Friday 23 March 2018

'Put up or shut up,' FF tells Bruton over school cash claim

Education Minister Richard Bruton Picture: Steve Humphries
Education Minister Richard Bruton Picture: Steve Humphries
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Education Minister Richard Bruton has alleged that Fianna Fáil allocated money for disadvantaged schools based on politics rather than need.

While defending the criteria for awarding DEIS funding to schools, Mr Bruton hit out at the main Opposition and suggested past governments abused the system for political gain.

"When Fianna Fáil was in government and it was addressing this issue it did not use objective criteria," he said.

"Its scheme was based on random collection of information.

"Political information was also brought to bear, which was not satisfactory. The current scheme is transparent."

However, Fianna Fáil is likely to seek a correction to the Dáil record unless Mr Bruton provides evidence of his claim.

The party's Education spokesman Thomas Byrne told the Irish Independent the minister "needs to put up or shut up and will have to provide some evidence for his allegation".

"I have no doubt he is merely huffing and puffing because of the criticism he has received," Mr Byrne said.

Mr Bruton has been under pressure to explain why some schools were wrongly categorised for rural/urban DEIS money.

The department has now written to schools requesting the eircodes of pupils in order to provide more accurate assessments of their economic background.

Mr Byrne described the error as a "major mix up", but the minister insisted there was "no discrepancy in the schools listed for inclusion in DEIS".

"The only alteration to the lists published involved a change in rural-urban categorisation of four primary schools arising from an improved method of measurement," he said.

"It is important to note that the urban-rural categorisation of schools relates to geographical location only and has no bearing on the levels of disadvantage identified within those schools."

Irish Independent

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