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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 20 July, 2019
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Joan Burton compares Mary Lou to a saint ... but not in a good way

The pair have a history of clashing in the Dáil.

WITH THOUSANDS OF teachers on the picket line today, the subject was raised in the Dáil several times this afternoon.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald asked Tánaiste Joan Burton why the government is being “so unreasonable” in pushing ahead with Junior Cycle reform when teachers are clearly against it.

During Leaders’ Questions, McDonald said teachers are the experts in this instance and should be listened to.

She said “a very real prospect of a third day of industrial action is looming large” due to the Government’s “failure to engage in discussion with teachers”.

mary lou

Under the new proposals, teachers would be required to grade 40% of their students’ work. It had initially been proposed that teachers mark 100% of their students’ exams.

‘Think again’

Burton said this practice was commonly used abroad, adding that “collaborative education” is in the best interests of students.

She urged the two second-level teachers’ unions behind the strike, the ASTI and TUI, to “pause and think again”.

McDonald said teachers didn’t disagree that reform was needed but were unhappy with how it was being implemented.

ceann The Ceann Comhairle had to intervene when TDs started to talk over each other.

Burton said she regularly visits both “well-off” schools and those in “poorer communities” through her job, and that the government is committed to getting as many students as possible to complete their education.

She told McDonald was “you’d be familiar with [fee-paying schools]“.

In her final exchange with Sinn Féin’s deputy leader she said: “You’re like Saint Augustine: ‘Lord make me reform, but not just yet.’”

Housing and health

Also during Leaders’ Questions, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger accused the government of inaction in terms of building social housing units.

ruth

She said that while Fine Gael and Labour are continuing to “sweep rough sleepers of the street, whole family homelessness continues” due to rent increases and repossessions.

Burton said the coalition has committed to spending €2.2 billion on social housing over the next few years.

Meanwhile, Fianna’s Fáil’s Billy Kelleher urged Health Minister Leo Varadkar to intervene in the nurses’ registration fee dispute.

“It’s not a holiday for us … it will actually cause more work”

Mock battle: Students’ last-minute plea to teachers as pickets begin

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Órla Ryan

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