Teachers warned of tough decisions
Primary school teachers have been warned that the Government must make further difficult and painful decisions.
More than 750 primary school teachers from across the country are at the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) convention in Sligo.
Pay, pensions and job prospects are top of the agenda at the annual conferences of the three teachers' unions this week.
Cutbacks in resources for special needs pupils and disadvantaged children and the future of small schools are also on the agenda.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn told delegates a very difficult road lies ahead, saying: "I am not going to pretend that the resources available for education can be improved, earlier decisions reversed or further difficult measures avoided.
"The bottom line is that Ireland has to reduce its expenditure on public services and that means further difficult and painful decisions. We must all come to terms with the extent to which our reliance on EU/IMF funding means that we operate without economic sovereignty."
Parents of children with special needs protested over cuts to support staff as the minister left the Sligo hotel.
The general secretary of the INTO also criticised the Government's handling of the economic crisis, saying there was no balance, fairness or justice.
"The class of 2011 shares the history of the banking crisis," Sheila Nunan said. "They went into college in September 2008, the very month that the disastrous blanket bank guarantee was given by the then government.
"Now as these young teachers exit colleges with hard-earned and well-deserved teacher qualifications, they see those in the banks who caused or contributed to the crisis exiting the banks with obscene retirement packages."