Thursday, 2 December 1976
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Tunney, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Daly: and Mr. Wilson asked the Minister for Education whether his attention has been drawn to Press reports (details supplied) regarding the manner in which a teacher who is a GAA All-Star had been penalised by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Teachers who are playing members of teams or officials authorised by the Central Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association are permitted to absent themselves from their schools for the purpose of taking part in the annual American tour of hurling and football matches on the following conditions:
(iv) the GAA to refund to the Department the actual amount of salary and allowances paid to the teacher for the period of absence, plus 15 per cent in respect of pension, minus the amount actually paid at the regulation rate to a substitute.
Mr. Bruton: The position in relation to service is this: there was an impression that a whole year would be lost whereas in fact for pension purposes the time lost would only be the precise length of time that the man was absent, not the whole year.
Mr. Tunney: Is the Parliamentary Secretary happy to tell us that in circumstances where a teacher got national and international recognition, he proposes penalising to the extent that he will deduct certain pension rights from him?
Mr. Bruton: These arrangements which are exactly the same as the arrangements which operated in the tenure of office of the previous Government, are being operated on this occasion by the Department of Education. There is no change whatever in policy on this matter and I should like to assure all concerned on that score.
Mr. Bruton: The position in this case appears to be that whereas I indicated that under condition 4, the GAA would refund to the Department the actual amount of salary and allowances paid to the teacher for the period of absence plus 15 per cent in respect of the pension, minus the amount actually paid at the regulation rate to a substitute, in a letter dated 12th August, 1976 the GAA informed the Department that the teachers were notified before leaving on the tour that it would be necessary to make a refund to the Department and that the teachers would be personally responsible for such refund.
Mr. Tunney: Would the Parliamentary Secretary not accept that it is ludicrous that we should be discussing here a situation where a teacher in the Department which is responsible for the development of sport and recreation is being subjected to this treatment by him on the premise that such was the case years ago? Could he not do better?
Mr. Bruton: I fear the Deputy was not listening to the reply I gave. The position in the past was—and I understand this was the policy then adopted by the GAA—that they would agree to the conditions operating to the effect that the GAA would refund to the Department the actual amount of salary and allowances paid to the teacher for the period of absence plus 15 per cent. On this occasion the GAA decided they would not do so and that it would be a matter for the teachers themselves to make the refund.
Mr. Barrett: Can the Parliamentary Secretary exercise his own discretion in the matter particularly when he is dealing with a man who is engaged in physical education in a comprehensive school as big as the school in this case?
Mr. Bruton: There is no discretion in cases like this. These are standard arrangements which were agreed with the GAA early in the fifties and they are observed in this case. Whereas in the past, apparently, the GAA were prepared to make the refund as I indicated in my reply, in this case they decided that they would not do so and that it would be the responsibility of the teachers. There is no change on the part of the Department of Education.
Mr. Bruton: As the Deputy probably knows better than I do, the GAA have been sending teams abroad under these arrangements, approved by the Central Council of the GAA, for many years. They may not have been designated “All-Star” but they were representative teams which went  abroad and were approved by the GAA. These arrangements were operated on those occasions by the GAA. They have changed their situation somewhat on this occasion. I repeat: there has been no change of policy in this matter on the part of the Department of Education.
Mr. Wilson: It is very difficult to put this in the form of one question because I am personally involved in this. I should like to know the date of the agreement to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred and I should like to ask if he is aware that players from the Six Counties are paid their full salaries and do not suffer in their pension rights?
Mr. Bruton: The arrangements made in regard to leave of absence for teachers in Northern Ireland are a separate matter for which their Department of Education have responsibility. Presumably they apply——
Mr. O'Kennedy: No, he said it happened before. There is no exact precedent. I had that responsibility for some time and I cannot recall the matter coming before me. In view of the absence of an exact precedent would the Parliamentary Secretary not now deal with it de novo?
Mr. Bruton: To the best of my knowledge the arrangements for the payment of teachers have never been the responsibility of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education. This is a question of teacher's pay, not of sports policy.
Mr. G. Collins: I do not want to evade the Chair. I want to make one little point in regard to the superannuation. Is the Parliamentary Secretary sure that it would not involve in certain circumstances the loss of one full year's recognition of pension service?
Mr. Bruton: The break in service of 14 days from 18th May to 1st June means that his increment date is deferred from 3rd September to 17th September. It also constitutes a break of 14 days for pension purposes.
|Last Updated: 14/09/2010 17:01:09||Page of 58|