Healy-Rae demands 'radical changes' to secure his vote

Source : Irish Independent

By Áine Kerr

Friday October 24 2008

INDEPENDENT TD Jackie Healy-Rae last night warned the Government that it will only receive his support in next week's Dail vote on education cutbacks if "radical changes" are made.

In a statement, the Kerry South TD said he was not satisfied with the impact the Budget changes would have on the education sector with class sizes increasing and substitution cover for short-term sick leave and school business suspended.

"I am meeting the Minister for Education next week to voice my concerns to him and inform him that in order for my support, radical changes have to be made," Mr Healy-Rae said.

Elaborating on his statement last night, the government-supporting TD said huge numbers of parents and teachers had contacted him about the potential loss of teachers.

"They are uniting in a very big way. They want this sorted out," he said. "I've a lot of problems to discuss with him [Education Minister] with schools losing teachers and class sizes going up."

Asked if he would be seeking a reversal of the class sizes decision, Mr Healy-Rae said he simply hoped the Education Minister would "improve" the current proposals.

"It doesn't look like they're going to reverse it all together because they'd have too many turn arounds if they reversed on that I suppose," he said.

With the Labour Party forcing a vote on the issue next week, Mr Healy-Rae said his vote for the Government could not be guaranteed.

"I'll have to get commitments anyway because there's no way I could put up with another round of this," he said.

Striking a less threatening tone, his fellow government-supporting TD Michael Lowry said there would be no conditionality to his vote next week.

"I'm going to be totally briefed by both sides of the argument and hear the Department's position and the position on the ground in the schools. When I'm fully briefed on both aspects of it, I'll be in a position to say what line the department should take and what they shouldn't do," he said.

- Áine Kerr


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