Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has criticised Minister Richard Bruton for failing to provide the necessary funding to allow ETB second level schools to adhere to a directive requiring them to provide alternative classes to children who do not want to attend religious instruction.

Deputy Byrne said, “Without doubt, the right to withdraw from religious instruction is valid and protected in the Constitution. However, ordering certain schools to provide alternatives without funding the extra classes needed is absolutely meaningless and only distracts from the very real and pressing issues facing our schools today.

“Minister Bruton is adept at making these types of announcements to deflect attention when he is under political pressure.

“Tomorrow, the Education Committee will be discussing the teacher shortage. This is the absolute priority issue in schools today. Minister Bruton has sought to deflect from the pressure he is under on this by announcing a half-baked plan to ban career breaks, which are not the root cause of the problem in specialist subjects and by pulling out distractions as the need arises.

“An Education Minister must have a ruthless and relentless focus on ensuring that schools have the resources that they need. Currently, Irish schools don’t. Making new rules without providing any resources to implement them is a distraction.”