Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government must reverse education cuts

29 October, 2008 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking from Leinster House this afternoon Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has called on the government to reverse the devastating education cuts arising out of this months Budget.

The Donegal Senator said:

“Budget 2009 should have delivered a strategy to address the public finance crisis whilst in tandem delivering a road map for economic recovery. It should have ensured that working families and the most vulnerable sections in society were protected during the current economic challenges. It should have ensured that investments in frontline services such as education were prioritised. It did none of these things. Instead government has chosen to target low to middle income earners, the old and the young in an array of savage cuts that will have a detrimental long term effect on the economy and society at large.

"Primary schools funding has been savagely attacked with increases in class sizes, caps on language support teachers at two per school, abolition of equipment and resource grants, cuts to the school building project and deferral of the Education for persons with Special Educational Needs Act.

“Secondary schools are facing cuts in key supports from disadvantages areas, cuts in investment in information technology, increases in school transport costs, abolition of grants towards the Junior certificate Schools Programme, Leaving Certificate Applied and transition year programmes to name but a few.

"The government does not have public support for their budget. Public anger around the government’s class size measures is palpable and warranted. The campaign to reverse the government's totally unjust budget cuts is gathering momentum and if there is sufficient public pressure education services can be protected. This week it is protests but in January schools will have no option but to send children home unless these cuts are reversed.

“Sinn Féin held a number of successful pickets on Governments minister’s offices over the weekend and will be distributing hundreds of thousands of leaflets across the country over the coming days outlining the grossly negligent choices the governments has made in Budget 2009 and the alternatives they should now look to in light of the publics anger at the proposed cuts.

"The government has choices. They could have raised up to €1billion by making all discretionary tax relief schemes available only at the standard rate.  They could have raised €334million by getting rid of the PRSI ceiling, something supported by government departments.  They could have ended tax breaks for private hospitals. They could have accessed the National Pension Reserve Fund for key infrastructure projects. Yet they chose instead to raise class sizes and take medical cards from the elderly. Shame on them.

"It is in the interests of everyone in the country that public finances are put in order and the economy turns the corner but that won't happen through short-sighted decisions that could have serious consequences long into the future. I am calling on all TDs to support Labour’s motion calling on the government to reverse the cuts in education.” ENDS

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