An Comlucht in the financial year of 1934-35.”
Mr. McGrath.—That is for the information of the Dáil. It is, of course, usual to supply scholarships under this Vote, but not this particular class of scholarship. It will be seen that the Comhlucht Siúicre Eireann refunded one-third, which implies that they were more or less facilitated under the scheme. I merely wrote that paragraph for information purposes.
Chairman.—Six persons got this special technical training in sugar technology.
9. Deputy Haslett.—Are these grants for carrying on ordinary work? They are not for any construction work?
Mr. McGrath.—Sub-head B is the Government contribution for technical instruction based on the local rate levied for that purpose.
10. Deputy McMenamin.—The money is sent out by the Department to the local Committee?—Yes.
11. Under the Act of 1930?—Yes.
12. Chairman.—What happened about the Cork National Exhibition?
Mr. O’Duffy.—We made provision for an educational exhibit, but owing to the practical failure of the exhibition, if one may say so, we did not consider it wise to incur the expenditure. We intended bringing down a school work exhibit but owing to the bad attendance we did not think it worth while to incur the expenditure.
Mr. Codling.—The Committee will notice that there is a corresponding subhead in the Appropriation Account for the Department of Industry and Commerce, sub-head J, where £3,000 was granted and nothing was spent. The reason given there was that the proposed exhibition was not held. It got into the hands of a liquidator and no exhibition was held during the year, so the exhibits from the Department of Industry and Commerce and from the Department of Education were not sent down.
Chairman.—We will now take subhead D—Grants to schools providing continuation education or technical instruction.
13. Deputy O’Reilly.—What class of schools would they be—endowed schools? —Those are grants given to special schools which do not receive aid in the ordinary way from local committees of vocational education. On page 187 you have, under paragraph (1), provision for residential schools of domestic training. There are ten of what are called residential schools where they teach domestic economy. They are situated at Athenry, Blackrock, Carrick-on-Suir, Dundrum, Dunmanway, Goresbridge, Millstreet, Moate, Stradbally and Waterford. Girls reside there for a year or longer and receive a thorough training. The only grants which the schools receive are provided under this heading.
14. Chairman.—There is a somewhat similar school at Rathfarnham?—That is more advanced.
15. Deputy McMenamin.—They are all private?—Those schools are all private. The Rathfarnham school is somewhat more advanced than those schools.
16. Chairman.—Under what heading does it get assistance?—The Rathfarnham school gets no assistance from us at the moment. At Mount Sion there is a school for training domestic economy teachers. During the girls’ first year the school received grants at a fairly low rate. When the girls pass from the first year and are accepted as candidates for teaching, grants are received for two subsequent years. They are provided here under paragraph (5) of that Estimate.
17. Deputy McMenamin.—What about male schools?—Those are all girls’ schools.
18. What about male schools? Do they get assistance?—Yes.
19. Have you a list of them?—Technical schools attended by boys are situated all over the country. There are no schools of this particular type.
20. Deputy Smith.—There are no private schools for boys?—There is the trade preparatory school in Cork conducted by the Christian Brothers. They are all under the control of the local educational committee except that one school conducted by the Christian Brothers.
21. Does it get any assistance?—Yes, under paragraph (6) of that same subhead.
22. Deputy McMenamin.—Is there not a school in Glenties? Yes. It was a secondary school and has changed over, I think since this particular year. It will probably appear in subsequent Estimates. It was a secondary school at this time.
23. Deputy O’Reilly.—Those annual grants would include endowed schools?— There are very few endowed schools providing technical instruction.
24. Deputy McMenamin.—Oldcastle is an endowed school?—It is a secondary school and receives the ordinary grants under secondary education.
25. The technical department cannot recognise it, as it is a secondary school? —It cannot receive grants from both. It receives the full grants that a secondary school receives. It receives, roughly, at the rate of £7 or £8 per pupil as an ordinary secondary school.
26. Chairman.—What place is being referred to?—Oldcastle. There is a school at Oldcastle which receives an endowment but it is recognised as a secondary school and receives ordinary secondary school grants.
There is therefore no distinction between an endowment school and an ordinary technical school?
27. Deputy McMenamin.—They come under the secondary Vote and not under the technical Vote?—The premises at Oldcastle are pretty well equipped for giving technical instruction and I think the premises are used in the evening by the local vocational committee. Rent is paid by the vocational education committee when technical classes are being conducted.
28. Deputy Kissane.—Then they have the same arrangement as there is in an ordinary technical school?—Yes.
29. Deputy O’Reilly.—I am not quite clear as to how they are situated?—The position, I understand, is this: this school is a secondary school, that is, it is a school recognised as an ordinary secondary school with an ordinary staff of secondary teachers. During the day secondary classes are held during the ordinary hours—9 or 10 o’clock until 3 in the afternoon. The girls attending that school receive instruction in domestic economy, and the boys receive instruction in woodwork and carpentry. The workshop used for that instruction is hired out to the vocational committee in the evenings, and similarly the kitchen used for domestic economy classes is hired out also for the giving of instruction to girls. What the payment is at the moment I cannot say.
Chairman.—That is a private arrangement between the county committee and the trustees. Sub-head H deals with payments under Section 51 (6) of the Vocational Education Act, 1930.
30. Deputy Smith.—What is the nature of those payments?—When a Vocational Education Committee wishes to build a technical school they may induce the local county council to borrow money for them, that is, that county council may borrow for the purpose of building a technical school independent entirely of the assistance which the council gives to the ordinary vocational education committee for technical instruction. They may borrow as a separate matter entirely. If the county council borrows in that way we recoup the council to the extent of one-half the repayment charge annually. The county council borrows, let us say, £4,000 to build a technical school. The county council is liable for repayment of that loan over a period of 20 or 25 years. We recoup the county council from this sub-head to the extent of half the amount which they repay on that loan.
VOTE 49—SCIENCE AND ART.
Mr. F. O’Duffy further examined.
31. Chairman.—There is a note on page 12 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General:—
“Sanction was obtained from the Department of Finance for expenditure in respect of the production, as an experiment, of not more than two county histories. As it appeared that work had been undertaken in connection with four such histories, I inquired whether further sanction had been obtained and I was informed that correspondence is proceeding with the Department of Finance in the matter.”
Has sanction been given by the Department of Finance?
Mr. Codling.—It was given on the 31st January.
32. Chairman.—That was after this Report was written?
33. Chairman.—Then, Mr. O’Duffy, the work had been proceeded with in anticipation of that sanction?—That is true. The editor preparing the Histories considered it more economical not to confine himself to one or two county histories. When collecting the material for the history of one county he came across useful material for the history of another county and he thought it would be more economical to have on hands three or four county histories. When we discovered he was doing so, we went to the Department of Finance and, after discussing the matter, it was agreed that he might proceed with the histories of four counties.
34. Deputy McMenamin.—How many volumes have been completed?—One volume is being translated.
35. Chairman.—Was it written in English and then translated?—He wrote it in English and it is being translated into Irish.
36. That was a most extraordinary arrangement. To what extent is the Department of Finance committed?—Only in so far as four county histories are concerned.
37. On the principle that one county automatically overflows into an adjacent county, in dealing with four county histories the same thing will occur, and he may have to deal with the histories of eight counties?—The editor has been warned that he must confine himself to four. Unless the matter is considered again, we may have to cut off supplies at a certain point.
Deputy Smith.—To some extent, when you are dealing with four counties you may touch upon eight. Naturally, when you are going into the history of one county there is bound to be some connection with the adjoining counties.
Chairman.—That must be so when you are dealing with the histories of counties. Counties are largely arbitrary divisions. A great many of the counties have a statutory existence over a comparatively short period. They were arbitrarily fixed. I think that baronies would be a much better unit from a historical point of view, because they are largely identical with the old contours. What county history has been finished?—Roscommon is finished and Monaghan should be finished in a couple of months. I think the other two are Kerry and Carlow.
Deputy Murphy.—Where does Cork come in?
Deputy McMenamin.—Would it not have been better if areas of the country had been grouped? Why have this whole row of county histories? Who is responsible for arranging these county histories?
Chairman.—The Dáil sanctioned it. I protested, but the majority were against it.
Deputy McMenamin.—Here we have a whole row of these things. You cannot confine historical events to a particular area.
38. Mr. Codling.—The Department of Finance sanction was conditional. The matter is to be further considered by the Department of Education when the first two histories have been received and examined. Meanwhile sanction has been given to them to go ahead with the second pair of county histories. The matter will be further considered when they get the first couple of histories in.
39. Chairman.—Turning to the Vote, I would like to draw attention to sub-head B (2)—Production of Plays in Irish (Grant-in-Aid), £1,200. We discussed that matter to a certain extent last year. They are now producing in the Peacock Theatre?—Yes.
40. It being smaller, they are able to have a much bigger number of performances?—Yes.
41. Last year we had a sort of analysis of that expenditure?—Yes.
42. Have you got such a return as we had last year?—The return I furnished actually applied to the year 1933-34. Our discussion last year centred around what was happening at the time. I have not a return for the year 1934-35 at the moment.
43. Last year we were dealing with the Financial Year 1932-33?—That is true.
44. And the return you gave was for the following year. Why did you not give the return for the year we were dealing with?—I cannot tell from memory. I think it was because our discussion at the time centred around what was happening rather than what happened a year previously—just as we mention now that they are producing at the Peacock Theatre and they are able to produce more plays.
45. But that had already started. I remember at The Gate they produced plays and we were paying £1,200 a year for 12 performances, which amounted to £100 a performance while at The Gate. That seemed to be an extremely exorbitant figure?—On page 194 of the Report of this Committee for last year, the return is referred to. It gives the actual dates and the number of productions.
46. There is a reference to actors’ fees and directors’ fees. Does a director also draw an actor’s fee in any case?—I could not say offhand with certainty; I think it is improbable.
47. Deputy Kissane.—Have those plays to be sanctioned by the Department beforehand?—No.
48. Chairman.—The theatre is autonomous except in so far as it is a beneficiary of this grant?—Quite so.
Chairman.—It seems to me that it is highly subsidised. I do not know whether Deputy Kissane agrees with that. I do not think we are getting very remarkable value.
Deputy Kissane.—It seems to me to be rather highly subsidised.
49. Chairman.—I think we need not go further into the matter. Sub-head B (3) deals with the production of an English-Irish dictionary. When is it coming out?—It is really a matter for the printers and we have been on the track of the printers. Some 700 pages of the dictionary have been passed for the press. The whole book will contain 1,500 pages. Father Lambert McKenna promised to do the work in four years and it took him only slightly over the four years to complete the job.
50. Do you expect it out this year?— The printers promised to have it on sale by the 1st August.
51. It is going to be an official Government publication?—Yes. It will be published at 10/6 and it will be remarkably good value.
52. Sub-head B (5) refers to the production of a sound film in Irish. Is that the Seanchaidhe one?—Yes.
53. It did not draw full houses in Dublin. It was only a quarter of an hour film?—Yes, that is true.
54. Deputy Kissane.—It was only a beginning and the commencement of everything is weak?—I understand it was very successful in Cork and in the southern parts of the country—at least it was more successful than in Dublin.
55. Chairman.—It was produced in the Grafton and was put on for a quarter of an hour. It was advertised that it would last over a fortnight, but the people would not stand for it and in the Grafton they had to put out a notice that it would be withdrawn at the end of the week. At least that was my observation.
Deputy Murphy.—It was more appreciated in Cork.
Chairman.—It was not a picture at all; it was a man telling a story.
Deputy Keyes.—Perhaps it was too sombre and it could have been brightened.
VOTE 50—REFORMATORY AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS.
Mr. F. O’Duffy further examined.
56. Chairman.—As regards sub-head A —Maintenance of Youthful Offenders in Reformatories—is the reduction in expenditure due to a general moral improvement in the youth of the country? —So far as the expenditure is concerned, it is due to the fact that smaller numbers have been sent to the industrial schools. The expenditure depends on the number committed.
57. Deputy Haslett.—How many reformatories have we?—Two, one for boys and one for girls.
58. Chairman.—Is Glencree the one for boys?—Yes.
59. Deputy McMenamin.—Sub-head C refers to places of detention?—There is one special place of detention. An ordinary industrial school may be used as a place of detention. The one place of detention is Summerhill, in Dublin. It is for boys on remand who are brought before a Court and who have not been definitely committed. In other parts of the country—in Cork and elsewhere— they use the local industrial school for the purpose.
60. Deputy Haslett.—Where do we draw the Appropriations-in-Aid from?— The contributions paid by parents. When a child is committed to an industrial school the Court orders the parents to pay some contribution towards the child’s support if they can afford to do so. These are collected by the Gárda Síochána in the country and in the City by two special collectors. The amounts mentioned there represent these contributions.
The Committee adjourned at 11.55 a.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22nd May.