Phelan highlights plight of Piltown teacher

The case of a Pilltown woman who has been teaching for more than 20 years but who, through no fault of her own, missed the deadline by a day or two for her payment of the €90 fee to the Teaching Council, was raised in the Dáil by FG Deputy John Paul Phelan.

The case of a Pilltown woman who has been teaching for more than 20 years but who, through no fault of her own, missed the deadline by a day or two for her payment of the €90 fee to the Teaching Council, was raised in the Dáil by FG Deputy John Paul Phelan.

As a consequence, he said she must now wait to be vetted and will be charged an increased fee in order to be included on the Teaching Council’s list. In his view, it was a peculiar system. If she had applied a day earlier, she would not be required to be vetted.

Speaking on the Education (Amendment) Bill, 2912, he said this teacher had worked as a teacher for 20 years and was a highly qualified, successful and good teacher.

“The vetting process will take a number of months in her case and in my view it seems draconian, to say the least,” he said. “Everybody acknowledges the necessity for vetting of people who deal with children but this person has worked successfully as a teacher for over 20 years. I hope similar situations will not arise.”

Deputy Phelan said the last day of February marked the date for a large number of retirements from the public service and many teachers in particular. It was imperative that temporary teaching positions and cover for maternity leave or illness, should not be provided to retired teachers rather than to young, unemployed qualified teachers of which there are very many.

“They are looking for teaching experience but they are unable to obtain a post because up to now these positions were being filled by retired teachers,” he said. “This is not appropriate and the Minister has issued circulars to this effect but he needs to reiterate this message.”

Senator O’Neill queries new rules on TB herds

New regulations introduced on 1 January which mean a tuberculosis outbreak is considered a significant outbreak if two or more animals in a herd fail was raised in the Upper House by Kilkenny Senator Pat O’Neill.

Senator O’Neill said he would like the Minister for Agriculture to come to the House to explain why this was introduced.

“What documentation or statistics exist to back up this up,” he asked. “It will have a major impact especially at the fall of the year with the weanling trade. A person, whose neighbour’s herd has an outbreak with two or more animals down, cannot sell his or her weanlings, which is ludicrous. Has this requirement been introduced as a way of providing jobs for the boys? I want the Leader to invite the Minister to come to the House to explain this change, which will have significant impact on the cattle trade - particularly the weanling trade and also the pure-bred trade.”

Senator O’Neill said it was four months or more since the neighbouring farmer’s last test, his or her land is also locked up.

“This is more bureaucracy and red tape in an industry that is going well at present,” he added.

In response, the leader of the House Senator Maurice Cummins said he was advised that the new policy was introduced this year by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, following consultation with the farming organisations.

“Under the new policy, owners of herds which are neighbouring a herd experiencing a high-risk breakdown, are prevented from selling cattle on the open market but not to slaughter, until the herd is tested to demonstrate it is not infected by TB,” he said. “The objective of the policy is to prevent farmers with a holding adjacent to a farm where there is TB from selling potentially infected animals to other farmers.”

Senator Cummins said experience had shown that many animals from these herds are sold to other farmers and subsequently bring down the other herds with TB. The policy was designed to protect farmers from buying infected animals. Farmers whose herds were restricted under this policy were free to sell cattle to the meat factories and can have the restriction lifted at an early date simply by having their herds tested.