Quinn escapes with few cuts to the education budget

Details of extra jobs and other good news rolled easily off the Minister’s tongue

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn appeared quite satisfied with himself when he came to address the media in the Italian Room in Government Buildings after the budget was announced yesterday.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn appeared quite satisfied with himself when he came to address the media in the Italian Room in Government Buildings after the budget was announced yesterday.

Wed, Oct 16, 2013, 01:02

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn appeared quite satisfied with himself when he came to address the media in the Italian Room in Government Buildings after the budget was announced yesterday.

It had been widely reported that he was under pressure to find €100 million in savings, but the figure ended up being about half that.

Within a few minutes of sitting down he happily announced “there are no new budget measures being announced today which will impact on our schools”.

The word “new” is relevant in that sentence as much of the heavy lifting in his department came from the Haddington Road agreement, where challenges remain in the shape of the ASTI, and cuts dating back to last year such as reduced capitation grants for primary and secondary schools. Flanked by Minister of State for Research Seán Sherlock and department officials, details of additional teaching jobs, funds for book rental schemes and that there would be no increases to pupil-teacher ratios rolled easily off Quinn’s tongue.

Teaching and education groups seemed relatively pleased overall, which one spokesperson said hadn’t been the case after a budget for some time. Asked if the reduced overall adjustment had benefited his cause, Quinn said it was not him but “the country” that had gained from the smaller cut. “This is a good estimate given the times we are in for the education system,” he said.


Higher education
It wasn’t all plain sailing. He was pushed on the higher education sector, which will experience the majority of the hardship, and he said moves to cut payments and allowances to apprentices and people on Fás or Youthreach courses were necessary.In years to come, Quinn said, he hoped his education budget would be maintained or even increased, but he acknowledged there were new pressures.