Monday, 7 June 1926
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £33,975 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 Tuarastail agus Costaisí na bhFúndúireachtaí Eolaíochta agus Ealadhan i mBaile Atha Cliath agus Suirbhéireachta Geolaighe na hEireann, maraon le hIldeontaisí i gCabhair, atá fé riara na Roinne Oideachais.
That a sum not exceeding £33,975 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Institutions of Science and Art in Dublin and of the Geological Survey of Ireland, including Sundry Grants in Aid, administered by the Department of Education.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: The particular change in this Vote rather points to a Bill already referred to, which the Minister for Finance hopes to be in a position to introduce in a day or two; that is in connection with the College of Science. There is a difference of £13,792, which is due to the change anticipated that after the first  half of the financial year the College of Science will be dealt with under the Bill which it is proposed to introduce and which it is hoped the Oireachtas will pass. There is, therefore, financial provision made in this Vote for only one-half of the sum, and that explains the decrease of £13,000 in this particular Vote. Also, there is a decrease of £1,000 in A (10). These are the particular changes from last year.
Mr. JOHNSON: There is one question that I would like to put to the Minister. I do not suppose he can answer it to entire satisfaction on his own account. But it seems to me to be odd that under sub-head C the grant-in-aid of Irish drama should be under a different head from the grant-in-aid of the Abbey Theatre. I think it would be very much more satisfactory if those concerned would consider the advisability of bringing such a grant-in-aid under the same heading and the same Vote.
Mr. BAXTER: I want to ask the Minister in connection with this Vote one question. He informs us that a Bill is to be introduced in a few days dealing with the College of Science in another form. We have here an estimate for the staffing of the College of Science. I would like if the Minister would inform us if the change, the anticipated alteration by the establishment of the Faculties of Agriculture— the transference of the work from the College of Science which is to be dealt with under the new Bill—is going to mean a reduction in the present staff of the College of Science, and if it means the superannuating of any of the existing staff; or if it will in any way impose any additional burden by dispensing with this staff, and getting additional staff because of the proposed change to be brought about by the introduction of this Bill?
Professor O'SULLIVAN: This is a matter that has been before the Dáil for a number of years. The policy of the Government on that matter was declared two years ago. Since then the question of the future of the existing College of Science has been under the attention of the various authorities —University Authorities and of the  Ministry. Naturally, it was open to any of the existing officers of the College of Science to refuse to transfer, but I do not think that any of them have refused. They all have agreed to go over to the new system. I think that answers the Deputy's question.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: There may be a few minor officers who did not go over. There was one officer for whom there was no opening in the new college or in the existing agricultural faculties, but he had no tenure of office in the College of Science. Therefore, from that point of view, there would be no burden imposed on the taxpayers.
Professor THRIFT: I would like to ask the Minister, under the heading of the “National Museum,” is he asking here for the money required for the salaries of the whole staff? Is it a fact that the present staff is nothing like that represented here?
Professor O'SULLIVAN: This is what used to be the normal staff of the Museum. At present there are not three keepers; there are only two. You have in page 177, under the heading “National Museum,” an estimate for three keepers. That would have been the normal staff. But at present there are only two—the keeper in whose control are the general artistic side and the general education side of the Museum, and the keeper who is dealing with the Irish Antiquities. There is a vacancy in connection with the Historical Section. The posts of the two assistant keepers are at present vacant. Of the seven assistants, only three are at present functioning. Now, it may be asked why we have not filled up those posts. We do not wish to cause any undue inconvenience to the public, but a certain amount of inconvenience may have been caused to the public as the non-filling up of the vacancies may have interfered perhaps with the proper arrangements in the Museum. But before we proceed with the filling up of these two posts, the Department and the Minister for Finance wanted to be quite clear as to what is to be the  future position of the Museum—I mean as to how the Museum would fit in with our general scheme of education in the future. We thought it well that we should be clear on this matter before we proceeded to fill up these posts. That is the reason for the vacancies I have now referred to.
Mr. ESMONDE: I would like to point out to the Minister the extraordinarily low salaries that are being paid in those various institutions under this Vote, although we have no right to ask for an increase in the Vote. This Vote, Science and Art, is supposed to represent the efforts of the State to promote and defend culture and civilization in this country. When we look upon the Sub-head A (1) we notice that the salaries for all these officials are extremely low, compared with the salaries that are paid in other Departments. I do not know if the Minister has any means of remedying such a situation. In the National Library and the School of Art the salaries should in my opinion bear some proportion to the capabilities and to the general culture of the persons who fulfil these functions. Now as the State has become stabilised so far as the financial affairs are concerned, it is time that these persons should be paid a higher salary than they are paid at present. There is another matter that I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to. It is in Sub-head A (8) page 179 with reference to the School of Art. It is very essential I think for success and development in the School of Art that it should be supplied with the latest ideas from all countries, particularly with regard to modern ideas in decoration and so forth. I notice that there is a small sum of £350 allocated for the supply of a large amount of drawing and painting material, instruments and text books for the school library. Of course I am not in order in suggesting an increase in this Vote, but I would suggest to the Minister that next year when he tackles that dragon, the Minister for Finance, on this Vote that he should insist on a more adequate sum being provided to increase and keep up to date the National Library and the School of Art. The same thing applies  to the whole vote here. I think this Vote is not sufficient for the present financial position of the State. I hope that next year it will be considerably augmented. The sums that are now being voted are sums which might be voted in war-time or in times of great financial stress. They are not suitable for a country which is financially solvent, and which is on the threshold of further development in national civilization and national culture. I hope the Minister will be successful next year in increasing this Vote.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I want the Minister to deal with my question as to whether the officers in charge of the School of Art are whole-time officers, or are some of them whole-time officers and some part-time officers?
Mr. HEFFERNAN: I want to call attention to the fact that these are not whole-time officers, and probably they are not giving a large portion of their time to these duties. I do not think that  the Minister need be afraid that I would suggest that their salaries should be increased. I am not supporting Deputy Esmonde in that suggestion.
Mr. BAXTER: On what grounds then does Deputy Esmonde suggest that, inasmuch as these officers have been in occupation of their posts for a number of years, by raising their salaries now you will attract better types of officers? Does he mean to turn them out and pension them off? It is a good thing to have grand ideas, but it is another thing to have to pay for them.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: The headmaster is a full-time officer. The second master is also a full-time officer, and in addition, he is a specialist in enamelling, metal work, and jewellery. I think that the teacher in design and ornament, and the assistant master in charge of the general class in drawing are also full-time officers. These are the four full-time officers in that list. Deputy Esmonde referred, I think, to the small sum of £350 for the School of Art library. That was the sum asked for by the authorities at the School of Art. That might not be a good excuse, but it is a sufficient explanation.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: The Deputy is, perhaps, thinking that this Vote will  again come up under the College of Science Bill. Only the College of Science portion will be dealt with in that Bill, and the Museum, the National Library, the School of Art, and the Geological Survey will not come up then, so that this is the Deputy's last chance.
Mr. HEWAT: Does the Minister know that he is going to alter the heading, “Institution of Science and Art”? In the minds of ignorant people the College of Science is the headquarters, the general father-in-law and mother-in-law, so to speak, of all these organisations, and that college is about to disappear. That is why I say that this Vote is going to undergo a considerable change, or metamorphosis. In one's ignorance one would anticipate, perhaps, that the work of the Geological Survey is one of considerable national importance under the new régime. If that is so, one would like to know what exactly is the work carried out by the Geological Survey, and whether there is any real future for it regarding the development of industry and commerce. I would suggest to the Minister, from my point of view at all events, that the Vote under the heading, “Geological Survey of Ireland,” might come under the Vote of the Department of Industry and Commerce. No doubt, the Minister for Education would be pleased to get rid of any responsibility in regard to it, and I throw out the suggestion as a sort of bait at which, I have no doubt, like a hungry fish, he will readily jump. It seems to me that the importance of the Geological Survey is very considerable. I do not know whether the Minister, in his new capacity, has had time to look through all his departments and examine them critically in the same way as we wanted the Minister for Finance to examine all his accounts in detail, but as I am really in an educational humour, I would like to get all the information he can give me.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I do not like to say that this Vote should not be transferred to the Department of Industry and Commerce. When Deputy Baxter raised this question before on the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce  he was referred to me, so that I can hardly refer the matter back now to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. At the moment I have responsibility for it. There is a good deal to be said undoubtedly, especially in view of the future development of the country, for the suggestion that the Minister responsible for that development should have this particular Department.
Deputy Hewat asked what is the actual work of this particular Department. It is a very small Department, I will admit, and therefore the amount of work accomplished during the past twelve months could not, from the very circumstances of the case, be very large. As regards the allowance to the Professor of Geology for directing the survey, that was an allowance which was paid to the late Professor Cole. Therefore, at present it is in abeyance in connection with his work with reference to the geologicol survey. The field staff of this particular little sub-department consists of one senior geologist and three geologists. Two of the latter are employed in a temporary capacity. The post of director has been vacant since the death of Professor Cole. Like various other matters of this kind, the survey came into my Department some two years ago. During the year 1924 and part of 1925 the field staff continued the survey of the superficial deposits in the upper Liffey basin. That obviously was in connection with the hydraulic development for electrical purposes of the upper Liffey. In the Autumn of 1925 revision work was undertaken in connection with the Leinster coalfield. It had been undertaken before and the work had been interrupted. It was now resumed, and that particular work is being continued in the present session. One member of the staff is at present engaged, at the request of the Department of Industry and Commerce, in correlating the coal-bearing strata of Sliabh i nEireann with those of Arigna.
We have, of course, owing to the smallness of the staff, to concentrate from year to year the actual work of the staff on areas in which it is suggested that useful results from the industrial  point of view might be brought forth. These investigations, as Deputies can easily imagine, occupy nearly all the time of the staff, and anything of course like a detailed revision of the geological survey of the whole country is out of the question with a staff of that kind. It is true, probably, that in the original survey work, thirty or forty years ago, there was a little haste so far as the concluding portion of that survey was concerned. That was a matter that was referred to by the Minister for Industry and Commerce when Deputy Baxter raised this particular matter before. A similar type of work we have dealt with during the year would be an examination of the geological character of the district round O'Brien's Bridge which those members who were present at the Shannon debates may remember is one of the cardinal points in the Shannon Scheme. There were various other similar investigations, such as the investigation of some phosphate deposits in Ennistymon, County Clare, an examination of the barytes deposit of King's Mountain, County Sligo, and other small investigations of that kind.
Mr. HEFFERNAN: The Minister raised one interesting point, and I think an important point, from the agricultural point of view with regard to the investigations of the Geological Survey Department in County Clare in connection with phosphate deposits. Perhaps the Minister would be able to give us some information as to the results of these investigations and as to the financial possibilities.
Professor O'SULLIVAN: I have not that information at my disposal now. The Deputy has, I am afraid, an altogether too high valuation of my capacity, if he thinks that I can have matters of that kind in my head.
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