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oideachas trí ghaeilge

Teachers say reintroduction of teaching-through-Irish allowance 'would make a massive difference'

Teachers who qualified after 1 February 2012 are not eligible to earn the allowance.

TEACHERS WHO ARE not eligible to earn the teaching-through-Irish allowance have told The Journal that it should be reintroduced “for the sake of equity”. 

The allowance was paid to all teachers who were qualified to teach through the medium of Irish as a supplement to their basic salary prior to 2012.

But it was one of a number of public service allowances to be scrapped by the government in 2012 amidst the financial crisis. 

Any teacher who was still earning the allowance at the time continued to receive it, but it would no longer be paid to teachers who qualified after 1 February 2012.

A Department of Education spokesperson told The Journal that there are currently 964 teachers in total who receive the teaching-through-Irish allowance – 921 in primary and 43 in post-primary.

As of 1 October 2023, the rate of the teaching-through-Irish allowance stands at €1,812.20 per year.

Gaeloideachas, a representative national body for education through the Irish language, is calling for the allowance to be reintroduced to recognise the work of teachers in Gaelscoileanna, with CEO Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin telling The Journal that an “unfair divide” has been created between teachers who still earn the allowance and those who don’t.

A number of teachers who are ineligible for the allowance told The Journal about their experience.

Primary school teacher Héléna Breathnach worked in a Gaelscoil in Dublin until 2014. When she moved back home to Kerry for family reasons, she started working in another Gaelscoil. 

‘Very disappointed’

“I am working in a Gaelscoil doing the same work and promoting the Irish language, along with our cultures and traditions for the past few years,” she told The Journal.

“However when I started working in the Gaelscoil, my allowance was no longer paid as I had moved from my school in Dublin.”

“In a Gaelscoil, we focus on Tumoideachas (Total Immersion teaching) in the Junior classes. We promote Cruinneas na Gaeilge (the accuracy of the Irish language) and Saibhreas teanga (the richness of the language) in Senior classes.

“There is certainly more work involved in this teaching as we have less resources available to us than we have in other subject areas.”

Breathnach said she is “very disappointed” that the allowance was withdrawn and has not been reinstated since. 

“Irish is our native language and keeping it alive should be a priority for our government. There are many Gaelscoileanna in Ireland with teachers working hard to maintain the high standard of Irish being taught. This is something that should be acknowledged.

Without this work from teachers in Gaelscoileanna, we would have no Irish language.

Breandán, who is also a primary school teacher in a Gaelscoil, told The Journal that having begun teaching in 2014, he has never earned the teaching through Irish allowance.

“It would make a massive difference to my life and in my view, considering the extra work involved in teaching as Gaeilge, would be merited,” he said.


Harriette, another primary school teacher in south Dublin, told The Journal that she has been a teacher for the last five years. Despite only teaching in Gaelscoileanna, she is not entitled to the teaching through Irish allowance because she qualified in 2017.

“My job is made more difficult because I teach in a Gaelscoil. There is a larger amount of work required to procure and make my own teaching resources,” she said.

“I can’t use the usual teacher sets full of presentations, worksheets and quizzes for the kids. I can’t buy posters, books, games and other teaching resources from the normal shops. I must make my own teaching resources and equipment for the children so that it is all as Gaeilge. This requires more time and more money from me.

The allowance should be reintroduced for the sake of equity.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told The Journal that any change to current allowances give “rise to significant cost issues” and should be “part of engagement and collective agreements between unions and Government”.

But Michael Gillespie, general secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) told The Journal that the government “needs to take responsibility” and intervene in this instance. 

“The reform that they introduced by getting rid of the allowance may have had other unintended consequences, which they must be prepared to take the blame for,” he said. 

“We’ve raised the allowances continuously with the Department, and we’ve also raised in the Teachers Conciliation Council. We’re continuously raising issues, which all are feeding into the fact that we have a recruitment and retention crisis in teaching, and more than likely in the Gaelscoils, it’s worse.”

Gillespie said suspending the allowance has made it harder to attract teachers to teach in Gaelscoils and resulted in less people being trained to teach in Irish.

‘The work didn’t disappear’

He said there is additional work involved with teaching through Irish and more hours put in after school “because you don’t have the same textbooks, you don’t have the same support”.

“People’s personal time is being invaded if they’re going to give a good service to the students through Irish. That’s why the allowance was introduced.

The work didn’t disappear. The work is still there, and yet they got rid of the allowance.

A spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) told The Journal that they have also been campaigning “vigorously” for the reinstatement of the teaching allowance since it was suspended.

“We have regularly protested the unfair and uneven approach whereby some teachers who work in specialised areas – Gaeltacht schools, island schools and special education settings have retained allowances whereas others who have moved schools within these areas or who have graduated since 2012 have been denied access,” the spokesperson said.

“This union is steadfast in our determination to achieve a local bargaining clause within any new public service agreement so that we can process claims to restore the attractiveness of the profession and to address the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.”

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