Dáil Éireann - Volume 321 - 03 June, 1980

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Corporal Punishment in Schools.

9. Mr. Horgan asked the Minister for Education if he is empowered to ban corporal punishment in schools at either first or second-level, or in special schools.

Mr. Wilson: The extent of the powers of the Minister for Education in this matter would in the final analysis be a matter for determination by the courts. I do not consider that I should offer an opinion in relation to it since I am not [1333] satisfied that to do so would be helpful in all the circumstances.

Mr. Horgan: Can we take it that the Minister's action in engaging in a lengthy series of consultations about attitudes to corporal punishment is such that he believes that he can in fact ban it if and when he decides to do so?

Mr. Wilson: I would hope that we would make progress in that regard.

Mr. Horgan: Would the Minister not agree that this whole process of consultation would be absolutely pointless if he did not think that he had the power to ban it?

Mr. Wilson: If the Deputy examines carefully what I have said up to now he will see that I want a consensus. I am working towards that in consultation with the interests.

Mr. Horgan: Can the Minister say when he hopes to achieve this consensus?

Mr. Wilson: I could not put a date on it.

Dr. Browne: Is it not a fact that the statute book is full of laws passed by us here preventing one human being using violence on another?

Mr. Wilson: That is true, yes.

Dr. Browne: Therefore, there is nothing to stop us doing the same in relation to corporal punishment?

Mr. Wilson: As the Deputy knows, both at primary and post-primary level the schools are not direct State schools.

Dr. Browne: The Minister is wobbling like a jelly on this. It is indeed a very depressing sight to see on such a clearcut issue.

Mr. Keating: In view of the lengthy series of discussions and negotiations which the Minister is and has been having, [1334] is he in a position to say now that he will have a decision taken on this issue within the term of office of this Government at least?

Mr. Wilson: As I told Deputy Horgan, I could not put a date on it.

Mr. Keating: So the Minister cannot say whether or not a decision will be made within his own term of office?

Mr. Wilson: I expect so, yes.

Dr. FitzGerald: Just kicking to touch.

Mr. Wilson: That is not my game.

Dr. FitzGerald: Well, what Minister's baby is it then?

Mr. Wilson: I said “game”, keeping the ball on the field is my game.