Quinn is not schoolboy bully, says Kenny on Asti dispute
Sinn Fein claims Minister’s ‘macho pose’ on redundancies is deeply irresponsible
Taoiseach says that far from being ‘some sort of schoolboy bully’ the Minister for Education has pointed out the reality of the situation.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected claims that Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn is a “schoolyard bully” threatening compulsory redundancies on Asti teachers who have rejected the Haddington Road agreement.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald made the accusation and claimed Mr Quinn was “deeply irresponsible” by striking a “macho pose” and escalating the dispute, rather than seeking a settlement.
Mr Kenny insisted however that far from being “some sort of schoolboy bully Minister Quinn has merely pointed out the reality of the situation”. That was all Mr Quinn had done “and that is his responsibility”.
He said: “This is the Haddington Road agreement. It will not be renegotiated and clearly the Asti and its members have to consider the implications of persons who stay outside the agreement.”
During leaders’ questions in the Dáil, Ms McDonald told the Taoiseach education was being damaged “by your Government’s austerity approach, with the loss of classroom teachers, the withdrawal of guidance services and tying up teachers’ time and energy with extra administrative work.
“These are the actions that have caused damage to our children’s education not the actions of teachers,” and she called on the Taoiseach to intervene in the controversy.
But Mr Kenny said the 17,000 Asti voters had made their decision and made their views known. Some 300,000 workers had backed the agreement.
He said the issues were clearly known and had been debated in negotiations that had lasted six months.
The targets that had been set out had to be achieved and the €1 billion in savings would have to be met.
The Taoiseach said the Dublin Central TD was asking him to intervene to prevent industrial action but “this is the decision of the executive board of Asti and that will see Asti members withdraw from all meetings outside school hours, which affects parents directly, refuse to participate in training for the new junior cycle and not take on any management responsibilities without being paid”.
“Let me be very clear Deputy McDonald. The Haddington Road agreement will not be renegotiated and for people who by their own choice and their own wish want to stay outside it, clear the protection of the Haddington Road agreement will not apply to them in future”.
The Asti “should consider the implications for the children, for their students, for the parents and their own members”.