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National Education (Ireland)

Volume 65: debated on Thursday 30 July 1914

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17.

asked the Chief Secretary whether any steps have been taken to reinstate Mr. Mansfield in his former position; whether the Commission of Inquiry which followed the charges for which he was dismissed did in effect substantiate almost every one of them; whether one of the principal officials of the Education Office stated at the inquiry that he could not find any rule of the Board which Mr. Mansfield had broken, and that he was therefore unable to explain or to justify his dismissal; and whether, under these circumstances, he proposes to take any action to compel the Board to do justice to this man, even though he has been the means of exposing the misconduct of the Board?

With regard to the first paragraph of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the question asked on this subject by the hon. Member for Mid-Antrim on the 19th February last. The Commissioners of National Education do not admit that the charges made by Mr. Mansfield were substantiated wholly or in part by the Committee of Inquiry. One of the officials of the Education Office stated in reply to a question put to him by a member of the Committee that he could not specify any special rule that was violated by Mr. Mansfield, but he did not say, as is alleged in the question, that he was therefore unable to explain or justify the dismissal of Mr. Mansfield. The Commissioners reserve to themselves the power to deal with teachers, as they may determine, who have conducted themselves improperly, and I have no power to interfere in the matter, although personally, and in the interests of primary education in Ireland, I should be glad if the dispute between the Board and Mr. Mansfield could be amicably arranged.

Is it a fact that the Committee of Inquiry which recently issued its Report was solely due to the charges brought by Mr. Mansfield against the National Board of Education in Ireland, and is it a fact that most of the charges were substantiated, and that the Committee condemned the Board?

No, Sir, I cannot go into that question, nor can I generally admit that the whole case regarding Mr. Mansfield was before the Committee. It is not a question whether he made direct charges or not. His conduct was condemned for other reasons. The inquiry has resulted in a very useful Report, and I am most anxious that the controversy should be brought to an end.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can see his way to convey to the National Board his personal desire that Mr. Mansfield should be reinstated?

It would be very easy to make the request that he should be reinstated, but unfortunately this is a matter affecting the discipline of the Board. I am using considerable pressure to bring about a result which it is desirable should be brought about in the interest of education.

May I ask whether the Committee of Inquiry reported that the Board permitted abuses to grow in volume until redress was impossible, and why, under these circumstances, blame should be attached to Mr. Mansfield for telling the truth?

The truth can be told in two different ways—I do not say by the same man. I am sorry that there should be this dispute between an efficient teacher and the Board, but I cannot myself control the Board.

I wish to give the right hon. Gentleman notice that owing to the unsatisfactory reply I will raise this question on the Appropriation Bill.