EDUCATION Minister Batt O’Keeffe refused to bow to increasing pressure last night and consider savings elsewhere in his department.
The outcry at budget cutbacks which teachers have said will increase class sizes and force schools to send children home culminated last night in the resignation of a Fianna Fáil councillor in Tralee who claimed Mr O’Keeffe’s spending cuts would turn Ireland into a “third world country”.
Councillor Kieran Moriarty, who has been a member of Fianna Fáil for 40 years, said he “could not stay with a party that would crucify the young and old and the needy”.
Mr Moriarty’s decision to resign came just hours after the GAA announced it would be seeking a meeting with the minister to discuss the implications of the cuts for our national games at primary and secondary level.
The pressure on Mr O’Keeffe is set to intensify next week when the Labour Party tables a Dáil motion on class sizes. A series of public protests are also planned.
There was growing expectation in the wake of yesterday’s budget U-turns that the Government might reconsider amendments to the education cuts, but not before Mr O’Keeffe’s return on Saturday.
His spokesman insisted that the controversial measures would be implemented in full.
“The minister is committed to implementing the measures outlined in the budget last week and he is asking for the co-operation of all education stakeholders,” he said.
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