Teachers, parents and pupils stand in solidarity at picket lines over cuts
By Eleanor McGillie
MEMBERS from Ireland’s largest teachers’ union took to the streets today to demonstrate their anger and frustration at facing a fifth successive year of cuts to the education system.
Teachers were joined on picket lines by parents and pupils who took the opportunity to stand in solidarity against proposed cuts in an education system which has already taken a battering.
Speaking at the march at Belfast City Hall, Gerry Murphy, the Northern Secretary of INTO (Irish National Teachers’ Organisation) told the crowds that since the financial meltdown of 2008 almost 3,000 teachers have been made redundant in schools in every sector.
He said: “We are facing into 2015/2016 with Stormont Budgets that will see further staffing cuts close to another 1,000 teachers and a further 1,000 plus of our support colleagues. Are we to standby and just let that happen?
“Children are being educated in larger classes. Children with particular and special learning needs will not have the level support required. Children will be denied access to services such as psychology, speech therapy, and specialist language and music tuition. As funding is withdrawn jobs disappear.”
Mr Murphy said INTO has learned that approximately 100 specialist language teachers are to be made compulsorily redundant in the days ahead which he highlighted are ‘compulsory redundancies’ and not ‘voluntary redundancies’.
He pointed out the negative impact cuts have on children’s education, how cuts devalue teachers but also the ripple effect cuts would have on our economy.
He said: “The real tragedy of the cuts will only become apparent in the years ahead. A whole generation of children will pass through our education system not having the necessary levels of support and investment they deserve and are entitled too. The economy will in turn suffer a skills gap and knowledge deficit. This makes no economic sense.”
In Omagh, Annmarie Conway, INTO chairperson, said INTO will continue to fight for jobs, for children and for teachers.
In her address to the crowds, she said: “This is not about teachers’ pay. It is not about teachers’ pensions. It is about securing a future for the young people.
“Youth unemployment is rising with the rate of unemployment at 24 per cent. The lack of effective measures to counteract this is leaving a generation behind. In this post conflict society a large number of youths are detached from both the labour market and from training or education. This leaves us with a cohort of young people who feel socially excluded and marginalised in society.
“These budgetary cuts will hit the young people in our society who are already most in need. The Executive holds the future of the children of recession in its hands. We need a more strategic and forward thinking plan to closing this widening achievement gap – this gulf of inequality.”
Mrs Conway ended by sending a clear message to the Executive. She said: “You were not elected to decimate our public sector. You were not elected decimate our education system. You were not elected to cripple our economy. Do your job and let us do ours.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. It is the largest teachers’ union in Ireland. INTO has a Northern Office and a Southern Office. Our Northern Office is based at Vere Foster House, 23 College Gardens, Belfast. #INTOMarch13
- For interview requests or further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379| Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Public Relations UK | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Education PR