Video: 'This was not a troika call, it was the Government's'
Published 25/10/2012 | 05:00
MORE than 2,000 teachers have protested at the Dail over government cutbacks to education and cuts to their pay.
The teachers and many students of teaching rallied on Kildare Street to protest about cuts to their salaries.
in 2011, salaries for new teachers were cut by 13pc and those appointed after January 31 this year faced a further 20pc drop in pay due to the abolition of qualification allowances.
In three years the wages of new entrants to the profession have dropped from almost €41,000 annually to just over €32,000.
There were placards proclaiming 'Unequal Rate? Refuse to Educate', and 'If You Think Education Is Expensive, Try Ignorance'.
And both on the stage set up for speeches and among the protesters amassed along Molesworth Street words like "unfair" and "unjust" cropped up time and again.
"It's very unfair that we're doing the same work as our colleagues, but for less pay," said Sarah Smullen, a first-year student at the Froebel College in Dublin.
Sarah, who commutes to college from her home in Edenderry, Co Offaly, added: "There's a feeling that the situation isn't going to get any better, so we need to stand up for ourselves".
And this was a view echoed by several speakers.
INTO president Anne Fay said: "We are telling the Government that there is no room to further cut funding.
"Education funding has fallen off a cliff in recent years while the system is coping with more and more pupils every year."
She added that the cuts were "not a troika decision, they were a government decision and we will overturn it".
There was also a stark warning from Niamh McCurtin, president of the Froebel Students' Union.
"Ask any student teachers what are their plans for September 2014 and they'll likely involve putting 20 kilogrammes into a suitcase and going to a place where our skills as educators are valued," she said.
Several TDs mingled with the crowd, including People before Profit's Richard Boyd-Barrett.
He said: "I think it's disgraceful and it discriminates against young teachers."
TUI president Gerry Craughwell blasted the cuts as "irresponsible and unjustifiable -- may I remind Minister Quinn that his party was founded on the backs of workers and trade unionists", he said to cheers.
He described as "fundamental of democracy" the ability "to speak out and question authority".
Student Tara Malone, who is in third year in the Marino training college in Dublin, agreed that it was an important protest. "It's completely unfair," she said.
"But it's not putting me off teaching, because it's what I really want to do."