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Schools struggling to stay open while half of education budget rests in O’Keeffe’s piggy bank – Doherty

8 October, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has expressed outrage and disbelief at today’s revelations that the Department of Education has yet to spend almost half of its budget for 2009, despite there being less than three months left in the year.

He said:

“After news this week of a school telling pupils to bring in their own toilet rolls to save money, we hear today, with less than three months left in the year that almost half of the budget for new school buildings and other capital works has yet to be spent.

“Every single day we hear of schools desperate for new school buildings; with rotting prefabs and overcrowded classrooms. With winter setting in hard and fast what will be next? Will pupils be told to bring in a lump of coal each to heat the school?

“Batt O’Keeffe, himself a former teacher needs to take a long hard look at himself. He has spent the last year gearing up to sack teachers, axe classes for children with special educational needs and cutting grants to needy pupils. He now tells us that over half of his budget has not been spent.

“In my own county Donegal there are 51 schools waiting for a new school to be built or for an extension to their existing school.

“In the Sinn Féin job creation document we called for a comprehensive school buildings project, creating new schools and classrooms as well as creating much-needed employment in the construction sector. This was not done and we now have the ludicrous situation of almost half of an €841 million budget left sitting in O’Keeffe’s piggy bank.

“Batt O’Keeffe should be ashamed of himself. He has to go.” ENDS

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