Monday 18 December 2017

Quinn reviews cash to fee-paying schools

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn is considering cutbacks to the €100m subsidy given to fee-paying schools in the forthcoming Budget.

His department has carried out an audit of the payments to 55 private schools.

He carried out a similar exercise last year, which resulted in the pupil-teacher ratio for private schools being increased slightly. That reduced the cost to the State of paying teachers' salaries in private schools.

A spokeswoman for Mr Quinn said all areas were being examined to find €77m of savings in the education budget -- including fee-paying school subsidies. But no decisions have yet been made.

Yesterday, Labour Junior Minister Alan Kelly agreed that it was an area that would be looked at -- while keeping the needs of schooling for religious minorities in mind.

"The day of being able to give €96m-€100m to private schools is going to come to an end," he told RTE's 'Week in Politics'.

Labour Dublin South West TD Eamonn Maloney has been one of the party's strongest opponents of private school subsidies. He brought a motion earlier this year to his party conference calling for them to be scrapped. But Fine Gael and Labour TDs in constituencies with well-known private schools are less keen on such a move.

Mr Quinn's spokesman said the education budget was under pressure due to the rise in the number of children going to school, the extra numbers of students qualifying for maintenance grants and the need to pay for the forthcoming reform of the Junior Cert.

Separately, means-testing telephone and electricity allowances for old-age pensioners is also being considered.

Irish Independent

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