26 FEBRUARY 1972, Page 18

French professor

From Professor John J. O'Meara Sir: My attention has been called to the paragraph under the above heading in your issue of February 12. You write that 'in making the appointment the appropriate university authorities did not enquire about their new man's religion, presumably assuming that he was a Roman Catholic " (italics mine). I was chairman of the Assessors' Committee that recommended the appointment of Dr Beaumont and a member of the Senate that appointed him. On October 1, 1970, I wrote to Professor Ireson, one of the two UK Assessors: The only requirement we are looking for is professional competence: scholarship, teaching ability, adminstrative ability. There is no prejudice in favour of any particular religion" (I add the italics now). The Assessors from the UK for this and several other such Chairs can testify that this instruction was carried out scrupulously. One can overlook the other inaccuracies of your remarks on this topic, but this particular one in the present circumstances is seriously irresponsible and damaging. I ask you to print this letter in correction.

John .1. O'Meara University College. Belfield. Dublin 4.

From Professor E. M. Beaumont Sir: I was interested by the lighthearted comments on me in your issue of February 12. Your readers should not, I feel, be deprived of the most amusing comment of all, which is that I am not even a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. Moreover, Greek communities do not have "religious heads." There is nonetheless a serious point to be made. University College, Dublin, does not inquire into the religious beliefs of staff whom it appoints. There are numerous members of staff, including many heads of departments, who are not Roman Catholics. The bigotry exists, I am afraid, in the mind of the writer of Spectator's Notebook.

Ernest Michael Beaumont Department of French, University College, Belfield, Dublin 4