Quinn: harder for farmers to rig student grants
EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn (inset) has admitted it is "less likely" that farmers and businesspeople can manipulate their accounts to get student grants for their children.
He told the Dail that the tax system was now more stringent and more transparent, meaning that it was harder for people to underdeclare their true income.
But he did not fully withdraw his controversial comment two years ago that there was a "bias" in the grants system towards these groups.
"I think it's probably less likely that it can be manipulated than it was in the past, but it certainly was a strong bone of contention.
"I believe that the system of assessment for student grants needs to be reformed – and I stand by that," he said.
Mr Quinn has been at the centre of a coalition row over his plan to include farm and business assets in the means test for student grants, which is currently based mainly on the income of a student's parents.
Fine Gael TDs have strongly opposed the changes, with the party's Cork East TD Tom Barry claiming that Mr Quinn was running his department like a "Communist state". These comments provoked anger among Labour backbenchers.
Mr Quinn refused to be drawn on Mr Barry's "Communist state" comment yesterday.
But he signalled that his memo to cabinet on the means test would not be delivered until after Easter due to the current busy schedule, including his St Patrick's Day trip overseas.