Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue has strongly condemned the Government’s attack on small schools and has called on Government TDs in the North West to stand up against the closure of their local school. Under the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn’s plans, rural schools, Church of Ireland schools and Gaeltacht schools will be particularly badly hit by severe cuts from September.
Deputy McConalogue will address the Dáil tonight about the impact of these cuts on schools in Co Donegal. The Donegal North East TD will speak on a Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion which will force Government Deputies to vote on the cuts resulting in a loss of 250 teaching posts and an increase in class sizes.
“Small schools are at the heart of communities in Co Donegal and across the country. Removing the local school from a community would have disastrous social and economic consequences for that area. The cuts to the staffing schedules in 1, 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools in the Budget are disproportionate, and will force schools into a situation where they will end up merging or closing. This will be particularly harsh on schools in Co Donegal as we have a higher number of Church of Ireland schools and Gaeltacht schools.
“This is a blunt instrument from the Government and as almost half (47%) of the 3,200 primary schools in the State have 5 teachers or less, the impact on the communities around the country will be significant. The fact that these cuts have been announced without debate, consultation or agreement is causing anxiety for communities who fear for the future of small schools in their area.
“I want to see the Government publish whatever impact analysis has been carried out by the Department of Education on this decision and the effect it will have. It is simply not good enough that Ministers, TDs and Senators to support these cuts without informing the public of the information they’re basing their decisions on.
Deputy McConalogue concluded: “Fianna Fáil’s motion this week calls on all TDs in the Dáil to vote to protect existing 1, 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools this year and in the coming years. Fianna Fáil has provided significant investment in small schools by doubling of the number of teachers and upgrading school buildings over many years. This investment can be protected and I am urging all TDs in Co Donegal to do the right thing and vote to save their local schools.”