Saturday, 18 October 2008

Press Release - Labour candidate Looney lashes Budget attacks on children & students

Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate in Tallaght Central for next year’s local election, has said that the Government’s budget, announced on October 14th, is a “vicious right-wing assault on children and young people, and on the promise of the 1916 Proclamation to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally.’”

Speaking at the AGM of the Willie Cremins Limekiln-Greenhills Branch of the Labour Party, Looney, a 26 year-old national schoolteacher, said that while the budget was rife with attacks on working people and the elderly, attacks on education were among the most despicable of all.

“I am lucky enough to teach in a fantastic school in Tallaght, but to ask teachers like myself to implement the new Curriculum with more than 30 pupils in class in this day and age is ludicrous,” said Looney.

“That the Government would make a u-turn on years of promises to cut class sizes, and instead decide to increase them, beggars belief. We will now have the largest class size out of the 27 EU countries. The 100,000 children in classes of 30 or more who are destined to years of underfunded, under-resourced education – and their parents and families - deserve so much better than Fianna Fáil and their cronies.”

“It is particularly sickening that children who need the most support are the targets of government. Gone are equipment and resource grants for resource teachers. Gone is €2.1 million from school libraries which promote literacy amongst children. Gone is an astonishing €4.3 million designated for supporting Traveller children. And gone is the implementation of the EPSEN Act, the 2004 promise to support special needs children both legally and with Special Needs assistants and teachers.”

Looney, who attended Greenhills College VEC and was a student campaigner in UCD and nationally, also noted the government’s cutbacks in second and third level. “The increase in class size at second level is similarly baffling, while the decision to lash third-level students in Tallaght IT and elsewhere with a massive €1500 registration fee is a regressive nonsense.”

“Students from working class backgrounds have been helped by Labour’s free fees initiative – I should know, as I was one of them. Instead we have pseudo-left arguments from Fianna Fáil, the same party who bail out bankers and speculators but target the vulnerable time and time again.”

“Labour stands for a different approach to education; publicly-funded, universal and the best in the world. And Tallaght Central deserves a Councillor who will stand up for education of all our children and young people.”