Quinn hits out at 'ignorant' actions of heckler teachers
Ruari Quinn has criticised some teachers' actions at the recent ASTI conference as "ignorant, ill-judged and bad mannered".
The Education Minister, commenting on the reception he received at the ASTI conference last week, said certain members had done "a disservice" to their union as a result of their actions.
The minister was booed throughout his speech at the Wexford conference. One delegate heckled Mr Quinn with a megaphone, while others shouted "lies" and "rubbish". Mr Quinn admitted that such attacks were hurtful – but insisted it was all part of a democracy.
"It hurts. Some people say you must have a very thick skin – to which I say, yeah, but it's still skin," he told Galway Bay fm. However, despite the reception he received, Mr Quinn insisted the protests showed that true democracy was in place here and everyone had a right to a voice.
And he stressed that he had never thought of giving up politics as a result of the abuse.
"I live in a democracy. No matter how ignorant, ill-judged or bad mannered they were – and I think some of them were – I think that's a price a democratic open society is prepared to pay," he said.
He said democracy was an integral part of our society and incidents like this proved free speech was working in Ireland.
"They (the hecklers) did a disservice to their own union, that's a matter for their union to deal with, but they did great service to this Republic because we are a free and independent people," he added.