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School cuts could lead to death of rural Ireland, councillor warns

Cllr Declan Hurley said institutions making up the “backbone” of rural communities were now all under threat.

Image: Eleanor Keegan/Photocall Ireland

EDUCATION CUTS COULD mean the end of rural Ireland as we know it, one councillor has warned ahead of a community meeting to fight increases in pupil-teacher ratios.

Cllr Declan Hurley, an Independent and the deputy mayor of Co Cork, said the Fine Gael/Labour coalition was making “the same mistakes” as the previous governments, and putting rural communities at risk. He suggested that the cuts will ultimately put rural schools at risk of closure.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie before addressing a meeting of the Save Our Small Schools campaign in the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway this evening, Cllr Hurley said this would have a “knock-on effect” on entire communities. He added:

The way it’s going, rural Ireland could disappear. It’s slowly unravelling.

He said that rural institutions such as post offices, local shops and garda stations were all under threat, adding that such facilities were “the backbone of our society”.

Cllr Hurley also said that the decision to make cuts in schools was “pennywise and pound foolish”, warning that it would have effects down the line as children’s education suffered.

Education minister Ruairí Quinn recently acknowledged that the Government “made mistakes” in its handling of cuts to the DEIS scheme, which are now under review. However, it is pressing forward with plans to increase the pupil-teacher ratio in smaller schools.

More: Budget 2012 will ‘devastate’ disadvantaged schools – INTO>

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Michael Freeman

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