Shane Ross

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Long-Term Vision On Education? Short-Sighted Cost-Cutting!

Posted on: October 22nd, 2008

In the Senate today I supported the calls that have been made for a debate on education, the issue that will erupt in the next week, but we cannot get the Minister for Education and Science in here because the Minister is in China, and it is the wrong place for him to be. It is extraordinary that when an issue as important as this one has broken and should have been anticipated, the Minister for Education and Science is at the other side of the world with the Taoiseach. We cannot have him here today, tomorrow or any other time because for some reason he is in China on some mission which he has no right to be on. That mission is organised by Enterprise Ireland, which is one of the great oxymorons of the public service, but why is the Tánaiste not out there? That is the Tánaiste’s Department. Apparently, the Tánaiste is in charge here, which does not fill me with a great deal of confidence, but the Minister for Education and Science is in China. In the meantime, this morning the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food came out as the kind of all-purpose spokesman for the Government on issues that have nothing to do with agriculture. This Government appears to be at sea. It has lost its nerve, and that is one of the reasons the people have lost a certain amount of confidence in it. The wrong people are talking about the wrong issues while the Taoiseach and the Minister who should be here are on the other side of the world.  The Government has taken a view that education funding can be cut in the same way as public finances in other areas, in other words, taxation. We urgently need a national debate on education, which does not address just the issue of how much can be saved but the long-term vision.