Thursday, 11 February 1988
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mrs. Hussey: asked the Minister for Education her views on whether the present allocation, of more than seven times the financial and teaching resources to English and Irish than to modern continental languages by her Department, is unsatisfactory in view of the impending full economic integration of the EC by 1992.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Irish and English as the two national languages are naturally studied by almost all pupils. They are both compulsory subjects at junior cycle and Irish is compulsory in the senior cycle. On the other hand, modern continental languages are optional subjects. In the event, they have achieved very high participation rates. In junior cycle approximately 170,000 study a modern continental language as compared with about 207,000 studying Irish and English. The figures for senior cycle are approximately 67,000 and 100,000, respectively.
My Department, as Deputy Hussey will well know, do not allocate resources to particular subjects: the material and human resources involved in any subject area are determined by the number of pupils taking the subject. It is therefore quite misleading to say that the Department of Education allocate to English and Irish more than seven times the financial and teaching resources they  assign to modern continental languages. It is disingenuous to include expenditure on the provision of English and Irish at primary level to show an overall disproportion between spending on the national language and on foreign languages.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Was Deputy Hussey? She presided over the system of education which I am very pleased also to further, particularly the role of Irish on our curriculum. I notice that, out of office, in typical Fine Gael fashion, Young Fine Gael are now proposing that we dispose of Irish as it is dispensable. I noticed the report in “Tuarascail” in The Irish Times of yesterday's date. Might I also say that I note the PD's draft — whatever it is — constitution——
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