The Minister for Ed. V O.J. (Flanagan) 1967

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Posted by JDP on January 31, 2001 at 08:47:50:

The fee to enter St Gerald`s Academy for Young Gentlemen was £18 in 1966.
`67 saw the introduction of free education for all, resulting in the yellow buses ferrying scores of pupils from outlying areas to the three schools in town. Prefabs appeared overnight, encroaching on recreation ares, to house the burgeoning numbers. First years were divided into two streams. This was the start of a new era in Irish Education , initiated by the then minister, Donogh O`Malley R.I.P.
`67 also saw the introduction of new curricula, but the new curriculum for Inter Cert English proved too much for O.J. Flanagan T.D. and he was forced to "raise " the issue in the Dáil.
The Dáil exchanges began when O.J. informed the Min. that he had received complaints from parents about a textbook , " An Anthology of Short Stories" introduced by the Dept of Ed.. The Min. replied that he was happy with the anthology and pointed out that it was approved be eminent educationalists including clerics. O.J.remained unsatisfied and raised the matter again and this time came with armed with examples.
This passage from "Guests of the Nation" by Frank O`Connor was read to the Dáil.

"The capitalists pay the priests to tell us about the next world so that you won`t notice what the bastards are up to in this.

Just as a man makes a home of a bleeding place, some bastard at headquarters thinks you`re too cushy and shunts you off.

Give him his first. I don`t mind. Poor bastard, we don`t know what is happening to him now,"

Also the expressions, " Ah, for Christ`s sake"," " Poor bugger" and " Then , by God" were considered offensive.
O.J. then read two paragraphs from another short story in the anthology which he founf " most offensive"

"She sat up. Stephen was a hot lump of sleep, lazy thing. The Dark Walk would be full of little scraps of moon. She leapt up and looked out the window, and somehow it was not so lightsome now that she saw the dim mountains far away and the black firs against the breathing land and heard a dog say bark- bark. Quietly she lifted an ewer of water and climbed out the window and scuttled along the cool but cruel gravel down the maw of the tunnel.
Her pyjamas were very short so that when she splashed water, it wet her ankles. She peered into the tunnel. Something alive rustled inside there. She raced in, and up and down she raced, and flurried and cried aloud, "Oh , gosh, I can`t fit it" and then at last she did. Kneeling down in the damp she put her hand into the slimey hole. When the body lashed, they were both mad with fright. But she gripped him and shoved him into the ewer and raced , with her teeth ground, out to the other end of the tunnel and down the steep path to the river`s edge."

O.J. went on to lambast the anthology generally and asked the Min. to see to it that no suggestive material or vulgar language appeared in future anthologies !. The Min asked if O.J. had read the whole of the story he had quoted from. " From cover to cover" came the reply. Then the Minister let fly.

O`Malley: The saying: `Honi soit qui mal y pense` was never so appropriate as it is tonight. Does the Deputy, if he has read the story, realise that it is his own vivid and excitable imagination....
O.J. : No. Parents have written to me.
O`Malley: I would also point out to the Deputy that if he had read the story he would that this young girl is going into the tunnel to catch a trout and not to catch anything else. If these ideas which the Deputy is putting into Irish minds, which no doubt, as on the last occasion, will be widely published in tomorrow`s papers, are all he can find in O`Faoláin`s "The Trout", which has been described as the finest story of O`Faoláin, then I can only say "God help us", and it is a very lucky thing that O`Faoláin and O`Connor cannot combine to write a story on the proceedings here tonight and on the last day. I know that Deputy Flanagan has ambitions in another sphere and that perhaps one day he hopes to be leader of the Knights. ( interruptions). If that is so, I agree that Deputy Flanagan is quite entitled to aspire to such a great office, though anyone using the Catholic Church for his own material or other advancement makes me vomit. I think Our Divine Lord will have certain ideas Himself on these things, because if there was one thing about Our Divine Lord, it was that he could not tolerate hypocrisy in any form.

The Minister went on to deal with the objections to some of the expressions quoted from the anthology. He pointed out that some of these words, when proceeded by the word "poor", expressed sympathy. Then this wxchange took place:

O`Malley: I think the Deputy will agree that. In the south of Ireland, if one said: "John fell down a cliff and the poor hoor was killed"--
O.J.: If he is a poor bastard or a poor hoor, he is still a bastard or a hoor.
O`Malley: If Deputy Flanagan were down in the south of Ireland at a bye-election, pulled up at the side of the road and was told " John fell down a cliff and the poor hoor was killed"--
O.J.: I would say "Lord have mercy on him"
O`Malley: The Deputy would rightly say : " The Lord have mercy on him". He would not start slagging him for using that type of language. He would say: The poor hoor, Lord have mercy on him".
O.J.: I would not. I would leave out "poor hoor". I do not care for that type of language

The pleasantries ended with the Minister again defending the short story described by the Deputy as " suggestive" He concluded with another reference to Deputy Flanagan`s state of mind;
"If the mentality of Deputy Flanagan is like that of the unfortunate girl who went into a tunnel to catch a trout and to catch nothing else, the Lord have mercy on us all"
And all anyone could possibly say to that , even at this late stage, is: Amen.

Note. The anthology was in use for many years thereafter. The "Dáil" is the Irish parliamentary chamber. We have come a long way since 1967- at least a hundred years. Women no longer no their place! We even elected two women presidents! God help us all. Have a nice day.

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