Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 17 May 1989

Vol. 390 No. 2

Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - VEC Caretakers.


asked the Minister for Education when it is proposed to fill caretakers' vacancies in vocational education committee schools and colleges.


asked the Minister for Education when it is proposed to fill caretakers' vacancies in vocational schools in County Kerry.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 74 together.

My Department are precluded under the terms of Government policy on public service staffing from sanctioning any increase in the existing personnel resources of VECs' second level schemes. It is a matter, therefore, for VECs to redeploy the personnel resources available to them in their schemes in the best manner possible to meet the needs of their schools.

The filling of vacancies within each colleges' pay allocation is a matter for local management subject to the normal requirements governing such matters.

Would the Minister accept that it makes very poor economic sense to leave public buildings, such as schools, constructed with taxpayers' money, without the services of a caretaker? This leaves them open to vandalism resulting in extra costs for the taxpayer. The standard of cleanliness and maintenance is let go down with the result that proper environment for the training and nurturing of young people is not provided. If the Minister thinks in this case the rule does not serve the best interests of young people she ought to look at it again and make an exception.

I think the Deputy has made her point.

As I said, all sorts of matters are the subject of special pleading. Everybody has their case to put and they will put it forward. We have to live within our budget. We are implementing the decision of the previous Government on this matter. Every day we are asked for more teachers, more caretakers, more buildings, more resources, more examinations and more subjects but we have to bear in mind that £1.2 billion is spent on education. It is amazing what we have been able to achieve in providing a very high standard of education. As I said, we are precluded under the terms of Government policy on public service staffing from sanctioning any increase, but the VEC's can redeploy their personnel in their schemes.

Has the Minister ever conducted a survey to find out what the level of payments for malicious damage have been during the past few years and what the number of claims in respect of occupier liability in terms of students falling or tripping is and, if not, would she do so to see if the figures would justify her taking another look at this area? I take the Minister's point that everybody puts in a demand but I ask the Minister to get those figures to see if another look is required.

I am examining the position in relation to primary schools. It is a point that I would be willing to follow up. We should bear in mind that most vandalism takes place in the dark hours of night when caretakers would not be on duty. I will have a survey carried out to find out what the number of malicious injury cases is.

Can the Minister tell me if her attention has been drawn to a specific case in a certain VEC area where a caretaker had to be dismissed because of gross dishonesty. In other words, he was ripping off the school. The school had no option but to dismiss that person but because of this they are not now in a position to appoint another caretaker. If they held on to this gentleman and allowed him to rip off the school and the State he would still be in employment and drawing a salary from the Exchequer. I will give the details to the Minister later.

He does not sound much of a gentleman.

He does not but parliamentary regulations prevent me calling him——

Always one to observe the rules to the hilt.

I would not like to comment in the House on anybody's faults or failings but I can tell the Deputy that I am aware of the case to which she refers.

Would the Minister not agree that in a case like this the rules should be amended to enable common sense to prevail and allow the committee in question dismiss this person and appoint another in his place?

I would not like to comment on a person's capabilities.

That must be the end of questions for today.