Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Brendan Smith is calling on Fine Gael TDs and Senators to clarify their stance on Minister Quinn’s attack on small rural schools.
Deputy Smith was speaking after Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy Eames described the policy as ‘social engineering of the worst kind’ and said Education Minister Ruairí Quinn is ‘ripping at the structures of rural life’.
Deputy Smith said, “It is a relief to hear that there are serious concerns within the Government about Minister Quinn’s attack on small rural and minority faith schools. Senator Healy Eames has described the policy as a ‘bolt out of the blue in Budget 2012’ and has condemned the fact that schools were given no notice whatsoever.
“The question now is, how many of Senator Healy Eames’ Government colleagues share her objections to this policy? Those representing rural constituencies must recognise the damage of a community losing their local school. Some Government TDs and Senators have attended public meetings in their areas making promises about protecting the local school. These are promises they cannot keep unless they stand up against this policy.
“There is no doubt that Minister Quinn’s policy will force amalgamations and closures. Any school with less than 5 teachers will lose staff from September. It a blunt instrument based on numbers alone without any consideration of a school’s ethos, the geography of an area or the impact on the community of removing such a key amenity,” said Deputy Smith.