§ MR. MURPHY (Kerry, E.)
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, if he has yet arranged the question of the civil rights of national school teachers in Ireland, and what is the result; and whether, having regard to the nature of the proposals in his Irish Council Bill dealing with education, teachers will be free to discuss them without interference.
(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) In pursuance of the intention which I expressed in this House some time since, I communicated with the Commissioners of National Education upon the subject of their rules relating to the civil rights of teachers. The Commissioners have since informed me that, having fully considered the matter, they cannot see their way to modify the rules. The rule to which I chiefly referred was that which prohibits teachers from attending at political meetings and from taking part in elections for Members of Parliament or Poor Law guardians except by voting. The Commissioners inform me that these restrictions are designed for the real advantage of the teachers and their schools. The general abstention of the teachers from local political 582 quarrels has, the Commissioners claim, added materially to their usefulness, and the Commissioners are strongly of opinion that if a teacher should act as a partisan in a contested election he would incur great personal odium and the result would be most injurious to his school. Under the present system the responsibility in this matter rests entirely with the Commissioners, and I do not, therefore, propose to take any further steps in it. I have referred the latter part of the Question to the Commissioners, and am informed that they will consider it at their meeting to-morrow.