O’Keeffe told ‘no third-level fees’

“Fianna Fáil’s rank and file have told Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe they do not want him to bring back third-level fees.

On Saturday delegates voted in favour of a motion calling on him to maintain the free fees initiative.

One delegate addressed the crowd and said, while a graduate tax could generate revenue for education, a flat fee would prohibit those from poorer backgrounds getting into third level.

Soon afterwards the delegates voted in favour of the no-fees motion.

Mr O’Keeffe has increasingly sought to rally support for the reintroduction of fees and is looking at formulas on how best to do this.

However, in contributions from delegates, the structure of the school system also came in for criticism. Two members adopted the opposition line and called on the minister to stop using prefabricated buildings as long-term classrooms.

Damien Lane from Rathcormac pleaded with Mr O’Keeffe to ‘come and look at the facilities in Rathcormac National School’.

Another said there needed to be a focus on ‘proper class sizes’ and support for special needs education.

However, in his speech Mr O’Keeffe called on all stakeholders to relax their positions and work together to find a solution. He said the Government could not continue to borrow for all its needs. He said the Government was providing more money than ever to third-level education, but it was his responsibility to ensure society was getting the maximum benefit from this.”

[Conor Ryan, Irish Examiner, 2 March]


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