Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Education Averil Power has questioned how the Government can find €20 million overnight to subsidise septic tank registrations, but still hasn’t found a way to reverse the cuts to DEIS schools. The contrast showed up how little priority the Government actually attaches to disadvantaged schools, she claimed.
Senator Power was speaking to a packed meeting in Darndale in Dublin today, attended by more than 200 parents and teachers from the five local DEIS schools that face losing significant teacher numbers.
“People are struggling to understand how it’s possible for the Environment Minister Phil Hogan to quickly find €20 million for the septic tank registration scheme, but the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn still hasn’t found a way to correct his ‘mistake’ on DEIS schools. If it was genuinely a priority, it would have been sorted by now” said Senator Power.
“Of course the Government needed to make significant savings in this year’s Budget, but this is all about choices. The Government chose to target disadvantaged schools to save money. It is now choosing to find money to offer septic tank owners a temporary cut in the registration fee. Meanwhile, the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn is still ‘reviewing’ the cuts he imposed on DEIS schools, even though he admitted those cuts were a mistake.”
Senator Power pointed out at the meeting at Darndale Junior National School today that the DEIS cuts just don’t add up and will cost this country more in the long run.
“Not only is it incredibly unfair to target the most vulnerable children in this way, it is also incredibly short sighted. The long-term costs of this policy far outweigh the short-term gain. Children only get one chance in life, and pulling supports from those who are most vulnerable will diminish their chances at a happy and successful school life and professional career. It will undo years of progress we have made on tackling educational disadvantage,” said Senator Power.
At today’s meeting, parents spoke about how much their children have benefited from the extra support and attention they have received under the DEIS scheme. They spoke about how the community is benefitting as a result of the younger generations’ success at school.
Senator Power commented: “People cannot understand how the Government could justify undoing all of this good work. Minister Quinn has admitted he made a mistake, but instead of reversing it outright, he still ‘reviewing’ his decision weeks later. There are mixed messages from the Government backbenches about what this actually means. It is obvious from Phil Hogan’s announcement last week that the Government can find money if it really wants to. I am appealing to Minister Quinn to prioritise disadvantaged children in the same way as his Government has prioritised septic tank owners.”