Sinn Féin’s newly appointed education spokesperson, Deputy Jonathan O’Brien and his party colleague, Sean Crowe, TD, met this week in Leinster House with June Tinsley, the policy development officer at Barnardos and Catherine Joyce, the organisation’s head of advocacy.
Describing the meeting as “very worthwhile”, Deputy O’Brien commended the important work carried out by Barnardos in support of vulnerable children and their families. During the meeting a number of issues were discussed including the implementation of schoolbook lending schemes, the impending Children’s Referendum and Budget 2013.
Deputy O’Brien said: “Sinn Féin has lobbied hard for a schoolbook lending scheme and it is important that Education Minister Ruairí Quinn implements measures that can alleviate the financial burden on parents when equipping their children for school.
“I will continue the work of Deputy Crowe and lobby to ensure the publishers honour their commitments and implement a more ethical code of practice.
“It is feared that frontline education services will be targeted for more cuts in the budget. A priority for Sinn Féin is protection of children and young people in schools, ensuring fairer access to higher education and that newly-qualified teachers are paid a decent wage.
“We also assured Barnardos of our support for the Children’s Rights Referendum. Children's minister Francis Fitzgerald needs to stop prevaricating and publish the wording of the legislation so there is time for informed debate about change to the Irish constitution.
“These are just a few of the many issues Sinn Féin will be working on and today’s meeting with Barnardos was very worthwhile and useful, as we work towards developing policies to counter the punitive cutbacks that are being imposed on the Irish education sector.
“I look forward to working with June and Catherine and their colleagues in Barnardos over the challenging times ahead.”
Caption for attached photo: Sinn Féin Deputies Seán Crowe and Jonathan O’Brien are pictured outside Leinster House with Barnardos policy development officer June Tinsley and Catherine Joyce head of advocacy.