Deputy Timmins slams Government as education falls under ‘Butcher’s’ knife
DEPUTY Billy Timmins has expressed his dismay over 32 education cuts included in the Budget but has saved most of his fire for what he describes as the ‘Butcher’s dozen’ cuts.
Those 13 cuts include a reduction in the school building programme, college registration fee hikes, restrictions on employing sub teachers form January and the suspension of the early retirement scheme for teachers.
The fact that there will be 200 fewer primary school teachers and 200 fewer second level teachers also rankles with Deputy Timmins.
A study carried out in September showed that Irish primary schools had an average of 24.5 pupils per class, the second highest of the EU countries surveyed.
According to Deputy Timmins, ‘At the last general election the Government gave a commitment that they would reduce the pupil to teacher ratio. They have done nothing of the kind and now we see the numbers of pupils per teachers will actually go up.
‘A ¤600 increase for college registration fees is just basically a backdoor fee and the restriction to be placed on the employment of sub teachers from January 209 will have a major impact on all classes.’
Most commentators have focused on the whole medical card fiasco, with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan claiming Health Minister Mary Harney was responsible for the debacle.
Deputy Timmins describes the decision to abolish free medical cards for thousands of pensioners as ‘outrageous’and says the Government seem ‘confused’ over the limits involved in any financial assessment.
He also remains highly critical about the budget hitting workers with a 1 per cent income levy. ‘It applies to all people, regardless of their income. If the Government are that desperate for money then they should have given an exemption to people earning below ¤40,000 and maybe increased the income level to 2 per cent for those in the high income bracket.’
Meanwhile, he has also voiced his dismay at the indefinite deferral of road improvement works on the N11 from the Beehive pub to the Arklow by-pass.
‘I accept that priorities have to established at a time of economic stringency, but surely one of the most hazardous stretches of road in the entire country should be close to the top of such a list.
‘Local residents, commuters and tourists are all too aware of the dangers posed to life and limb by this stretch of road.‘