December 8th, 1930: Brought to book over librarian veto


BACK PAGES:Letitia Dunbar was a 24-year-old Protestant and Trinity College Dublin graduate when the Local Appointments Commission appointed her to be a librarian in Co Mayo in 1930. A majority on Mayo County Council opposed it, some for reasons evident in this extract from one of the council’s debates on the issue.

Mr Moclair proposed, and Mr Joyce seconded that the recommendation of the Library Committee be adopted. Both are members of the Library Committee, and supported the findings of the committee .

Richard Walsh, TD, said that, while not disagreeing with the resolution of the Library Committee, he totally disagreed with the discussion that took place at it in reference to sectarian bias. He wished to say, on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, that they had no objection to any party on the ground of religious faith and did not object to Miss Dunbar on the ground of her religion, or the educational institution she graduated from. Their policy was equality for all. While his party agreed that Miss Dunbar was rightly turned down on the ground that she did not fulfil requirements on the ground of qualification, because she had not a sufficient knowledge of Irish, he and his party would not stand for the real reason of the objection - her religion and Trinity College.

P J Ruttledge, [Fianna Fáil] TD, endorsed Mr Walsh’s remarks; but deprecated the introduction of religious matters.

Seán T Ruane, president, Connaught Gaelic Athletic Association, said that after all it was the resolution that counted officially. Miss Dunbar was turned down on the ground of Irish. The council would base their objection on the ground that Miss Dunbar was incompetent.

Mr O’Hara said that the committee turned down Miss Dunbar, on the ground that she did not know Irish, and it was wrong, and a fatal flaw, to introduce sectarianism. If they wanted to fight the Minister it should be on the resolution and not what was in the Press.

Mr Munnelly said that he hoped the Press would not retrace its attitude in order to relieve the Library Committee or the Government. If all other elements were missing at the next general election, the system of local appointments would mean the downfall of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government.

Mr Morahan, national teacher, objected to the methods of the Appointments’ Commission, and said that he knew competent teachers who had to retire under their methods. It was outrageous to say that in the heart of the Gaeltacht and the county of John McHale that a candidate without a full knowledge of Irish should be forced on them. At the risk of being expelled from the Fianna Fáil Party he would vote against Miss Dunbar on the ground of her religion as he was an Irishman and a Catholic, in preference to political party. Certain things had taken place in the North, and his view was that they should be given tit for tat.

Mr Campbell, solicitor, speaking on the Fianna Fáil side, said that the religious aspect should be left out, and the chairman said that it was his party brought it in for the purpose of the Dublin election.

Mr Campbell said that the resolution of the Library Committee showed that Miss Dunbar was turned down because she did not know Irish. That was not the real reason – it was on the ground of religion, and from that reason the Fianna Fáil Party wanted to be dissociated.

The full report is at

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