Wednesday, 21 February 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
131. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Education the number of caretakers at present employed in national schools under the 1979 scheme; when the decision was made to phase out the scheme; the number of caretakers who left the service to date, taking into account those who died, retired, resigned or were dismissed, since the phase out decision was taken in schools in which the original criteria for their appointment still obtain; the number of caretakers who left the service since 1979 to date as a result of the criteria governing their appointment being no longer valid; if she has given sanction for the appointment of any caretaker in the primary sector since the phase out decision; if any grant is being paid to a board of management in respect of a caretaker appointed since that date; the number of caretakers who left the service between 1 January 1989 and 31 December 1989 in schools in which the original criteria governing the appointment still obtain; the number of caretakers who will leave the service due to retirement between January 1990 and 31 December 1990 in schools in which the criteria governing their appointment still obtain; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): At present there are 279 caretakers employed in national schools under my Department's scheme of grants. The decision to phase out the scheme was taken in connection with the preparation of the 1983 Estimates for Public Services, and was part of the strategy of reducing the numbers employed in the public service. Of the 97 caretaker posts which have fallen vacant since the phasing out began, 57 were in schools which still meet the original appointment criteria. It was decided some years ago that schools would not lose their caretakers should their teacher numbers fall below the level required to qualify them for a caretaker post in the first place; therefore no posts have fallen vacant in such circumstances.
 In conjunction with the introduction of the social employment scheme in schools in 1985, the then Government decided, as an exceptional matter, to reinstate all 29 caretaker posts which had fallen vacant up to April of that year. No exceptions to the phasing out policy have been granted since that time.
In 1989, three caretaker posts fell vacant in schools where the original criteria governing the establishment of the post are still satisfied. It is not possible to predict the number of caretakers who will retire during 1990 as there is no compulsory retirement age laid down for these staff. In addition to the appointment of caretakers under the above scheme, many schools would have the services of a caretaker under the social employment scheme.
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