The Donegal North East TD was commenting after the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn confirmed in writing to the ICMSA that from 2013, farm assets will be included in the means-testing for third level grants.
Deputy McConalogue has described it as yet another example of the Education Minister’s anti-rural agenda.
“This just pushes third level education further out of the reach of so many families in rural communities in Donegal and across the country,” according to Deputy McConalogue.
“Minister Quinn has signalled these grant changes since coming into power. In an interview with the Farmers Journal in March last, he accused farming families and the self-employed of manipulating their income to secure education grants:
“I am reforming the way in which the student grants is going to operate … Up until now there has been a bias towards the self-employed and the agricultural community who were able to quite frankly manipulate their income in a manner in which they could, or their children could, avail of grants” – Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, Newstalk Breakfast, 31 March 2011
Deputy McConalogue continued: “Minister Quinn’s attitude towards this has been, quite frankly, insulting. It is just more evidence of the worrying pattern that has developed with this Government’s education policies. Small rural schools and disadvantaged schools in rural areas have been targeted for significant cuts to teacher numbers from September. Now the Education Minister has confirmed that he is also targeting farming families for significant education grant cuts from 2013.”
Deputy McConalogue has pledged his full support for the ICMSA campaign against these “unfair” grant cuts.
“I intend to oppose these cuts at every turn. Rural communities will not stand for these discriminatory policies.”