Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin today highlighted the ongoing threat to teaching posts at DEIS schools around the country during a visit to St Laurence O’Toole Boys National School on Sheriff Street, and by questioning the Taoiseach on the extent of the promise made by Ruairí Quinn to ‘review’ his decision on DEIS teachers.
In the Dáil this afternoon, Taoiseach Enda Kenny acknowledged that Ruairí Quinn’s pledge to ‘review’ his decision did not amount to a commitment to reverse the cuts, confirming the fears of teachers in DEIS schools around the country.
Deputy Martin made the visit to St Laurence O’Toole’s in order to discuss with front line teachers the impact of education cuts on Ireland’s most disadvantaged schools. He was joined by Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Education Senator Averil Power and Dublin City Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick.
Speaking afterwards Deputy Martin said, “St Laurence O’Toole Boys National School is an excellent case study in the damage being done by Minister Quinn. It is set to lose more than half of its posts under cuts announced in last month’s Budget. The school currently has 8 teachers and estimates it will now lose up to 5 posts, including full time learning teachers, a resource teacher and support staff. This will have a devastating impact on the children who have benefitted hugely from extra supports under the DEIS programme introduced by Fianna Fáil in Government.
“The school’s Principal Mary Moore outlined to us today how the DEIS scheme has really worked at dramatically improving literacy and numeracy skills, as well as social skills, over the past five to ten years. She and her staff cannot understand why this government has sought to undermine this progress by imposing such drastic cuts. They see first-hand just how socially regressive and economically damaging these cuts are.
“Minister Quinn admitted last week that he ‘made a mistake’ with these cuts. Instead of doing the right thing and simply reversing his mistake, he has attempted to take the heat out of the controversy by announcing a ‘review’ on a case by case basis. Disadvantaged schools now fear they will be competing with one another to retain teaching posts and that this review will amount to very little in the long run. These fears will have been heightened by the Taoiseach’s admission this afternoon that there has not been any agreement on lifting the threat against DEIS.
“This is not a time for the usual media management approach which we have grown used to from this Government. It is time for a simple, clear and unambiguous decision to reverse this policy.”