[Sinn Fein]

5 December 2000

Sinn Fein support for teachers

In a statement of support to secondary teachers demonstrating in Dublin today, Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

``I wish to convey my support and good wishes to the teachers demonstrating in Dublin.

``The issue on the streets of Dublin today, and in classrooms around the country, is the quality of education and the future of our children.  The most important element of our education infrastructure  are well-trained and highly motivated teachers. To maintain that standard it is essential that teachers are properly paid. There is no more important workplace than the classroom or the hospital ward. Education and health must be  absolute priorities of government.

``The government must act decisively to stem the flow of talented people from the education sector and to re-establish the attractiveness of teaching as a profession. This is an investment in our children and in our future.

``I have urged the Minister for Education Michael Woods TD and his Cabinet colleagues to show flexibility and imagination in this dispute. To date such an approach has been lacking and the government has shown an inflexibility which has justifiably angered teachers.

``It would be inexcusable if the government allowed the teachers dispute to remain unresolved into the New Year and in the run-up to examinations.

``The bottom line is that the teachers deserve to be paid.''

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