Ruairi Quinn insists he won't be pushed out of Cabinet
EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has signalled that he will resist any effort to drop him from Cabinet in next summer's reshuffle.
And although he will be 70 years old at the next general election – expected in 2016 – the Labour veteran of four coalition cabinets says he intends standing again.
Asked about ongoing speculation that he will not survive the cabinet reshuffle which will follow the May local and European elections, Mr Quinn said he was going nowhere.
"I'm certainly not ready for the chop at all. I have a big agenda. I want to complete this project," he said of the job of Education Minister.
Asked about his intentions in the next general election, again the 68-year-old Dublin South East TD said that at present he intended to stand.
"That's my intention. If I have the health and the ambition and the energy to do it, which I have at the moment, of course I will, yes," he said.
The former Labour leader also insisted that, despite suggesting that the number of hours spent teaching religion could be cut in primary schools, he still believes religion is an important school subject.
"I believe that you cannot be properly educated without having an understanding of religion, and the force that it is, and the power that it is, worldwide," Mr Quinn told RTE's Sean O'Rourke yesterday.
Mr Quinn defended his personal view, expressed at a teachers' conference 10 days ago, that there was scope to reduce religion teaching hours to make time to promote reading and arithmetic skills.
He said currently religion got 30 minutes per day in primary schools, but an INTO survey suggested it got far more time in classes preparing for Communion and Confirmation.
Mr Quinn said that there was an increasing view that this could be done outside of school by the child's family or by the religious parish.
He also said he believed that the pace of handover of schools from the Catholic Church to other patron bodies was slow but the process had to be got right.
Mr Quinn also said the Teaching Council was now established as a registration body for all grades of teachers and would over time evolve into a regulatory and disciplinary body in line with other professions and their professional bodies.
He believed that gradually younger teachers would accept more in-classroom supervision of their work via video links and other teaching aids.
And Mr Quinn defended the planned revamping of the Junior Certificate into a broader system of continuous assessment which would also take account of activities outside the classroom. But he said there were no plans to change the Leaving Certificate, which had international standing.