Monday 11 December 2017

'I left home because I was sick of owing money all the time - and good teachers are going to leave here too'

Seán Cooney and his son Liam
Seán Cooney and his son Liam

Patrick Kelleher

Former teacher Seán Cooney said moving to Dubai in 1998 was a no-brainer due to a tax-free salary and expenses packages offered by employers there.

The 47-year-old from Co Galway moved to Dubai for a year with his girlfriend at the age of 29 to teach for a year and to save some money, and is still there today.

Before moving there, he had taught in Coolock, Co Dublin, but the tax-free salary and expenses-paid package in Dubai made him opt to stay abroad.

In his 18 years in Dubai, he has risen through the ranks from class teacher to principal. In 2006, he left behind his teaching days and became the director of recruitment for major company Sabis, of which recruiting teachers is a part of his job.

"I was really bored at home and I was sick of owing money all the time," he told the Irish Independent.

"I think after the first six months I had paid back the overdraft on my two credit card bills and since then I've never owed a person a penny.

"I have three big cars, I have my wife, my son, my maid, my dogs, and I just bought a house for cash back in Ireland. In about five years I'll probably retire and go back to Ireland."

He says that there is a huge Irish community in Dubai and a vibrant life for those who opt to move there.

"Where they would only stay for a year before, they're staying for longer and longer," Mr Cooney said. "They see the career opportunities."

He says that besides the tax-free salary, another draw is having expenses paid for.

"You get accommodation and you get all your services, electricity, water paid. You get your furniture paid for. And then as you progress you get your internet, your phones and you get your company car," he said.

"You have such little expenditure that you can put almost all of that aside.

"I'm not criticising Ireland because that's where I'm going to end up going back to. But I won't have to depend on anybody financially."

Mr Cooney believes that teachers are getting an unfair deal in Ireland with the pay they currently receive, saying that the upturn in the economy should increase salaries.

"I think it's going to lead to worse quality teachers. If the salaries aren't high, then the good people will go and there will be a brain drain," he said. "As for the existing teachers striking, of course they have to. It's so expensive in Ireland now, it's unbelievable. I would support it very much."

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