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Teachers Union of Ireland Accuse Irish Government of “Breach of Faith”

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has reacted angrily to what it sees as a “breach of faith” by the Irish Government over the pledge of £48 million for Further Education in Ireland.

The release from the TUI is in response to the Department of Education and Science’s failure to put into practice the blueprint sanctioned for funding the FE sector in Ireland. The funding allocated (which amounts to some £32.5 million) was expected to be made available in the Government’s Book of Estimates this month. The TUI called the failure to mention the funding an instance of “deliberate neglect”, and a protest will be held on the 7th of December to protest this.

A Distinct Sector

The anger of the TUI was particularly vehement regarding the apparent lack of interest from the Irish Government on the McIver Report. This report recommended that the Further Education sector should be separate and a distinct area of the Education sector, rather than the current situation with it placed within the second level of education in Ireland and funded from that portion of the budget.

In a statement from Paddy Healy, the President of the TUI on the day the Estimates were announced, his displeasure was already plain for all to see: “It is particularly galling that no money has been put aside for implementation of the McIver Report on Further Education. This is an effective refusal to implement the Report and is a betrayal of the both the students of this sector, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the tremendous efforts of the teachers in these colleges.”

TUI Getting Tough

In a recent press conference, he elaborated on his dissatisfaction. “I went to the announcement of the estimates with a spring in my step, confident that we were going to get something,” he said. He spoke of the students who would suffer from what Minister Síle de Valera told him was a matter of “priorities”, saying: “While the government is now awash with money this is the deliberate neglect of 30,000 students in Ireland. This is discrimination against our students and our teachers working in this sector.”

The FE sector in Ireland is primarily composed of post Leaving Cert courses in the country. Mr. Healy spoke of the effect that a strong FE sector can have for skills and social inclusion, and promised that the protest on Wednesday, to be staged outside Dáil Éireann, could well mark the beginning rather than the end of protest: “If we do not get what we want in the Budget next Wednesday this campaign will go on and on.”

Disappointment of Expectations

Jim Dorney, the general secretary of the TUI, echoed the slightly shell shocked feeling of the TUI at this lack of funding allocation: “All I can call this is a breach of faith between ourselves and the government. The situation at the moment is that the Further Education sector is just treated like an adjunct of the secondary sector which is just not right.”

He continued: “I am not going to say we expected the full £48 million but by God we expected something in the estimates. It is just a breach of faith, we did not get one cent.” The Budget announcement on Wednesday will either resolve the issue, or will herald the start of more protests in the coming months.

Jethro Marsh

Tell us if FE should split off in Ireland in the FE Blog

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