Written Answers. - Intermediate Education Structures.

Tuesday, 31 May 1994

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 443 No. 4

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[764]

  56.  Mr. J. Mitchell  Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell   asked the Minister for Education  Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach   the proposals, if any, she has to provide additional moneys to meet the cost of the proposed Regional Education Committees; if the cost of the committees will be a charge on the existing budget for education; and the proposals, if any, she has to equalise the funding for second-level schools in the context of the Regional Education Committees.

  58.  Mr. G. Mitchell  Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell   asked the Minister for Education  Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach   the proposals, if any, she has to provide additional moneys to meet the cost of the proposed Regional Education Committees; if the cost of the committees will be a charge on the existing budget for education; and the proposals, if any, she has to equalise the funding for second-level schools in the context of the Regional Education Committees.

  73.  Mr. Cullen  Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen   asked the Minister for Education  Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach   if her attention has been drawn to the unease expressed by officials of the Church of Ireland at the proposals for intermediate structures; the plans, if any, she has to communicate with the officials about their concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  I intend to take Questions Nos. 56, 58 and 73 together.

As you are aware, the Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to the introduction of intermediate education structures.

I was requested at the National Education Convention, which was held last October, to prepare a position paper elaborating my thinking on intermediate education structures. This was an input into the consultative process. Extensive roundtable discussions, involving the concerned interests including representatives of the Church of Ireland, were completed last Thursday. Professor John Coolahan, Secretary General to the Convention, who chaired the relevant “Analysis of Issues” group and Dr. Séamus McGuinness who acted as rapporteur [765] to the group, are acting as chairman and rapporteur of the Roundtable Group. I now expect a report of their discussions very shortly.

The proposals in the paper are an input to an ongoing consultative process, initiated at the National Education Convention. They are clearly neither final ministerial nor Government proposals. It is made absolutely clear in the paper that final decisions will be informed by the views of all concerned and that these decisions will be made by the Government on proposals from myself, as Minister. The purpose of the paper is to give the interests an opportunity to influence the outcome. In approaching the preparation of the White Paper, I have sought to provide all concerned interests with the opportunity to make their views and concerns known. I have undertaken to listen carefully, and take full account of, the views of all relevant interests.

I am confident that given the very constructive nature of the debate to date and the very high level of engagement among the partners with the issues, the publication of the paper and the ensuing debate will greatly facilitate both myself, as Minister, and the Government in finalising proposals on this key issue. The arrangements for the funding of intermediate education structures will be addressed in the White Paper, which will contain the final policy decisions on the matter.


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