Committee on Finance. - Vote 46—Primary Education.

Wednesday, 26 June 1946

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 101 No. 18

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Aire Oideachais (Tomás Ó Deirg): Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Tairgim:—

Go ndeontar suim breise ná raghaidh thar £40,000 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfas chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31ú Márta, 1947, chun BunOideachais, maraon le hAoisliúntas Múinteoirí Scoile Náisiúnta agus Deontas-i-gCabhair, etc.

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £40,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1947, for Primary Education, including National School Teachers' Superannuation and a Grant-in-Aid, etc.

Tá dhá aidhm leis an tairgsint seo. Ar an gcéad dul síos, tá sé dá beartú chun an Ghaeilge a neartú agus a choinneáil beo bríomhar san nGaeltacht. Dúradh roimhe seo gurb ait an rud é bheith ag íoc airgid le muintir na Gaeltachta chun an teanga atá ar a mbéal ó dhúchas do labhairt. An té adéarfadh a leithéid ní thuigeann sé ceist na Gaeilge beag ná mór. Táimid ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge a chur dá labhairt ar fud na tíre uilig. Táimid ar nós fir a bheadh ag iarraidh [2498] réimse mór talún do shruthlú agus gan aige ach sruthán beag uisce. An fear a bheadh sa chás sin nach ndéanfadh sé gach dícheall chun an sruthán beag sin a mhéadú agus a neartú san tslí go n-éireodh leis an t-uisce a spréidheadh amach ar an réimse uilig agus barr fónta a chur ag fás ar a chuid talún. Is í an Ghaeltacht sruthán beag na Gaeilge. Má théigheann an sruthán sin i ndísg ní fhásfaidh aon bharr ar an gcuid eile den tír agus caithfimid an sruthán a choinneáil ag rith agus caithfimid tuile agus rabharta a chur ann le go mbeidh dóthain uisce ann chun an Ghalltacht mhór fhairsing do shruthlú agus a bhláthú.

D'fhéadfaí a rá ar bhealach eile gurb í an Ghaeltacht dún deiridh na Gaeilge. Tá muintir na Gaeltachta istigh sa dún sin ag cosaint na teangan; agus nach bhfuil sé de dhualgas orainne ar mian linn an teanga a shábháil gach cabhair agus cúnamh a thabhairt dóibh agus iad a ghríosadh agus misneach a chur iontu. Aon duine atá dáirírí faoin teangaidh ní abróidh sé go mba cheart dúinn an troid uilig a fhágáil faoi mhuintir na Gaeltachta, go mba cheart dúinn a rá leo—“Tá an Ghaeilge agaibhse agus tig libh í choinneáil nó í ligean le sruth do réir mar thograíos sibh féin é ach ní bhfuighidh sibh aon chabhair uainne”. Níl sé ró-fhada ó shoin ó bhí droch-mheas ar an nGaeilge agus gan ach fíor-chorr-dhuine ann a thuig an tábhacht a bhaineas léi agus an iarracht mhór a bheadh ag teastáil chun í a thabhairt slán. Tá cuimhne ag muintir na Gaeltachta ar an am sin nuair a bhí gach bearna dúnta ar an nGaeilgeoir agus nach raibh sa nGaeilge ach “the badge of the beaten race.” Tá cuimhne chomh cruinn sin acu ar an am sin gurb ar éigin a chreideas siad go bhfuil athrú tagaithe agus go bhfuil meas anois ar an nGaeilge thar mar bhí. Caithfimidhne a chruthú dóibh go bhfuil an t-athrú tagaithe. Bhíodar ar feadh na mblianta ag cailliúint i ngeall ar an nGaeilge a bheith ina teangain dúchais acu—caithfimid a thaispeáint dóibh go soiléir go bhfuil ré na cailliúna thart agus gur ag buachaint ar an nGaeilge a bheas siad feasta.

Is móide de dhualgas orainn cabhrú [2499] eo a líonmhaire agus a threise atá na fórsaí ina gcoinne. Ar an saol atá ann faoi láthair is deacair cur ina luí ar Ghaeilgeoir gurb é a leas claí leis an nGaeilge. Tá míle rud dá tharraingt sa treo eile agus ghá mhealladh chun an Ghaeilge do thréigean. Caithfimid a dhéanamh soiléir dó go mb'fhiú dhó greim a choinneáil ar a theangaidh féin agus nach mbeidh thiar air pioc ar bith má dhéanann sé sin. Tá sé éasca go leor ag daoine a bhfuil Béarla agus Gaeilge acu agus gach bearna oscailte dhóibh dá réir sin a bheith ag clamhsán má tugtar lámh chúnta don Ghaeilgeoir ach an té a thuigeas an cheist i gceart agus ar mian leis an teanga a shábháil déanfaidh sé tuairim nach bhféadhfaí dul ró-fhada le cabhair a thabhairt do na daoine atá ag troid san dún agus a bhfuil an sruthán beag ina seilbh as a dtiocfaidh sruthlú na tíre uilig ar ball.

Tá sé d'aidhm, freisin, neartú leis an nGaeilge sa mBreac-Ghaeltacht. Tá fréamhacha na teangan san úir fós sna límistéir sin agus is fusa fás a chur fúithi iontu ná sa nGalltacht. Tá ceist na Breac-Ghaeltachta ó thaobh an deontais seo de dá hiniúchadh againn agus tá coinne againn le socrú a dhéanamh a chuirfeas borradh san teangain sna ceanntracha sin thar mar atá iontu faoi láthair.

B'fhéidir go mba chóir dom tagairt a dhéanamh do na rialacha atá ann i dtaobh Scéim an Dá Phunt. Cuireadh ar bun é san mbliain 1934. Is do pháistí san nGaeltacht agus sa mBreac-Ghaeltacht é. Caithfidh na páistí a bheith idir 6 agus 14 bliain d'aois. Caithfidh an Ghaeilge bheith ina teangain teaghlaigh acu. Caithfidh siad tinnreamh rialta a dhéanamh ar an scoil agus caithfidh siad dul chun cinn sásúil a dhéanamh ar scoil. I dteannta na gcoinníollacha eile sin, caithfidh na daltaí féin a bheith ina gcainteoirí líofa Gaeilge. Go dtí seo gheibheadh tuismitheoirí nó caomhnóirí na bpáistí £2 in aghaidh gach páiste a mbeadh na coinníollacha sin comhlíonta aige. Tá sin dá árdú anois go dtí £5. Sar ar cuireadh an scéim ar bun bhí 154 scoltacha cláraithe le bheith sa bhFíor-Ghaeltacht—anois (1946) tá 181 cláraithe mar sin.

[2500]Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Cad iad na figiúirí?

Tomás Ó Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  154 ar dtús agus 181 ansin.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Scoileanna?

Tomás Ó Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Scoileanna. Tosnaitear ar an bhfiosrú faoin deontas i leith scoil-bhliana áirithe ar an gcéad lá d'Iúil den scoil-bhliain dár gcionnsan agus leantar de go mbí an obair déanta, ach de ghnáth ní bhíonn críoch leis roimh dheireadh Mhí Meithimh, sin bliain i ndiaidh an deontais a bheith indíolta. Díoltar na deontais do réir mar thagas tuairisc an fhiosruithe isteach ó na cigirí, sé sin, díoltar na deontais i leith 1944-45 ón gcéad lá de Lúnasa 1945 go dtí 30/6/'46. Tá beartaithe deontas £5 a dhíol i leith na scoil-bhliana 1945-46 agus freisin é a dhíol i leith gach páiste a bhfuil na gnáth-choinníollacha comhlíonta aige ach an uas-teor aoise a árdú go dtí 16 bliana, sé sin, go ndéanfar an chéad íocaíocht i leith na scoil-bhliana a sroischeann an dalta 7 mbliain d'aois agus an íocaíocht deiridh i leith na scoil-bhliana a sroischeann an dalta 16 bliain d'aois. Dá bharr sin, beidh fáil ag na tuismitheoirí ar an deontas breise seo ó 1/8/46 amach.

Tá ceisteanna eile le réiteach fós faoin tinnreamh ar mean-scoltacha agus scoileanna gairm-oideachais ach níl na ceisteanna socraithe ar fad. Is éard atá ar aigne againn ina dtaobh ná an deontas d'íoc i leith páiste atá ag freastal scoile mar scoláire lae—cibé saghas scoile í—atá suite san nGaeltacht nó san mBreac-Ghaeltacht.

Má cheapann lucht na Dála go bhfuil pointe áirithe ba cheart a chur san áireamh agus go bhféadfaí an scéim a fheabhsú bead sásta agus ba mhaith liom dul isteach sna pointí. Go dtí seo, bhí freastal scoile riachtanach, freastal sásúil, agus an Ghaeilge a bheith á labhairt sa mbaile. tá sé deacair ag na cigirí labhairt na Gaeilge sa mbaile a fhiosrú agus is dócha go mbeidh orainn cigirí faoi leith a chur i mbun na hoibre chun dul isteach sa scéal go cruinn, féachaint a bhfuil an Ghaeilge á labhairt acu i ndáríribh agus más gá, dul níos fuide ná scrúdú béil a dhéanamh sna scoiltanach [2501] eanna. Ach tuigfidh lucht na Dála go mbeidh sé deacair scrúdú a dhéanamh ar an páistí sa mbaile.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Ní mar a chéile an tuairim a bhí ag an Aire i dtaobh na Gaeltachta agus na Galltachta i gcomhnaí. Nuair bhíomar ag cur síos ar an gceist seo i Mí Feabhra dúirt sé:

Ní dóigh liom go mbraitheann ath-bheochaint na Gaeilge ar an nGæltacht ar fad, agus nílím ar aon intinn leo siúd a abrann go bhfuil an Ghaeilge caillte don naisiún nó gur cúis éadóchais dúinn an teanga do bheith ag trádh sa nGaeltacht.

Anois, is dóigh leis ná tiocfaidh aon mhaith as an nGalltacht mura ritheann an sruthán so na Gaeltachta ón nGaeltacht go dtí an Ghalltacht. Sé mo thuairim féin i gcomhnaí ná mairfidh an Ghaeilge sa tír in aon chor mura láidríonn agus mura leathnaíonn sí sa Ghaeltacht. Cheapas go mbeadh toradh éigin ar an gcaint a rinneamar anso i dtosach na bliana ach is dóigh liom anois ná beidh. Ní dúirt an tAire go raibh aon mhaitheas in aon chor dá déanamh ag an scéim seo an airgid. Táim deimhnitheach ná héireoidh linn aon fheabhas do chur ar an nGaeltacht go dtí go gcuirtear suas coiste fé leith den Oireachtas chun cúrsaí na Gaeltachta do scrúdú chun aon rud atá á dhéanamh ann do thabhairt fé ndeara agus an fás nó an meathlú atá ar labhairt na teangan do thuigsint. Dá bhrí sin, níl mé sásta leis an scéim seo in aon chor. Níl aon mhachnamh déanta ag an Aire mar gheall air. Níl a fhios aige cad ba ceart dó a dhéanamh agus deineann sé mar sin roinnt airgid do scaipeadh. Déanfadsa tathaint feasta ar an Dáil coiste ón Oireachtas do chur suas chun gach aon rud a bhaineann leis an nGaeltacht do thabhairt faoi ndeara ó bhliain go bliain.

We are discussing an important question and we ought to be clear about it. I am taking up the attitude, on this Supplementary Estimate, that I disagree with it, because no thought [2502] has been given to the proposal, good, bad or indifferent, and no information has been given to the House as to what the result has been for the last six, seven or eight years, of the £2 scheme. The fact is that the number of children in the Irish-speaking districts who are getting the benefits of this grant is reducing every year, and the number of families sending children with pre-school Irish to the schools is reducing every year. There has not been a word of comment on that in any Departmental report for the past six or seven years.

Now the Minister, without any suggestion to the House as to what the result of the £2 scheme has been, proposes to increase the age at which children shall get this grant from 14 to 16 years and to increase the grant from £2 to £5. The idea came originally from pre-1921 days, when Irish people who were interested in the proper running of this country and in the Irish language had no power to do anything beyond taking a direct interest in the Gaeltacht and helping in a monetary way. Now we have the Fianna Fáil idea—suim mhór airgid, a big sum of money, which will be spent in order to help the Irish-speaking districts, without any thought of the situation there that requires to be helped or at what particular point the money should be applied, so that the people might live energetic, vigorous and progressive lives and keep their minds alive and the language—the instrument for expressing their thoughts—the shapely, refined thing it was. The old idea, born in the minds of people who had no power to do anything beyond offering money, was not enough. We now have the typical Fianna Fáil idea of a big sum of money to be spent, but no intelligent indication as to how it should be spent.

We have already discussed how we could help, through our Government machinery, to get a picture of the Irish-speaking districts and the problem that exists there, economically and educationally, in relation to the preservation of the language as the living language of the people. We discussed it in February last and I thought, in the end of the Taoiseach's statement, that there was [2503] something that could be done in order to get that picture painted. We discussed the situation again on the Gaeltacht Services Estimate in April or May. Now we get this proposal from the Minister to do a thing which, if it was of any use at all, should have been done originally. For 12 years the Government have applied a scheme by which children from six to 14 years, who attend school and who come from the Irish-speaking homes with Irish, get a £2 grant every year. If that was any good it should have been continued for the last 12 years, up to 16 years of age, and there ought not to be any inducement or suggestion to parents in the Irish-speaking districts that they could keep their children at home after they reach 14 years.

If the £2 has done nothing that can be pictured here in the House or in the Reports of the Department of Education, we ought to be given some indication why £5 will do what £2 would not do. The fact is, however, that the Government have no idea at all of what is happening in the Irish-speaking districts, or what ought to happen there. The Minister stated on February 22nd that there was a Cabinet sub-committee which kept the position in the Gaeltacht under review from every aspect. I asked him the following question:—

“Has that committee considered the fact that the areas are declining and that the language is weakening. Has it discussed that aspect of the situation at all?”

The Minister replied:

“Well, it has not specifically discussed that aspect, but it has been dealing all the time with the question of advancing Irish in the public administration and co-ordinating and making more useful the various Government activities.”

There is an urgent necessity to set up immediately a Committee of the Oireachtas that will be responsible for reviewing what the position in the Gaeltacht areas is, from the point of view of the strength of the Irish language and preserving it as the domestic and home language of the people, and also, the language of their [2504] public life. The Gaeltacht Commission recommended that that type of commission should be set up. What is necessary now is that an Oireachtas Committee should be set up for reviewing that position. They ought to have power to review every aspect of the Gaeltacht and suggest how money might be used to continue a vigorous Irish-speaking people there. That is a thing that ought to be done. It is because I think so, from my experience up to now, that I am going to continue to press the Minister on it. When we look back through the old files of the Illustrated London News, which in the dark days of landlordism paid a considerable amount of attention to Ireland, they provided from week to week no pictures of Irish conditions under the pressure of landlordism so sombre or so depressing as a series that appeared in the Irish Press dealing with the Blasket Islands. I ask Deputies to look at them. There is a picture of the Blaskets schoolhouse, but there are no children and the dog has no playmate. There is a currach that goes to sea no more because it is used as a roof for a henhouse. There is a picture of the Blaskets last spinning-wheel, and then one of a very old man who, hankering for the sea, is patching a rotten currach just for remembrance, so that it is not completely forgotten. There is a picture of the Blaskets Post Office, into which a radio was installed some months ago. Even that was out of order for three or four days recently. That is a picture of the Blasket Islands as they are.

When dealing with the Gaeltacht Services Estimate I put to the Minister the position in regard to the Blasket Islands on the one hand and the parish of Dunquin that faces it on the other hand. I said that there was not a cow that had not be brought to the mainland to be served from time to time because there was no bull on the island. There was a quay at Dunquin which was put up by the Board of Works and access to that quay was by a road going down the side of the cliff, almost similar to running a road from the top of the ceiling to the floor of this House. I stated that a storm injured the quay a couple of years ago [2505] and swept away a part behind which the currachs lay protected when they came in from the sea. I said that the cliff had fallen down on the road, and that a cow that went over from the islands had to be helped up the side of the cliff, but that on going back had to wait for a particular state of the tide. The cow had to be got over rocks in particular places and got into the currach to be brought back to the Blaskets. I asked that the quay which was put up by the Board of Works should be repaired and the road cleared. The place was bad enough before the cliff fell in. The answer I got was that it was a matter for Kerry County Council.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Was not that a matter for another Minister?

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  We are dealing with the question of giving £5 in order to preserve the Irish language as the spoken language in a particular district.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  We are not discussing a particular place.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I want to discuss the question of keeping the Irish language as the living language in the Gaeltacht. I say that it is absurd, simply because you can put your hands into the pockets of the taxpayers, to throw money to people, as you know of no better way of doing something for them, when, with a certain amount of discussion, things that would help could be found. There was a refusal by the Minister to do anything to follow up the work of the Board of Works that would help the Blasket Islands by giving the people a foothold on which they could land currachs in safety whether for fishing, for sending animals ashore or for their own use. I ask the Minister to realise that in the parish of Dunquin you had some of the finest land in Kerry and some of the best-worked land in Ireland where there was a vigorous, cheerful, hardworking and courageous people who could only get a living from the land and the sea.

As well as having the quay and access to it attended to I asked for a travelling creamery which would [2506] connect the milk supplies for Ventry and enable the people to develop production of milk and considerably help their agriculture. That cannot be done and will not be done and the Government's hands go into the pockets of the taxpayers and they throw to the children of Dunquin a few more shillings.

The Minister was very careful not to say that this scheme had done anything in the past and he was very careful not to say that his present scheme was going to do anything in the future, but it is up to us to repair in some way the Minister's omissions and to see what the Minister is dealing with here. I have pressed on the educational side for many years for a separate inspectorate for the Gaeltacht. The Minister introduces a proposal here to assist children going to primary schools and we get thrown in, as if it was a very difficult and very technical business, the idea that he may not confine the giving of this grant to children going to primary schools, but may extend it to secondary schools and to people going to technical or continuation schools. Why can the whole of the educational services of the Gaeltacht not be put under an inspectorate which will be unified and which will cover the whole of the primary and technical schools and any secondary schools which can be linked up with the scheme?

There is an educational problem here and a psychological problem here, and what could guide the Minister more in seeing what the problem is, from the educational or psychological side, than an inspectorate whose sole job and whose permanent job was to stand over the machinery of education in the districts which are Irish-speaking, or can be made Irish-speaking, and to steep themselves in the language and in educational work for the language, to be a true guide and true help to the educational machine in the district and a true guide and a true help to the Minister in ascertaining what should or could be done and what was succeeding or failing in bringing our people in the Irish-speaking districts the thing they want most, the thing for which they thirst most and the [2507] thing they are most prepared to receive, that is, the highest possible education that men and women can get?

It is, I suppose, because they have no education but primary education up to the present that the Minister has not thought of mentioning anything but primary education in relation to them until to-night, but when we look at the world outside we realise that even the machine tenders, the manual workers of Great Britain, are expected by statesmen, by trade unionists, by industrialists and by educationists, in their new outlook on these things, to have better than a primary education, to have a secondary and technical education, if they are to be made fit to be manual workers, machine workers or skilled workers of any kind in the new world that is coming. Here, in the Irish-speaking districts, we have merely primary education, with no supervision, except patchwork supervision by inspectors with one leg in English-speaking districts and the other in Irish-speaking districts. No wonder the Minister cannot guide us in any way as to what he is doing, or cannot be clear in his own mind about what he wants to do for these districts.

Since 1934, a grant of £2 has been given to the parents of children who, going to school with a knowledge of Irish and coming from an Irish-speaking home, gave satisfactory school attendance and were satisfactory in their school work. What we have to look at is what has come as a result of that. The matter was first touched upon in the Report of the Department of Education for 1932-33, page 36. The report says:

“In the Breac-Ghaeltacht only the older people speak Irish, and as these die out the language as a living speech is disappearing with them. In the Gaeltacht the language is still used as the home speech in a very restricted number of areas, but in over two-thirds of the Gaeltacht Irish is dying as the home language, owing to the fact that though the older people know Irish they cannot see any economic value in speaking [2508] it to the children, whereas the economic value of English is selfevident.”

Later, the report says:—

“Something seemed, therefore, to be needed that would bring home to every household in the Gaeltacht that there is a money value in talking Irish to the children, and after full consideration of all the circumstances, it was felt that there was no way in which this could be done except by the payment of a small annual bonus to the parent (or guardian) for each school-going child in the Gaeltacht or Breac-Ghaeltacht who clearly came to school from an Irish-speaking home, and who as a result was able to speak Irish fluently and naturally. In order to carry this into effect a scheme was formulated by the Minister for Education and particulars of the scheme are outlined in a circular issued early in 1934 to the schools.”

That was the initiation of the scheme. A year or so passed and in the report for the year 1934-35, page 30, in a reference to the position of Irish as the spoken language in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht, we read:—

“Do braitheadh go raibh géar-gádh le chóras d'en t-saghas san mar ba léir go raibh an Ghaedhilg ag meathlughadh i ndiaidh a chéile ina lán áiteanna 'na raibh sí 'na h-aon-teanga nó 'na príomh-theanga go dtí fiche éigin bliadhan ó shoin, agus go raibh an Béarla ag teacht i n-uachtar 'na h-áit...

Ar a shon nach bhfuil ach breis bheag ar dhá bhliadhain ó deineadh an Scéim do chur ós chomhair an phobail, ní misde a rádh go bhfuil athrughadh tuisciona maidir le labhairt na teangan tagaithe dá barr chun an phobail ins na ceanntracha Gaedhealacha, agus go bhfuil toradh foghanta cheana féin le feidhm na Scéime sin (dá ghiorracht é ó tosnuigheadh léi), chun an Ghaedhilg do chur fé mheas agus í choimeád mar bheo-theangain ins na h-áiteanna fíorGhaedhealacha agus í chur dá labhairt ath-uair i n-áiteanna 'na raibh an Bhéarla ag gabháil nó gabhtha lastuas di go dtí so, tá áiteanna 'na [2509] raibh an Bhéarla le cloisint chomh coitchiannta leis an Gaedhilg dhá bhliadhain ó shoin, go bhfuil an Béarla curtha ar ceal anois ionnta agus áiteanna eile gur fánach an uair go dtí le goirid a cloistí an teanga Gaedhilge ach ó bhéalaibh na seandaoine, agus anois tá an Ghaedhilg á h-úsáid go coitchiannta mar ghnáth-urlabhra 'na lán tighthe.”

The report refers in those words to the fact that this scheme was introduced because English was getting the upper hand in many Irish-speaking districts and that, although it was only a little while since the new scheme was introduced, an appreciable change had been brought about in the speaking of the language, that there was a great result already in bringing back respect for the language and in keeping it alive and that whereas, before that, in a number of places one heard Irish only from the mouths of the old people, it was now the general language of conversation in these places.

In the report for 1935-36, at page 31, it is stated:—

“Bíodh go bhfuil ceist aithbheochana na Gaedhilge ós cómhair an Phobail le breis is dachad bliadhan agus iarracht mhór déanta chun an teanga do chur san áit is dual di sa tír mar theanga labhartha na ndaoine, caithfear a admháil nár chuaidh brigh an scéil sin i bhfeidhm puinn le linn na h-aimsire sin ar mhuinntir na Gaedhealtachta. Is amhlaidh a bhí an teanga ag dul cun deiridh i ndiaidh a chéile mar ghnáth-urlabhra ins na liomatáistí sin agus an Béarla ag teacht na h-áit.

Ba léir, dá leanfadh an scéil amhlaidh sa nGaedhealtacht, go mbeadh tobar na fíor-Ghaedhilge imthighthe i ndísc i gcionn aimsire, agus do braitheadh nár bh'fholáir córas do cheapadh chun an dísc sin do chosc, agus ar an adhbhar san, do cheap an t-Aire Oideachais an Scéim seo, an Deontas £2...”

Then it goes on:

“An scoil-bhliadhain 1933-34 an chéad bhliadhain gur cuireadh an scéim i bhfeidhm, agus is áthas leis an Roinn gur féidir a rádh go bhfuil an Scéim seo ag déanamh a [2510] chion le h-éifeacht chun an chuspóir gur ceapadh chuige í do thabhairt chun críche, sé sin, an Ghaedhilg do choimeád mar ghnáth-theanga an phobail ins na liomatáistí 'na bhfuil sí acu go fóill, agus í d'aithbheochaint agus í neartughadh mar theanga i saoghal na ndaoine ins na h-áiteanna 'na raibh an Ghaedhilg ag dul ar ceal.”

It can be said that the year 1935-36 was the highest year for the number of children coming under the scheme. In that year, there were 11,061 children benefiting under the scheme. In the report for the year 1936-37, at page 23, it is stated:—

“Sar ar cuireadh an scéim ar bun bhí an Béarla ag brughadh isteach ar an nGaedhealtacht diaidh ar ndiaidh i n-aimhdheóin gach a ndearnadh go dtí san ins na scoileanna agus tré scéimeanna eile a cuireadh ar bun ar mhaithe leis an dteanga náisiúnta.”

Further on, we find:—

“Tá neartuighthe go mór ar an nGaedhilg mar ghnáth-urlabhra ins na ceanntracha Gaedhealacha de thoradh an chórais seo agus tá a lán tighthe 'na bhfuil an teanga Gaedhilge mar aon-teanga teaghlaigh anois dá dheasca, rud nach mbeadh amhlaidh mar a mbeadh an deontas £2. Sul ar cuireadh an córas so ar bun 151 scoileanna a bhí cláruighthe fé riaghail 121 (1) mar scoileanna sa bhFhíor Ghaedhealtacht, mar leanas, 64 i dTír Chonaill, 15 i gCondae Mhuigheó, 50 i gCondae na Gaillimhe, 15 i gCondae Chiarraighe, 6 i gCondae Chorcaighe agus 1 i gCondae Phortlairge. Ó cuireadh an córas so an Deontais i bhfeidhm tá méaduighthe go 171 ar an uimhir scoileanna san atá cláruighthe anois mar scoileanna sa bhFhíor-Ghaedhealtacht. Ní mór a rádh nach gcláruighthear Scoil mar Scoil sa bhFhíor Ghaedhealtacht go dtí gur dearbh do'n Roinn gur ceanntar 'na labhartar an Ghaedhilg mar gnáththeanga teaghlaigh go coitcheannta ceanntar na scoile sin, agus gurb í an Gaedhilg amháin, nó go háirithe gur fearr Gaedhilg ná Béarla, a bhíonn ag na páistí óga ag dul ar scoil dóibh an chéad lá.”

[2511] In the report for 1937-38, at page 25, we find:—

“Tá de thoradh na scéime seo go bhfuil an meath a bhí ag teacht ar an Ghaedhilg sa bhFíor-Ghaedhealtacht coiscithe agus go bhfuil an Ghaedhilg á labhairt anois mar ghnáth-theanga 'na lán tighthe sa Ghaedhealtacht agus sa mBreac-Ghaedhealtacht nach raibh á labhairt ionnta ach an Béarla sar a cuireadh scéim an Deontais £2 ar bun.”

Then the blinds were pulled down for two years on nearly everything in the Department of Education except statistics, but the statistics did not apply to the position of Irish in the Gaeltacht.

We come then to the year 1940-41 and at page 19 of the report, under the heading, “Staid na Gaeilge”, we find:—

“Scéim iseadh é seo a chuir an tAire Oideachais ar bun sa scoil-bhliadhain 1933-34 d'fhon cosc do chur le meathlú na Gaedhilge ins na ceanntracha Gaedhealacha, agus labhairt na teangan do leathanú ionnta le muinntir na gceanntracha san do ghríosadh chun gan ach an Gaedhilg amháin do labhairt le na gcloinn.

'Siad so na coingheallacha atá riachtanach chun an Deontas do thuilleamh:—

1. An páiste bheith 'na chomhnuidhe agus ag freastal scoile i gceanntar a áirmhightear mar Ghaedhealtacht nó mar Bhreac-Ghaedhealtacht.

2. É bheith 6 bliadhna d'aois nó ós a chionn agus beith fé bhun 14 bliadhna ar an gcéad lá de'n scoil-bhliadhain.

3. An Ghaedhilg a bheith á labhairt mar ghnáth-theanga i dtigh an pháiste.

4. Tinnreamh an dalta bheith go sásamhail.

5. Dul chun cinn sásamhail a bheith déanta ag an dalta ar scoil i rith na scoil-bhliadhna.

An scoil-bhliadhain dar chríoch 30adh Meitheamh 1941, an t-ochtmhadh bliadhain go ndearnadh an [2512] deontas d'íoch. Taisbeánann na figiúirí seo thíos, cé méid páistí agus cé méid lín-tighe a ghnóthuigh an Deontas i n-aghaidh na scoil-bhliadhna, 1940-41.”

Ag seo tuairisc ar an méid paiste agus líon-tighe a thuill an deontas in aghaidh na scoil-bhliana san —agus annsan tá na figiúirí againn, agus is fearr dúinn iad do chur síos ionnus go mbeidh siad tuigthe:—1933-34, 8,996 children; 1934-35, 10,226; 1935-36, 11,061; 1936-37, 10,969; 1937-38, 11,059; 1938-39, 10,870; 1939-40, 10,741; 1940-41, 10,752; 1941-42, 10,485; 1942-43, 10,154; 1943-44, 9,593. That is, that there has been a progressive deterioration in the figures as regards children from the year 1935-36.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Ní'l sé sin cruthuithe ó na figiúirí sin. Chuaidh sé suas agus chuaidh sé síos agus chuaidh sé suas arís ach d'islígh sé go mór sa deire—admhuighim.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Sa bhliain 1937-38 bhí sé 11,059.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Sin árdú.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Chuaidh sé síos an chéad bhliain eile, 189 agus chuaidh sé síos an chéad bhliain eile arís, 129; chuaidh sé suas sa bhliain 1940-41 11, agus chuaidh sé síos 267 sa bhliain 1941-42. Chuaidh sé síos 331 i 1942-43. Chuaidh sé síos 561 sa bhliain 1943-44, an bhliain deiridh atá na figiúirí againn. However, let us realise what is happening. In the first place, in a district, a broad, scattered district, where normally the families were large, the average number of children per family benefiting under this scheme is less than two. The Minister for Finance went down to Meath the other day and spoke of what the Gaeltacht in Meath and in the other districts throughout the country mean. He said, as reported in English in the Irish Press—the Irish version is there, too—that there has been a great change in the country within the last 30 years and that he was sure the majority of the Irish people would be speaking the language within the next 20 years. He spoke enthusiastically about the position in regard to Meath. The position with regard to Meath is that whereas in the [2513] year 1936-37 there were 124 children from 53 families benefiting under this scheme, and in the year 1937-38 there were 132 children out of 58 families benefiting under the scheme, in the year 1943-44, the last year that we have been able to quote figures for here, there are only 90 children from 43 families. That is Meath.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Is fuiriste é sin a thuigsint.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Is fuiriste é sin a thuigsint ach ní neartú na Gaeilge ansan é. We will next deal with Kerry. Deputies will find the information in table 8 of volume 8 on the Irish language—where it gives information as to the number of Irish speakers in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and in the Breac-Ghaeltacht in certain counties. In Kerry, the 1936 census showed that in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and the Breac-Ghaeltacht there were 35,024 Irish speakers. Normally from a population of that particular kind one would expect to find one-sixth of the population of the school-going age, 6 to 14, that is, about 6,000 persons. What has been happening in Kerry is that in the year 1935/36, which were the two years after the scheme had been started for which there was generally the highest figure, the figures for children and families in Kerry were 1,266 children coming in under the scheme, from 560 families. In 1941 there were only 879 children out of 409 families and in 1944 there were only 677 children out of 335 families. That was against a background claimed by the 1936 census of 35,024 Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht of Kerry.

In regard to Donegal, the census of 1936 disclosed that there were 43,946 persons, Irish speakers, in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht of Donegal in the year 1935/36.

In the year 1935-6 4,007 children benefited under the Minister's scheme from 1,942 families. In the year 1941 it was 3,725 children out of 1,855 families. In the year 1944 it was 3,447 children out of 1,794 families. That is, on those figures that for every 100 children receiving benefit under the scheme in the year 1936 only 86 were receiving it in Donegal in the year 1944. As I say, [2514] the background was that there was recorded in Donegal 43,900 persons and there ought to have been about 7,000 children in the Donegal Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht receiving these benefits. In Mayo, the census of 1936 reported that there were 43,287 Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht of that county. In Mayo in the year 1944 there were only 77 per cent. of the children getting the benefit as compared with 1936. In 1936 1,835 children from 760 families were getting benefit. In 1941 you had 1,411 children from 1,423 families. In 1944 it was 1,184 children from 645 families, a reduction to 77 per cent. of the children and 84 per cent. of the families. In Galway the census of 1936 showed that there were 67,276 Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht of Galway which would lead one to expect that there ought to have been about 11,000 children between the ages of 6 and 14 getting the benefit of this scheme. In the year 1936 there were only 3,659 children from 1,690 families. In the year 1941 there were 3,856 children from 1,692 families. In the year 1944 there were 3,540 children from 1,544 families, being 97 per cent. of the children and 91 per cent. of the families of 1936; but with a Gaeltacht background behind them which would lead one to expect at least 11,000 children there. In Cork, the 1936 census discloses that Cork had 20,570 speakers in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht. In the year 1936 there were 348 children from 167 families coming under the Minister's scheme. In 1941 there were 378 out of 200 families; and in 1944 there were 344 out of 196 families.

In Waterford, the census showed that the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht had 1,100 speakers. In 1936 only 180 children from 93 families were under the scheme. In 1941 there were 181 children from 90 families; and in 1944 there were 144 children from 79 families. You had only 77 per cent. of the children of 1936 and 87 per cent. of the families. In Clare where the census showed that there were 17,124 Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht you had in 1936 four children from 72 families; in 1941 you had 12 children from five families; [2515] and in 1944 you had five children from four families. If these figures are looked at, it will be understood why there is nothing to report in the way of progress in the recent reports of the Department of Education. But surely there is enough to demand some report, some account, some explanation and some suggestion in the Report of the Department of Education! When you talk about figures for the schools, even if these figures had been maintaining themselves under the influence of the scheme, and you relate them to the background of Irish speakers said by the census report to be in the Irish-speaking districts of these counties, then there is more than a school problem there.

I find it difficult to understand why a grant of £2 or £5 should be given, say, to school children in Dunquin or anywhere else and not to the Tomás Ó Criomhthain's and Peig Sayer's who are the real monuments not only of the Irish language but of the Irish mind and the Irish character, speaking in the traditions of the past, carrying back the mind of the race through the language, unbroken in its use as a vernacular and as a literary medium in these districts for over 2,000 years. We want to help the people in the Irish-speaking districts to have a vigorous and healthy life. We want to see that in modern days they will be able to preserve some of the character, some of the maturity of mind, some of the delicacy of mind of those who are conversant with the Irish-speaking districts which the older people appreciate so much and long so much to spread back over this country, as the Minister would like to spread the waters from the Irish-speaking stream over the rest of the country. Surely that is a problem. I find it a ghastly business to look at the pictures in the Irish Press to-day, to see the proposal before us to-day, and to see the Minister's approach to it. I say that this is leading us nowhere.

Speaking in February here, the Taoiseach thanked God that there was no aspect of the Irish question a Party question. It is not a Party question in this House. But this kind of blind procedure, [2516] without rhyme or reason, without looking at achievement, without looking at failure, but simply dipping the Government's hand into the people's pockets and throwing out some kind of largesse to unfortunate people who cannot make up their minds what else they ought to do is bringing the Irish language into disrepute and into a Party political position.

The Minister for Finance speaking in County Meath the other day said:—

“Is maith an rud go bhfuil Gaeltachta againn san iarthar agus i gCondae na Midhe. Tá siad mar `hedgehog position'. Coimeádfaidh siad an caighdeán ceart le go dtiocfaidh fórsaí na Gaeilge ón nGalltacht. Acht ní cheart dúinn fanamhaint ró-fhada leis an ionnsuidhe mhór leathan a dhéanamh ar an mBéarla nó béidh muintir na Gaeltachta báite.”

The Minister gives a grant to Irish-speaking children in Meath and to Irish-speaking children in the Gaeltacht and he thinks he will continue it to Irish-speaking children who go from non-Irish speaking districts to the Gaeltacht in order to go to school there. But, if there is this idea in so many people's minds that the Gaeltacht position is only holding out until somebody from the rising Irish forces in the Galltacht comes to their assistance, what is being done for the people in the Galltacht who are rearing Irish-speaking families in Irish homes, or as near Irish-speaking homes as we can get? My early struggle with the Department of Education was to get it to recognise that there were people in the City of Dublin maintaining Irish-speaking homes and bringing up children in Dublin with Irish as their first vernacular. We wanted schools in which these children would be accepted as coming from Irish-speaking homes. We wanted schools where Irish would be completely the language of the school, and Irish completely the home language of the children going to the schools. The Department at the time, the officials and the teachers, did us out of that position.

It is not a fact that an Irish-speaking parent in the City of Dublin, bringing up children in an Irish-speaking home can find a school to which he can send [2517] his children and be certain that the other children with whom they associate in the school are children coming from Irish-speaking homes. Although £5 per head can be given to children in the Gaeltacht in order to maintain the language in the homes, no recognition will be given here in Dublin to that fact, even to the extent of providing these people with a school of that kind; no recognition will be given to the people who are mobilising the forces from the Galltacht who are to march to the hedgehog Gaeltacht position some day or another. I suggest to Deputy Ó Briain that the schools he talks about are actually being destroyed and neglected by the Department of Education. If he is speaking of the girls' school, Sgoil Mhuire, or the boys' school, Sgoil Colmcille, the latter is nearly dead and the former is neglected. Why are we so concerned to-day about giving money as a kind of bribe to people in certain districts to speak Irish, while we will not give educational facilities of a proper kind to Irish-speaking children in other districts?

There are all kinds of things that require to be attended to. In my opinion, it would be much more important that the people in Dunquin, Gweedore or Lettermore would realise that there was a Committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas reviewing the whole Gaeltacht position from month to month and prepared to do it from year to year, with power to get information from the various Departments, to supervise the various Departments, and, with their information and an intelligent outlook, to visit the various districts and see that the economy of the district was looked after. It seems to me to be an insult to our intelligence to have to look at the pictures of the Blasket Islands to-day in the Irish Press and to have echoing in our ears the answers of the Minister for Gaeltacht services, however well meaning he may be, when they want the pier or the roads at Dunquin repaired or a few pounds to provide a travelling creamery from Ventry to serve the Dunquin area.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Ná fuil tigh nachtair i mBaile an Fhirtéaraigh?

[2518]Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Níl tigh uachtair i nDúncaoin. Does Deputy Ó Briain think that the Dunquin people have facilities for sending milk to the creamery?

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  They have the same facilities as dairy farmers all over the country.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  They have not.

Donnchadh Ó Briain: Information on Donnchadh Ó Briain  Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Briain  They have. I know what I am talking about.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  The Deputy does not seem to know, and if I am to get that answer I would like to get it from a Minister who has some responsibility for Gaeltacht services generally and not from the Deputy, however accurate his information may be. I think I am as close to the Dunquin situation as Deputy Ó Briain. I think it is insulting our intelligence to suggest that you can throw £5 now instead of £2 into a scheme under which numbers of families and numbers of children will be part of the living machinery, maintaining as a home language, the Irish language; it is insulting to our intelligence to suggest that you can throw money into such a scheme and neglect the economic situation. It would be well if perhaps even a fraction of the money could be spent for economic purposes. It would also be well to know that there was some kind of machinery here, with full Parliamentary prestige and authority and non-Party—that a committee like that was reviewing the situation and seeing that proper things were done. I think that is an essential thing before we run into further wasteful years, throwing money on schemes which, however good and charitable, are doing nothing to save the situation.

I will refer Deputies to the report of the Gaeltacht Commission, where there were recommendations that a special commission should be set up. I will refer them to paragraph 82 of the statement of Government policy on recommendations of the commission. Dealing with the recommendation that a special commission be set up charged with duty of seeing that all Departments carry out in detail the Government's policy with [2519] regard to the language in the Gaeltacht, paragraph 82 says:—

“With the objects underlying all these recommendations—namely that the Gaeltacht requires special attention from the point of view of its economic and industrial development, and that there should be a competent authority to co-ordinate the special activities of the various Departments in the Gaeltacht area— the Government are in complete accord. They have given very earnest consideration to the three methods outlined and they have come to the conclusion that the objects in view could be more effectively and efficiently secured by assembling, under the control of a Minister of State, the principal services, e.g., land purchase and division, fisheries and rural industries, which cater specially for the economic needs of the congested districts in which the Gaeltacht areas are to be found. An arrangement of this nature supplemented by a scheme of close co-operation with the various Departments responsible for education, agricultural instruction, housing, health, etc., will provide the special attention and coordination which is necessary, and will at the same time be free from certain disabilities which would unavoidably be associated with the setting up of a special commission.”

Fisheries have been divided from land purchase; rural industries are still connected with land purchase, but we are in the position that when we discuss Gaeltacht services here the Minister can repudiate that he is particularly responsible for fisheries or agriculture in the area. Whatever may be the kind of Cabinet Committee dealing with the matter, and whatever may be the special attention given by the various Departments to the Gaeltacht, it is perfectly clear that if the situation is to be properly reviewed and discussed in a constructive way you need to have now set up a special permanent committee of both Houses that will be given power to review and get information with regard to what has been done in the Irish-speaking districts [2520] from the various aspects of economics and education.

To come to the House with no proposal to review the educational machinery in the Gaeltacht, no proposal to connect up in any way primary and technical education and technical and secondary education, or review the educational position generally, and particularly with no proposal to join all together under a unified inspectorial system is not satisfactory. To come without any proposal of that kind and merely to propose an increase from £2 to £5, at a very late hour in the day, cannot be regarded as sufficient. The scheme to raise the school-leaving age from 14 to 16 and to ignore any position with regard to the child below six years of age, is treating a very vital and important subject in a most perturbed and almost in a degrading way. We simply have, in relation to a question of vital importance that has many difficult stages, a Government unable to make up its mind what to do, dipping its hands into the public purse, and throwing a few more shillings into the Irish-speaking districts. The Irish-speaking districts do not want that.

Gearóid Mac Phartoláin: Information on Gerald Bartley  Zoom on Gerald Bartley  Ní raibh súil agam go mbeadh gach gné de shaol na Gaeltachta faoi dhíospóireacht ar an Bhóta breise seo. Thagair an Teachta Ó Maolchatha do na Blascaodaí, a raibh scéal ar an bpáipéar fúthu inniu. Is sean-scéal é na daoine a bheith ag tréigean na n-oileán beag atá gar don chósta. Ní féidir saol iomlán compóir-deach a bheith ag na daoine ar oileán chumhang agus imíonn siad as nuair a fhoghann siad seans cur fúthu ar an mór-thír. Agus féach sompla Inis Gé ar chósta Mhuigheo Thuaidh tar éis an timpiste mhóir i 1927. D'aistrigh an Rialtas go dtí an mór-thír uilig iad. Dá mbeadh an chumhacht agamsa, d'aistreoinn muintir na Gaeltachta ar fad go dtí na tailte bána, áit a dhféadfaidís saothrú ceart a bheith acu as an talmhaíocht i leaba a bheith ag stracadh le mangarae de slite maireachtála: obair chladaigh, iascaireacht, bóithre, saothar na bportach is na leacracha agus pé ar bith cabhair atá le fáil ó na hÚdaráis Poiblí. Ach ní fheicim go [2521] dtiocfaidh sé sin. Admhaím go ndearna an Rialtas roinnt sa treo sin —chuireadar cóilínteachta ar bun ar an talamh maith. Is cúis áthais dom go bhfuil ag éirí leo go breá agus go bhfuil saol níos deisiúla acu agus níos mó de mhaoin an tsaoil ná mar a bhí acu ar an leic nó ar an gcriathrach thiar.

Muran féidir iad a aistriú go dtí feilmeacha maithe agus muran féidir lán-fhostaíocht a sholáthar dóibh san áit a bhfuil siad, caithfidh an Rialtas teacht i gcabhair orthu ar bhealaigh eile. Agus ceann acu é seo. Is mór an cúnamh é an dá phunt a mhéadú go cúig. Ach an taobh is ionmholta dhe an scéim a leathnú amach go dtí an Bhreac-Ghaeltacht. Mholas an leathnú seo don Aire go minic sa Dáil agus go príobháideach, mar b'fhacthas dom go raibh an Gaeilge sábháilte go maith sa bhFíor-Ghaeltacht agus gur mhór an claidhe cosanta uirthi an fód a sheasamh sna ceanntracha máguairt. Mar sin, molaim an taobh nua seo den Scéim go hárd.

Bhíos ag cruinniú sa bhFíor-Ghaeltacht le gairid agus d'fhiafraíos díobh an raibh a bhfuil ráite fíor, go bhfuil an Ghaeilge ag dul síar ina mease. D'fhreagradar is dúirt go mbeadh dóthan Gaeilge le fáil sa nGaeltacht go deo ag an dream a mbeadh suim acu inti, ach go mba mhór an t-ábhar misnigh dóibh agus go laghdódh sé a dtóir ar an mBéarla dá bhfeicidis níos mó dúthrachta is dílseachta don Ghaeilge taobh amuigh. Chuireadar i gcás dá mbeadh scannán cainte dhá léiriú i mbaile mór éigin agus na daoine ag plúchadh isteach lena fheiceáil. Is fánach a bheith ag spreacadh muintir na Gaeltachta ón taobh amuigh, ach molfaidh siad an dea-shompla.

Ach ní spreacadh na comhairle atá sa rud nua i dtaobh scéim an dá phunt, ach obair fhónta. Táim sásta go ndéanfaidh sé a lán maitheasa— suim airgid atá réasúnta beag. Mar sin, molaim ó chroí é.

Seosamh Ó Mongáin: Information on Joseph William Mongan  Zoom on Joseph William Mongan  Tá mé ar aonintinn leis an Teachta Gearóid Mac Phártholáin go ndéanfa an t-árdú seo atá dhá dhéanamh ar an deontas do scoláirí scol na Gaeltacht beagán maitheasa. Déanann gach uile chúnamh [2522] beag, nuair a cuirtear i dteannta a chéile iad, déanann siad maith.

Ach is é mo bharúil nach ndéanfa sé seo an mhaith atámuid a iarraidh a dhéanamh don Ghaeltacht—leis na daoine a choinneáil sa mbaile ann mura ndéantar tuille ina theannta, ar nós muilte a chur ar bun, agus go leor oibreacha eile. Is féidir go leor a dhéanamh má chuireann daoine a gcroí leis. Sin é an spirid mar thuig mise ón gcaint a rinne an Teachta Ó Maolchatha. Ná ceapadh duine ar bith gur grá Dia ná rud ar bith mar é an deontas seo. Ní hea, ach beagán beag bídeach den cheart a dhlíos muid a fháil. Tá a fhios ag gach duine sin: nach mbeadh an Teach seo faoin stiúradh a bhfuil sé inniu marach an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht agus an spirid ghríosuithe sin arb í an Ghaeltacht an loch as a dtagann sí; mar nuair a chuaigh an dream óg úd fadó go dtí an Ghaeltacht neartaigh sí ar an spirid a bhí iontu roimhe.

Níl aimhreas ar bith nó tá páistí na Gaeltachta níos aibí agus níos scafánta maidir le rud a fhoghlaim ná na páistí as aon chuid eile den tír; agus aon scoláireachtaí agus aon deis scolaíochta is féidir ba cheart sin a thabhairt dóibh. Ba cheart meánscolta, agus cuid mhaith acu, a bheith sa nGaeltacht agus tuille scolta gairmoideachas a dhéanamh ann freisin.

Rud eile, gach uile dhuine a bhfuil an Ghaeilge aige ba cheart dó í labhairt. Go leor daoine a ndearna an Ghaeilge fír dhíobh ní ligeap an uaibhre dhó í labhairt anois. Sin cathú mór ar an nGaeilge agus is mór an malldeireadh é ar an nGaeilge nuair ba cheart do na daoine seo bród a bheith orthu í labhairt. Tá faitíos orm, agus tá aiféala orm é bheith le rá agam, gur olc an sompla atá tugtha maidir le labhairt na Gaeilge le trí bliana fichead anuas sa Teach seo. Ar aon chor, má imíonn sí as an nGaeltacht níl aon ghnotha a bheith ag súil go mairfe sí ná go ngabhfa sí ar aghaidh in áit ar bith den tír. Tá an Ghaeilge níos láidre sa nGaeltacht ná mar bhí sí ariamh ach tá níos mó Béarla ann freisin.

Maidir leis an deontas sa mBreac-Ghaeltacht, ba mhaith an rud é dá [2523] dtugtaí an t-airgead don pháiste má bhíonn an Ghaeilge go maith aige, má éiríonn leis sa scrúdú a cuirfear air bíodh is nach mbeadh an Ghaeilge ag an athair agus an máthair. Ní móide go mbeadh neart ag an athair nó ag an máthair air agus dá mbeadh an Ghaeilge go maith ag an bpáiste ba mhór an t-abhar misnigh don pháiste an deontas a thabhairt dó agus, aríst ar ais, ba mhór an chúis mí-mhisnigh dhó an deontas a choinneáil uaidh agus gan é féin ina chiontsiocair leis. Anois ó támid as an gcoill agus sinn ar an réiteach maidir leis an nGaeilge, ba cheart dúinn go léir teacht le chéile ó gach taobh den Teach seo, lámh a chraitheadh le chéile agus oibriú i gcomhar lena tabhairt slán agus lena cur in áirde mar is dual di.

Tomás Ó Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Tá a lán ceisteanna tarraingte isteach ins an díospóireacht seo agus níl a fhios agam go bhfuil sé de dhualgas orm tagairt do na pointí uilig, ach ba mhaith liom a rá ar dtús nach ceart a thuigsint nach bhfuil aon rud eile ar siúl ag an Rialtas, nó in intin an Rialtais, le haghaidh muintir na Gaeltachta ach an scéim seo. Tá a fhios ag an saol go bhfuil a lán scéimeanna ann—scéimeanna tithe, seirbhísí na Gaeltachta, scéimeanna faoin Roinn Talmhuíochta agus mar sin. Tá daoine sásta deantúis a chur ar bun sna ceantracha sin agus tá líon mór de dhaoine óga a bhfuil cleachtadh acu agus a bhfuil tradition a bhainneas le cuid mhaith acu.

I dTír Chonaill maidir le cúrsaí tionnscail seo, bheirthear said toradh chomh maith—agus b'fhéidir toradh níos fearr—ar aon airgead a leagtar amach chun deantúis a chur ar bun sa chontae sin ná aon chontae eile sa tír. Táimid ag caint anseo faoin scéim seo a bhí ar siúl againn agus tuigim go maith an díomá atá ar an Teachta Ua Maolchatha agus a thaispeán sé nuair a bhí an cheist faoi dhíospóireacht againn cheana féin sa Dháil, faoin laghdú atá tagaithe ar an líon Gaeilgeóirí sa tír. Ar an gcéad dul síos, caithfidh mé a rá nach féidir, nuair a bhreathnaíos tú an scéal go cúramach, lán-muinín a bheith agat as na figiúirí a bailítear ó am go ham. Tá [2524] na figiúirí a bhailigh Coimisiún na Gaeltachta ann agus na figiúirí ón Daonáireamh ina dhiaidh sin agus beidh figiúirí eile ar fáil de thoradh an chéad Daonáirimh eile, is dócha. Ní féidir linn a bheith cinnte gur fíor iad agus go dtugann siad peictúir ceart dúinn.

Rinne an Teachta Ua Maolchatha tagairt don cheist agus é ag caint ar an scéal cheana féin—go bhfuil tim-peall le 14,000 daoine sa Ghaeltacht. Sílim gurb é sin an figiúir a bhí ann, ach do réir na figiúirí atá againn maidir leis an scéim seo, níl leath an méid sin ann. Tá an triobláid sin ann freisin dá ndearnas tagairt, sé sin, go bhfuil na ceantracha a bhíodh aontheangach, dá-theangach. Nuair is maith leo í do labhairt, labhrann na daoine an Ghaeilge agus cleachtann siad an Ghaeilge, ach mar sin féin iompaíonn siad ar an mBéarla anois agus arís. Do réir na bhfigiúirí atá agam anois, bhí tuitim sa bhFíor-Ghaeltacht maidir leis an líon páistí a bhí ag freastal scoile i mblian 1943-44 i gcomparád le 1933-34 de 16.9 faoin gcéad. Sin 17 faoin gcéad, beagnach, de thuitim, i rith na ndeich mblian ach má thógann tú na páistí a fuair an deontas £2 níl an tuitim chomh mhór agus atá sé ar an tinnrimh. Tá laghdú 11.5 faoin gcéad ann agus gidh go bhfuil an laghdú dona go leor, nuair a chuimhníos tú ar an tuitim sa tír ar fad, níl sé go ró-dhona.

Maidir leis an tír ar fad, taobh amuich de Bhaile Atha Cliath, tá tuitim sa tinnrimh de 15.1 faoin gcéad i rith na mblian seo. Gidh go bhfuil an tuitim go mór sa Fíor-Ghaeltacht, sé sin, 17 faoin gcéad i gcoinne 15 faoin gcéad, níl mórán difríochta ann, nuair cuimhnuíonn tú ar an scéal maidir leis na háiteacha iargcúlta agus na ceantracha an bhochta a bhfuil a lán daoine iontu agus cuid mhaith acu a theigheas go dtí áiteacha eile le slí maractaint d'fháil.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Ach mar sin féin, is tuitim mór é.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  I think I should refer to this briefly in English. A good example has been given in dealing with this matter in Irish, and I am [2525] glad we have shown that at some time, the national Assembly can also give an example, and that there is a sufficient number of Deputies interested in the Irish language who, acquainted with the Gaeltacht and its problems, are in a position to discuss it in our national language. I think that nothing could reflect more discredit on us an as Assembly, or lower our prestige more than to reach a position where we would only hear Irish on infrequent occasions.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  If we could only say sensible things in it too, it would be a good thing.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  That is just the kind of remark that does not get us anywhere. We can say precisely the same thing sensibly in Irish as in English. I want to refer briefly to the position about the decline in the numbers of Irish speakers. Taking the number of children attending schools in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, that is, the Irish-speaking areas proper, I find that between the years 1933-34 to 1943-44 there was a fall in the attendance figure of 16.9 per cent. During the corresponding years the figures for the country as a whole were 11.5 of a decrease, but if we take out the City of Dublin, and regard the remainder of the country as being more comparable, being in the main rural, we find there is a fall of 15.1 per cent. If we compare 15.1 per cent., representing the fall in the country outside Dublin, and the 16.9 per cent. in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht, considering that the Fíor-Ghaeltacht are the most isolated, most congested and poorest areas, the wonder is that the decrease has not been greater.

Apparently Deputy Mulcahy has it in mind that I should be able to justify this scheme by pointing to the fact, let us say, that there has been an increase, or that I should be able to give a picture—which I am not able to give —of increases in some measure in the number of Irish-speaking persons in Irish-speaking areas. I cannot give that. As I pointed out, the rural population, unfortunately, is declining. The numbers attending our schools are falling all over the country. Schools [2526] that had four teachers in prosperous areas—30 years ago or less than 30 years ago—have now only two teachers. That has to be taken into consideration. In almost any rural area that would apply. I think it would be wiser to assume that if we had not this scheme in operation the decline would be much greater. There have been no references, perhaps, to the scheme, or not ones that would satisfy Deputies, in recent years because of emergency conditions, but those who have visited the Gaeltacht areas, for example, one of my colleagues who spent a holiday in Aran was able to tell me that from his personal experience, and from what he learned there, Irish was being spoken again by young people going into local shops, where that had ceased before the scheme came into operation. I have heard also from the clergy, from inspectors and other persons, in whose knowledge I could have confidence, that an amount of good has been done in that way, and that where the Irish language might have perished it has been maintained.

Unfortunately in some areas like West Cork the position is very, very serious indeed. If we were to regard the figures given in the Gaeltacht Commission's report, as representing the real position in West Cork area at that time, and take the figures in the £2 scheme, and the returns made by the schools, we would conclude that Irish had practically disappeared in that part. I think the position has been that it was not so strong as we thought at that time—more than 20 years ago —and during that interval, of course, the daily newspapers, the radio, visitors, motor cars, and the amount of travelling has greatly extended. Even during the emergency, obviously, the very large numbers of people who left these areas to seek employment outside the country, must have reduced the numbers, and altered what must have been the normal trend in peacetime. With the ending of the emergency, the fact is that we are going to have normal travel conditions again, and a large number of visitors coming here whose main anxiety will be to get food. They will not mind even if they have to go to very isolated areas [2527] if they can get health and rest. There is a greater danger there, I fear, than there was from emigration during the emergency period.

I am hoping that the extension of this scheme, and the increased grant, will show the people of the Gaeltacht that the Government are most anxious to encourage the speaking of Irish in every way they possibly can. I hope we shall have the co-operation of all Parties and all Deputies. It is not a Government matter or a Fianna Fáil matter. It is a great national question, in which we can all do our part, and I am sure all Deputies would like to assist in the revival of the Irish language. But if we do not go to the people who know Irish, or who are in a position to know it, and to give it to their children in the Fíor-Ghaeltacht and the Breac-Ghaeltacht, if we do not preach to them the gospel that they should be proud of their native language, that they should cherish it, that they will not lose anything by making the acquisition of Irish, and the improvement of Irish by their children, a special qualification; that if they would concentrate on keeping the Irish language, at least, in the position it occupies in these areas, far from losing economically or materially, they will gain materially, not alone through their families, but in opportunities of employment that the young people will have later on.

The whole area will, probably, gain if, as we hope, scholarship schemes like those of Coiste na Páisde, and other schemes which, I hope, will come along, are set on foot to enable our young people, who have left school to go back to refresh themselves in the Gaeltacht areas. Undoubtedly, from the strictly financial point of view, there will be a very material advantage in the Irish language. It is unfortunate that we have to concentrate so much on that aspect of the matter—showing the people in the Gaeltacht areas that they will not be at a loss; quite the contrary. It would be much better if we could appeal and if we were likely to succeed in appealing to their sense of pride in their country and to their sense of what is right and [2528] proper. But there, as Deputy Mac Phartoláin has pointed out, our example is likely to gain more than our precept. If we ourselves give them a good example they are more likely to follow it and be guided by us than if we preach some doctrine which we do not follow out ourselves, particularly if we are people in responsible positions and people of influence in the community. I hope that we shall have the co-operation of all Parties and of all sections in this matter and that we shall not have—as the Taoiseach requested we should not have when we had this question of the Gaeltacht before us some months ago—any pulling in opposite directions. I think we cannot afford to dissipate our energies. We may feel that there are better ways of approaching the matter and better schemes that might be adopted; but, at any rate, this scheme has been there for some time. It is now being extended and improved. A greater effort will be made to extend it into the partly Irish-speaking, or Breac-Ghaeltacht, areas. I think that if the Deputies representing those areas would co-operate with us we would be more likely to get better results. I think that, as I said in the opening statement, we shall probably have to appoint special inspectors to deal with this scheme. There is the difficulty of having different branches of the service. I do not know whether Deputy Mulcahy has adverted to the fact that we have technical, secondary and primary inspectors and it would not be an easy matter to combine inspection under the different branches of the service under a small number of inspectors. But we have not lost sight of the fact and we have not come to any conclusion against it.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  What would the difficulty be?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The difficulty would be that the numbers of schools would be small in some cases and the areas are rather scattered. It would not be easy to group them together. There would be a great waste of time and great difficulty in transport in going from West Kerry to Donegal.

[2529]General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  But, surely, education—primary, secondary and technical —in the Irish-speaking districts should blend into one. Is not education up to, say, 18 years of age in nearly every country in the world blending into the one scheme? Could not we, particularly in the Irish-speaking districts, blend our educational scheme into one whole?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  It will take some time. At the moment the position is as I have stated. But we have not lost sight of the fact that the present scheme may give us an opportunity of developing along that line. The Deputy urged that we should set up a Committee of the Oireachtas to examine this whole question. I have explained already that a Committee of the Government has been examining into this matter from time to time and is examining it closely at the present moment. We are not examining it from the point of view of finding statistics in which, perhaps, we could not place very great faith—no matter how they were procured. We are examining it rather from the point of view of seeing what can be done, not alone in regard to the educational side, but also in regard to the economic side in which the Deputy is also interested. Deputy Mac Phartoláin referred to the question of the Breac-Ghaeltacht and suggested that there is a difficulty in parents availing of this scheme because they may not be able to speak Irish. As far as I know, the position is that if one parent speaks Irish to the children, and if the children have a sufficient knowledge of Irish to satisfy the inspector that Irish is their ordinary natural language and that they can speak it fairly fluently, they are eligible to receive the grant. I think that has always been the position. I do not know that we can go further than that. Obviously, one of the parents, or one of the guardians, of the children must be able to speak Irish.

It would be impossible, I fear, to have an oral examination in Irish for the thousands of pupils who would be taking the primary certificate examination. We can only rely on the inspectors to check the standard of oral Irish in the schools in the same way as they [2530] do in the secondary schools. It would be quite impossible to have an oral examination in the primary schools. The practice there is that the inspector examines the pupils to the extent that time permits. Whenever he is examining the teachers' work and inspecting the school generally, he takes the opportunity then of testing the oral knowledge of the pupils. I do not know whether the Deputy was serious in pressing the point about the Blasket Islands. Deputy Bartley referred to the fact that people on one of the islands left the island some years ago when there was a very big fishing disaster. During the initial period of my term in office there was one teacher endeavouring to carry on in the Blasket Islands school. The number of pupils was very small—certainly less than ten—and we did everything possible to maintain the teacher while there was any school population there. It was quite clear, however, since there had been no marriage on the island for a very long time, that the population was eventually going to disappear. At best, the population was a small one, but it was very, very important from the language point of view. So many other circumstances were operating against its maintaining itself that I do not see how the position that has now arisen could have been avoided; and it is not to-day, or yesterday, that the Irish Press might have discovered the real position about the Blasket Islands. I think they might have discovered it ten or 15 years ago.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I wish they would print a photograph of the quay and the road down to the quay.

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  The Minister for Finance has provided a transition development fund from which sums of money will be made available; and if local authorities and those interested in the Gaeltacht areas want to get ahead with road or harbour works, I suggest that they have better opportunities now while that fund is in operation than they are likely to have again for a very long time.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Why then does the Office of Public Works and the Minister [2531] for Finance wash their hands of something which they started?

Mr. Derrig: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Of course we have had these piers going on for the last 50 years. There are piers that are really needed, and there are piers that are merely ornaments.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  You could not joke about the Dunquin pier.

Tomás Ó Deirg: Information on Thomas Derrig  Zoom on Thomas Derrig  Isé an tuairim atá agam ná nach féidir coiste seasmhach de'n tsaghas san do choimeád ar bun. Is féidir coiste do cheapadh anois is arís chun bille nó ceist fé leith do scrúdú ach ní féidir coiste seasmhach do choinneáil le chéile le haghaidh na ngnóthaí ilgnéitheacha a bhéadh fé na chúram chun freastal cuibhe do dhéanamh ar an nGaeltacht in iomláinne. Bhí ceist ann fé Roinn amháin do bheith ann chun freastal ar an nGaeltacht. Dhiúltaigh an Rialtas glacadh leis an scéim sin agus sílim gur dhiúltaigh an Rialtas a bhí ann romhainn mar an gcéanna. D'fhéadfainn é sin a thuiscint agus ní dóigh liom go raghfar siar ar an mbreith. Ní fheicim cad is féidir leis an gcoiste a dhéanamh mar tuigeann an Teachta chomh maith liom féin go bhfuil an dualgas ar an Rialtas agus caithfear a chuimhneamh go bhfuil a lán Airí go bhfuil baint aca leis an nGaeltacht—an tAire Airgeadais, an tAire Talmhaíochta, an tAire Tailte, an tAire Rialtais Áitiúil agus Sláinte Póiblí, an tAire Oideachais agus mar sin. Ní thiocfadh aon ní as Coiste ach moltaí do chur suas. Níl mise i gcoinne an ruda mar sin féin agus déanfaidh mé machtnamh air. Tá súil agam nach bhfuil an Teachta ag ceapadh go bhfuilim i gcoinne aon ruda gur cosúil go dtiocfadh maitheas as don Ghaeltacht nó go bhféadfaimis chomh-oibriú na thaobh. Cuirim suim ann chomh mór agus cuireann éinne eile suim ann.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Ba mhaith an rud é go ndéanfaidís é agus ní thuigimse conas a dhéanann sé aon díobháil ná dochar don Rialtas dream mar sin do bheith taobh thiar de ins an Oireachtas ar fad chun aire a thabhairt don Ghaeilge. Ón eolas atá againne faoi lathair, níl an Roinn ag [2532] déanamh oiread agus i féidir a dhéanamh. Ní fheicim ann ach airgead caite amú.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Ní bhaineann sé sin leis an gceist.

Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  Níor mhaith liom go bhféadfadh an tAire a rá go bhfuil aon uisce faoi thalamh ar siúl agam nó go bhfuil mé ag iarraidh rud a chur treasna air. Tá mé dáríribh nuair deirim ná fuil sa chaitheamh airgid seo ach airgead coinsiais nó breab agus go mbeidh sé caite gan tairbhe. Is dóigh liom go bhféadfá i bhfad níos mó tairbhe a dhéanamh don Ghaeltacht agus é chaitheamh ar slitibh eile. Ní dóigh leis an Aire go bhfuil aon ní a chuirfidh misneach níos mó ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta ná a cloisint amárach gur cuireadh coiste fé leith den Oireachtas suas chun síorchúram a dhéanamh dhíobh go mórmór ar an gcuma go bhfuil labhairt na Gaeilge ins na ceantracha sin. Conus fhéadfadh an Rialtas a rá nach cabhair mhór dóibh sin coiste mar sin do bheith ann? Im thuairimse, do thabharfadh sé an-chabhair don Rialtas go mbeadh coiste mar sin acu ag faire ar gach rud a bhaineann leis an Gaeltacht.

Question put and agreed to.


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