Sunday 19 January 2020

New teacher-TDs holding on to their school jobs

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE majority of teachers who were elected as TDs are holding on to their school jobs while they sit in the Dail. But new rules mean they can only keep the positions open 10 years at most, and they cannot contribute to gold-plated pensions as teacher-TDs as easily as before.

Previously, TDs could hold their teaching jobs open indefinitely and could clock up a full teaching pension entitlement at little cost -- just 6.5pc of their teacher's salary.

The rules changed after the general election, and the unpaid leave of absence does not now reckon for pension purposes.

Teacher-TDs can still contribute to a teaching pension, but it costs much more than before -- around a fifth of a teacher's salary.

A number of TDs said that if they gave up the jobs, the positions would be entirely lost to the schools because of the recruitment embargo.

Teachers are by far the biggest professional group in the Dail, and there are 29 teacher-TDs currently sitting in Leinster House, one more than before the general election.

Nine are first-time deputies, and five are holding their teaching posts open.

But Fine Gael's TD Jim Daly gave up his job as principal when he was elected to Cork County Council in 2004. Another Fine Gael TD, Patrick O'Donovan, was working as a substitute teacher and has no job to go back to.

Although a number of ministers -- including Brendan Howlin, Joan Burton and Michael Noonan -- have given up their teaching jobs, Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan has left his open despite serving in the Dail since 1987, and in the Seanad for five years before that. Mr Deenihan also said his school would lose the position entirely if he resigned.

Dublin North Central TD Aodhan O Riordain said he had an understanding with his school in Sheriff Street in Dublin's north inner city that he would resign as a principal if he was re-elected.

Labour rebel Tommy Broughan refused to say if he has kept his position, and said: "I will happily talk to you about other issues."

Cavan-Monaghan Fine Gael TD Joe O'Reilly is in receipt of teaching pension on top of his Dail salary of around €92,000.

Labour's Michael Conaghan, who has resigned his teaching job, is entitled to a pension, but it is not clear if he is drawing it down. Leas Ceann-Comhairle Michael Kitt, also retired, is not taking his pension until he retires from the Dail.

Irish Independent

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