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Vigil protest plan for polling day

The plans are being spearheaded by local clergymen, Fr John Joe Duffy (Arranmore) and Rev John Deane (Ardara) who claim the objective is to highlight savage educational cuts imposed by the government.

“The idea is to have a presence of parents, children, teachers and members of the general public with placards outside the school gates reminding the government that they need to ‘Prioritise Education Investment Now’ and protect education, protect the future of our children,” Fr Duffy said yesterday.

“No one should in any way interfere with or hinder anyone entering or leaving the polling stations. Everyone should exercise their democratic right to cast their vote,” he added.

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The news comes as the Minister for Education, Mr Ruairi Quinn travels to Donegal today (Friday) for a series of engagements.
On  Monday, An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, will also arrive in Donegal to officially present pupils at Loreto Community School in Milford with €125,000 worth of computer equipment. He is also due to meet with workers at Pramerica in Letterkenny as part of the flying visit. In a joint statement yesterday Fr Duffy and Rev Keane said while the Minister for Education had reversed teaching post cuts in urban primary schools he continued to cut 16 rural posts.

“Why has the Minister made a difference between rural and urban DEIS schools? What is the difference between urban and rural disadvantage?.
“The appeals process has failed to deliver in Donegal, where a minimum number of schools had success. Only five appeals have been successful. Twenty appeals have been unsuccessful. Other appeals are still under consideration. Under the changes we will have lost up to at least 30 teaching posts across Donegal.

“The Appeals process was hyped up by the government to try and defuse the anger of parents in the hope that parents would feel that everything was going to be ok for their schools.
“The cutbacks in the budget are an attempt to close rural schools by stealth,” the statement read.

Some of the concerns raised by the clergymen include waiting for new buildings for years, cuts to Special Needs Assistants and Learning Support-Resource hours, changes in pupil-teacher ratios and funding cuts.
“We are going through a time of worry and anxiety about our rural schools. The future of many of our schools are threatened by savage cuts imposed by our government.

Most worryingly is the new pupil/teacher ratio which is currently being imposed. Small two teacher schools are particularly at risk. Those of us who belong to rural DEIS, minority faith schools, gaeltacht and small schools feel especially vulnerable and upset due to the uncertainty facing our schools,” the statement read.

Today the Minister for Education visits St. Eunan’s primary school in Raphoe, one of the hardest hit schools in the country having lost four posts.

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