[Sinn Fein]

22nd January 2003

Government Ignores the Suffering of Children Survey results make mockery of ` free education'

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Education, Seán Crowe has described as horrifying the figure of 1,000 Euros to send a child to primary school revealed today in a survey carried out by the National Parents Council.

The Dublin South-West TD said: ``Today is a day that is hugely important for thousands of primary school children across the State. Today is the day that the Minister for Education announces which schools will finally get the benefit of being put on the Buildings Programme and which schools the government has seen fit to ignore for another year.

``We need only look at the government's record in the last few months to see how willing they are to ignore the suffering of children in Irish schools.

. Minister McCreevy failed to deliver the promised third instalment of the Child Benefit increases.

. Minister McCreevy effectively cut the school building programme by 10% when his 4% cut is adjusted for inflation.

. There was no increase in the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance for primary students.

``And yet the government saw fit to slash Corporation Tax and continue with the SSIA schemes.

``The criminal ignorance that led to these decisions means that parents are struggling to get their children to schools that are in many cases dilapidated, dangerous, unhealthy environments for educating young people. The horrifying revelation that it costs 1,000 Euros for parents to send their children to primary school, 1,500 Euros if the children need after school care makes a mockery of the `free education' system.

``Already this government has shown that for the children of Ireland, its legacy will be one of neglect and indifference.''

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