Bruton’s inertia the defining feature of his first year in office – Byrne

Published on: 05 May 2017

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD says Minister Richard Bruton’s continued dithering on key issues is paralysing the Irish education sector.

Deputy Byrne added that the Minister is allergic to taking any steps which involve concrete and tangible action to comprehensively reform the delivery of education in Ireland.

Deputy Byrne said, “Complete inertia has been the defining feature of Minister Bruton’s first year in office. There has been a flurry of announcements and press releases, but little in the way of actual decision-making and legislative change.

“While the Minister may very well have an action plan for education, the air of uncertainty emanating from his department shows he’s more aspiration man than action man. People in the education sector had high hopes that fresh leadership would help deliver progressive change, but their hopes have been dashed by Minister Bruton’s inaction to date. He has delivered very little for the sector other than aspirational plans.

“The Minister appears to be afraid, or perhaps incapable of, tackling the key issues currently facing the education sector. He has failed to outline proposals to end the baptism barrier, in fact he has failed to even give his own view on the issue. He has remained silent on the enormous challenges facing technological universities and seems oblivious for the need for reform. He has also refused to accept the case for equal pay-scales for newly qualified teachers, something which is causing enormous damage to morale in schools.

“Minister Bruton is also presiding over and advocating for a situation where guidance counselling can be delivered by any teacher and not a qualified guidance counsellor. He has also refused to deal with the funding crisis at third level and only acknowledged the issue after sustained pressure was put on him by Fianna Fáil. He also issued a school costs circular designed to reduce costs but which has only lead to confusion and uncertainty for parents.

“Another memorable moment of confusion occurred when he issued a press release about his modern languages plan without issuing the actual plan, and then admitted he doesn’t know where he is going to get the teachers to deliver his plan.

“The lack of action on behalf of the Minister is deeply worrying. He should forget about the aspirational action plan’s and box ticking exercises and instead look at what practical measures he can take to help schools and reform the education sector.

“There’s a plethora of serious issues facing both young and old people who participate and work in the Irish education sector. It’s time for Minister Bruton to assert himself and actually deliver on the contents of his plans,” concluded Deputy Byrne.

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