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Óisín O’Connell – Rural schools - Ard Fheis 2012

26 May, 2012


Fellow citizens:

My fellow Wexfordman - a Primary School teacher, and personal friend - Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, is today part of a state-wide demonstration, converging on Parnell Square, Dublin.

This event has been organized by people like Fionntán, as part of the “Save Our National Schools” network.

About One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty schools are currently at risk of losing a quarter of their teachers. As Fionntán puts it: “last December’s budget holds an axe above… rural schools which have four or less teachers”.

These are mostly rural schools. They are the beating hearts of rural communities. They are a lifeline for mothers, whose budgets are stretched by the increasing costs of petrol bills. They are a fountainhead of local cultural infrastructure, such as the GAA. They are a living hinge of history for generations of families and communities. They are one of the most important anchor-tenants, for the foundation of the social fabric of rural society.

And then we have: Colm McCarthy.

One of the high-priests of the cult of austerity, a fanatical religion which is sweeping our continent; whose proponents wish to crucify our country on a cross of debt. They demand mortification of the body politic, and more: the sacrifice of our schools – the beating hearts of our communities – to be handed over on a platter. Our children’s futures are to be thrown on the pyre to satiate the Golden Calf, of a monetary and financial Moloch.

And for what?

By my rough calculation – and Mr. Kenny, if you’re listening in from your undisclosed location in a secret bunker: I only have a simple degree in Economics, so you’ll have to forgive my illiteracy – the total potential benefit, to the European financial and monetary system is this:

Thirty One hours. Thirty one hours, of interest payments, on our bailout, of their banks.

This is if the McCarthy report is followed, initially, by axing Three Hundred teachers. If we follow his report further, and axe another 200 teachers, the benefit to society is Forty Six and a Half hours, of interest payments, to bailout banks.

That’s almost: two whole days, of interest payments.
And for this, we sacrifice our schools, our children, our communities.

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