Monday 24 October 2016

Parents must work to provide for their children's 'free' education

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

‘Free eduction in this country is an illusion. Parents have numerous costs, including uniforms, travel and voluntary contributions.’ (Photo posed)
‘Free eduction in this country is an illusion. Parents have numerous costs, including uniforms, travel and voluntary contributions.’ (Photo posed)

The headlines in your paper (Irish Independent, September 5) warn us that 'Working Parents are damaging child health due to absence'.

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Yet the debate on radio and TV never questioned why both parents need to work to make ends meet. It is obvious that parents work to give the families that they have brought into this world a good home and a good education, including secondary school, and, if possible, university.

This is increasingly difficult in this great little country, where even primary education is not free.

The first constitution, written in the 1919 Dáil, included the following two clauses:

1. "To encourage the proper physical development of the children of the Nation by the provision of meals, the introduction of dental and medical examinations in schools, and the organisation of national pastimes."

2. "To promote the extension of educational facilities by easy access from primary to higher schools so that all the children of the Nation have opportunity for the fullest training of their mental facilities."

In the drafting of the 1923 constitution, in the absence of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, the first clause was deleted without comment and on the morning of the final draft of the constitution, the assistant legal advisor, Kevin O'Sheil, advised that the clause about education was found to be unacceptable and the mention of secondary education had to be withdrawn.

We had to wait until 1966 for Donogh O'Malley to address the provision of free secondary education for all children.

However, we all know that the word "free" is an illusion - even at primary level, the cost of uniforms, books, swimming lessons, school buses in rural areas, and "voluntary contributions" all add up to large sums of after-tax income. The sums get bigger as the children move to "free" secondary schools.

The pressure on parents would have been substantially less if the clauses of the original constitution were adopted and adhered to.

If it wasn't for the fact that today both parents work, in many cases, in terms of education, we as a society would have hardly moved on from the situation 100 years ago, when the prospect of lower-middle-class and working-class children getting a university education was just a dream.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

HSE must dispel vaccine myths

I am writing as a concerned mum of a 12-year-old girl in first year. The time has come for her father and I to consent to her getting the HPV vaccine.

There has been huge controversy over the last year or so about serious ill-effects the vaccine is supposed to have caused.

I am extremely pro-vaccine but I like to do research before consenting to any vaccines for my children.

I consider myself to be a reasonable and sensible parent and only want my child to be safe.

I have received a lot of good links from a good friend who is a GP, along with others, including a paediatric oncologist.

I am swaying towards getting the vaccine now for my daughter whereas last week I didn't give consent and thought I would wait a year or two.

I know a lot of other parents in the same predicament.

I do think that the HSE needs to come out and dispel myths and support the nation's parents.

It needs to give us good-quality information explaining about the incidences of long-term fatigue syndrome (ME) and POTS.

It appears that there are no more incidences of these illnesses in the vaccinated population than in the unvaccinated one.

I wish that a spokesperson from the HSE would be chosen to speak immediately to all those worried, on-the-fence parents like me without further delay.

A McNiffe

Straffan, Co Kildare

Another short-term fix for health

I note Health Minister Simon Harris says he does "not have any ideological hang-ups about using public funds to buy treatment for public patients in private hospitals".

Has it not occurred to Mr Harris that this is costing the taxpayer a fortune, and it is only a short-term fix?

Surely in the long term, fiscally for the taxpayer and for continuity of care for the patient, he should be thinking about finding incentives to attract more doctors and nurses, and measures to increase the bed occupancy in public hospitals?

Barbara O'Hanrahan

Mount Merrion Avenue, Co Dublin

Bowman was independent chair

My attention has been drawn to an article published in the Irish Independent on July 29.

The headline reads: 'Advisers learn to make ministers look good' and it is accompanied by a photograph of myself.

Although the picture caption accurately states that I was invited "to moderate" this meeting, some people, having seen your paper, have asked me whether I had been recruited "to make ministers look good".

This was not the case. Many topics relevant to the role of special advisers were addressed by specialist speakers.

I was invited as a political scientist and broadcaster to facilitate this discussion as an independent chair.

John Bowman

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Smartest guy in the Dáil?

Stephen Donnelly, who announced this week that he has quit the Social Democrats, is without doubt one of the smartest guys in the Dáil.

Now, where do we find another 20 Stephens who will guide us away from the stale and repetitive politics which has governed our country for decades?

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Little reason to celebrate

One of the great misnomers in public life is the concept of a political "party".

When in recent memory have our politicians last given us anything to celebrate?

Ed Toal

Galway city

Irish Independent

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