HC Deb 04 January 1894 vol 20 cc822-4
MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he could state what number of Catholics have been appointed to the School Attendance Committees of Derry, Belfast, Lisburn, Lurgan, and Newry respectively by the Local Authorities; how many Catholics are there in each of those towns; and how many of the persons appointed by the Local Authorities in each case are school managers?


The numbers of Catholics appointed by the Local Authorities are as follows:—In Derry, Belfast, Lisburn, Lurgan, none; and in Newry, one. The numbers of Catholics in those towns are respectively as follows:—Derry, 18,340; Bedfast, 67,578; Lisburn, 2,657; Lurgan, 3,895; and Newry, 8,815. In answer to the third part of the question, the numbers of managers of schools appointed by Local Authorities are:—Derry, none; Belfast, two; Lisburn, none; Lurgan, none; and Newry, none.


With regard to Belfast, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that at a meeting of the Catholic clergy the Bishop was appointed to act on their behalf in communication with the Board; whether the Commissioners have omitted to consult the Bishop, and returned only the most formal replies to his letters; whether, under those circumstances, all the Catholics nominated by the Commissioners have refused to act; and whether, with a view to carrying out the Act, the Commissioners will now avail themselves of the assistance of the Bishop?


The facts are as the hon. Member has stated—that is to say, the Bishop, I believe, was not consulted. The Catholic members who were nominated by the Board refused to act, and, therefore, those appointments have fallen through. I do not think that was the best way of setting up communication with the Board.

MR. BARTON (Armagh, Mid)

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not the fact, with reference to Newry, that while the Local Authority appointed persons representing different denominations, the National Education Board appointed three Roman Catholic clergymen and one Roman Catholic layman, entirely ignoring all Protestant nominations; whether, in the case of Dungannon, the Local Authority did not appoint one person representing each of the denominations in the town; and whether the Board did not appoint all their representatives Roman Catholics without a single Protestant?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has not been misinformed in saying that there was one Catholic appointed by the Town Commissioners of Newry? My information is that no Catholic was appointed. Is it not the bounden duty of the Board, in a case where the vast majority of a people are Catholics, to see that some representation is given to Catholics upon the Education Committee of the town?


I do not think I can be expected without notice to answer all these questions in detail, but I know there are cases which correspond to the description given by the hon. and learned Member. The reason assigned by the National Board for their nomination of persons representing one sect arose from their laudable desire to have minorities represented; and if the Local Authorities nominated persons of only one persuasion it was, I take it, the duty of the Board to redress the balance.