TDs who went to private schools split over cuts
PRIVATELY educated TDs are split on whether the state subsidy given to fee-paying schools should be cut.
And one minister has suggested those in favour of hitting the subsidy, worth almost €100m, are ill-informed in their criticisms.
Junior finance minister Brian Hayes boarded at Garbally College in Ballinasloe, and says opponents of the subsidy were getting their arguments wrong.
"Those who are saying we should get rid of the subsidy haven't really got their facts straight," Mr Hayes said, adding that private schools got less in building grants and day-to-day funding than public schools.
Labour Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who is a former pupil of Blackrock College, is considering reducing the €100m given by the State to pay the wages of teachers in private schools.
Almost 20 of the current crop of TDs, covering almost all parties in the Dail, were privately educated.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald went to Notre Dame Des Missions in Churchtown on Dublin's southside, which charges fees of €4,150 a year, but did not return calls on the issue last night.
Kerry Labour TD Arthur Spring attended Cistercian College in Roscrea, like his uncle Dick, the former Labour leader and Tanaiste.
"I was sent there, I didn't go there," Arthur Spring said.
"I think it (the subsidy) has to be looked at, but I'll leave it to Ruairi Quinn and the rest of the Cabinet to make a decision on that."
Another TD who went to the Cistercian College in Roscrea, Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen, defended the subsidy.
Mr Cowen said: "It might appear a populist move initially but it could cost more in the long run."
He added that students in private schools cost the State around €3,500 a year, while those in the public system cost double that.
Among the current Cabinet, those who went to fee-paying schools are Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who went to Clongowes in Kildare and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, who went to Belvedere College in Dublin, as well as Clongowes.
But they have so far declined to be drawn on the issue.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore boarded at Garbally College in Ballinasloe, but was on a scholarship, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter attended the High School in Rathgar, which now charges €5,150.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar went to King's Hospital school in Palmerstown.
Other TDs, including European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton and the Fine Gael backbench quartet of Eoghan Murphy, Olivia Mitchell, Anthony Lawlor and Mary Mitchell-O'Connor, have also defended private schools.