It's time to invest in education - reverse the cuts
Speaking at today’s INTO rally against the education cuts imposed by the government in Budget 2009 Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald called on Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe to have the humility and common sense to reverse the cuts and put in place a programme of investment into Ireland’s education system.
Ms McDonald said:
“There is one single demand that teachers, families and students here today must unite behind – reverse all cuts in education.
“The economy is in recession. Successive Fianna Fáil led governments have refused to invest Ireland’s wealth into our public services leaving us now with an education system that is poorly funded and over stretched.
“Education is an investment. It is an investment in our children. It is an investment in this country’s future. It is a social and economic obligation of the state to deliver on, regardless of economic circumstances.
“We simply cannot afford to let the government have its way on this issue.
“Ireland cannot afford to have our children schooled in substandard prefabs and overcrowded classrooms. We cannot afford to have a generation of socially disadvantaged children without access to the books and schooling supports they need. We cannot afford for children with special needs or whose first language is not English to be shunted aside.
“It is time Batt O’Keeffe had the humility and common sense to listen to the people, reverse the cuts and immediately put in place a programme of investment into Ireland’s education system.
“The Minister’s row back on substitution cover this week is not enough. We need all the cuts reversed and a shift in policy by Fianna Fáil and the Green's. We need to see a real commitment to education. We need to see an acceptance by government that education and the country’s economic future are inextricably linked.
“We need the implementation of a school building programme. We need to reduce class sizes. We need additional resources and supports put in place to ensure every child in this state receives a first class standard of education.
“The National Development Fund can and should be used to deliver a school building programme. Making all discretionary tax relief schemes available at the standard rate of tax could yield up to €1billion for the Exchequer.
“Our children deserve better. Ireland’s future deserves better. “ ENDS