asked the Chief Secretary whether he can state the reasons which have prompted the Commissioners of National Education, Ireland, to close Narrowater national school, county Down; whether he is aware that there was a small attendance during last year only on account of measles, whooping-cough, and mumps having broken out among the children, and that if this school is not reopened it will necessitate some of the children having to walk over six miles to the next Protestant school; and whether he is aware that in the immediate neighbourhood there are 53 Protestant children under 14 years of age, most of whom will be inconvenienced if the school is not reopened?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that they have not withdrawn grants from Narrowater national school, but the question as to whether grants should be continued, in view of all the circumstances, is at present engaging their attention. The principal teacher of the school retired on pension on 30th June last, and as the average daily attendance of pupils for the year 1903 was less than 25, and as the school is situated at a distance of less than two miles from the Dromore-road national school, which is under the same management, it became necessary under the Commissioners' rules to consider whether a rearrangement of the schools in the district should not be effected. The average attendance of pupils for the year 1908 was940W somewhat less than that of the preceding year, but the Commissioners were not aware of any special circumstances, such as those set forth in the question, which had injuriously affected the attendance.