Wednesday 13 December 2017

It's all your fault, Coughlan told

Katherine Donnelly

EDUCATION Minister Mary Coughlan was greeted with icy silence from 450 angry delegates at a teachers' conference yesterday -- and then endured a verbal lashing from their leader.

Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) president Don Ryan turned on the minister in her role as Tanaiste and said that the mess the country was in was "totally and absolutely your fault".

The TUI is leading the opposition within the public service to the new pay and reform deal and Mr Ryan said teachers were seething with anger over pay and education cuts.

"All this is happening to rectify the mismanagement of this country by your government," he said.

"And neither you nor any of your colleagues has the decency to admit your huge mistakes.

"This is totally and absolutely your fault, Minister, and your government's fault," he added.

Mr Ryan said it was an ignominious time in the history of the country, when the life chances of citizens and their children and grandchildren have been sacrificed to "save the necks of those who have committed treason against this country".

The treacherous behaviour had been going on for decades, under the watch of the political party of which the minister was deputy leader, he said.

While the minister's arrival in the conference hall and her speech were greeted with silence, she had to sit through 10 standing ovations from delegates during Mr Ryan's stinging reply.

The minister announced a partial lifting of the moratorium on the filling of promotional posts in schools from September, but Mr Ryan said it amounted to only a "token alleviation" and their directive to members not to do the work of vacant posts would remain in place.

"In many cases the roof has already caved in. You are now trying to prop it up with matchsticks," he said.

There are about 30,000 promotional posts in schools, such as year heads and exam co-ordinators, about 1,000 of which are now vacant. The minister has not indicated the criteria for the relaxation of the moratorium.

The minister defended the bank bailout, which had come in for heavy criticism earlier in the conference.

"It galls me, just as it does you, to be providing such significant amounts of capital to banks that made irresponsible lending decisions," she said.

She said that without a stable domestic banking sector providing credit, the economy would not have the capacity to recover.

Irish Independent

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