Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe is determined to press ahead full in the knowledge that the greens are on board despite their agreement prior to entering government to increase the spending on tackling disadvantage and reduce further the PTR. It is clear that FF & the Greens have the numbers to see off the opposition and will hang together rather than hang separately. As a teacher I take exception to the minister claiming that teacher unions are hysterical and scare mongering of the highest order. The facts are that school bus fees will rise to €300 per annum, Education for Special needs will be ignored and that English teachers will be limited to 2 maximum. Add to that the cuts in funding for LCVP, LCAP and Transition Year and the ban on substitution for colleagues absent on school business. This farcical plan will mean teacher reps unable to attend VEC meetings. I’ve already refunded money to 2 classes who had hoped to travel to a college laboratory in January. The suggestion that its only going back to 2007 is ludicrous, I remember 2007 very well, it was the year my soccer team won the Wexford Wicklow League Cup, in 2009 there will be no such competition, there'll be n soccer team. It is teams like this that make school tolerable for some pupils. when I go to watch Wexford Youths I take pride at how many ex-pupils play in the League of Ireland.
However the motion will further embarrass the Greens and FF. It is clear that next week will see farmers outside the Dail and this is a group that is well organised and will get a similar number to the gates of the Dail. In the back ground there’s also the possibility of protests by the disabled and I get the idea that for weeks to come the budget cuts will be a hot issue. Once Christmas is over and the fiscal position tightens even further as the banks call in the guarantee scheme and unemployment rises, I believe a supplementary budget is inevitable. Lets be clear it’s going to be like this all the way to the local elections in June. All the bluster about greens pulling out is just that, aimed at shoring up what’s left of their credibility.
Ask yourself this, if there was a general election and the greens succeeded in holding a number of seats who’d take them serious in any negotiations to form a government? Could you keep a straight face if sent to negotiate with Paul Gogarty? That may be in the future but what’s certain is that in the short term the issues that brought about 12,000 people onto the streets last night persist.