What about free hours given to sport, Minister?
Education Minister Richard Bruton deserved an 'A' grade for condescension during a round of radio interviews on Monday morning as he sought to portray secondary teachers in a negative light for fighting their corner in the current dispute with Government.
He referred on a few occasions to the 'Croke Park hours' - an arrangement entered into during the recession, whereby teachers agreed to work 33 hours extra per year for free on non-teaching duties.
As part of the current dispute, secondary teachers have withdrawn their co-operation, leaving Minister Bruton apparently bewildered as to why they might have taken such a course of action.
On a broader level, the irony is unmistakable. The 33-hour deal was reached as part of the wider Croke Park agreement, yet sport doesn't count as extra activity.
Many teachers at all levels go from the classroom to the sportsfield several times a week. Indeed, it's not unusual for some to contribute 10-15 hours to sport for free, yet they are still expected to work the 'Croke Park hours'.
As the biggest sporting organisation in the country, the GAA has benefited hugely from teachers looking after teams but there's now a growing sense among them that, if the government won't recognise in any way the valuable service provided, why should they continue doing it?
Clearly, Minister Bruton is among those who are happy for teachers to play such an important role for free, followed by working the 'Croke Park hours'.
If that's the case, here's a novel idea on how to improve the health service. Perhaps Minister Harris could suggest to hospital consultants that they work 10-15 extra hours for free to help clear the backlog. Good luck with that, Simon.
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