Private Members’ Business - Special Educational Needs: Motion (Resumed)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 751 No. 2

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Seán Crowe on Wednesday, 11 January 2012:

Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:

[540]

[541]

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I call Deputy Finian McGrath who I understand is sharing time.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Yes.

I welcome the opportunity to speak in this important and urgent debate on educational disadvantage. I commend Sinn Féin for bringing forth this excellent motion which highlights the gross hypocrisy of the Government, in particular the Labour Party, in terms of cuts which will affect the most disadvantaged pupils in society, including those with special needs. Shame on the Government parties after all their talk and false promises prior to the general election.

As I stated earlier, the Government is in breach of Article 28.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Education Act 1988 which makes specific reference to the education of children with disabilities. The Government is in this regard and the broader debate on the economy and banking crisis making the most disadvantaged pay for the sins of others, namely, the greedy mé féiners who have destroyed the country.

As the only Deputy in Dublin North Central to stand up and fight for DEIS schools, I will be voting against these cuts. The silence of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, and Deputy Ó Ríordáin is deafening. The other two Deputies representing Dublin North Central are standing over the damage being done to DEIS schools and the removal of 438 DEIS teaching posts from 270 primary schools.

I urge all Members to support this valuable motion which I commend to the House.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  The Minister’s stock reply when issues of resources for education arise is that the country is in receivership. He uses the word “receivership” rather than “bankrupt”. If the country is only in “receivership”, it can become healthy again. We all believe that can happen, although much depends on the choices we now make. Taking the long view, we need to look at the outcomes for children starting school. We need to ensure that when we emerge from this awful crisis, we did not do anything to compound the problem. Otherwise, a particular cohort, owing to educational neglect, will be dependent rather than independent and their life chances will be severely curtailed.

[542]DEIS schools are located in areas of economic disadvantage. This came about as a consequence of a policy decision on housing, namely, the grouping of people financially disadvantaged in one area. We need to ensure they can break out of that cycle. The Minister has stated many pupils are educated in non-DEIS schools in disadvantaged areas. However, these schools are also affected by a reduction in the number of resource teachers despite having a high pupil-teacher ratio. This issue needs to be addressed in our review of outcomes. It is not the case that non-DEIS schools will be unaffected, as they, too, are subject to reductions in funding. I, therefore, urge the Minister to give serious consideration to this matter, as we do not want to look back in 20 years time and ask why we allowed this to happen.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  I support the motion. I am astonished that the Government has taken the decision to attack under-privileged people. There are all sorts of ways to cut public expenditure and, to me, this is a foolish and heartless option. I cannot understand how the Government can justify the extravagance in which it indulges in terms of payments to Ministers, Deputies, advisers and Senators and at the same time attack those such as the under-privileged identified in the motion. There is no justification for doing so when waste in the public service continues. The Government must, if forced to achieve savings, look again at other areas which are sensitive or deemed to be sacred cows. I am surprised at the support for the cuts from the Labour Party which traditionally has been sensitive to the needs of those who are under-privileged, poor, under-educated, handicapped and disabled.

It is welcome that the Minister is prepared to review this decision, admittedly under pressure from the House, including Deputy Finian McGrath and Members on the Government side. It is imperative that he does so. This could be a lesson for the Government. I do not welcome, in political terms, that the Government has to be humiliated in this fashion. What astonishes me, however, is that it took this decision in the first instance. I find that surprising and do not understand it, as it is a crude decision and the wrong one. There are other areas in which there could be cuts. There are other sacred cows which could be looked at. I have continuously called on the Government to look at the waste in the areas which are so protected. I, therefore, plead with the Minister to reverse the cuts which will adversely affect Holy Cross school, Dundrum.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  There were many cruel and senseless measures announced in the December budget, almost all of which were directed at or disproportionately hit the disadvantaged. However, the threat of swingeing cuts to DEIS schemes which provide a life-line for some of our most vulnerable young people is surely one of the cruelest and most senseless measures considered by the Government.

The Minister is aware — if he is not, he should be — that most of the people in the prisons suffered disadvantage or had special needs and literacy or numeracy problems which were not identified during previous darker times in the country. They were lost to society and their futures wasted. To cut teacher numbers and support to DEIS schemes which have given a life-life and an opportunity to young vulnerable and disadvantaged people to flourish, develop and contribute to society is obscene. It is a step back into a darker age, from which most people thought we had escaped. The Government is stealing the future of a huge number of our young, most vulnerable people.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  If the cuts proceed, more people will end up in prison and on the streets and immense damage will be done to the social fabric of the country. I do not understand how the Minister does not choke on phrases such as “liberate through education”[543]and “children first” when robbing the resources that are necessary to put children first. The Labour Party should be ashamed of itself. Those affected in DEIS schools should come out onto the streets on the 19th of this month and protest outside Leinster House to show their anger at the cuts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The Deputy is taking some of Deputy Wallace’s time.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  It is welcome that the Minister will review this decision. A person who cannot change his or her mind would not know how to change anything. I spoke with some of the parents involved in yesterday’s protest. It is mindboggling how the Government allowed matters to get to this point and it is to be hoped the Minister’s review will not be a token one. I spoke yesterday with the parents of some of the children attending Scoil Aonghusa, Tallaght which has 195 pupils and will as a result of the cuts lose five teachers. As a result, it will not be in a position to enrol the same number of students next year as it did this year. This will probably result in the school entering a downward spiral.

During Leaders’ Questions the Minister stated 60% of disadvantaged children attended non-DEIS schools, which is a good point. This brings home to me a matter about which many parents of pupils of Gorey community school have contacted me in recent days, namely, it is losing three guidance counsellors. While I acknowledge the Minister has stated the school has the option to keep them or lose other subject experts——

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  They are not being lost but are going into the mainstream teacher cohort. Deployment is at the discretion of the principal.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Fine. Three non-contracted teachers are being laid off and the guidance teachers are going back into the mainstream system to replace them. It is the biggest school in Ireland with 1,500 kids and because of the various strands of children entering it, the school cannot afford to cut the subjects and it considers its only option to be to lose three guidance teachers. This is a school that has experienced three suicides in the past two years. The guidance counsellors were highly valuable to the school and they are really upset about it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The next slot is a Government slot, in which ten Members will share 30 minutes. It is important that each Member respects his or her allocation of three minutes. If one goes over time, one will knock out someone at the bottom. Consequently, I ask them to limit themselves to three minutes.

Deputy Michael McCarthy: Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  In the context of expenditure on education, the budget for the Department last year was €8 billion, 80% of which went on pay and pensions. This leaves the Minister with little room to manoeuvre when trying to achieve savings without the axe falling somewhere. While this undoubtedly will cause difficulty, what matters most is how one administers this difficulty in the decision-making process. I will make a number of points in the brief time available. First, it is important that those schools which are not in the DEIS scheme but which had legacy posts because they were considered to be disadvantaged by the Department also should be included in the review announced by the Minister and which I welcome. Second, when trying to achieve savings, an important role exists for the teacher organisations such as, for example in primary schools, the INTO and the Irish Primary Principals Network, IPPN. It will be important to engage, consult and communicate with such people. Deputy Jim Daly and I visited a DEIS school in our constituency last Monday and this point emerged from that visit. Direct communication is needed between principals and the Department to achieve these savings and the former are best equipped to do this because they are on the ground.

[544]As for what has been said in this Chamber about cutbacks, I will make two points. First, I served in Seanad Éireann with Deputy Ross and remember him cheerleading Mr. Seanie FitzPatrick and the business model of Anglo Irish Bank, which is part of the reason for the economic mess in which the country finds itself. Another reason the Government must make these difficult decisions was the provision of the blanket guarantee, which was ably supported by Sinn Féin. Moreover, I note the Sinn Féin Minister of Education in the North last week announced the closure of two rural schools there. It is rank hypocrisy for any member of that party to criticise and complain in this Chamber while it is guilty of closing rural schools in the North of Ireland. It also is convenient for any Member suffering from amnesia to forget he or she cheer-led the Anglo Irish Bank business model, which brought Ireland into the difficulty it now faces. It has been left to the new Government to clean up the mess that was left behind by the outgoing Administration. The country is being run on money borrowed from the troika. That is where the money is coming from and the Government must be wise and provident in respect of how it spends that money and must ensure it protects the most disadvantaged.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important topic. The Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn, was correct to point out in his speech last night the increasing demands facing the school system, most particularly the additional 70,000 pupils who will enroll in Irish schools in the next six years. Obviously, as the Minister will acknowledge, it also is a time in which education is of critical importance in the rebuilding and reformation of the country. As one increasingly looks to attracting highly skilled jobs to Ireland, it is vitally important that young people are given the educational support they need to fulfil their potential, whatever that might be. The Minister is correct to prioritise a reform agenda and many elements thereof, particularly pertaining to the junior certificate reform, are exciting and everyone looks forward to developing them. However, in seeking to raise the standards of the education system and to accommodate the growing number of pupils, Members also must seek to protect the parts that already are delivering. It is in this context that I welcome the review announced by the Minister and for Deputy Ross to call it a humiliation is to miss the point entirely. This is not the Vatican and no political leader in the Government or this House is infallible. The decision announced by the Minister to conduct a review and to engage with schools to consider matters on a case-by-case basis is courageous and sensible and ensures the resources are targeted. There is no point in having a blanket scheme until one can ascertains that it will deliver. Equally, the Government must learn lessons in this regard and recognise that blanket cuts across the board also do not work for the same reason.

In addition, I acknowledge the recognition given by the Government to the wider issues affecting children enrolled in DEIS schools and its intention to address these in a targeted and co-ordinated manner. I commend the decision to preserve the €30 million in enhanced funding for DEIS schools, the €2 million school books scheme and the €26 million investment in the home-school-community liaison service. Moreover, the €27 million that will be provided next year for the school completion programme from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs highlights the cross-departmental approach, which is important if Members are serious about tackling educational disadvantage.

The resources invested in DEIS schools are vital in securing the opportunities of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I have seen at first hand in St. Philomena’s school, Bray, which is in my constituency, how a DEIS school is delivering for children with educational disadvantage. The Minister should take the opportunity to ensure the review for this year and the coming year will mean those schools that need the resources, and more importantly, those children who need the resources, will receive them. I ask that the Minister take a similar [545]approach to all areas of reform within the school system, including the likes of rural schools and small minority-faith schools.

Deputy Jim Daly: Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Cuirim fáilte roimh an deis seo chun labhairt ar an ábhar tábhachtach seo. I welcome the opportunity to contribute briefly to this debate and will make a couple of brief points. I commend the Minister for the steps he has taken thus far and to his credit, he has been a proactive Minister in the Department of Education and Skills. I preface my remarks by welcoming the protection that has been afforded to students with special needs because they are the most vulnerable of children. This was a difficult and challenging budget but to be fair to the Minister, his staff and officials, there was no reduction in the number of SNAs or resource teaching hours, which is critical for any teaching infrastructure for any student body, as any teacher will attest. Moreover, the pupil-teacher ratio also will remain the same. This was a difficult challenge because, as has been alluded to several times in this debate, 80% of the budget is tied up in staffing costs. Consequently, it is obvious that the only way in which money can be saved is through a reduction of staffing.

Moreover, there is waste in the education process. I come from the education system and am proud of my involvement therein. I refer to those who trot out all this emotive nonsensical bland rubbish, using cheap expressions such as “vulnerable children” and similar razzmatazz. It sounds great in the politics of protest but is useless. Listening to this debate, I have not heard any constructive suggestion from any protesting politician on the other side of the House on where the money is to be saved. Anyone who thinks a country that, irrespective of any banking bailout or banking crisis, is running a deficit of €20 billion does not need to reform its education system and make savings is living in cloud cuckoo land and quite simply is not of any assistance to Members in the job they are doing.

  12 o’clock

I was delighted to be elected to this House last March with a view to being in government and to be part of a Government of reform. The education system needs reform and needs a great deal of input from all the stakeholders and all the players. While not everything has been got right thus far, many steps have been got right under these challenging and difficult circumstances. Consequently, I support the Minister in what he is doing. I appreciate the difficulties and there are some minor tweaks to be made because one cap will never fit all, which is the difficulty being experienced on the ground in individual schools. However, there are savings to be made and there is reform to be had. I support that and welcome this input from the Minister and his Department to date.

Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor: Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Education is a key that unlocks a child’s potential and it is incumbent on the Government, the Department of Education and Skills, teachers, teachers’ unions and parents to ensure this is done in the best possible way. Education is about the child, the child is central to the debate and what is best for the child must be the focus at all times. The education debate should not be about jobs or the retention and creation of posts. Rather, it should be about the quality of education delivered in the classroom, in the resource teacher’s room, in lecture halls, in small rural two-teacher schools, in large urban 32-teacher schools and in DEIS band one and DEIS band two schools. The Government has pledged itself to prioritise the rights of the child and budget 2012 ensures this commitment to children is upheld in respect of educational resources.

I welcome the Minister’s pledge to review the DEIS band one and band two schools and to establish the facts around staffing and the pupil-teacher ratio. We need to have certainty about what resources we deliver in terms of attainment and outputs.

Today the education inspectorate will publish two reports and the ERC in Drumcondra will publish one report, which will give us more insight and shine a light on what exactly is hap[546]pening in our classrooms. The initiatives being proffered by DEIS band one and band two schools will be examined. We need these data to make decisions.

I pay tribute to the wonderful work being done by class teachers and resource teachers in the power hour initiative, the reading recovery initiative and many more initiatives. However, we have a problem in education and specific areas need to be addressed. The one that stands out is the national numeracy and literacy results from the PISA report. Those results show that the levels of numeracy and literacy have significantly decreased and that issue needs to be addressed.

I ask the Minister to ensure he introduces reform of the implementation of the literacy and numeracy strategy. We need to put that focus back into our classrooms. I commend him on introducing an extra year of training in our teacher training colleges. I ask him to ensure that in that year teachers are trained specifically in how to teach reading and mathematics in our schools to ensure our children can compete with the best in the world. I understand everyone’s difficulties in terms of DEIS band one and band two schools, rural schools and all of that but what is important is what is going on in the classroom. It is not about teachers’ jobs, teachers’ unions or anything else.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Níl ach trí nóiméad agam le labhairt ar an ábhar tábhachtach seo, na scoileanna beaga i gConamara, go mórmhór iadsan sa Ghaeltacht. Tá feachtas tosaithe anois ag na scoileanna sin chun an ordú faoin PTR a athrú. Aontaím leis an bhfeachtas sin.

This campaign relates to one-teacher, two-teacher, three-teacher and four-teacher schools. In his contribution yesterday on behalf of the Government, the Minister for Education and Skills stated: “The Government will continue to prioritise targeted supports for schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage through DEIS over and above other schools.” The schools that have contacted me in the Connemara area such as Leitir Caladh, Tuairín, Leitir Mealláin, Tír an Fhia, Leitir Mucú are all DEIS schools. Furthermore, they are all Gaeltacht schools.

Our programme for Government states: “We will support the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and will deliver on the achievable goals and targets proposed.” The proposed increase in the pupil-teacher ratio for small schools runs contrary to the 20 year strategy and to the Minister’s commitment for DEIS. The impact that such a loss on teacher numbers would have on class sizes will be huge in two-teacher schools such as the schools in Leitir Caladh or Leitir Mucú. The loss of one teacher would put the viability of such schools at risk. One teacher teaching up to 18 or 19 children of all A classes will put at risk the standard of education in this disadvantaged area. The loss of a teacher in larger schools such as Tuairín will increase class sizes and put a larger number of children in what are already physically small classrooms. Furthermore, backdating the enrolment date to September 2011 means that in the case of the school in Tuairín, which has 78 pupils, it only needed an additional three pupils to retain its four teachers. It would have been able to retain those teachers but because the enrolment date has been backdated, it will not be able to do that and it will lose a teacher.

While the negative effects of too large a class size is widely recognised and understood nationally, what is not as widely understood is the significant challenge of teaching a group comprising different age and year levels. This is an issue which predominantly affects rural schools and requires a teacher to devote more time to the preparation of lessons to ensure that all age groups within his or her class receive equal attention. If schools with such a system — which are necessitated in the first place to ensure adequate distribution of resources nationally — lose teaching posts, the task of teaching will be further complicated and the educational outcomes and opportunities for children will be placed at risk.

[547]When these issues were raised last year we spoke of the value for money report, which has not yet been published.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am told it is due in the coming weeks.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  That is good and I look forward to reading it. Notwithstanding the vote that will take place on this Private Members’ motion, on which I will support the Government, I ask the Minister to initiate a review of these changes for rural schools and to liaise with teachers to find alternative ways of maximising the constrained resources within the education budget. Flexibility is required regarding these changes. As Deputy Daly said, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

In the case of the school in Leenane which is geographically isolated we must examine the viability of the school there if one teacher is removed. As matters stand, it will lose a teacher not this year but perhaps the year after due to these changes. We must examine these matters. I respectfully ask for a policy review and change where possible.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  I greatly welcome the Minister’s initiative to review the impact the proposed loss of posts in DEIS schools would have, although it would result in relatively few posts being lost in County Clare with at least one post, which was proposed to be lost, being reviewed. A post in the Convent of Mercy school in Kilrush was under threat and I greatly welcome that it will be reviewed.

I reiterate what Deputy Lyons said yesterday. This party, as it prepares for its centenary year, takes very seriously a pledge made by our political predecessors in 1916 to cherish all the children of the nation equally. Our party, unlike the party which proposed the motion, does not differentiate between children of this nation in Northern Ireland in respect of whom it sees fit to cuts posts, and children south of the Border in this State, who are to be used merely as a political football.

I bring to the attention of the Dáil the fact that Sinn Féin rightly points out that the budget which is allocated in Northern Ireland is determined by a Tory government. What Sinn Féin failed to point out is that the Tory government just like the troika has very little interest in how that budget is spent and it is up to its Ministers in Northern Ireland to determine how the budget is spent just as it is up to Ministers here to determine how our budget is spent. In Northern Ireland its Minister sees fit to cut education posts whereas here we are doing everything possible to avoid cuts, especially cuts in DEIS schools and disadvantaged areas because we recognise that to cherish all the children of the nation equally, it is necessary to provide extra teaching posts for children from disadvantaged areas to break the cycle of disadvantage.

I recall for the information of the Dáil that it was a Labour Party Minister for education who first introduced preferential rates of teachers for children in disadvantaged areas. That is a policy this party in government intends to continue.

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I raise the issue of disadvantaged children or children in difficulties. We often fail to understand the opportunities there are to deal with children in difficulties. I especially refer to children and young people who have emotional, psychiatric and personal difficulties. Teachers have a captive audience and are able to assess people at an early age. With proper intervention at that stage many problems that are seen in the classroom can be catered for and we can prevent future difficulties.

There was a very low death rate among young people but that has changed during the years. That is true in the case of the incidence of suicide, an issue I wish to raise. In the past few decades the rate of suicide has increased dramatically among young people and, according to [548]one expert, the incidence of it is approaching epidemic proportions, although I do not like to use that term and such terms should be advisedly used.

Suicide among young people is different in nature from suicide generally. The impulsiveness that is one of youth’s greatest attributes can often lead to a sudden rash attempt at suicide when in the case of an older person the same emotions and response may not manifest themselves. Suicidal behaviour in adolescents is more often related to acute interpersonal problems. I thank the Minister for his forbearance when I raised this issue in the case of guidancecounsellors and the pastoral role they played in schools and I asked him to ensure that role continues.

I understand changes are necessary as a result of the position in which we find ourselves but guidance counsellors are often the first point of contact for students suffering from emotional difficulties or mental health issues arising from suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, sexual abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, bullying or problems relating to their sexuality. They are also the first point of contact with the HSE and the Garda Síochána in times of tragedy and they have an important role to play in supporting teachers. As I address my remarks to the Minister, I know I am speaking to the converted in respect of this issue. He indicated that he will ensure school authorities are fully aware of his commitment to retaining the guidance counselling role in schools, even in the aftermath of the recent changes.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I welcome the fact that the Minister has given a commitment to review the position of DEIS band one and band one schools in the context of the recent budget changes. He has taken a proactive approach to this matter and just prior to Christmas he indicated that he would be prepared to consider the position of schools on a case-by-case basis. I welcome that development. Schools have engaged in a proactive response to his call and I have already been contacted by the principal of Scoil Colmcille, Glengad, who, during the Christmas period, carried out a statistical analysis of the benefits of the DEIS programme. I congratulate her on doing so and encourage other school principals to follow her lead.

The principal in question informed me that she never thought she would be in a position to carry out such an analysis but that it had proven to be a good exercise. She indicated that the number of children under the 16th percentile in maths has dropped from 30% to 10% in the period since 1999. In the context of literacy, the figure has decreased from 31% to 8.9%. The principal also pointed out that an indicator of the success of the supports that were put in place is the number of children completing secondary school and proceeding to third level. In 1998 some 24% of children were leaving school without sitting the leaving certificate whereas this had dropped to 6% by 2011. In 1998, only 9% of children from the Glengad area were going on to third level whereas in 2011 the figure was 73%. Statistics of this nature are important.

I know the Minister is going to work with school authorities, boards of management, parents and fellow politicians in the context of considering educational reform in its entirety. I am also aware that he is going to be a reforming Minister. I am confident in his ability to listen to people. He met the patrons of smaller religious schools before Christmas. In that context, I welcome the fact that he is already engaged in dealing with this matter. Unlike his counterpart in Northern Ireland, he is not going to close down schools. In the past week the Minister for Education in Northern Ireland announced the closure of Aghavilly and Keady primary schools. The Minister for Education and Skills is not in the business of closing schools. He is, rather, in the business of achieving reform with fewer resources. He is going to be proactive and intends to take a bottom-up approach.

We must use this Chamber in a proactive way and we must display a degree of maturity. Let us, therefore, put forward constructive proposals. As Deputy Daly pointed out, the biggest temptation in politics — we were open to it when in opposition but we showed a degree of [549]maturity — is to grandstand, jump up and down and play to the gallery. That is not the way to do business. If we show a sense of maturity, we will achieve results in respect of the reform of the education system overall.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  I stress my belief that removing any part of initiatives such as the DEIS programme, which promotes educational equality, represents a false economy. Children are the future. It is our responsibility to preserve their right to achieve that future for both their personal development and the national good. As a concerned public representative and as a member of one of the parties in government, I am calling for a new examination of the proposed cutbacks. It is essential that Members of this House, as spokespersons for the most vulnerable in society, should make their voices heard, even if our doing so is perceived as going against the party line.

I welcome the Minister’s statement to the effect that he intends to review the impact of the relevant budgetary measures on individual schools on a case-by-case basis. However, this must result in positive and well-considered child-centred outcomes. While there is no disputing the fact that budgetary cutbacks are necessary, it is essential to take a long, hard look at the profiles of the schools which will be affected and also at the repercussions for the pupils who attend them. Small rural schools will be placed at a particular disadvantage in the context of the increased number of pupils required to maintain staff numbers. While this will be sufficiently problematic for many national schools, it will be extremely difficult for those in the DEIS programme. In light of the devastating effects of the economic downturn and of Government cutbacks in respect of rural communities, the provision of equity in education is an essential ingredient for long-term recovery. What makes the cutbacks relating to the DEIS programme especially harsh is the fact that the goalposts for DEIS schools which had met the criteria outlined by the Department of Education and Skills on 1 September last were moved on 31 October. While the figures provided by the Department may put a gloss on the position regarding the maintenance of pupil-teacher ratios, the reality is very different. The hard facts are that some rural schools may be forced to close. The disadvantaged pupils for whom these schools cater will be the ones to suffer most.

The removal of what are termed “legacy posts” from schools which require every assistance possible is both morally wrong and lacking in foresight. What may be considered a quick-fix saving now will become a massive liability in the future. How can we reconcile the fact that many mainstream schools will remain unaffected while disadvantaged schools will face drastic changes and major losses in the future? Regardless of how one considers this matter, it is obvious that DEIS band one and band two schools are set to lose teachers and children are going to lose their right to equality of education provision. That runs contrary to international best practice. I am extremely concerned with regard to the position in my constituency, Longford-Westmeath, in this regard and I have met a number of principals in order to discuss the adverse impact of the most recent cutbacks on the schools there. I will be meeting more of them in the coming days.

I welcome the fact that the Minister has been present for the entire debate on this very important matter. He is taking a proactive approach to his portfolio and I welcome the fact that he intends to consider the position of individual schools on a case-by-case basis. That is what school principals and the chairpersons of boards of management desire.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  I welcome this debate. I also welcome the commitment given by the Minister to the effect that he will reconsider the proposed changes.

Gone are the days when there were in excess of 50 students in each class and we all welcome that development. Most children love to attend school because they find themselves in a happy [550]environment in which there is a greater focus not just on education but also on extracurricular activities. Children have a greater opportunity to remain in school longer because they are facilitated not only by their teachers but also by everyone working in their schools. In addition, they are looked on more favourably in the context of their abilities.

It is important that no child should ever leave school without being in possession of proper reading or writing skills. I live and work in a RAPID programme area in which many DEIS schools are located and I pay tribute to the teachers who are committed to these schools. A large number of these teachers have worked in the same school for up to 35 years. They are in it for the long haul, therefore, and it is clear they believe in the children they teach and in the communities in which they work. Ultimately, their only interest is the welfare of their pupils.

There is a major challenge we must face up to. I hope the Minister will take on board some of what I have to say in this regard. How can we support schools in areas in which children have greater social and educational needs without applying labels? We must be mindful not to stigmatise children and communities by attaching to them the label of being disadvantaged. Many outsiders tend to take a particular view of communities to which labels are applied. However, the parents, children and others who live in these communities take a very different view. That aspect must be taken into account in the context of whatever decision is taken. I was surprised to discover that fewer than 50% of children who live in DEIS programme areas attend their local schools. This shows that there is something wrong and that action is required. All my children went to school in my parish in a DEIS school and I have the greatest of praise for the schools in my area and for the education that was given to my children. However, something is wrong when children choose to go outside their parish and when parents choose to send their children outside their areas.

I listened to some of the Opposition views expressed yesterday. We could all add our voice to them. Many Deputies live and work in areas with social needs. I call on the Opposition, especially Sinn Féin, not to bring this debate to a vote this evening. The Opposition should consider the circumstances of bringing this to a vote. It is time we realised that we can go forward on this matter given the opportunity that the Minister has said he will give and given his commitment to review the whole plan for DEIS schools. We should give his Department the opportunity to review the proposed changes. I call on those in Sinn Féin and the other Opposition Deputies to consider not voting on this matter this evening and to put it aside and then, perhaps in four or six weeks time when the Minister comes back, if they wish to do so then they should go ahead with their vote. Deputies on all sides of the House have spoken of the great commitment and the work that is done in schools especially in DEIS areas and I call on the Opposition to consider this.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jack Wall): Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I call Deputy Peadar Tóibín. I understand the Deputy is sharing time.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  That is correct. I will take five minutes.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jack Wall): Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Deputies O’Brien, Colreavy, Stanley, Ellis and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin will share time with the Deputy. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  One good thing coming from our education system is that when children get to junior certificate age they know the difference between the constitutional affairs of the South and the North. It is unfortunate to some extent that some Labour Party Deputies do not know that difference yet. There is a book in Easons titled Comparative Politics for [551]Dummies. It might be of use to buy such a book given the expenses Deputies can avail of and it would help them to understand the differences between the two states.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Did the Deputy feel the need to read it himself such that he could talk about it?

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  I never thought Deputy Tóibín would patronise in that way.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  There is no silver bullet for solving all the problems of any state. However, there is one remarkably powerful tool, that is, education. Education can allow every individual in the State to achieve his or her full potential. It is also the great leveller. It can allow for equal opportunity throughout the State. Education can break the cycle of poverty and can free people from disadvantaged areas not only those of this generation but the generations that come after them as well. Education can save this State billions of euro by creating a healthy, functional and productive society free from the social ills that have cost the State greatly on a human and financial level. Education is the way forward to a robust economy. How many times in the Chamber have we heard people refer to the smart economy and the knowledge economy? Given these facts one would imagine that education would be at the top of the Government’s agenda and that Ireland would be at the top of the class when it comes to education. Unfortunately, the facts are at a polar opposite from the mountain of words mouthed by the Government on this issue.

Between this and the previous Government there has been a large number of cuts. Two years ago Ireland was well below average with regard to education and the average OECD spend. There have since been cuts to Traveller support teachers and English-as-an-acquired-language teachers, special needs assistants have been removed, home-school liaison officers have been removed and we have seen these attacks on DEIS schools. We have seen small schools come under major pressure in rural areas, go mórmhór na scoileanna sna ceantair Ghaeltachta.

I refer to guidance teachers and their posts. Guidance teachers are pivotal within the lives of young students. They provide IQ testing and they carry out aptitude, psychometric and interest testing. They help students pick the correct subjects for first year and by the time students get to their final year, guidance teachers help them to pick subjects for college or if they go further. They help students to fill out the CAO forms and, in some cases along the Border, UCAS forms. They help students to complete forms relating to post-leaving certificate courses and they help them to choose apprenticeships as well. These individuals also help people with disabilities in a significant way within schools. Guidance teachers help people to fill out forms such as disability access route education forms and forms relating to higher education access route schemes. Under section 9 of the 1998 Education Act all children in second level schools have a right to access guidance service within schools. If these teachers are cut there is a chance such schools would be operating outside legislation.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is the responsibility of the principal to ensure this does not happen.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jack Wall): Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Please allow the Deputy to continue.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  They would be in breach of the legislation and it is the responsibility of the Government to prevent that from taking place also.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  No. It is the responsibility of the principal.

[552]Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Up to 700 teachers will lose their jobs because guidance teachers will move into teaching roles and then teachers within such schools who are not on full-time contracts will fall out of the system. Many of these young, new teachers will be forced to emigrate.

Most important, guidance teachers look after the mental health of their students. In many ways they are the first port of call for students who have suffered abuse or who have suicidal or self-harm tendencies. They are pivotal in holding many young students’ lives together. A career guidance teacher spoke to me yesterday of having had a phone call from a parent on Christmas day. He went and spoke to the individual concerned and helped him to step away from the choices he was about to make. This is replicated throughout the State. I urge the Minister to examine this issue seriously and to see the effects that career guidance teachers have and to do his utmost to save these spaces.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  Deputies McHugh and Daly suggested we should leave the emotions of this debate aside. As a parent with two young children going to DEIS band one schools I make no apology for bringing emotions into this debate. I strongly believe my children should have the same access to life opportunities as those of any other child whether from a DEIS school or a non-DEIS school.

This is a bizarre debate in many ways and unlike other private members’ business matters where there are differences of opinion. I have listened to all the contributions from the Opposition Deputies, including Deputies from Fianna Fáil and the technical group. Not one Deputy in the House has spoken of a DEIS programme having a negative impact on children’s educations needs. Everyone has said that the DEIS programme has brought additional educational supports to children. Everyone has spoken of the benefits of it and everyone has welcomed and applauded it, yet we are here today because the Minister proposes cuts to DEIS schools. The Minister may refer to legacy posts but we are discussing cuts to DEIS band one and band two schools.

I have a copy of the Minister’s speech from last night. He referred to a review that will take place in the coming four weeks to determine the impact the proposals will have on DEIS schools. I would have thought such a report would have been done before the announcements were made. That would have been the logical step. However, so much pressure has been brought on the Minister’s Department that he is trying to row back on them, which is welcome. I want the Minister to row back and to reverse the announcements made last December. Referring to the DEIS programme last night, the Minister stated, “I have recently received three evaluation reports on DEIS which indicate that it is making a measurable contribution to improving outcomes for children in schools which benefit from it.” He further stated that the initial findings of the evaluation show that when comparing the overall average reading score in 2007 with its equivalent in 2010 in urban schools, it revealed an overall improvement in average reading and mathematics achievement.

There is no need for a report. Every Deputy here could testify to the benefits of the DEIS programme. The Minister stated last night that he spoke to school principals. Had he listened to them he would know that any proposal to cut staffing numbers in DEIS schools will have a negative impact. The reports will only inform the Minister what every Deputy in the House has stated during the debate. It will inform him of the conclusion reached in the evaluation reports, which the Minister has, and that cutting supports to DEIS schools will have a negative impact. The Minister does not need another report. Let us be honest — the report is no more than a fudge. In my constituency we always think the word “report” is used as a smokescreen. The last time a Minister spoke about a review in my constituency a hospital was closed on the north side of Cork city. The last review the Government promised the people of Cork North Central was in respect of the feasibility of maintaining orthopaedic services on the north side [553]of the city and the hospital was closed. I fear this latest review is no more than a cover for Labour Party backbench Deputies who have spoken privately to the Minister and publicly against the cuts in the DEIS programme. This is an opportunity for them to roll in to the Chamber today to support the Government’s amendment.

Nobody in the House believes the Minister’s proposals will not have a negative impact on children’s education. As a parent of children attending DEIS schools and on behalf of other children attending such schools, I plead with the Minister not to proceed with this measure. He talks about leaving a legacy. If he proceeds with what he is proposing, his legacy will be denying my children and others equal access to life’s opportunities.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  I apologise in advance because after making this speech I must return to a committee meeting.

I confess I am not a great wizard at maths, but the planned removal of 428 teachers at a time when the student population is rising does not add up. During the Christmas period I had extensive meetings with educationists and parents who, frankly, are in despair over the cutbacks. My old alma mater in Sligo is a DEIS band two primary school that has delivered programmes which have significantly improved the educational and social achievements of children for several years. Three teachers will be lost from the school under the general allocation model, one teacher will be lost from a disadvantaged concessionary post and two from Giving Children an Even Break posts. Possibly one or two English teacher posts, as well as an additional language teacher post, will be lost, even though the school is located just across the road from an immigration centre containing 250 people, including a large number of children. This represents a loss of seven or eight posts and a staff cut of 27% which rises to 33% if we include the three resource teachers for Travellers who lost their posts last September. Can the Minister imagine what would happen if his Department’s staff numbers had been cut by33%? Would it be able to function? The answer is no.

I hear the same tale of worry about cutbacks the length and breadth of the Sligo-North Leitrim constituency. Those involved in rural schools, in particular, are terrified about what the future holds for them.

Where is the national literacy strategy?

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is being implemented.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  What about our commitment to reach the EU target of 10% of early school leavers annually? What about the promise made by the founding fathers to cherish the children of the nation equally? These education cutbacks mark a continuation of the Government’s policy of ensuring those who benefited least during the so-called Celtic tiger years will be disproportionately targeted to pay for the sins of others. Low income families and children from disadvantaged areas are being forced to shoulder an unfair proportion of the financial burden resulting from the mismanagement of the economy by a negligent Government and a greedy wealthy elite. This is wrong.

I listened very carefully last night to Deputy John Lyons who gave an insightful and thoughtful response to Sinn Féin’s motion. The Minister could have placed Sinn Féin in an invidious position. If he had committed to ring-fencing funds for DEIS schools, looking after the educational needs of disadvantaged children and doing the the right thing by education financially, we would have had to consider seriously supporting the Government’s amendment. However, he only promised a review, which means nothing. The review should have been carried out before he made the decision to make the cuts.

[554]The Minister of State, Deputy Perry, made a very public solemn commitment that no schools would be closed in Sligo and north Leitrim under his watch. I am a fair-minded person. I commended the Minister of State in this House for his commitment and still do. However, under the current proposals, the closure of smaller rural schools will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are cutting off a leg and wondering if the person will live. I will hold the Minister of State to his commitment to the electorate of Sligo-North Leitrim. If one rural school is closed owing to the decisions made by the Minister, I will make sure that both he and the Minister of State, with the rest of their colleagues, are publicly held to account.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  We all agree that education is one of the key elements in ensuring citizens have successful, healthy and fruitful lives. This was underlined a few years ago by the then Minister for Education, Niamh Breathnach, who introduced the Breaking the Cycle programme. The irony is that her successor from the same party is attempting to undo much of the good work done by her. The attempt to dismantle what remains of the Breaking the Cycle programme and undermine the DEIS programme further is clearly driven by the need to balance the books owing to the disastrous economic position in which the State finds itself. However, the question the Minister has failed to answer is why is he choosing to punish children?

There are 15 DEIS primary schools in the constitutency of Laois-Offaly that will be affected by the cuts. Scoil Bhríde Knockmay which my own children attended is a 51-teacher school in which 50% of the children are from non-Irish backgrounds and do not have English as a home language. This presents huge challenges. The school is set to lose four teachers under the proposals made. Its capitation grant will be cut by 6%, even though it is already stretched, in spite of a very good management performance, and having difficulty in balancing the books. Why are the Minister and his colleagues in the Government choosing to punish children who were not even born when the crisis was created? It could be because the Minister believes the DEIS and Breaking the Cycle programmes do not work, or is it because he is determined to balance the books for the troika and has decided to pick on the schools offering least resistance? I look forward to hearing his response because the evidence I have seen shows that the DEIS programme and its predecessor, the Breaking the Cycle programme, have been very successful. It was an investment worth making as it resulted in a lower pupil-teacher ratio and the provision of extra resources, including language support teachers. Granted, it takes time for all of this to come through. Much of it is long-term and many of its benefits to society are yet to be seen, but even in the short term we have seen the children excel. We have seen children who may not have English as their first language fully participate in school activities and children receiving the extra learning supports they require. These resources, far from being seen as a drain on the Exchequer should be seen as a solid investment. There is a cost if children from disadvantaged areas fall out of the education system early and end up in prison. This is to look at it just from an economic point of view, which we should not do, but I wish to highlight this to the Minister.

Yesterday, the Minister and Deputy John Lyons acknowledged the benefits of the DEIS scheme and the results of putting in place those extra resources. They highlighted the fact that it is working well and we agree with them. However, to attempt now to remove these resources is short-sighted and vindictive and has been met with huge anger, resistance and protest. In choosing to pick on DEIS schools to save money the Minister has under-estimated the level of resistance in the schools and the wider communities. The Government parties, in particular Labour Party backbenchers, have felt much pressure on this issue and have been subject to many protests. Their first response was to attempt to spin their way out of it. When this did [555]not work the Minister announced a review. This has become part of a pattern, and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, used it with regard to communidty employment schemes.

Yesterday, the Minister, Deputy Quinn, announced a review of DEIS band one and band two. With all due respect, this is a cop-out. Reports on these schools have been done; they are called “whole school evaluations” and the Minister will know about them because they are on the Department’s website. I know for a fact that one of the DEIS schools in Dublin recently completed one such report. Every evaluation has highlighted the positive role that DEIS has played in our children’s education.

The public wants to hear what the Minister will do to reverse these cuts in DEIS schools and not about another review or glossy report. What people want to hear from the Minister and from the Government benches is when these cuts will be reversed and how soon it will be done.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Tá díomá agus fearg orm go mbeidh daoine ag fulaingt de thairbhe ar na ciorruithe sa chóras oideachais, go háirithe sna scoileanna DEIS ar fud na tíre, cuid acu i mo cheantar féin, Baile Átha Cliath Thiar Thuaidh. Ta sé soiléir go bhfuil na ciorruithe dírithe ar na daoine is boichte sa sochaí seo.

The programme for Government mentions “new initiatives to deliver better outcomes for students in disadvantaged areas” and that the Government “will examine how to make existing expenditure on educational disadvantage more effective”. It also states that the Government will “improve co-ordination and integration to delivery of services to the Traveller community across all Government departments, using available resources more effectively to deliver on principles of social inclusion, particularly in area of Traveller education through the DEIS programme”.

It would be fair to state these are not overly ambitious aims for the development of education in disadvantaged areas and in disadvantaged communities. However, they read like the aims of another Government entirely. There have not been initiatives, better outcomes, improved co-ordination or delivery of anything save perhaps ruthless cuts. In the past nine months and particularly in the budget, the Government has only reinforced what we all know, which is that despite espoused good intentions and kind words it prioritises bailing out Anglo Irish Bank and paying off unsecured bondholders over the education of children from our most disadvantaged communities who have been failed by the State again and again. This month we will pay €1.25 billion to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders. This is one 19th of the overall €78 million in cuts planned in education. We will pay a further €3.51 billion prior to the end of the year. This is one 35th of that amount.

DEIS schools are working. Despite massive difficulties they help children who previously did not have a chance in life. They improve literacy and numeracy levels and by doing so they ensure children will go on to be more successful at second level and even third level. Continuing to third level remains the exception in areas experiencing social exclusion and economic disadvantage with Ballymun and Finglas having some of the lowest numbers of people availing of third level education. The constituency of Dublin North-West has approximately 34 DEIS schools and a large number of Traveller families, probably a higher number than the national average. The Government has a responsibility to help these children and to safeguard them and their education because it is the policy of the Government parties, continued from previous Governments, to maintain a system which increases inequality and punishes the poor rather than taking from those who can afford it. It denies them their rights to education, health care, housing and work among others.

[556]The Minister has accepted that DEIS schools work and he stated three recent reports support this. However, his party, which has the largest number of teachers in the Dáil among its Deputies, is making these cuts. Even the thought of an attack on DEIS by a party with so many teachers is very difficult to understand. In 2012, some DEIS schools must ask children to bring in their own toilet rolls and it is getting worse.

The Minister stated that we need a review. The Government is becoming a Government of reviews, as we have had review after review particularly when a measure is unpopular. What we need is support for DEIS schools and the children who depend on them. The teachers and other staff worked tirelessly to educate in very difficult circumstances. We cannot afford to abandon these children or to fob them off with a review, as the Government did with disabled people and those on CE schemes. It is attempting to fool us by stating that cuts will be reviewed when what is proposed is breathing room in the hope that we might all forget and then not fully rowing back. This is probably the plan.

The Government and its backbenchers have a choice between putting children first or putting its recent policies first. They will not get away with this. I hope people will remember. We should remember what the founder of the Labour Party espoused 100 years ago this week, that every child should be cherished equally. If the Government Deputies will not listen to this they should remember the words of his comrade, “Beware the risen people who shall take what ye would not give”.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  As my party’s spokesperson on children and as a Deputy who represents disadvantaged communities, I am appalled at the cuts being imposed on children with special educational needs and on disadvantaged children. The cuts, as highlighted in this comprehensive motion tabled by Sinn Féin, are reprehensible. The education cuts totally contradict the claims of the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government that it is protecting the vulnerable and that it recognises education as a key to economic recovery.

Think for a moment about the messages being received. The messages I hear being received on the basis of the Minister’s signalled intent is that education may well be part of a future recovery but people feel they will have no part of it. These people are being excluded. The message to young people is that employment may grow but they are condemned to unemployment or low-paid employment for life.

I have no doubt that if these cuts are allowed to go ahead and to be continued, in ten or 15 years time people will look at the social problems in our country and they will say: “Remember the cuts to disadvantaged schools and pupils in 2012? That is when so many of these kids fell through the cracks.”

How many children losing out through these cuts will in years to come turn to crime and anti-social behaviour or drug addiction? We know that children from economically disadvantaged families and areas are more likely to fall into these traps. Many more of these children, of course, will not experience these problems directly but will suffer low incomes, poor employment prospects and low quality of life. Make no mistake, these type of cuts affecting children in their vital early learning years have lifelong consequences for them and long-term consequences for our society.

Increasing the pupil-teacher ratio in DEIS band one and band two schools is a serious blow to disadvantaged communities. Schools will lose teachers and class sizes will increase. Let nobody try to underestimate the impact on disadvantaged children of a change in class size; that is dramatic and many of last evening’s contributions emphasised this, including a voice from the Minister’s party. One school principal in a DEIS school in Darndale in Dublin this [557]week said that her pupils had excelled since the 15:1 ratio was introduced. She indicated that her “pupils were meeting the national literacy average and the ability to structure the classes to cater for the needs of individuals and groups of students had an obvious positive effect on their education.” Even more telling is the comment of a former pupil, now with siblings at the school. That person stated:

That is a generational experience in the family and a tribute to what has been achieved and which must be protected and secured in future. These and thousands of other parents, teachers and pupils are appealing to the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Quinn, and the Government not to proceed with these cuts but to reverse them.

Céad bliain ó shin, bhí Pádraig Mac Piarais chun tosaigh ag forbairt oideachais sa tír seo le Scoil Éanna. Sa bhliain céanna, thug sé a léacht cháiliúil The Murder Machine inar cháin sé córas oideachais na Breataine sa tír seo. Anois nílimid faoi chos na Breataine ach táimid faoi chos ag an Aontas Eorpach agus an IMF. Is mór an trua é sin.

There is a context for all of this. This has come about in order to repay bank bondholders and international financial markets for gambling losses. The Minister can shake his head but his Government is working to a diktat outside of its control. There is an opportunity to redirect the Government in dealing with the crisis and aping the previous position of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, continuing their genuflection and obedience to every diktat coming from Europe, is not the way to go. We must put the children and people of Ireland first. They are having their education rights attacked, with lifelong and generational consequences. It is shameful and this must stop. I appeal to the backbenchers of the Labour Party in particular, many for whom I have great respect, not to support the Government amendment today. They should vote with their conscience and own sense of justice. If our motion is not passed, I appeal to the Minister directly as he must feel significant discomfort at what is happening here. He should act on this at the earliest opportunity.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Sean Sherlock): Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Achieving savings in the Department’s budget has required difficult decisions. Despite pressures on spending, the Government has shielded to the greatest extent possible front line services in schools. The Government has and will continue to prioritise targeted supports for schools, with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage through the DEIS programme and action plan. More than €158 million is currently being provided by way of additional resources and supports for primary and post-primary schools, including DEIS. This is only part of an overall amount of some €700 million, which continues to be provided to tackle educational disadvantage across the full education spectrum, from pre-school to further and higher education. This includes schemes such as the school completion programme and disadvantaged youth, which now come under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and the school meals programme, which comes under the Department of Social Protection.

It is important to note that a key aspect of the EU-IMF programme of support and Ireland’s overall budgetary strategy is a requirement to reduce the public sector payroll. This is a particular challenge for the education sector, considering that a third of all public sector employees work there. Furthermore, unlike in other countries, our school-going population is rising rapidly and places must be provided for the extra 70,000 pupils arriving in our schools in the next six [558]years. Providing for increased enrolments is a key priority but making some adjustment to teacher numbers is unavoidable, given budgetary constraints.

The net impact on overall teacher numbers in our schools has been minimised to the greatest extent possible. We are conscious of the concerns of some schools which will be adversely affected by the withdrawal of posts under previous disadvantaged schemes, and with these concerns in mind we have made clear since the budget announcement that this matter would be managed as sensitively as possible. To this end the Minister, Deputy Quinn, has met school principals, teachers, parents and community representatives in recent weeks to hear their concerns and clarify the position of announced changes in the 2012 budget to posts allocated to schools under previous schemes to tackle educational disadvantage.

The Minister has held many meetings with members of my parliamentary party and all Government colleagues, who have performed an invaluable service in assisting him in developing an understanding of the impact of the proposed measures in these schools. It is in this context that the Department of Education and Skills has been directed to report to the Minister within the next four weeks on the position of DEIS band one and band two schools which currently have posts under schemes predating DEIS. That will done in the context of staff allocations due to issue to all schools in the coming weeks. We look forward to receiving that report and continuing the process of engagement with schools on the impact of the measures announced in the 2012 budget.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jack Wall): Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Deputy Ó Snodaigh is to share time with Deputy Mary Lou McDonald. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Cuireadh inár leith inné agus arís inniu gur ar bhonn peil pholaitiúil a chuir Sinn Féin an rún seo os comhair na Dála. Níl aon rud níos faide ón fhírinne. Is ar bhonn buairt ó chroí do na glúnta atá romhainn atá muid ag cur an rúin seo chun tosaigh. Táimid ag impí ar an Rialtas tarraingt siar ón gcinneadh a ghlacadh roimh an Nollaig. Mura dtugann muid tús áite do pháistí atá ar scoil faoi láthair agus do na páistí a bheidh ar scoil sar i bhfad agus mura dhéanann muid an infheistiú cuí san oideachas dóibh agus do na glúinte atá le teacht, cad a bheidh in ndán dóibh nó do gheilleagar nó eacnamaíocht na tire seo?

Má tá an tír seo chun infheistiú idirnáisiúnta a mhealladh go hÉirinn, má tá muid chun dul san iomaíocht le geilleagair eile timpeall an domhain, caithfidh muid a dhéanamh cinnte de go mbeidh ár n-óige chun tosaigh ó thaobh scileanna, eolas agus cur chuige de.

An t-aon bhealach le seo a dhéanamh ná trí déanamh cinnte de go bhfuil scolaíocht den scoth ar fáil ag chuile páiste agus go mbeidh gach páiste in ann dul chun tosaigh ag gach leibhéal den scolaíocht agus den chóras oideachais.

  1 o’clock

I did not hear all of the debate yesterday, although I sat through most of it. We were probably challenged yesterday and twice today in the House to explain from where would the funding come if the cuts were to be reversed. Sinn Féin published a pre-budget submission, but I will not ask the Minister to go back over it. The Government rejected it because it produced a budget which ignored most of the points outlined in it. I have considered the challenge to the Opposition to come up with sources of funding to reverse the cuts proposed. I challenge the Minister to examine the money given in tax rebates to companies which invest in research and development because each year the State pays out €30 million to corporations for this purpose over and above the amount paid in tax by them. We give them €30 million they have not, in fact, paid to the Exchequer. This €30 million would help to reverse many of the cuts proposed in the budget. The challenge to the Minister is to examine the rebate and divert the money paid out.

[559]Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  It is for job creation.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I am not against a tax rebate on moneys spent on research and development. I do not have a problem with this, but the money is over and above the amount paid in tax by companies. It represents a grant of €30 million. I received this information in reply to a question to the Minister. The challenge now for him is to take the opportunity to reverse the cuts proposed.

I had a meeting on Tuesday morning with school principals from the Inchicore and Bluebell area. They estimate that 14 teachers will be lost in five schools which have already lost 11 teachers since 2009, as well as 15 posts of responsibility. When we met teachers from the Dublin 8 area prior to Christmas, they had an horrendous figure for the number of teachers to be lost, some of whom are in the Minister’s constituency. The cuts are not made in isolation; they are on top of cuts made by the previous Government.

Time and again those most affected are the disadvantaged. That is why the focus of the motion is on the DEIS programme which the Minister admitted in the House was working and delivering. It was beginning to have an effect and move children up to a level at which they could compete with others who were advantaged who could attend fee-paying schools. The proposals made by the Minister are an attack on front-line services, yet the Government has made great play of the fact that no cuts have been made to such services. The Minister should ask the children who will be affected next year and in the future whether these cuts are an attack on front line services. I urge him to think again. In some ways the review he proposes is too late. He should have thought of this beforehand and understood the effects of the cuts before he even put pen to paper.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  I am sure we all remember when the budget was announced in the House. We were told that one of its greatest achievements was that the pupil-teacher ratio had not been affected. That was the stuff of smoke and mirrors because in significant ways the pupil-teacher ratio in schools had been adversely affected in respect of the provision of guidance counsellors, proposed staffing schedules for rural schools and some of the most disadvantaged schools across the State. The two Ministers present know we should not be having this debate. No one on either side of the House should be present to debate this matter because at this time there should be no question of dismantling the guidance teacher provision. There should be no question of undermining rural schools, but, above all, there should be no question of damaging or disrupting the DEIS system.

In the Minister’s comments last night and the amendment tabled by the Government I notice that those responsible are quick enough to give themselves a pat on the back for their achievements in government in the 1990s with the Breaking the Cycle and other programmes to which the amendment refers. I have no difficulty with this.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is because we ran the economy smartly. We planned the service and delivered it.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  The Government deserves credit for what it did during that time under the stewardship, in particular, of Niamh Breathnach when she was Minister, but it must be said the Minister is prepared to undermine these very achievements. He said there were no cutbacks in the DEIS programme. He is dancing on the head of pin.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Deputy and her party would know all about that.

[560]Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  The Minister tells us that he wants to address the issue of posts pre the DEIS programme. He also told us last night that the retention of pre-DEIS programme posts was a concessionary measure. His language in the course of the debate in recent weeks has been extremely revealing in the sense that there are legacy issues at play. The Minister knows them well — the legacies of deprivation, drug abuse in many inner city communities and inequality — and that if we are worth our salt on either side of this House, we will address them without being in fear of the troika or anyone else.

The term “concessionary” is most illuminating. I say to the Minister and his colleagues: we seek no concessions for children. The Minister is offering them no concessions. The motion and our fight to protect DEIS programme posts are based on a simple recognition of the rights of child citizens who are bright, able and live in communities with challenges that leave them vulnerable. It may bore the Minister’s colleague, Deputy Jim Daly, that the terms “vulnerable” and “disadvantaged” are used. He objected to them. I am sorry if it upsets or bores him, but that is the reality for many of the people I am proud to represent in this House.

The Minister has informed the House that 60% of disadvantaged children are not in DEIS schools. That is fine. He has also informed us that “there is no monopoly of disadvantage”. He should not attempt to use such perverse logic to justify the cut of 482 DEIS programme posts. I find it appalling that he would even come to the Chamber and suggest when we are considering children’s life opportunities and education that we try to consider or articulate a hierarchy in respect of there being a monopoly of disadvantage. No child thinks in that way.

The Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, commended his Labour Party colleagues on the backbenches for educating him on the realities of the cutbacks proposed in DEIS schools. I do not know how one should take this, but it seems strange.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  The Deputy is talking about the use of language, but she has played around with it herself.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  When we tabled the motion, we actively encouraged parents and teachers to lobby Government backbenchers but, in particular, Labour Party Deputies. I am pleased to see that teachers, parents and communities have mobilised strongly on the issue. At the time of the general election the line was that one should put the Labour Party in government to remove the sharp edges off Fine Gael. It now turns out that in reality, parents and teachers in disadvantaged areas are called upon to put the fire under the Labour Party backbenchers to rein in their own Minister. This is a very strange turn of events. The Minister promised a review and his colleagues seem to be delighted with this. We do not want a review; we want the Minister to reverse these cuts. I take it from listening to his colleagues on the Labour Party and, indeed, the Fine Gael benches, that they are assuming a review will result in a reversal of the cuts. The Minister has not made that commitment. He has told the House he will look at each school individually, that he will examine each school in depth. That is what he has told the House. My colleagues have already made the very reasonable point that this level of analysis and investigation ought to have been carried out before the Minister announced he would axe these teaching posts. However, in announcing his review, he has not even set out the parameters of it. What precisely will be measured? When he says he will look at each school individually, what exactly does that mean? How does he address the real concern among very many communities and teachers that favour might be given to one school or one community and withheld from another? I think the Minister’s review is an admission that he has got this wrong and I do not think he needs me to tell him. The review may, I hope, be his [561]political way of getting out of this situation and reversing his decision. I hope this is the case. However, I cannot stand here confidently today and say that this is so.

When the vote on this motion is called, I appeal to Members on all sides and in particular, to Labour Party Deputies, who have stated clearly their commitment to quality education and equality of opportunity and outcome for our children. I appeal to them, those who see the good sense, the logic and the decency of the Sinn Féin motion, to support our position. I ask them to examine and consider very carefully whether the Minister’s review will deliver. They seem to think so. I do not know whether the Minister has said privately to his own backbenchers that this is a manoeuvre or a staging post for a reversal. I do not know if that is the case. What I do know is that what the Minister needs to do is to tell this House that he will not go ahead with these cuts. It is as simple as that. I daresay that those Labour Party Deputies, in particular, and, indeed, Fine Gael Deputies, who are now applauding the Minister for his review, will look at him rather differently if his review comes back and the decision is that it has been examined and that they are going ahead to axe these hundreds of teaching posts. I urge Deputies to err on the side of caution, support the motion that supports children, that supports schools and which, with no apology, asserts that each of our children deserves and will be given equality of opportunity, particularly our kids in disadvantaged areas.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 85; Níl, 42.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Ray Butler  Zoom on Ray Butler  Butler, Ray. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J.
Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel.
Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat.
Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan.
Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel. Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather.
Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek.
Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan. Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán.
Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John. Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony.
Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael. Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn.
Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter. Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle. Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara.
Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan. Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  


Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael.
Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen S. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Sean.
Information on Tom Fleming  Zoom on Tom Fleming  Fleming, Tom. Information on John Halligan  Zoom on John Halligan  Halligan, John.
Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Michael. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie.
Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra.
Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Patrick Nulty  Zoom on Patrick Nulty  Nulty, Patrick. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert. Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Amendment declared carried.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  As a teller, I need to give the Labour Party Deputies, in particular, time to educate themselves further on the effects of the cuts they are implementing. I call for a vote other than by electronic means.

Question again put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 85; Níl, 42.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Ray Butler  Zoom on Ray Butler  Butler, Ray. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J.
Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel.
Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat. Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina.
Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan.
Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel. Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather.
Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek.
Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan. Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán.
Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John. Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony.
Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael. Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn.
Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter. Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle. Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara.
Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan. Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  


Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael.
Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen S. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Sean.
Information on Tom Fleming  Zoom on Tom Fleming  Fleming, Tom. Information on John Halligan  Zoom on John Halligan  Halligan, John.
Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Michael. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie.
Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Patrick Nulty  Zoom on Patrick Nulty  Nulty, Patrick. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert. Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Question again declared carried.


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