News & Media

Labour Bill to scrap voluntary contributions up for debate in Seanad

9 October 2019

Statement by Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht

The Labour Party’s Bill to scrap voluntary contributions is being debated at Committee Stage in the Seanad this evening.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Labour’s Education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:

“Conversations between parents and teachers should be about education- not money.

“But the current status quo means parents are facing major financial blocks when it comes to their children’s education.

“Research has shown that 67 per cent of parents of primary school pupils, and 71 per cent of secondary school parents are currently being asked to make a voluntary contribution.

“Voluntary contributions are a marker of an education system which is inadequately funded, and they place an unfair burden on families. 

“When you add in the cost of school books and uniforms, how can we say that education in this country is truly free?

“In our Alternative Budget, Labour advocated for a multi-million euro investment in education at primary and secondary school level, making it genuinely free, increased the capitation grants in DEIS schools by 50 per cent, and returned schools to pre-crash levels of capitation investment.

“Our Free Education Bill would do away with the hidden costs of ‘voluntary’ contributions and remove a major financial hurdle for many struggling parents.

“We’re calling on Government to get behind our legislation, which has been out forward in good faith, to alleviate this enormous added pressure on families across the State.”