Tuesday 25 October 2016

Budget 2016 failed to offer anything to students

Published 16/10/2015 | 02:30

‘The Coalition failed to reintroduce the postgraduate grants in Budget 2016’ (picture posed)
‘The Coalition failed to reintroduce the postgraduate grants in Budget 2016’ (picture posed)

The Budget of 2016 has forgotten about the politicians, teachers, doctors, nurses and businesspeople of the future. There is a feeling among the student population that the Government has not appropriately addressed student support in this Budget.

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The media has very effectively outlined how Budget 2016 affects several groups in society. The pensioners, after working hard in an era of very high taxation, have been catered for. The middle-income families who contribute most to our PAYE and USC have been given several reductions and allowances.

The self-employed have been given tax credits and the social welfare recipients have an increased Christmas Bonus. However, 91pc of college students feel the Government has not appropriately addressed student support in this Budget.

Ten years ago, the student contribution fee was €750. Today, it is €3,000. This has been stealthily increased each year. The Budget of 2016 has ignored this registration fee. There is only a tax allowance for families with two students paying this contribution.

The Government also failed to reintroduce the postgraduate grants.

USI president Kevin O'Donoghue said: "Not reintroducing the postgraduate grants is disappointing. Fine Gael hasn't taken the opportunity to fully invest in young people. Education is an investment, not expenditure. Young people and their families have suffered enormously because the cost of college and not having an education will have a ripple effect on their future, from training, refining current skills and employability, education is a major factor in the structure of economic recovery."

The Budget will create jobs in teaching and nursing, and the gardaí will recruit more to their training centres.

This will positively affect our students when they are qualified but little has been done to alleviate the financial and economic stress while they strive to become educated.

Aoife O'Rourke

Address with Editor

Evidence of Famine as genocide

Further to Eileen Gough's letter (Irish Independent, October 12), it is true that Ruth Dudley Edwards encourages us to follow the evidence that the so-called famine of 1845 to 1850 was not genocide.

And I suppose that Oliver Cromwell's brutal and murderous campaign wasn't intentional genocide, but simply collateral damage in an otherwise benign campaign?

Can we also be expect to be told that the mass deportation of Irish slaves to the colonies, the plantations, penal laws, mass evictions, rack rents, tithes, Poyning's law and the Statutes of Kilkenny were all designed to enhance the lives of the Irish people and that the Black and Tans were a bunch of choir boys on holiday?

And, of course, it will argued that there was never any cruelty and no intention to kill anyone!

There is abundant, irrefutable evidence that British policy in Ireland through the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries was prolonged, brutal and focused on the destruction of the Irish economy, religion and language and ultimately the genocide of its people.

While there is no doubt that the potato blight on its own would have had serious consequences in the period 1845 to 1850 and beyond, Ms Dudley Edwards omits to refer to the vast tonnage of high-quality foodstuffs and commodities that were exported out of all major Irish ports to Britain and her colonies all through the period.

She also omits to say that these foodstuffs and commodities were forcibly taken at gunpoint from Irish peasant farmers throughout the entire country, brutally assisted by the combined forces of over 100,000 British troops and absentee landlords' private militia.

The evidence is available in the military records of the time as well as reputable newspapers such as the London 'Times', which published the relevant daily Irish shipping logs into British ports at the time.

Ms Dudley Edwards, and those interested in the facts of the period, would do well to read the definitive study by Chris Fogarty in his book 'Ireland 1845-1850: The Perfect Holocaust'.

John Leahy

Wilton Road, Cork

Kickstarting political reform

Virtually all voters want political reform. All TDs want political reform, but not when they are in government.

May I suggest that between now and the election, the TDs agree on a set of reforms, as suggested by an independent group, that would be implemented by an incoming government.

This would keep them productive during the pre-election 'phoney-war' period and tackle a long-standing need. To help concentrate their minds, I suggest we do not vote for sitting TDs unless the reforms are agreed before the election.

We have seen that the Dáil can make quick decisions when it comes to other matters - so why not this?

Paddy Meyler

Greystones, Co Wicklow

Assessment of Junior Cert

There are a number of inaccuracies in the article on Junior Cycle reform (Irish Independent, October 14) by Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputies (NAPD).

For example, with regard to the restored Junior Certificate, Mr Byrne writes that "final exams will account for 60pc of marks while the remainder will be rewarded through school-based assessments."

The factual position is that the restored Junior Certificate will be fully externally assessed under the auspices of the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

With regard to Junior Cycle reform more generally, Mr Byrne's comments patronise the many educationalists who took a principled stand for restoration of an externally assessed Junior Certificate.

Of course, such 'managerialism' is the product of the same mindset which provoked the Junior Cycle dispute in the first place.

If this dismissive approach to teachers continues, then more serious disputes in our education system are inevitable.

Gerry Quinn


Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI)

Rathgar, Dublin 6W

Irish Independent

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