THE Government recently found €20 million to subsidise septic tanks but can’t find the money to protect the education of disadvantaged children.
Parents, teachers and public representatives argued that point at a packed meeting in Darndale Junior School.
Around 200 people attended the meeting to discuss how proposed cuts will affect pupils in five local Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) schools.
The meeting was held ahead of a major protest, which is scheduled to take place outside the Dail this Thursday, February 23.
Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on education, Senator Averil Power, said the Government’s recent u-turn on the septic tank registrations was a further insult to pupils who will suffer as a result of the cuts.
“People are struggling to understand how it’s possible for Environment Minister Phil Hogan to quickly find €20 million for the septic tank registration scheme, but the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn still hasn’t found a way to correct what he previously described as a mistake on DEIS schools,” she stated.
“If it was genuinely a priority, it would have been sorted by now.”
Ms Power said that while she accepts that savings need to be made, she believes the Government have unfairly distributed the cuts.
“Of course the Government needed to make significant savings in this year’s budget, but this is all about choices,” she added.
“The Government chose to target disadvantaged schools to save money.
“It is now choosing to find money to offer septic tank owners a temporary cut in the registration fee. Is the education of their children not more important than septic tanks?”
Artane Whitehall ward councillor Larry O’Toole (SF) said those who attended the meeting expressed anger, frustration and concern.
“Both parents and teachers stated how the extra resources provided in DEIS schools had greatly benefited and helped vulnerable pupils in their education,” Cllr O’Toole told Northside People.
“I don’t accept that the Government cannot row back on its decision in relation to this matter, particularly in relation to its u-turn on the septic tank registrations and cuts to people with disabilities.
“We will continue to put pressure on the Government until it sees sense and realises that it will pay down the line if these vulnerable children are not given the chance of education they need and deserve.”
The meeting in Darndale Junior School was just one in a series of meetings held in DEIS areas across the city that have set the tone for this week’s Dail protest.