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MacManus Objects to Increase in Student Education Costs (Nov.2012)

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has accused Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn of reneging on his pre-election pledge not to increase student fees and of undermining the Sligo economy.
Speaking at a meeting of Sligo Co. Council where he proposed that the Minister for Education would not increase the Student Contribution Charge (College Fees) and that he would protect the student maintenance grant Councillor MacManus said;
“When on the run-up to the 2011 General Election Ruairi Quinn signed a pledge not to increase student fees and to protect student maintenance grants he was doing so on behalf of the Labour Party. However, since that election and the formation of the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition, student fees have been increased by €250 and according to Minister Quinn will continue to increase by a further €250 each year until they reach €3,000 annually in 2015. This will be an increase of €2,100 from 2008 when the annual fee was €900 and will impose a major financial burden on already hard pressed student families.”
“To make a bad situation worse, the student maintenance grant has been cut by 12% since budget 2010 and families living less than 45KM from college no longer qualify for the non-adjacent rate. The average weekly cost of on-campus accommodation is now €102.40 per week. Therefore, the average maintenance grant rate now no longer covers the cost of accommodation, much less fees or living costs”.
“It is estimated that the cost of participating in third level education in Ireland is now over €10,500 per annum for students living away from home, yet the highest possible maintenance rate is only €5,915.
These massive hikes in the cost of third level education are having a major negative impact on many families. Since the recession began the average yearly disposable income for Irish families has dropped to just over €22,000, unemployment now stands at close to 15%. Income tax increases, pension levies, the household charge and benefit cuts have also hit families hard.”

On top of the burden imposed on students and their families by these fee increases we need to recognise their negative impact on the local Co. Sligo economy. At present there are about 7,500 students attending IT Sligo and St Angela’s College. These colleges are an integral part of our local economies. The thousands of students who attend college in Sligo help to sustain local business. Landlords, shop owners and other business proprietors rely on these students to maintain
a viable turnover. If Government continues to target students for fee increases and grant cuts then the local economy and local businesses will suffer”.

“Given the tight financial situation of many of these students it is obvious that fee increases and grant reductions will mean that students have less money to spend within our local economy. Figures have been produced by USI which indicate that the Sligo economy stands to lose as much as €9,897,000 over the next four years due to the Coalitions third-level educational cutbacks”.

“Even a Labour Education Minister must be able to see that these cuts to student maintenance and increases in fees are having a negative impact on both families and local economies. The Coalition Government need to review their policy of increasing the costs of education and to that end I’m asking that Sligo Co. Council contacts Minister Quinn and inform him of our concerns on this issue. In particular we call on him and his Government not to further increase student fees and to protect maintenance grants.”  Cllr. MacManus  said.            ENDS
2012 Back to School Allowances--Apply Now!
Sligo Sinn Fein Councillors, Sean Mac Manus, Chris Mac Manus, and Arthur Gibbons urge parents who may be eligible for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) to apply early.  Families who are entitled to an automatic payment should have received their letters by the 20th June 2012 and those applying for the allowance can obtain a form from their local Social Welfare Office or by downloading one from or by texting FORM BSCFA followed by your name and address to 51909. 
Last year, a large backlog in applications meant that many eligible families did not receive the payment until well after the school year began. For more information about why you should apply early, see the Sinn Fein article located here.
For more information about eligibility, you can go to the Citizens Information Website.

Hundreds of Sligo students to see significant cut in grant rates

 Sinn Féin Councillor Chris MacManus has learned that several hundred third level students from Sligo may see a significant cut to their grants as a result of the Budget 2011 measure to change the criteria for the non-adjacent rate of grants. Cllr. MacManus called on the Minister for Education to immediately reverse this grossly unfair measure. He said: “Information I have received from the local VEC indicate that many students from County Sligo who are attending IT Sligo will see a significant drop in their grant rate come September. This is as a result of the Budget 2011 measure which implemented a change in the criteria for the non-adjacent rate of maintenance grant from living more than 24km from the college to 45km. This will also affect a sizeable number of students from South Sligo attending the Castlebar campus of GMIT. “These Sligo students who previously qualified for the full non-adjacent rate of €3,120 will now receive only €1,250. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds who previously qualified for the special rate of €6,100 will now receive €2,445. This is on top of a 4% cut in student grants across the board. “This is a hugely significant and extreme cut. Many students I have spoken to simply have no idea how they are going to get by or if they will even be able to carry on with their studies.
 “The Minister for Education has been very vocal in the past on issues relating to third level education, on the need to build a knowledge economy to get the country out of recession and back on the road to recovery. The stark reality here is that this cut in grant rates will see many students drop out of college because they simply can’t afford it. What then for the knowledge economy? “I call on the Minister to stand by his commitment to third level education and reverse this grossly unfair measure.” 




The threat from the government to cut the flat rate of child benefit payments by E55 for a family of three would be “the last straw and a resigning issue,” according to Sinn Fein's candidate for the Ballymote electoral area, Thomas Healy.

Reacting with fury to the latest reports of cuts to income Mr Healy stated; “We have known for some time that the government have intended to cut child benefit rates either by means testing or taxation. The latest threat to cut the flat rate of this payment will only serve to send thousands of families into poverty and will not serve to alleviate the country’s economic problems. Families affected by this cut have already suffered from income levies, reduced working hours and redundancy. As a parent myself I know how vital this income source is for families struggling to cope with daily expenses. Sadly it is also a fact that for many women it is the only actual money they can access for the household budget.”

“Child benefit was increased in order to compensate for the lack of childcare provision,” continued Mr Healy. “Thanks to the increases in house prices and individualisation tax measures introduced by the government, in most households the two parents have to work outside the home. There has not been adequate provision for childcare places especially for low to middle income earners.”

“This is of course only the latest attempt by the government to make vulnerable citizens pay for their failure to tackle the employment crisis. Sinn Fein in its budget submission suggested abolishing the PRSI ceiling; this move would have made these cuts unnecessary. A worker on E15, 000 has already endured a 2% income levy, loss of mortgage relief and the abolishment of child supplement payments. How much more punishment does the government intend to heap on families for their mistakes?”

“ Child benefit must remain universal, untaxed and non means tested,” concluded Mr Healy. “This shameful attack on working families must be resisted by every right thinking person and I think it should be the final straw, the government should now resign if this is all they have to offer.”CRIOCH.

For confirmation contact Thomas Healy @ 086 6164609




The cuts imposed upon families with young children in last months emergency budget has not been accompanied by the promised of free early childcare and education according to the Sinn Fein candidate for Dromore West, Padraig Hallinan. The emergency budget targeted vulnerable sections of society most especially young families,” stated Mr Hallinan. Through the Dromore West constituency, from Ballisadare, to Coolaney , Dromore west and Easkey I have met parents who are under massive financial pressure from the cuts to the early childcare supplement. This supplement is being halved and will be abolished next year. I am challenging local government representatives to explain how their party can describe this as “progressive reform” and  also where are the free childcare places promised to offset the cut?”

“Sinn Fein have long argued for the direct provision of childcare and investment in childcare infrastructure” continued Mr Hallinan. “In the budget the minister for finance promised us a free childcare and education year pre-school. This scheme is supposed to be up and running in nine months, what plans have been put in place to staff and fund this programme? All we have seen since is the cutting of numbers of primary school teachers.As a parent of young children myself I fully understand the pressures and costs of childcare. We are repeatedly told that the government had no choice but to implement this budget,” concluded Mr Hallinan.

“The reality is that we are in this crisis because of decisions made at the cabinet table by this government.” CRIOCH

For confirmation contact Padraig Hallinan @ 0872853064



Thomas Healy, the Sinn Fein candidate for the Ballymote electoral area, has said the announcement by the Minister of Education that teaching posts will be lost as a result of the Fianna Fail decision to increase class sizes is just the tip of the iceberg. Mr Healy said that the goverments  priority should be to get Ireland back to work and this decision should be reversed. “ The minister insits that the number of teaching posts lost will be minimal but the reality is that approximatly 1,000 jobs will be lost accross the state The Ministers figures relate only to mainstream class teachers”

“They exclude language support teachers, special needs teachers and the dozen of teaching posts that  would have been allocated to schools as a result of increase in pupil numbers, this will impact negatively on every child in the primary school system” he said.

I am calling on TD’s & Senators who retain their full time posts as teachers to relinquish them, saying it blocks young teachers securing permanent posts.

“ Indeed some TD’s  have held  on to their position for over 20 years despite not spending a single day in the classroom. This is not acceptable.  I am delighted that it is now party policy to end the situation and give our younger teachers a better chance of secure employment” concluded Mr Healy.  CRIOCH

For confirmation contact Thomas Healy @086 3666561

Government must reverse decision to increase class sizes –MacManus
27 February 2009

Sligo Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has said the announcement by the Minister for Education that 254 teaching posts will be lost as a result of the Government decision to increase class sizes is just the tip of such cutbacks and has claimed that up to 1,000 positions will be lost by September of this year in primary schools as a result of these cutbacks.   Decrying the loss of seven teachers in primary schools in County Sligo Councillor MacManus said the Government’s priority should be to get Ireland back to work and this decision should be reversed.

“In addition to the loss of 254 mainstream class teachers approximately 500 language support teachers are to be lost along with 128 special needs teachers, 60 social inclusion posts and dozens of teaching posts which would have been allocated to various schools as a result of increased pupil numbers which are now being removed as a result of increased class sizes.

“Added to that will be the thousands of student teachers who will finish college  this year only to find that there are no positions to be filled and only the dole queue or emigration awaiting them. 

We are now witnessing at first hand here in County Sligo the negative impact of this callous Governments educational cutbacks with the announcement that one teaching posts will be cut at each of seven national schools in Co. Sligo. These schools are:

Carraroe N.S., Carbury N.S., Cliffoney N.S., Mercy N.S, Pearse Road, St. Edwards N.S. Ballytivnan, Castlerock N.S. Aclare, and Scoil Muire Gan Smal, Ballymote.

“The decision to increase class sizes, and the Government’s determination to implement it, is fully in keeping with their policy of targeting the most vulnerable sections of society to pay for the economic meltdown that they, along with their friends in the development, business and banking sectors, have caused.

“Budget 2009 provided no funding to solve the problem of classroom overcrowding despite the Programme for Government commitment to increase the number of primary teachers by at least 4,000 and to reduce class sizes to 24 by 2010/11.  Yet, almost 100,000 children remain in classes of 30 pupils or more while the Minister continues his refusal to publish a proper school building list.

 “The lack of funding in this sector has also had detrimental effects on the identification of children with special needs, and failed to solve the issue of illiteracy, where it is estimated that up to 500,000 Irish adults have a literacy difficulty. The present scandalous situation over which this pathetic government presides is nothing short of an educational crisis.”

ENDS.                 For confirmation contact Sean @ 086 8198456.

MacManus Call on Government to Reverse Budget Cuts. (30-Oct-08)

Sligo County Councillor Sean MacManus has called on the Government to reverse its Budget cuts in a number of areas, in particular those in Education.Speaking at a meeting of Sligo Co. Council where he sought support of the Council members for his proposal demanding Government repeal of it’s proposal to increase class size, Councillor MacManus said;

“My proposal addresses a range of issues concerning the recent Budget including medical cards for those over 70, the imposition of a new 1% tax levy on low income earners and the increase in primary class size.

Since I put this proposal forward the Government has been forced by people power to do a major u-turn on both the medical card issue and the 1% tax on those on the minimum wage. While these changes are welcome — and I salute those who campaigned for them--- the draconian measures in relation to education cutbacks still remain.

“Budget 2009 should have delivered a strategy to address the public finance crisis whilst in tandem delivering a road map towards economic recovery. It should have ensured that working families and the most vulnerable sections in society were protected during the current economic challenges. It should also have ensured that investments in frontline services such as education and health were prioritised. It did none of these things. Instead the Fianna Fail/ Green coalition have chosen to target low to middle income earners, the old and the young in a range of savage cuts that will have a detrimental long term effect on the economy and society at large.

Primary schools funding has been brutally attacked with increases in class sizes, large cuts in teacher numbers, caps on language support teachers, abolition of equipment, books and resource grants, cuts to the school building project and deferral of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act.

Secondary schools are facing cuts in key supports for disadvantages areas, cuts in investment in information technology, increases in school transport costs, abolition of grants towards the Junior certificate Schools Programme, Leaving Certificate Applied and transition year programmes to name but a few.

Attacks on education have extended to third level with an increase in college registration fees of almost 70%, no provision for increases in student maintenance grants and cuts in adult education grants.


“Fianna Fáil has completely abandoned its commitment to reduce primary class sizes by 2010. Instead their plan’s to increase class sizes if implemented will result in up to 1,200 primary school teachers being let go and to further over crowding of classrooms. If these cuts are carried out our education system will be in disarray. These cuts will have a devastating impact on children, teachers and parents.  Shame on Fianna Fail and their new friends the Green Party.

"The government has choices. They could have raised up to ¤1billion by making all discretionary tax relief schemes available only at the standard rate.  They could have raised ¤334million by getting rid of the PRSI ceiling, something supported by government departments.  They could have ended tax breaks for private hospitals. They could have accessed the National Pension Reserve Fund for key infrastructure projects. Yet they chose instead to raise class sizes and take medical cards from the elderly.
The campaign to reverse the government's totally unjust budget cuts is gathering momentum and if there is sufficient public pressure our children’s educational future can be protected.”  ENDS.




The number of primary school children in Sligo in classes of 30 or more has increased significantly in recent years with more than one in three now being taught in a class of 30 or more according to Sinn Fein election candidate Sean MacManus.
“As we approach the end of the current school year” stated Councillor MacManus “parents are again disappointed at the fact that more and more children are being taught in classes of thirty or more. Out of 3029 primary school students in Sligo 1118 are now in larger classrooms. This is unfair on both pupils and teachers as it severely increases the likelihood of pupils being distracted and reduces the amount of time a teacher can spend with individual pupils”.
“The government have once again failed to live up to their pre election promises. In 2002 Fianna Fail promised to reduce class size to twenty pupils and under for all pupils aged nine and under by 2007. They have now reneged on this promise as the numbers of primary school students in classes of thirty or more have actually increased by over 5000 in the last two years alone”!
“ Ireland now has the second highest average class size in Europe” concluded Cllr MacManus “and overall spending on education is low compared to other developed countries. Sinn Fein in government will utilize the revenue available to strive for a pupil/teacher ratio of 15/1 and provide the best possible learning environment”.

“I would also like to endorse the current campaign by the teachers union INTO to petition the Minister for Education to reduce class size, I hope that all parents will sign the petition, pupils and teachers deserve better”.




Sinn Fein Councillor Sean MacManus has called on the government to provide support for parents and children in the home, in childcare facilities and in primary schools. Current childcare deficits are forcing many parents into situations that run contrary to their preferred option, real choices should allow parents to decide for themselves whether to return to the workforce or to remain at home as a carer. They should not be forced by economic policy as to how to balance their work/life demands.
"Many parents are finding themselves in a dilemma when it comes to their childcare arrangements. Costs for crèches and childminders have never been higher, high mortgage repayments and the possible impact of higher interest rates also concern them. The 2005 Budget failed miserably to address childcare needs or give any support to hard-pressed parents on this issue.
Depending on individual circumstances many parents are being effectively forced by economic policy to return to the workforce or if they are in the lower income bracket are precluded from doing so by the high costs associated with childcare! Surely the whole point of parents working hard is to provide a secure environment for their children and to ensure that they are well educated and happy?

How “asked Councillor MacManus “do we provide real choice for parents? Firstly the government has to set out a clear programme to provide universal access for all children to early childhood care and education, this includes support for children and parents in the home, in childcare facilities and in primary schools. A major new report from the National Economic and Social Forum has identified massive deficits in early childhood care and education in the twenty-six counties. I wish to welcome the report particularly as many of its recommendations echo those of the Sinn Fein document “Putting Children First”. Among these recommendations are-universal access to care and education

  • State funded early childhood care and education
  • Child and family centres to provide local integrated services to disadvantaged parents and children
  • Increase of paid maternity leave to twenty six weeks.
Importantly this report is accompanied by a cost benefit analysis which shows that for every euro invested in early childhood care and education a return of E7.10 can be expected. This answers succinctly those who have criticised the proposals of the childcare sector, and of Sinn Fein, as being beyond the means of our economy. On the contrary the country cannot afford to ignore the implications of the ongoing childcare crisis.
I hope the government takes note of these proposals in time for the December budget and does not leave it to gather dust on a shelf or worse, commission another firm of highly paid consultants to produce another report telling us what we already know! Action is needed urgently on this issue, I have noted disturbing media reports recently on children being left at school as much as an hour before classes start. These recommendations must provide a focus for all those campaigning for the rights of children.

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