Sinn fein education minister’s remarks on teachers are a slur on the profession

07 January 2016

I am calling on Sinn Fein TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh to state whether or not he supports the comments of his Northern colleague and Education Minister John O’Dowd, telling people to think very carefully about entering the teaching profession.

Speaking yesterday, Minister O’Dowd said that due to the budget cuts that Sinn Fein negotiated, agreed, and are now implementing in Northern Ireland, new teachers should not expect a long term career in the profession. He said this at the same time as he oversaw a £72 million reduction in the North’s education resource budget.

This amounts to telling prospective teachers not to bother, and amounts to a slur on the profession.

It is incumbent on Sinn Fein in the Dail to tell us if they support Minister O’Dowd’s comments, and if they too believe that entry into the teaching profession should be judged on this basis.

The Labour Party believes that education is the cornerstone of our society, our communities, and our economy. Even through the worst of the economic crisis, we never sought to discourage people from entering the profession. In fact, we are implementing new changes to reduce casualisation and increase job security for Irish teachers so that new teachers know they will have the opportunity to build secure and stable careers. The Irish education system is reliant on high-achieving, high quality teachers, and we would not do anything to warn people away from continuing that.

Sinn Fein must immediately distance themselves from their own Minister’s remarks.

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