TEACHER unions have hit back at Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin after he promised to sack bad teachers and other poor performers in the public sector.
They are taking particular issue with Mr Howlin's claim that current procedures to dismiss and discipline teachers aren't good enough.
A spokeswoman for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland ( ASTI) said: "This is the first we've heard of it. We're not aware at all of any problems with the procedures put in place in the last couple of years."
Mr Howlin told yesterday's Irish Independent it is "not acceptable" if parents have to get grinds for their children because the teacher of a subject isn't good enough. He said there were problems disciplining and dismissing teachers despite new procedures that were put in place three years ago.
The current system was introduced for the start of the school year in 2009. It brought in a tiered disciplinary system to deal with teachers who are underperforming.
The disciplinary process begins informally between a teacher and principal, and if it is not resolved it moves on to the school's board of management and then to Department of Education inspectors.
It is only at the end of this process that a decision can be made by the school's board of management, and sanctions can include the deferral of pay increments, suspension with or without pay and dismissal.
Mr Howlin claimed these procedures are not good enough, and that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn had come to an understanding with the teaching unions on this, although the ASTI disputes this.
Pat King, general secretary of the ASTI, says teachers are disciplined for not performing, and insisted the current system is satisfactory.