Sunday 21 July 2019

Minister snubbed by teachers' union over Junior Cert dispute

Jan O'Sullivan,TD,the Minister for Education and Skills at Leinster house
Jan O'Sullivan,TD,the Minister for Education and Skills at Leinster house
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The secondary teachers union, the ASTI, is snubbing Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan with a decision not to invite her to its annual Easter conference.

The move comes amid the ongoing row over the refusal by the two second-level teacher unions not to accept the latest proposals on Junior Cert reform.

The minister said she is pushing ahead with changes in the face of opposition from the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI).

The ASTI confirmed last night that no invitation had been issued to the minister and none would be.

However, the TUI has invited the minister to its conference and she is due to attend on the Wednesday after Easter.

It is the ASTI Standing Committee that approves all guest invitations to its annual convention and the matter was up for consideration at its meeting in January.

An ASTI spokesperson said the question of an invitation to the minister was deferred in view of the upcoming strike day - a reference to plans at the time for a third one-day stoppage in the row over the Junior Cert.

The unions subsequently called off that strike, but the row gained intensity when they rejected a plan put forward by mediator Dr Pauric Travers.

The ASTI spokesperson said that the ongoing junior cycle dispute had meant that the matter of the invitation had not been revisited, and would not be.

It is the second time in recent years that the ASTI has decided against having the minister of the day at its conference.

In 2010, then minister Batt O'Keeffe was not invited because of anger at the time over pay cuts.

Even when ministers attend an ASTI conference, there is no guarantee of a universal welcome.

Last year, then Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was heckled by a delegate with a megaphone while he was addressing the conference.

Meanwhile, there is no sign of any resolution in the row over the Junior Cert, at the heart of which is union opposition to teachers taking on any responsibility for grading their own students.

The two unions are refusing to co-operate with any training related to the reforms.

Irish Independent

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