Monday, 7 June 1926
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £110,863 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1927, chun na gcostaisí a bhaineann le Ceárd-Oideachas.
That a sum not exceeding £110,863 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the Expenses connected with Technical Instruction.
Mr. GOOD: I was gratified to hear from the Minister that it is his intention to set up a Commission to inquire into the relationship between technical instruction and the training of those  who propose to take up industrial careers. I was also glad to note that in the constitution of that Commission it is intended to give representation to countries outside Great Britain and Ireland. Might I make one suggestion to the Minister in that direction? He mentions the two countries he proposes to give representation to, Switzerland and Sweden, but I think he will find, on inquiry, that those countries are not generally recognised as the most up-to-date countries in connection with technical education. The two countries that stand out most prominently in connection with this type of educational work at the moment are Germany and America. If the Minister could see his way to get representatives from these two countries rather than the two countries he mentioned, I think it would strengthen the constitution of that Commission. There are one or two questions I would like to raise when we come to deal with the subheads.
General MULCAHY: It strikes me that there was a rather remarkable omission from the representation on the Commission to be set up to deal with the technical instruction scheme. I refer to the absence of a representative of the Department of Agriculture. I am quite clear that the Minister's intention is to concentrate entirely on technical education. It is not in order to deal with aspects of technical education as they bear on agriculture that I think a representative of the Department of Agriculture should be on the Commission, but because I feel it would be unavoidable that matters would be discussed at this Commission that will bear on agriculture, and if it were only for the purpose of keeping a Commission like this from discussing matters that were really outside its sphere, and in order to help it to concentrate on its own work, I think it would be advisable to have a representative of agriculture there. That representative would show what the outlook of the policy of the Department of Agriculture is with regard to any matter that might arise. I think it would be very advisable, also, that the work of this Commission should not be so entirely  divorced from our agricultural industry as to be without a representative of agriculture. The Minister has laid a certain amount of emphasis on the fact that certain matters as arising between trade unionism on the one hand and capitalism on the other hand ought to be more or less solved by this particular Commission.
General MULCAHY: Well, he said those matters would have to be kept in mind by this Commission. There are large numbers of our people outside the aristocracy of labour and capital who are very keenly interested in having the benefits of technical education spread through the country. I think it would be a very great pity if there was too great a concentration in dealing with the general scheme of technical education—if there was too great a concentration narrowing the scope of our scheme of technical education to these particular matters on which labour, as such, and capital, as such, are interested. I feel a representative of agriculture on a technical Commission like this would see that the ordinary person gets the consideration due in this matter. What one feels very much is that just as the home industries of spinning and weaving and work of that kind have decayed in the country, the trades, too, have decayed.
Any general consideration of a scheme for technical education will have to take into account the position of, say, ordinary trade in such areas as rural areas or small town areas, where organised trade is not at present existing and where the individual tradesman is becoming more and more nonexistent, if one may put it that way. It has a particular bearing, I feel, on the position of the smallholder. It will have a bearing both in matters affecting building, in matters affecting woodwork, and in matters affecting machinery. He is up against the question as to whether he is going to be dependent  on tradesmen or whether he is going to be emancipated from that particular dependence. Any scheme of technical education will have to face whether in rural areas you are going to have trained carpenters, trained masons, and trained mechanics of one kind or another, or whether the smallholder is going to get an opportunity of training himself in that type of work to the extent that is necessary for a small holding.
Mr. BAXTER: I am glad that Deputy Mulcahy has raised this point about the personnel of the Commission which is to inquire into technical education as we know it to-day. It seems to me that it will be really difficult to have an inquiry into technical education, to hear evidence to enable it to come to a decision and leave out of account agriculture. Technical education at present caters at least to some extent for agriculture. We have under some County Committees of Technical Instruction agricultural classes. I cannot see how you can hold an inquiry into the system and disregard that fact. As regards the other point made by Deputy Mulcahy regarding technical training in the matter of trades, carpentry, etc., under some of our technical committees we have classes in woodwork given in rural districts at present. From the point of view of the rural dweller and agriculturists there is very urgent need indeed for an extension of this branch of technical education, and my experience up to the present is that wherever opportunities have been given, young men in the rural districts availed to the very fullest of the services placed at their disposal. I certainly suggest to the Minister that he would be well advised to have agriculture, in so far as it is to be influenced by technical education, represented on the Commission. It certainly will not overload the Commission.
Any system of technical education here that will disregard agriculture to the extent that it will only accept it that there must be technical education in the science of agriculture itself, disregarding the fact that skill in trade is something beyond the  bounds or the possibilities of farmers and rural dwellers, and can be no asset to them, should not be countenanced. Undoubtedly our economic independence can in the rural district be very considerably improved by giving the talent, ability and skill we have in the people of the rural community an opportunity for development. We can hardly estimate what this might lead up to. Undoubtedly we find in the rural districts a considerable number of people with skill as craftsmen, but with very little training. The possibilities for development undoubtedly are great, and they should do a great deal to alter the whole industrial revival movement in the country given a chance and given an opportunity. There are branches of technical education that appeal particularly to the people in rural districts. I say again that I am glad that Deputy Mulcahy has raised this point, and I urge on the Minister the consideration of the suggestion that a representative of agriculture should be given a place on the Commission.
Mr. T.J. O'CONNELL: As the question of representation on this Commission has been raised, I would like to urge on the Minister, when he is giving representation, as he naturally will, to the technical branch of the Department, that he should not confine that representation to a member of the administration staff—that he should see that the outdoor staff—either through one of the inspectors or teachers actually engaged in carrying out the work—will be represented because naturally a man who is engaged in the office is not always the best to understand the problems one is up against in putting these schemes into practice. Either a member of the inspectorial staff or one of the teachers, who has experience in carrying out the scheme, should be on the Commission.
Major COOPER: On historical grounds I would like to support Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy Baxter in their plea that agriculture should be represented on the Commission which is to inquire into technical instruction. Technical instruction in Ireland is the child of Sir Horace Plunkett and one  of the main reasons he put forward for the creation of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction —for the linking together of agriculture and technical instruction—was that technical instruction would teach the farmers to do small jobs on their farms without calling in tradesmen, so that when the farmer wanted to make a new gate or mend a door or that kind of thing, he might acquire sufficient knowledge to do so without going outside and bringing in a tradesman. That was one of the basic reasons why technical instruction was created in this country, and if the Minister is going to uphold it, I think it is only reasonable that that class for which it was created should be represented on the Commission that is to inquire into the matter.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: It is time that this whole question of technical instruction was overhauled. The opinion that I have formed recently of technical instruction is that it is not serving as useful a purpose in the country as it ought to. A good deal of the technical instruction that is being given in the country is largely wasted. If there is to be any future development of our industries they will not benefit to any extent by the type of technical instruction that is being given. A great deal of the money that is being spent on it as well as a great share of the energy and time of the teachers are, as far as I can see, devoted to the teaching of such subjects as shorthand and typewriting. The result is that the market for shorthand-typists is completely over-stocked at the present time. A great many young girls can be got to do this work for next to nothing. They are going out from their homes and taking up this work at very small salaries. Many  of them are doing it to make pin money, In that way they are making it extremely difficult for girls who want to earn a livelihood from this kind of work to exist at all.
My view of technical instruction is that it should not be given along those lines to any great extent at all. I think technical instruction in this country ought to be given with the idea of turning the minds of numbers of our youths to a course of early training which would fit them to engage in the work associated with any new industries that may be established, or, in the case of existing industries, to enable them to take a part in any mechanical improvements that may be introduced. While I am an opponent of the policy of protection, I am at the same time willing to do all that I can in the direction of fostering industries in the country. Apart from the question of giving the taxpayers' money for that purpose, I think that even more money might well be spent on technical instruction if the effect of it were to train the young people who would fall into these industries, and in that way form the nucleus of useful and technically trained staffs to be used in the building up of industries.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: We have been told that a lot of money is being spent on agriculture and on the teaching of agriculture. It was suggested that we in the Farmers' Party were rather narrow in that regard, and did not want to have money spent on anything else. I think it would be much better business for the country to spend money on technical instruction than to attempt by subsidies or by protection to foster industries. With regard to the suggestion put forward by Deputy Mulcahy that the farmers should be represented on this Commission, I think that is one that should receive the attention of the Minister.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I am glad to know that Deputy Mulcahy does not regard the representatives of the Department of Agriculture as farmers. My point of view is that a representative of the farming industry, whether he represents the Farmers' Party or otherwise, should be on this Commission. I think the reasons which have been given by Deputies who have already spoken are a full justification for the inclusion of a representative of the farming industry on this Commission.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Deputy Good wants to know apparently whether my heart is wedded to Switzerland and to Sweden in this particular matter. Well, no. If I were convinced, and I do not say that I am, that the two countries he mentioned would give us better services for our particular point of view, I would be quite ready to put representatives from these two countries on the committee. That is a matter I will have to inquire into very carefully, because remember that though it is quite true that technical instruction may be in a more advanced state in Germany and America than it is in either of the two countries I suggested in my concluding statement to the opening Vote, there is this factor that is not without some importance from my point of view, namely, that these two countries are as unlike as possible to this particular country. Two large, rich, long-established countries like America and Germany are not quite on the same footing. I am not ruling out, and I want to make this clear, the possibility of taking the two foreign representatives from the United States or Germany if, on consideration, I find that the advantages to be gained by doing so outweigh what might be the disadvantages that would flow from the size or the great difference—the great gulf in some respects—that divides us in the technical, industrial and economic way from these two countries.
As regards Deputy Mulcahy's point, which was stressed by Deputy Baxter, Deputy Cooper and Deputy Heffernan, I think in the statement I made a few hours ago, I explained that, while I was hesitating as to whether it might  not be better to set up a Commission to inquire into the whole question of post-primary education, including technical education, after some consideration I came to the conclusion it was more desirable to limit the inquiry as much as possible. So far as this country is concerned, we may have to face that problem soon. We shall have to face it some time, and provide a scheme of post-primary education for country districts. That would cover children from, say, 14 to 16 years. There is then the further question as to what technical education they should get for the agricultural side of their work— that is to say, from 16 onwards. That would come more within the type of education that would be offered by the Department of Agriculture than by this particular Department. There is the further fact mentioned by Deputy Mulcahy, Deputy Baxter, and Deputy Cooper, namely, that apart from the particular type of education suitable for agriculturists, there is also a type of technical education, which they might find useful. I gather it is on that account they are making the plea that the Department of Agriculture should have a representative on this particular Commission. I do not like to make the Committee too unwieldy. I think the smaller we can keep it the better. I promise not to leave out these considerations adduced by Deputies, before coming to a final decision on this particular matter, and to see whether on the whole it is advisable to include such a representative on this particular Committee. As regards the point raised by Deputy O'Connell, the intention at the moment is more or less on the lines he has just suggested. We had intended to put on what I may call one of the higher inspectors to represent the technical side of our Department. Into the question of protection versus technical instruction, I do not intend to follow Deputy Heffernan.
Mr. JOHNSON: I hope the Minister for Education will not lose sight of one aspect of this technical instruction question, and that is that it is part of the educational process, and not merely the training of a wage-earner or of a  profit-earner. It is part of the educational process to enable a boy or girl, a young man or a young woman, to realise the importance of the material things around him or her, and that is something different from a mere training for a position. I am afraid that most of the comments rather assume that the work of the technical branch of the Department of Education is merely to train boys and girls for the trade they are to follow at some future time. I do not think that that is the whole business of the technical instruction branch of the Department of Education.
I want to bring to the notice of the Minister and the Dáil a matter apart from technical education, but concerned with the administration of the Minister's Department as it affects the Technical Instruction Committee of the Dublin County Council. I refer, in the first instance, to the appointment of a commercial teacher for the Balbriggan classes. Some correspondence has taken place between the Dublin County Joint Committee of Technical Instruction and the Minister and his Department, which began on 26th October last. A letter was sent to the assistant secretary of the Department, informing him that Mr. T. Derrig had been appointed part-time instructor of commercial subjects (bookkeeping, business methods, commercial arithmetic, shorthand and typewriting), and Miss Teresa Pleimeann as whole-time clerk. Then it proceeded:—
“I have to request your sanction for these appointments at your earliest convenience. Mr. Derrig has already been sanctioned as commercial teacher under the Mayo County Committee of Technical Instruction.”
“The classes for which Mr. Derrig's services are required have been held up, first by the failure of the Committee's advertisement for a whole-time instructor of Commerce and Irish to produce a suitable  candidate, and then by delay in obtaining sanction for the appointment of Mr. Derrig.”
“I am directed by my Committee to inform you that they regret that no reply has yet been received to my letters of the 26th October and the 24th November last, asking for approval of the appointment of Mr. T. Derrig, B. Com., as part-time teacher of commercial subjects. As I pointed out in my second letter the delay in obtaining approval of this appointment has prevented the opening of commercial classes in Balbriggan, and they cannot now be started this year. My Committee considered this as a grave injustice to those pupils who were prevented from attending Skerries Technical School by the promise made to them that the classes would be provided in Balbriggan at the beginning of the present session.”
“I have to inform you that my Committee consider the delay in the opening of the commercial classes in Balbriggan so serious that they decided at their last meeting, on the 11th instant, that if no reply had been received in the meantime from the Department they would consider the advisability of opening those classes under Mr. Derrig without the sanction of the Department.”
“I am directed by the above Committee to direct your attention to the failure of the Technical Instruction Branch of the Department of Education to approve of the appointment by them of Mr. T. Derrig, B. Com., as part-time teacher of commercial subjects, or to send any other reply than a formal acknowledgment to repeated letters requesting them to do so.”
“In these circumstances, the above  Committee, having fully considered the consequences, decided at their last meeting, on the 10th instant, to open the classes immediately, and to apply directly to approve of Mr. Derrig's appointment in view of the failure of the Technical Instruction Branch either to grant or refuse such approval almost five months after his appointment.”
On the 3rd March a further letter was sent to the Minister referring to the previous communication of the 18th February, and saying that they had not received a reply. On the 31st March a communication was sent by the Department's Secretary to the Secretary of the Technical Instruction Committee, stating:
“With reference to an entry in the Minutes of the proceedings of the County Dublin Joint Technical Instruction Committee at their meeting on the 10th ultimo, relative to the appointment of Mr. Derrig, B. Com., as part-time commercial instructor, I have to state for the information of your Committee that in view of the order previously made for the dismissal of Mr. Derrig when employed in County Mayo, sanction may not now be given to his appointment under the County Dublin Committee.”
That letter, which appears to have been the first intimation to the County Dublin Committee that the Department was not prepared to sanction the appointment is dated the 31st March, while the first intimation sent to the Ministry was dated the 26th October, informing them that Mr. Derrig had been appointed. That is a state of things I cannot understand, and I can appreciate the view of the Committee when they instructed their secretary to write to the Department stating that as the Committee had no knowledge of the order referred to, he was to ask on what grounds sanction for Mr. Derrig's appointment was refused, as he possessed the qualifications required by the Department.
There is no doubt whatever that the delay has militated seriously against the Committee's work in Balbriggan. It seems very difficult to understand  why, if there was any objection to the appointment or to sanctioning the appointment of Mr. Derrig for this position, that the Co. Dublin Committee could not have been informed of the matter earlier than five months after the first notification had been made of this appointment. Practically no sanction and no refusal of sanction —in effect, no decision one way or other—was conveyed to the Committee until the season had come to a close. I do not know what the strict position may be regarding salary but I assume that that is a matter of difficulty if finally it is stated that the appointment was not sanctioned. The fault for not having received sanction certainly does not seem to lie with the Co. Dublin Committee. They did, to all appearances, all they could be expected to do in regard to the notification of the request for sanction.
Somewhat associated—no doubt, the Minister will say very closely associated—with the refusal to reply to communications from the Co. Dublin Committee in respect of Mr. Derrig is the question of the requiring of technical teachers—teachers under the Technical Instruction Committee of the County Dublin—to make declarations in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act. The question arose in November in respect of the appointment of teachers of Irish. A letter was sent by the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Fletcher, to the Committee on 2nd November. This letter had reference to a list of teachers of Irish submitted to the Department. The letter says:
I have to acquaint you that the Department approves of the engagement, for the current academic year, of the teachers named and on the conditions stated in the accompanying memoramdum. I am to remind you of the necessity of obtaining from Mr. Duke a declaration, which should be transmitted to the Department in accordance with, and in the form prescribed by, Section 71 of the Local Government Act, 1925,—
and to direct your attention to the duty which is imposed upon you, as Principal Executive Officer, by Section 61 (2) of the Act, in the event  of any illegal payment being proposed at a meeting of your Committee.
In response to that, a letter was sent by the Secretary of the Committee to the Assistant Secretary of the Department. This letter is dated 16th November and stated that the letter from the Department was considered by the Committee and that he (the Secretary) was
directed to point out to you, in connection with the declaration referred to in the second paragraph, that it would appear to my Committee that this declaration applies only to officers for whose appointment the confirmation of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health is required. As it has been the custom of the Committee, in accordance with the conditions on which their scheme of instruction has been sanctioned each year, to submit appointments made by them to the Ministry of Education only for confirmation the Committee would be glad to learn whether confirmation of such appointments by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Health also is necessary.
Further on in the letter, it is pointed out that Mr. Duke was appointed for the present session on 10th March, of 1925. He took up duty for the present session on 1st August, and had been paid his salary since that date in the usual way, as shown on Form 70. Table D., submitted to the Department after each ordinary meeting of the Committee. That is followed by a letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Department, in which he adverts to the previous communication and to the Minutes of Proceedings, and he says:—
I have to inform you that while it must be distinctly understood that Mr. Duke holds a temporary whole-time appointment co-terminus with the period of the current session, the Department note that your Committee regard his appointment as having been implicitly made by them in the financial provision for the third year's scheme of technical instruction as formulated at their meeting held on 10th March, 1925. In the circumstances and as this date was previous  to the date of the passing of the Local Government Act, 1925, the Department will not insist upon the application which would otherwise be necessary of the terms of Section 71 of the Act to Mr. Duke's temporary appointment for the current academic year.
On 12th December the Department informs the Committee that in respect to Mr. Duke they will not insist upon the terms of Section 71—which is the section requiring the declaration to be made—in view of the fact that Mr. Duke's appointment had been made earlier in the year. But in March of this year, a communication is sent to the Committee referring to certain doubts which appear to have arisen in the minds of the Department as to whether the section applies to part-time teachers employed by these Committees as well as to whole-time teachers. In that letter it is stated that: “The Department is now advised that part-time teachers are, in the circumstances specified in the first-mentioned section, obliged to make a declaration in accordance therewith.” Further on in the same letter they say: “Where this period (a month) has already expired, it will be necessary for your Committee, at their next meeting, to reaffirm the appointment or increase of emoluments, and for the teacher concerned to make and subscribe the Declaration within the prescribed period thereafter.” The letter concludes: “I have to add that the Department will not, after the date of this letter, be in a position to make a recoupment to your Committee in respect of temporary additional remuneration paid to any part-time teacher, from whom a declaration of allegiance is required, until such declaration has been received in these offices.”
Of course that is a direct contradiction of the communication of the 12th December. The financial consequences of that to Mr. Duke I cannot speak of, as I have not been informed. A further question arises in respect to this. The Ministry has laid it down that the servants of local Technical Instruction Committees must make this declaration in accordance with Section 71 of the  Local Government Act. There is no question that these Technical Instruction Committees are local authorities within the meaning of the Act as defined in the definitions of Section 1 of the Act. But the declaration which is required to be made by officers of local authorities seems not to apply to the teachers of the Agricultural Committees, inasmuch as the declaration has special reference to appointments being confirmed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. Inasmuch as these appointments are not confirmed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, and as this is the only declaration set out in the Act, there seems to be a fault in the Act. The local authorities in question are in a quandary, of their own making if you like, or shall I put it the other way, that they desire to put the Department in a quandary, and I think they are entitled to do so in the terms of this resolution. The Minister, acting on his own initiative, I presume, has endeavoured to alter the law, and he directs that officers of Technical Instruction Committees shall make a different declaration from that set out in the Act. The declaration they are supposed to make has reference to the appointment being confirmed by the Minister for Education, and not by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, as in the Act. It may be said that that is a legal quibble. I do not know whether the Minister has statutory authority for this course. That is a matter for the lawyers, but it seems to me that the obligation to impose this declaration upon technical instruction teachers is injuring technical instruction and generally damaging the whole system, especially the classes connected with the teaching of Irish.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: So far as I remember the facts, I think it was suggested that the so-called amended declaration might suffice, but I am not aware that there was any obligation imposed on them to take that particular declaration—the amended declaration.
Mr. JOHNSON: I realise that, but the Statute lays it down that a particular  form of declaration shall be taken, which form, obviously, is one that cannot be taken by such a person because his appointment is not confirmed, never has been confirmed, and is not likely to be confirmed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. The Minister suggests that if a declaration which is different from that in the Act is taken, he will be satisfied. Then we are brought to this position: It is not because it is required by the Act that a particular declaration is made, but because the Minister desires before he will sanction the appointment that a particular declaration of an amended character should be made. Therefore, the Minister is putting it to this Committee that they must require their officers to make a declaration not in accordance with the law, but in accordance with what the Minister thinks desirable. It is because he takes that view that I am criticising his action. I criticise that action because I believe, first, it is not required by law, and, second, it is detrimental to the interests of technical instruction.
Perhaps I would not be allowed to go into the question of the policy embodied in the whole scheme of oaths and declarations of allegiance, and I do not wish to do that. I say that for the Minister for Education to require all the officers under local authorities, working under his Department, to take a declaration which is not required by the law is obviously stretching what should be the ministerial function, and I think ought not to be the policy adopted by a Minister for Education.
I have said that he is not required by law to do this. If he were bound by the law he would be bound to insist upon the formal declaration in the section, and as that is not fitting to the case at all, because it refers to an entirely different Minister, one cannot conceive that there is any obligation upon him to insist upon that particular declaration being taken. I therefore ask the Minister, and I would ask the Committee to agree, that it is not conducive to the educational scheme that the Minister has put before us that barriers of this kind should be placed  in the work of his Department, unnecessary barriers, barriers that have no value and that undoubtedly prevent competent teachers from carrying out their work. I leave it at that, and I can only leave the matter for other Deputies, if they are interested, to raise their voices in condemnation of this decision of the Department to impose a declaration of this kind upon the teachers of County Dublin, and, inferentially, upon other teachers throughout the country.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: Deputy Johnson is, I think, referring to a circular issued some time in the month of November which states that a somewhat modified form of declaration would be sufficient. He argues from that that therefore there is no obligation on the part of the committee or on the part of the appointee to fulfil the law as it actually stands. It is quite true that there was a mistake in suggesting that the name of the Minister for Education should be substituted for the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, but it is none the less true that all officers of local authorities, are, under the Local Government Act, bound to make his declaration. For the benefit of those who are not aware of the exact terms of the declaration I will read out the whole section:
(1) Where after the passing of this Act a local authority passes a resolution either appointing a person to be an officer of that local authority or increasing the salary or emoluments of an officer of that local authority, such resolution——
The ...................................... (Set out the name of the local authority) having on the day of 19, passed a resolution appointing me A.B. to the office of ............................. (or increasing my salary or emoluments as .......................... as the case may require), I, the said A.B. do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that I will bear allegiance to the Irish Free State and its constitution as by law established and that, in the event of such appointment being (or whether such increase is or is not as the case may require) confirmed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, I will to the best of my judgment and ability duly and faithfully perform the duties of the (or my as the case may require) said office and will observe and obey such orders and directions in relation to such duties as shall lawfully be given to me.
(3) Nothing in this section shall prejudice or affect the operation of any enactment requiring the sanction or confirmation of any such resolution as aforesaid by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health.
Deputy Johnson has argued that because the Minister for Local Government and Public Health did not exercise any function in connection with the appointment of these particular officers that this section as a whole is inoperative as regards these appointments. That is not the case. It is quite true that so far as the bulk of the appointments with which this Local Government Act deals is concerned, not merely that declaration would apply to every officer, and would quite obviously apply, but it is also certain that even though the last portion of the declaration might not apply to an officer, still, the first portion does, and even if the latter portion is inoperative, there is no reason why the whole declaration should not be taken and there is no reason why an officer should be or could be exempt from making the declaration. That is the best legal advice that we have got.  We are advised that if all officers of local authorities, whether they be part-time or whole-time, within one month after their appointment do not make this declaration, the resolution appointing them has no validity.
That is the law as it actually stands. The most that could be argued was that if anybody made the declaration the Department of Education had no right to insist on that particular form of declaration. We did not. But apart from the declaration, I suggest that there would be nothing wrong in asking any officer appointed under us to promise to discharge his duties to the best of his ability. Even though there was a technical error in suggesting that the amended form of declaration would suffice, it is easy to understand why such a suggestion was made. The law does require such a declaration from all officers. Therefore, we are putting no unnecessary barriers in the way of the advancement of technical education in this respect. Whether they be teachers of Irish or of any other subjects under the technical scheme, they are bound to make this declaration, that is, the actual declaration as it stands in the Act.
I suggest that there is no reason why this declaration cannot be taken. It does not make nonsense to take it. First of all, they make a declaration of allegiance to the State, a thing that no loyal subject of the State would hesitate to do. Civil servants have to do it, and the various other officials of local bodies have to do it. That is so far as the first portion of the declaration is concerned. The rest, it is quite true, have to be confirmed by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. But if they are not so confirmed by him, there is no inconsistency and no nonsense in signing it. The declaration has a very definite, full meaning. That is the declaration that all officers of public bodies have to take. There are undoubtedly often, when Acts are passed, certain doubts as to their exact meaning. There may have been certain doubts in the Department and with some of the bodies as to the exact meaning of this Act. The point I know was raised, at one time, that this particular Section  71 did not apply to part-time teachers, but, as I said, we have been advised that that is not the case.
We have been advised that the legal position undoubtedly is that this declaration applies to part-time teachers as well as to anybody else, and unless the Act is amended we cannot get away from the fact that that is the position, and that the Act binds. As regards the alleged inconsistency about Mr. Duke's case, I have not the actual file before me, but, as well as I remember, Deputy Johnson suggested that there was inconsistency in the fact that Mr. Duke was sanctioned, and that that was inconsistent with the general declaration of 31st March. From Deputy Johnson's reading of the file the case was sought to be made that Mr. Duke was sanctioned, and was held not to be liable to this declaration because he was actually appointed before the Act came into force.
There were two difficulties in connection with Mr. Derrig. Owing to his activities against the State he was dismissed from the service in County Mayo, and there was, also, the fact that he did not make this declaration. Deputy Johnson argues that we tried to impose a different form of declaration upon him from that in the Act. My answer is that we did not try to impose any such declaration.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: No, Deputy Johnson did not make any reference to Mr. Derrig, that is quite true; but what he did do was to use Mr. Derrig's case which arose in the transition period. His concluding remarks were that he anticipated I might raise the question of the declaration in Mr. Derrig's case. If Mr. Derrig's enthusiasm for the strict letter of the law prevented him from signing what I may call the changed declaration there was nothing to prevent him obeying the law fully and taking the actual declaration. He was bound to know the law, and so were the local committees, quite as much as the Department. There was undoubtedly delay with reference to the  reply to the Committee in connection with this case. In partial extenuation it might be urged that during a great deal of the time this was under consideration there was actually no Minister, and that during the other portion of it, before there was a vacancy in the actual Ministry itself, my predecessor was, as it was well known, absent for quite a considerable time in connection with the Boundary Commission. I am pointing that out only as a partial explanation of the delay, but there were questions of policy raised in connection with this case even different from those that arose in the other cases.
|Last Updated: 16/05/2011 17:20:23||Page of 11|