Monday 20 November 2017

Tanaiste warning over spending cuts

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan warned teachers of further painful cuts in her first major speech as Minister for Education.

Facing some heckles and booing at the Irish National Teachers' Organisation conference in Galway, Ms Coughlan insisted she too was angry about recent spending reductions.

But the Tanaiste told delegates the Government would have to commit less cash to public services for the foreseeable future.

"Believe me when I say that having to commit so much capital to our banking system at a time when we have to cut spending across government is something that angers me greatly, just as it does you," she said.

"The most frustrating fact for all of us at this point is that, despite the difficult choices of the past year, which were taken to place ourselves on the correct path, we are still not yet out of the woods.

"We have more to do to fully stabilise our public finances."

This week's national and secondary teachers' union conferences in Galway will consider calls to step up industrial action against the new public sector deal brokered last month.

The Tanaiste welcomed the proposed pay and reform package and told delegates to be wary of a split between the public and private sectors.

Ms Coughlan admitted there would be disagreements ahead between her department and the teachers' unions.

"I suspect that we will frequently find ourselves on different sides of various debates," she said. "That's not necessarily a weakness or a negative however, once we retain the capacity for constructive dialogue and mutual respect."

Press Association

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