HC Deb 23 November 1911 vol 31 cc1356-7

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he is aware that of fifteen county councils who have allocated sixty-two university scholarships, of an aggregate annual value of about £2,750, all except three have stipulated that these scholarships shall be tenable only at the National (Roman Catholic) University, or at one of its constituent colleges, and that Irish shall be a compulsory subject; if he is aware that the effect of these conditions is to exclude practically all Protestant students from any benefit from these scholarships, the cost of which is defrayed out of the public rates, to which Protestants contribute; and if, in view of the terms of the Irish Universities Act, 1908, he will take steps to prevent Protestant students being penalised, and Trinity College and Belfast University being boycotted, in connection with these scholarships?


Under Section 9 of the Irish Universities Act, county councils may assist by scholarships students at any university in Ireland, but no grant under the Section may be subject to any religious qualifications. While the limitation of scholarships to the National University does not exclude Protestant students, it would be more in keeping with the spirit of the Act if it were left to the student to select his university. As I have already stated in the House, I expect shortly to be in a position to establish a scheme whereby clever boys may be enabled to pass from primary to secondary schools, and ultimately to compete for scholarships at the university, and I hope that the county councils will help to make the scheme possible by dispensing with any restriction such as that to which exception is taken, not unreasonably, in the question.


Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the action of the county councils as to the allocation of these scholarships is calculated to give confidence to Protestants under a Home Rule Parliament?


It is very difficult for me to say what measure of confidence would be placed in it.