Deis protesters picket Department of Education

 

BETWEEN 3,000 and 4,000 parents, children, teachers and principals of disadvantaged schools protested loudly, with music and hundreds of home-made, multi-coloured banners outside the Department of Education yesterday, against proposed cuts to teacher numbers.

Though Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn has described as a “mistake” the announcement of cuts to Deis (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), and had ordered a review of the plan, protesters demanded a complete, irrevocable reassurance the cuts would not happen.

Some 428 teaching posts were to be cut under measures announced in December’s Budget.

Among those who addressed the crowd from the front of the Pro Cathedral was Gearóid Conarain, whose youngest daughter, Pippa Ní Conarain (9), is a pupil at Scoil Santain in Tallaght.

“We are not having these cuts. We are asking for a full shift back. We will not go away,” he said.

Noreen Flynn, president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, said if “this Government wants to show its commitment to children it should take away the tax loopholes that the wealthy enjoy”. The money raised should be used to educate and provide jobs for young people. Tax those who can afford it,” she said.

Michelle Mallon, a mother with children in Scoil An tSeachtar Laoch in Ballymun, addressed the crowd, saying the children at the school “really need the support” they had got.

Marie O’Grady, with children in St Enda’s Primary School in Whitefriar Street, said children there would not make it to secondary school or college without such supports.

“Our children don’t have loans with banks. Our children don’t have property developments. Our children don’t play golf. So why do they have to pay for the mistakes of bankers and developers?”

In the crowd was Wilhelmina Maher, whose two children attend Our Lady of Victories Infant National School in Ballymun. “At the moment they have third and fourth class together because of a shortage of teachers. I am very worried about what the cuts would mean.”

There were banners from schools in Darndale, Fairview, Cherry Orchard, Jobstown, Ballyfermot, Ballymun, Coolock, Artane, Pimlico, Tallaght, Finglas and Clondalkin.

Children held up placards including “What’s the Story Rúairí?”; “Hey, Rúairí, leave us kids alone”; and, “What would Jim Larkin say?”