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Teaching union calls for U-turn on vaccine priority list

Vaccines will be administered on an age-basis rather than by occupation as previously planned.

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Unions are urging the Government to give teachers a higher priority for coronavirus vaccination (PA)

Unions are urging the Government to give teachers a higher priority for coronavirus vaccination (PA)

Unions are urging the Government to give teachers a higher priority for coronavirus vaccination (PA)

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has urged the Education Minister to give teachers a higher priority for coronavirus vaccination.

Union president Mary Magner called for Norma Foley to announce a U-turn on the Covid-19 vaccine programme during her address to the union later on Tuesday.

It comes as the three teacher unions are to debate emergency motions at their annual conferences, seeking options on industrial action if members are not moved up the priority list.

The annual conferences are taking place online this week.

The INTO, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) will discuss the Government’s decision to overhaul the Covid-19 vaccine programme.

Vaccines will now be administered on an age-basis rather than by occupation as previously planned.

There has been widespread anger over the decision, with teaching unions criticising the new plan.

The unions have said that any industrial action will not affect the reopening of schools next week.

Ms Foley is to address the INTO congress later on Tuesday.

Earlier, Ms Magner addressed members in a virtual event.

We had a promise from the Government we took in good faith. However, the rug has been pulled out from under us.Mary Magner, INTO

She said: “Colleagues, I hadn’t expected to have to talk to you about vaccine prioritisation.

“We had a promise from the Government we took in good faith. However, the rug has been pulled out from under us.

“We will spend time later in Congress on this important matter and I implore the minister to announce a U-turn in her address later.”

Ms Magner also told delegates that the future of teaching needed “a different vision”.

“I propose to you, to Minister Foley and Government at large, that education spending and budgets into the future should be above and outside of politics to give a guarantee of adequate resources,” she added.

“Never again should our education budget be subject to the tokenism of election promises or necessitate the yearly ‘buy-in’ of the electorate.

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Education Minister Norma Foley is to address the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation annual conference on Tuesday (PA)

Education Minister Norma Foley is to address the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation annual conference on Tuesday (PA)

PA

Education Minister Norma Foley is to address the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation annual conference on Tuesday (PA)

“The Government was fond of throwing EU stats at us during the crisis, when comparing us with countries that had reopened earlier than us. Let me throw some stats back.

“When it comes to spending and investment in education, as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), Sweden spends some 6.9%, Denmark 6.3% and Belgium 6.2%. In the same year, 2019, Ireland lagged abysmally behind, at a mere 3.1%.

“Our new normal must make education the bedrock of our society and fund it, on par with our European neighbours. GDP spend should rightly be earmarked on a multi-annual basis, to guarantee minimum investment levels, as we rebuild, post pandemic.

“This union is always ready to play its part in shaping, upholding and rebuilding an equal and sustainable society, where quality education is central to a better world.

“Investment in primary education is an investment in all of education and all of society.”

PA


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