HC Deb 06 March 1906 vol 153 cc309-11

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, in May, 1904, the Donegal Committee of Agriculture advertised for and appointed two ladies, natives of county Donegal, Miss O'Malley and Miss McMenomin, to the positions of instructresses in butter making, but that the Department of Agriculture refused to sanction these appointments on the sole ground that these ladies, whose qualifications were of the highest, were natives of the county in which their duties as instructresses would be performed; whether he is aware that, in consequence of this action of the Department, the Committee have refused to put the agricultural schemes in operation, to the detriment of agricultural instruction in the county, and that for upwards of two years the deadlock caused by the attitude of the Department has been productive of discontent; and what steps, if any, does the Government propose to take with a view to the prevention by the Department of natives of county Donegal from filling appointments in that county conferred on them by the Donegal Committee, and for which their qualifications are unquestionable.


It is the fact that the ladies named in the Question were selected for the positions mentioned by the Donegal Committee, and that the appointments were not sanctioned by the Department of Agriculture, and that the County Committee have in consequence refused to put the butter making scheme into operation in the county. Other schemes, however, are in operation in the county. I am informed that when the Department offered the ladies in question an opportunity of being examined to show their fitness for appointments elsewhere, only one attended and she failed to pass. It has been the view of the Department that, in order to avoid undue local influences or favouritism, and for other reasons, instructors should not, as a rule, be employed in the counties to which they belong; and the Council of Agriculture, representing the Committee of the County Councils throughout Ireland, has never expressed disapproval of this view.

* MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)

I observe that the right hon. Gentleman says that the Department considers that "as a rule" instructors should not be employed in the counties to which they belong. Seeing that profound dissatisfaction has been caused in Donegal by the action of the Department cannot the right hon. Gentleman say that this is a case in which exception might be made?


Of course I am willing to consider any questions that may be brought to my notice, but I am bound to say that the rule, as far as I can judge, appears to be one which should be observed.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Donegal Committee offered a compromise and suggested that the lady for East Donegal should be allowed to act in West Donegal. As it is a large county will the right hon. Gentleman accept that?

MR. KILBRIDE (Kildare, S.)

Is this policy of refusing to employ natives in their own country the reason for the Agricultural Board's employing so many Scotchmen?

MR. FLAVIN (Kerry. N.)

Is the Tight hon. Gentleman aware that the Kerry Committee have unanimously refused to accept the instructions of the Department because of this rule?


I have not heard that.


It is so.


Let the Agricultural Department overhaul this rule.