Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Lynn Boylan has today criticised Labour’s Education Minister for picking a fight with teachers this week instead of taking the conferences as an opportunity to learn about the negative impact of his budget decisions on the education system.
Lynn Boylan said:
“Building a positive relationship with teachers during a time of recession is a challenging prospect for any Education Minister. Over the last number of years teachers like all public sector workers have had their wages significantly reduced and those coming into the system are faced with short term contracts and lower rates of pay than their colleagues.
“That is the context against which this week’s teacher conferences have taken place. The Labour Minister’s response has been to pick a fight with teachers instead of taking the conferences as an opportunity to learn about the negative impact of his budget decisions on the education system.
“Teaching hours have increased as has the demand on teachers dealing with the fall out of Labour and Fine Gael’s socially regressive right wing austerity policies. Year after year Sinn Féin has published detailed and costed alternative budgets which met the government’s deficit reduction targets and sought to protect critical frontline services like education.
“Sinn Fein is fully committed to the delivery of an education system that serves all children equally and that is why we have chosen the Department of Education in the Assembly for three consecutive terms since 1998. We have worked hard to close the performance gap, increasing access and equality and transforming education management and resourcing frontline services and delivery.
“Despite £4 billion of cuts imposed by the British Tory government on the Executive and Assembly budget Sinn Fein in government identified expenditure savings which minimised cuts to education. Sinn Féin Education Minister John O’Dowd has, during his in term in office, secured substantial additional resources to reduce pressures on schools budgets.
“Politics and government is all about choices and as Social Justice Ireland and the OECD have shown it is the most vulnerable who have been targeted time and again by Labour and Fine Gael’s right wing austerity policies. Policies let’s not forget that were first set out by Fianna Fáil and adopted by the current government on taking up office in 2011.”