FINE GAEL’S NEWLY appointed junior minister for agriculture says a plan to means-test assets as part of the process for student grant applications has been dropped – in spite of Education Minister Ruairí Quinn’s assertion that it’s still on the coalition’s agenda.
Minister Quinn – who is proposing that assets like property and shares worth over €750,000 should be included in the assessment process – insisted earlier today that his plan was ‘not dead’.
Many Fine Gael backbench TDs have voiced opposition to the scheme since it was proposed by the minister, fearing it could lead to the children of low-income farming families missing out on the chance to go to college.
Speaking just hours after his appointment as the new minister of state, Tom Hayes said on RTÉ’s News at One that the issue had been ‘dealt with’.
That idea has been dropped by Minister Quinn and it’s only fair that it be dropped.
“The reality is that farm assets, if they were to be taken into account for assessing grants, that would be a very unfair way of assessment,” the minister said.
If people have a big income they shouldn’t get a grant and if they haven’t they should get a grant – that’s what the Government have decided so far as I understand.
Speaking earlier on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ruairí Quinn insisted that the idea was still on the table, but had yet to be discussed in detail by ministers.
We haven’t had the discussion in Cabinet yet on the introduction of a fairer system that would include some sort of capital assets test.
He said that the scheme would take some time to get in place and that it was “always intended the plan be brought in for the academic year beginning September 2014″.