JUNIOR TRANSPORT MINISTER Alan Kelly has said that the State subsidy of nearly €100 million to fee-paying schools is “a luxury rather than a necessity” and will have to be addressed.
Kelly was speaking to RTÉ’s The Week in Politics last night when he said that the subsidy paid to the State’s 55 fee-paying schools would need to be looked at in the forthcoming budget.
The Department of Education is currently undertaking a review of the level of taxpayer funding the schools require, based on their income from tuition fees.
The principal of one school affected, criticised the Minister’s comments.
Kelly said that he agreed with a decision taken at the Labour Party conference in Galway earlier this year to end the practice of the State paying for teachers at private schools.
“I think this funding is a luxury rather than a necessity,” Kelly said yesterday saying that the “practical issues” need to be looked at and that the government needed to ensure that such a decision would not end up costing the State more.
He continued: “Personally, and I know my Labour party colleagues feel very similar, personally I do think that it’s going to be something that will have to be addressed.”
Kelly added: “The day of being able to give €96 to €100 million for private schools is something that is going to come to an end.”
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Christopher Woods, the principal of Wesley College – whose 52 teachers are paid by the State – described Kelly’s comments as “utterly flawed”.
He warned that a dramatic cut in funding could pose a threat to the schools’ ability to operate and he called on Fine Gael backbenchers to take a stand on the issue.
Woods added that he was confident the Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn, would “not engage in a grand closure of our schools”.