Teacher unions may put junior cycle deal to ballot without endorsement

Union members express concern they are being given little time to analyse the deal

The unions representing secondary teachers are holding separate meetings today to decide whether to accept a new deal on junior cycle reform. The agreement was brokered earlier this week by the leadership of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI).

However, the union officials still have to get approval for the plan from their executive committees, and there was concern expressed among some of their members on that they were being given little time to analyse the deal.

Such is the sensitivity around the talks that none of the executive members outside of the seven-strong negotiating team have been shown the document, entitled Junior Cycle Reform: Joint Statement on Principles and Implementation.

The remainder of committee members will see the document for the first time early this morning. The ASTI’s 180-member central executive committee assembles at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin, while the TUI’s 22-member executive body is gathering at the union’s head office in Rathgar.


The fact that the presidents of both of the unions, Philip Irwin and Gerry Quinn respectively, were part of the negotiating team will carry some weight. However, endorsement of the plan is less certain within the ASTI, given the depth of feeling against the reforms.

One possibility is that the ASTI committee will agree to put the deal to a ballot of members – but without a recommendation for approval.

The TUI is more likely to accept the deal as the union has launched a second major industrial action in the institutes of technology sector, and is wary of fighting the Department of Education on too many fronts.

An outcome from both meetings is expected late afternoon.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column