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Talk of job cuts is 'soul-destroying' for teachers - union

There have been reports that the government is prepared to cut as many as 2,000 teaching posts in the forthcoming budget.

File photo
File photo
Image: Photocall Ireland

SPECULATION THAT AS many as 2,000 teaching posts could be cut as part of government cost-cutting measures is “soul-destroying” for members of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), the union has said.

The Sunday Times and today’s Irish Daily Mail both report that as many as 2,000 posts could be cut by the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, a decision that will push up Ireland’s pupil-teacher ratio, which is already one of the highest in Europe.

The Department of Education declined to comment on the speculation saying that plans for its future expenditure would be outlined on 1 December along with all other government departments ahead of the Budget on 6 December.

It is estimated that such cuts could save €140 million.

But the TUI General Secretary Peter MacMenamin said it was his understanding that such cuts were among a wide-range of options being looked at and that the 2,000 number is the “extreme”.

“We don’t have a huge amount of information,” he told TheJournal.ie.

The speculation has been running since the summer. It is soul destroying for members to have this ongoing speculation.

There is growth there at the moment, the number of students is increasing over the next two to three years and the cuts mean there won’t be any further teachers employed.

That’s very difficult, particularly for young people coming out, looking at prospect of not getting a job at all, and have to immediately look at going away.

McMenamin urged the government to look at alternatives to reducing teacher numbers such as cutting the state subsidy to fee-paying schools.

In May it emerged that the Department of Education had given over €8 million in building grants to the country’s wealthiest schools over the last three-and-a-half-years on top of the €100 million a year that schools receive in teachers’ wages.

At the time the Minister for Education said that the government would review such funding.

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Hugh O'Connell

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