§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's County, Ossory)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he is aware that the population in Irish-speaking districts who do not speak, or who are most imperfectly acquainted with, English, amounts to 1478 about one-fifth of the nation; whether he is aware that pupils in National Schools are not allowed to be taught Irish during school hours; whether result fees are only paid for pupils of the Fifth and Sixth Classes, while very few pupils remain at school long enough to attend these classes; whether Inspectors without a knowledge of Irish are appointed as Examiners in Irish-speaking districts; and, whether he will use his influence to secure that the Irish language may have as good a chance of preservation as the Welsh?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
The hon. Member will, perhaps, allow me to refer him to an important Paper which was laid on the Table of the House in 1884 (No. 81 of the first Session of that year), and which shows, I think, among other things, that he is mistaken as to the proportion of the population who can properly be called Irish-speaking. I may say, however that the Commissioners of National Education give greater encouragement to the study of Irish than the Education Department here do to the study of Welsh; and they are persuaded that in this matter they have reached a limit beyond which it would not be advisable to go. The Commissioners state that they find no difficulty in conducting the examinations by thoroughly competent persons whenever classes are formed.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
asked, if, between this and the time when the Irish Education Vote was brought in, the right hon. Gentleman would consider the advisability of extending to Ireland or adopting in Ireland provisions analogous to those in the Scotch Education Code with regard to the Gaelic-speaking population?
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W., and Sligo, S.)
asked, if the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the allegations of the Commissioners had been contested in a paper published by the Gaelic Union?