Smith calls for commitment on essential school supports

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says this Government is more concerned with making big election promises than concentrating on essential bread and butter supports.  His comments come following a failure by the Education Minister to confirm whether the Minor Works Scheme will be included in this year’s Budget.

Deputy Smith commented, “Parents across Cavan and Monaghan have been forced to fork out to ensure that school buildings are repaired and maintained because of a shortfall in the education budget.  Parents are already dealing with high school costs, with hundreds of euro being spent every year on uniforms and books, and they should not have to be forking out more money for works which should be covered by the State.

“The Minor Works Grant provides funding to carry out essential repairs and upgrades to school buildings and grounds as well as covering the cost of new equipment like computers, printers projectors and gym equipment.  However this Government suspended the scheme for two years before temporarily reinstating it last year.  It has still not been restored permanently.

“As a result of this regressive measure, parents across Cavan and Monaghan are footing the bill for work which was previously covered by the State.  Not only are they having to fundraise to get the money together, many are paying through ever increasing “voluntary” contributions.  This is extremely unfair and places an unacceptable financial burden on already hard pressed parents.

“Only last week we saw Fine Gael and Labour parading around Heuston Station in Dublin announcing capital investment plans which may not even see the light of day.  These Ministers would be better off dealing with the issues affecting parents and pupils right now.  The Minor Works Scheme is an essential programme that ensures that our schools are kept up to standard and safe.  I am urging Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan to prioritise this scheme in next week’s Budget”.