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Sinn Féin demands cut in class sizes

25 March, 2008


Speaking after attending the INTO conference in Kilkenny today Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty called on Education Minister Mary Hanafin to not force school teachers' into industrial action and to live up to her commitments in relation to class sizes. Regarding the Minister's commitment to re-introduce the summer works programme next year Senator Doherty said Fianna Fáil led Governments have a habit of making commitments in the run in to election years which always seem to be reneged on when there is no election around the corner.

Senator Doherty said, "While I welcome the commitment from the Minister today to re-introduce the Summer Works Scheme from next year I would caution that Fianna Fáil led Governments have a habit of making commitments in the lead into election years which always seem to be reneged on when there is no election around the corner.

"Sinn Féin does not and will not accept Minister Hanafin's excuses in relation to class sizes. International best practice shows us that smaller class sizes are rewarded with better results. Pressure must be kept on the Government to live up to their commitment to reduce class sizes progressively by one for every year of this Government's term of office. It is quite obvious from today's conference that school teachers throughout the state are very angry about this issue. I would urge the Minister not to force school teachers into industrial action by living up to her commitments in relation to class sizes.

"The capitation grant is another area where the Minister has reneged on her promise to the detriment of schools, teachers, parents and most importantly the children who attend the schools. It is unacceptable that teachers, parents and communities are running themselves ragged with fundraisers and charity runs simply to keep their school with hot water or electricity. The commitment to double the capitation grant must be lived up to.

"I have challenged and will continue to challenge the Minister in relation to the publication of a school building programme. This was something that the Minister's predecessor Noel Dempsey did. However Minister Hanafin has abandoned this practice and now there is no openness or transparency to the process. Communities have absolutely no idea when their much needed schools are going to be built. This is unacceptable and must be addressed." ENDS

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