Sunday 19 November 2017

Minister Ruairi Quinn satisfied with Budget education cuts

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has declared his satisfaction with the education cuts being imposed in tomorrow’s Budget.

Around €90m of education cutbacks and fee hikes are expected, including a further €250 rise in the student contribution fees, bringing it to €2,500 next year. There will also be further increases in the pupil numbers required to keep a teacher in small rural schools. Cuts to the pupil-teacher ratio in fee paying schools are also expected.

But a Labour source said the indication was that the education cutbacks would not be as severe as last year – when cuts to teacher numbers in disadvantaged schools forced Mr Quinn into a u-turn.

Speaking on his way into Government buildings for the cabinet meeting, Mr Quinn said he was satisfied with the cuts in his department. But he admitted there bad tensions between the coalition partners during negotiations about where to impose the €3.5bn in tax increases and cutbacks.

"There were tensions but not in a personal or negative way. We are two separate parties with two separate traditions and ideologies. As Michael Noonan commented in today's newspapers, we agreed on 90pc of the changes without much difficulty,” he said.

Mr Quinn has previously held back from giving an assurance that the “worst will be over” with tomorrow’s Budget, saying that there are two further tough Budgets to come.

But Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore tried to reassure voters that the cost-cutting would lessen after this “very tough Budget”.

"Tomorrow's Budget will be a very tough Budget, it was always going to be a tough Budget. But it is the Budget that is going to get us to 85pc of the adjustment that has to be made, and will therefore put the end in sight for these types of measures and these types of budgets,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said the Government was seeking to protect the most vulnerable, and to have those who have most, contribute most.

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