Cavan/Monaghan TD Brendan Smith has said he will be a responsible and constructive voice in opposition as the new Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills. Deputy Smith was appointed to the position by Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD.
Deputy Smith commented, “I am delighted to take on such an important and challenging role on the Fianna Fáil Front Bench. In my view there has never been a more crucial time for the education and training sector in Ireland, as there is no doubt that it will be key to driving our economic recovery.
“Fianna Fáil has always recognised the value of our education system, from primary level right up to third level and further training. The Government must protect and enhance this valuable asset at such an important time in our country’s history. I have concerns about the direction of the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s education policy and what it will mean for rural and agricultural communities in particular. I want to provide a voice for these communities in the Dáil. I will continue to robustly challenge any effort to shut down rural schools, which are the heart of so many towns and villages across Ireland.
“I don’t believe that anyone can question the idea that education lies at the heart of the future of our country. The major expansions in provision and participation which have happened over the last four decades provided the essential foundation for broad and deep social and economic progress – the bulk of which remains. As we consider the policies required to help Ireland build a lasting recovery, we should be clear in stating that education is a priority.
“To this end, I have tabled a Dáil motion calling for education and training to receive priority in the forthcoming jobs budget. It is not a typical partisan motion which has too often been the mainstay of private members’ debates in recent years. It is constructive motion based around a core principle that education is central to our recovery and should receive priority when key spending decisions are taken. It is the first time that the new Dáil has debate the education sector and I welcome Minister Ruairí Quinn’s statement last night that the Government will support the Fianna Fáil motion in tonight’s vote.
“As the lead party in opposition, it is up to Fianna Fáil to ensure that the Government takes forward the policies necessary to protect the country’s recovery. I look forward to playing a leadership role in this process as Spokesperson on Education and Skills,” concluded Deputy Smith.