Over 400 teachers to be axed from schools as cuts bite
EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn is pressing ahead with plans to cut almost 430 teachers from disadvantaged schools despite complaints from disgruntled backbenchers.
He has told Labour TDs that there is no "magic wand" to solve the problem as he brings in €76m of cutbacks in the education budget.
Mr Quinn has met a number of Labour TDs, Fine Gael TDs and principals of disadvantaged schools. During the boom years, these schools were given extra teachers, school book grants and support staff to break the cycle of poor school results and high drop-out rates in their areas.
But teacher numbers will be cut under the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) scheme announced in last week's Budget.
About 270 primary schools and 163 secondary schools will find out next month how many of their extra teachers they will lose. So far, no Labour backbencher has threatened to withdraw support from the Government due to these cuts.
Yesterday Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin threw the spotlight on new Labour Dublin North Central TD Aodhan O'Riordan, a former principal of the Sheriff Street primary school in Dublin, which is likely to lose some teachers.
"He has first-hand knowledge of the impact this decision will have," he said.
But Mr O'Riordan said yesterday that he was not going to follow the example of former Labour TDs Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty, who left the parliamentary party after opposing Government policy.
"You are always better off within than without. I don't think it behoves anybody to be grandstanding on an issue if they are not prepared to knuckle down," he said.
Mr O'Riordan said he hoped that the review of the disadvantaged schools to be published next month will help find "positive solutions" to the problem.
Labour Dublin South Central TD Eric Byrne said the IMF-EU-ECB "troika" was now calling the tune on the cutbacks.
"It's sad to see a Tiger economy plummeting to the depths it has plummeted. What in the name of God is going to happen next year and the year after that?" he asked.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday that the "unpalatable cuts" would be phased in over the next three years. He pointed out that the Government was still providing €15m in extra funding for disadvantaged schools and €26m for home school liaison officers who work with children failing to fulfil their potential.