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Education Budget is an Attack on Children

October 28, 2008

National Alliance for Primary Education

10 Primary Education Partners Combine to Demand Change

Partners Call for Massive Support for Dáil Protest

Press Release Issued Tuesday October 28th at a

Joint Press Conference in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin

In a joint statement, the main partners in primary education have condemned the cuts in the Education Budget as a full-fronted attack on children and young people, and as intensely damaging to Ireland’s future. The partners have demanded that the 32 cuts in the Education Budget – 16 of them a direct attack on primary education – be withdrawn, and that the Minister should instead enter into a dialogue with all the Education Partners about where savings and efficiencies can be made. They have indicated that they are open to such a dialogue, aimed at protecting the interests of children and the future.


Attack on Children

The Education Partners have made it clear that the cuts are an ‘attack on children’, especially as they apply to primary education, and will have the following consequences – all of which are in breach of the Government’s own commitment, and all of which further undermine the constitutional right of every child in Ireland to a decent primary education:

1.      They will drive up average class size to unacceptable levels, with inevitable consequences for the quality of education. Contrary to impressions being given, the number of teaching jobs lost will be in excess of 1,000 at the primary level alone, with many of these jobs cuts impacting on the most disadvantaged children. This situation will be further exacerbated by the removal of substitution cover for uncertified sick leave;

2.      The financial shortfall will make schools far more difficult to run and manage. Many schools, already very hard-pressed, will buckle under the strain, as the totally inadequate Capitation grant increase is swallowed up by inflation. The funding crisis now facing schools will place intolerable burdens on parents, teachers, Principals and Boards of Management.

3.      The withdrawal of key supports and services will have devastating consequences for children already suffering from disadvantage. Some of the particularly miserly cuts that affect children at the margins are socially irresponsible.

The organisations that have come together to make this demand are:

·         An Foras Pátrúnachta

·         Catholic Primary School Management Association

·         Church of Ireland Board of Education

·         Eagraíocht na Scoileanna Gaeltachta Teo.

·         Educate Together


·         Irish National Teachers’ Organisation

·         Irish Primary Principals’ Network

·         National Association of Management Bodies in Special Education

·         National Parents’ Council – Primary

Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, Ardfheidhmeannach, GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., said, "The education of our young is an obligation, not a luxury to be sacrificed in a rush to cut costs. The proposed cuts will damage us for a generation and cannot be allowed.”

Donall Ó Conaill, Stiúrthóir, Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge Teo, said, "Surely the approach of the Government to the current financial crisis could have focused on other ways of saving money besides the ill-advised decision to row back on the achievements of recent years in Education – a return to the bad days."

Dúirt Treasa Ní Mhainín, ESG Teo, "is masla an buiséad do pháistí agus múinteoirí agus is léir nach bhfuil púinn luach á chur ag an Rialtas seo ar thodhchaí an oideachais."

Eileen Flynn, General Secretary, CPSMA said, “The children of today are the adults of tomorrow. Cuts as announced effect every child in every class now.  Targeting the vulnerable, the disadvantaged, the newcomer guarantees greater costs to the taxpayer into the future. How can management deliver on its statutory function under the Education Act in a safe environment in the face of such lack of understanding of the impact of the education cuts on all concerned?”

Paul Rowe of Educate Together also said, “We are in favour of increasing efficiency but these cuts will prove counterproductive and costly. Balancing the State’s books at the expense of children is itself deeply offensive but the deliberate targeting of the most vulnerable children, is shameful and immoral.”

Declan Kelleher, President of the INTO, said, "The devastating proposal to increase class sizes, to what will be the largest in the EU, must be resisted by all involved in education for the sake of the pupils in our care. The range and scale of the proposed cuts in frontline services and funding shows a complete lack of understanding as to how Irish classrooms and schools operate today."

Sean Cottrell, Director of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network, said, “If a colonial Government imposed this budget on us, we would describe it as an act of national sabotage by means of deliberately undermining our education system.”

Philip Mudge, Vice-Chair of the National Parents Council – Primary, said “Parents are already fundraising and paying directly for the day to day running of the school and being asked to pay for curricular activities such as arts sports and music.  If the proposed budget cuts are brought in it will be the most vulnerable children in the most marginalised communities who will suffer most.  We must not allow our children to be targeted in this way.


Individually, each organisation in the National Alliance will be mounting their own campaigns to secure the removal of these damaging and unacceptable cuts, and to put a meaningful dialogue in place to plan a more progressive approach. The members of the Alliance partners will support each other’s campaigns, and will continue to act collectively in the interests of children and young people.  

In particular, the Alliance is calling for the maximum support to be given to the rally and protest outside Dáil Éireann tomorrow, Wednesday October 29th, at 6.30pm.