Education Vote May Depend On Green's Support

There's no let-up to the post Budget pressure on the Government, and while Tánaiste Mary Coughlan said yesterday there will be no changes to the Budget proposals on education, an important headmasters' association has added its voice to calls for rethink.

The Irish Primary Principals' Network has called for a reconsideration of planned cuts in spending in education.

The network - which has a membership of 5,100 principals and deputy principals - represents 90% of all primary schools.

Network Director Sean Cottrell said it was unthinkable that consideration would be given to cutting back on an educational infrastructure that has served the country so well. He said that upwards of 1,000 teachers would be lost to the system as a result of the Budget: "Recent history shows us that our education system is an essential part of the Ireland's infrastructure.

'Just as it is unthinkable that we would dismantle our transport infrastructure in the face of economic pressures, so too is it unthinkable that we would consider cutting back on the educational infrastructure which has served, and continues to serve us so well," he said.

Meanwhile, speaking in Dublin last night, Mary Coughlan said she had "no concerns" that the Green Party wouldn't support the Budget and insisted that she was confident it would remain part of the Government coalition.

However, the Green Party Spokesman on Education, Paul Gogarty, while confirming his party would be supporting a Government amendment to Labour's education motion this week, he said the Greens would "try to see if any solutions could be found within the budgetary parameters, and that the education partners would have a valuable role to play in identifying how savings could be made".

Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach Brian Cowen need the Greens' support in Thursday's key vote on a Labour motion.

There have already been calls for the cutbacks to be reversed and alternatives suggested to Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe.

While the Greens insisted yesterday "they were in Government for the long-haul" grass-roots councillors worried about their prospects in next year's elections may have a different view and have already voiced their opposition to the medical card cuts and will be just as unhappy about many other Budget provisions, including proposed cuts in education.


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