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Hundreds gather at Dáil for protest against small school cuts

Demonstrators believe planned staffing cuts will lead to large class size increases – and fear some schools could close down altogether.

Protesters outside the Dáil this evening
Protesters outside the Dáil this evening
Image: Terri Brosnan

HUNDREDS OF PARENTS, teachers and their supporters have gathered outside Leinster House tonight to protest against planned staff cuts in smaller schools.

One demonstrator estimated that as many as 1,500 people had travelled for the demonstration, which was addressed by the president of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation Noreen Flynn.

Flynn hit out at proposed changes to the way teachers are allocated to smaller schools, which she said would result in large increases in class sizes.

“It is not a case of one child extra per class but five or six additional children per class,” she said, adding that the cuts would take place “in classrooms where teachers are already teaching two, three or four class groups in the same room along with special needs children.”

Protester Terri Brosnan, who had travelled with other parents from Dunsany National School, Co Meath, told TheJournal.ie she believed around 1,500 people attended the protest.

She said the cuts were a “direct attack” on the schools which “can least afford it”. “I have children in a small rural school, we have 56 pupils,” she said. “With the cost of petrol I would be seriously out of pocket if we had to travel elsewhere.”

There were also heated scenes inside the Dáil as TDs debated a Fianna Fáil motion on small schools.

Opposition and independent deputies slated the cuts. Wexford TD Mick Wallace said many villages had already lost their shops, post offices and pubs, and asked: “What will be left of rural Ireland?”

But Government representatives defended the measures. Labour’s Michael McNamara said the proposed reductions were far less drastic than those which had been introduced by Fianna Fáil in his own Clare constituency.

More: School cuts will lead to ‘huge increases’ in class sizes, teachers say>

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Michael Freeman

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