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Priority Questions - Teachers’ Remuneration

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 1. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will be seeking to ensure that all teachers’ allowances are protected under the review of allowances for public [74]servants; his views on whether all such allowances are considered part of teachers' pay under the Croke Park Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19683/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy will be aware, the review of allowances in the public service which is ongoing at the moment is being conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and I understand that the Minister intends to bring proposals to Government shortly. The Government has reaffirmed the key commitments under the public service agreement, including that there will be no further reductions in pay rates for serving public servants. These commitments are contingent on delivery of the required flexibilities and reforms to public service delivery.

Allowances paid to teachers form only a part of the overall remit of the review. It would not be appropriate for me at this stage to comment on any specific subset of allowances, pending the outcome of the review and its consideration by Government. I have made and, of course, will make my views on these issues known in the appropriate fora.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I thank the Minister for his reply. I understood from his comments at the teachers’ union conferences that he was conscious that allowances are part of the core pay of teachers. It is my understanding that teachers’ allowances are considered part of the core pay under the Croke Park agreement.

The Croke Park agreement has delivered benefits. As Fianna Fáil was part of the Government that negotiated that agreement, I consider it important that it continues to work and bring further benefits in the delivery of services to the public and in better management of the public service. I ask the Minister, therefore, to state clearly that the Croke Park agreement will not be reneged upon.

It is often forgotten by the public, although not by the Minister, that there needs to be an incentive for people to engage in ongoing professional development. There must be an incentive and a reward for that.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I confirm everything I said at the teachers’ conferences. It is clearly on the public record and I refer to it again here in the House. The Deputy is absolutely right. If an allowance is part of a payment and the allowance is reckonable for pensionable purposes, any reasonable person will conclude that it is part of one’s pay and conditions. These matters are still ongoing.

On the second point, section 30 of the Teaching Council Act will soon be activated. We are talking about education. I presume that when certain legislation is finalised in the House, I will be able to bring it into operation. One of the conditions for continued registration under section 30 of the Teaching Council Act will be demonstration to the satisfaction of the Teaching Council’s own terms and conditions that continuing professional development is ongoing. I support the Deputy in his observation.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith The Leas-Cheann Comhairle and I represent rural constituencies and are conscious that in the early and mid-1990s a major effort was made to develop a network of education centres throughout the country. That development was of great importance. The teaching profession, to its credit, led the campaign to have the facilities put in place on a regional basis in order that there would be access to ongoing professional development courses. Given the effort that has been and is being made with the profession in terms of upskilling and ongoing professional development with regard to technology, languages and science, it is important that the incentives and rewards are copperfastened and remain in place, as they have been recognised as part of core pay.

[75]Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I share the Deputy’s view. Modern technology has aided and supported continuing professional development through online course provision in many professions, but it must be seen as an additional resource to face to face contact and the interaction provided by teaching centres. I will bear in mind what the Deputy has said because I recognise the necessity, as does the profession, for continuing professional development.

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