The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn today demonstrated that he has absolutely no plan on how to cut the cost for families of buying school books, according to Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Brendan Smith.
Deputy Smith was commenting following a radio interview, during which Minister Quinn displayed a complete lack of direction on this issue.
Deputy Smith said: “For the past four months Ruairí Quinn has toured the nation’s media talking about the need to reduce the expense of purchasing school books at the start of every year. Since May, I have questioned the Minister on several occasions both in the Dáil and through written Parliamentary Questions to establish if any progress has been made. Today the Minister has confirmed that despite all the rhetoric since he took up office, he has made virtually no progress on this important issue. This will come as a major disappointment to families throughout the country whose expectations have been raised.
“During an interview on RTE today, it was clear that there is no sign of any Government policy on this matter. Minister Ruairí Quinn talked in vague terms about meeting school book publishers, with no outcome, before outlining his new plan to simply wait to see if any schools come up with an idea that he sees fit to adopt. He was unable on several occasions throughout the interview to answer simple questions about his next step:
“I really can’t answer the question at the moment; I am hoping to get examples of best practice from around the country ….”
“You are trying to tell me to anticipate what I am waiting to be told…I just don’t know”
“You are anticipating what I am going to do and I cannot answer the question because I don’t know what the answer is until I see all the data”
– Minister Ruairí Quinn, RTE’s Morning Ireland, Tuesday 30 August 2011
Deputy Smith continued, “If the Minister had taken decisive action when he first started talking about this issue months ago, real progress on alleviating the burden on families could have been made already. But as children head back to school this week, they and their families see no benefit.”