TEACHERS FROM THE Irish National Teachers’ Association briefly took to the streets this evening to protest against any further increases to the teacher-pupil ratio in schools.
Several hundred teachers, parents and pupils attended the protest outside the Department of Education and Skills on Marlborugh Street in Dublin’s city centre.
Speakers warned that if the government reduces investment in schools and increases class sizes, further protests will take place.
Addressing the crowd, President of the INTO Brendan O’Sullivan suggested that the savings made on the promissory notes or the income drawn from a wealth or Financial Transactions Tax could be considered instead of cutting the teaching budget.
He also cited multinational companies paying the full 12.5 per cent Corporation Tax as another option to raise money for the State.
He branded those who wish to see a full €3.1 billion adjustment in the upcoming budget as “austerity junkies”.
Children cling to railings outside the Department of Education during the protest. (Image Credit: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie)
A parent of a child in Senior Infants in Termonfeckin N.S, County Louth, told the crowd that his daughter had just entered a class of 36 children, which was met with an audible gasp from the protesters.
This is well above the OECD average of 21 students.
Breeda Fitzgerald, a teacher from County Tipperary, accused “Dublin 4 politicians” of destroying the social fabric of Ireland, and called on Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to visit rural schools affected by large class sizes.
“Perhaps the Minister would begin to understand how small schools work if he took the time to visit one. There is an Ireland outside the Pale.”
As the protest came to an end, General Secretary Sheila Nunan and President Brendan O’Sullivan delivered a letter to Minister Quinn’s office requesting that class sizes are not increased.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie after leaving the Department, Nunan said her union would “assess the situation” after Budget 2014 on whether or not to ballot for strike action, but hopes the Minister takes the union’s request to protect investment in primary education “very seriously”.
Column: An Open Letter to Ruairi Quinn >