Members of one of the country’s biggest public service unions have chosen a former president to lead it from next year when it could be engaged in a tough industrial dispute.
John Boyle was voted to be the next general secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, a role he will fill next summer when the post is vacated by Sheila Nunan after being in the job for a decade.
The INTO leadership is to continue consultation meetings with members early next year after they voted narrowly in October to reject proposals to narrow the gap in pay for those appointed to teaching for the first time from 2011 onward.
A ballot on industrial action in pursuit of equal pay will follow, with a strong likelihood of strikes taking place at the country’s 3,300 primary schools if action is backed by members.
Mr Boyle was president of the INTO for a year up to last Easter, and is the principal of St Colmcille’s Junior National School in Knocklyon, Dublin.
He secured 53% of just over 18,000 votes cast in a three-candidate race, in which 43,000 teachers were eligible to vote, including nearly 7,000 in Northern Ireland.
He defeated INTO equality officer Alison Gilliland who got 28% of the ballots cast, and Deirdre O’Connor, an assistant general secretary at the union, who had 19% of votes.
He promised to work for all members, regardless of which candidate they backed, and to hold government to account.
“We must be bold and ambitious in demanding the level of investment in education, north and south, that will remove the inequities that currently exist and give every teacher and pupil the room to bloom,” Mr Boyle said.
He will become general secretary designate in March, part of a transition process in the union leadership, before formally succeeding Ms Nunan in August in the role which has a starting salary of €127,623.