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Sinn Féin would welcome ending State aid to private schools

6 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe confessed to a feeling of deja vú at the announcement that Minister Dempsey intended to review State support for private schools. Deputy Crowe expressed concern that Minister Dempsey had not thought the matter through properly and left his ideas vulnerable to rejection by the PDs again.

The Dublin South-West Deputy said: "I welcome the fact that the Minister is looking at the possibility of ending State aid to private schools but there seems to be very little information about exactly what he intends to do. No proposals or plans have been put in place and it is with a sense of deja vú engendered by the Fees debacle that we see Minister Dempsey going at an idea, which on the face of it is good and long overdue, without any preparation.

"I would be concerned that in his rush to grab some headlines the Minister has not thought the whole matter through and is leaving himself vulnerable to being slapped down by the Progressive Democrats again.

"A review of this issue is a welcome development and something I have previously raised. I must confess to being a little confused however when I saw reports suggesting that the Minister told Cabinet colleagues before the summer that he was considering the abolition of the grants while in a reply to me in June he said 'I have no plans, at this stage, to withdraw State support for the payment of teachers in fee-charging schools.'"

Concluding Deputy Crowe said: "In any such review we must be conscious of the possible implications for the 21 Protestant schools and our need to protect religious minorities." ENDS

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