by Pat Brosnan


Uncertainty for Teachers

During all the Teachers Annual Conferences that were held in various locations during the past week, the one theme that appeared to be running through the deliberations of the Primary, Secondary and Vocational Teachers Unions was the uncertainty of this once high profile profession for the future. There was a time when teachers who qualified after their years of training were almost certain to get an appointment and this applied to all grades of the profession in this country. Apart from the fact that they might occasionally be transferred from one school to another within a particular parish, or that they might, of their own accord, take up an appointment in another area if it meant promotion or an increase in salary, once a person qualified as a teacher he or she was reasonably certain of a job for life and this was in evidence up until a comparatively short time ago. In former times, the Principal teacher, who was usually, though not always, a man was held in the same high regard in a locality as the Parish Priest or the local Garda Sergeant?  They and their assistant teachers were respected and prominent members of each community and it would certainly be unheard of, in those days, that a cheeky or troublesome pupil would be tolerated for very long, and the parents of such a pupil would be given little satisfaction by either teachers or clergy if such pupils needed to be disciplined. In fact most parents at the time would agree with the measures taken by teachers to control unruly children and as a result juvenile delinquents, at the time, were few and far between. Things are very much different now, the teaching profession has become a much more stressful occupation and teachers at all levels, both primary and secondary, have to be very careful that they do not over react in trying to control troublesome children or even teenagers when they attend Secondary or Vocational Schools. Added to this is the worry of holding their job with all the rumours of closures and amalgamation of schools at various levels. Like most others in the public service teacher’s salaries have been cut with all the contributions deducted from their pay, so it is no wonder they are worried and that this was evident at their conferences last week. And of course added to this is the growing uncertainty for trainee teachers Primary and Secondary, will they be able to get a placement as soon as they qualify?. Hopefully the economic climate will improve in our country once again and that jobs will become available for those trainee teachers who are at present studying in the different colleges. Educating the children and young people of the nation is of primary importance and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn and the Government he represents should even in the present economically tough circumstances never dream of stinting on funding for education and the vital role which it plays in the life of our country. As we all know those who took part in the 1916 Rising firmly believed in the slogan “Educate that you might be free”.


Judges and their Salaries

By all accounts the top judge in the State paid a courtesy call on the Taoiseach last week and while this was perhaps a friendly gesture there seemed to be no comment on the nature of their discussions. What we have heard, however, long before this visit is that some judges in the country have refused to even take a trifling voluntary cut in their enormous salaries for the sake of our financially, economically and politically bankrupt country. While those of us who are mere pensioners and people on Social welfare of various kinds, as well as workers generally and indeed many overburdened farmers and small business people who are struggling to keep going, how dare anybody even try to suggest that judges in their high and mighty privileged positions would be expected to take a cut in their salaries. Such impositions by the Government are only applicable to the common people and not for top exalted legal eagles. It has been mentioned, in the media, that a referendum will be held regarding judge’s salaries and some other legal matters. If this comes about, it is to be hoped that the people will vote wisely and not be carried away by threats and fears such as happened in the replayed Nice and Lisbon Referendums. And indeed, while they are at it, a question might also be put to the people if they still want the country’s judges, barristers and counsellors wearing these silly wigs and gowns in court for which, by all accounts, they are still given an allowance. This ridiculous wearing apparel for legal representatives is a custom that was inherited from the British when they were here and certainly has no place whatsoever in a Republic. It is something that should have been discontinued a long time ago and has no purpose of any kind. There is little doubt that many of the representatives of the legal profession in this country are a law unto themselves and this needs to be changed so they will be subject and answerable to the democratically elected representatives of the people the same as the rest of us.

Voiceless West Limerick

Many people throughout our locality and West Limerick Generally were over the weekend very disappointed that John Sheahan did not make it to a seat in the Seanad. John was West Limerick’s last hope of having a West Limerick representative in a National forum and this area of West Limerick is now totally voiceless as far a local speaker in either the Dáil or Seanad is concerned. We will now have to depend on our Kerry neighbours who are Dáil deputies and Senators to get things going for us, or perhaps maybe the County Dáil deputies and Senators might like to help.

Basically, however, this part of West Limerick, which was amalgamated with North Kerry, is now a “no man’s land”. And the sooner the county boundary is again restored the better it will be for everybody both people and politicians. In the meantime commiserations to John Sheahan, no doubt he will be heard of again and anyway he is still the representative of this section of Athea Parish in the County Council where he will surely continue the good work he has been doing since he was first elected.

Recent Deaths

Sympathy is extended to the family and relatives of Jimmy Dalton, formerly of Clounleharde and more recently of Glin, whose death occurred recently. He was an uncle of Josie Willis of Knockdown and of the late Johnny Willis and was also a relative of the O’Sullivan and Dalton families of Knocknagorna. ‘May his soul rest in peace’.

The death also occurred last week of Richard Carey, Listowel and formerly of Rathea. He was employed for many years in the E.S.B. and we used to meet occasionally. He was a team mate of mine when we used to play together for Lyre during our football playing days and we remained friends throughout our lives. Sympathy is extended to his family and relatives. ‘May his soul rest in peace’.

Nursing Home Concert

Ceol Luimnigh Traditional Group held a very enjoyable concert for the residents and staff of Cahermoyle Nursing Home, Ardagh on Friday evening. Two and a half hours of music, songs, storytelling and dancing was much appreciated by all concerned. The entertainers were treated to a lovely meal by the Staff and Management.

As usual the event was sponsored by Newcastle West Branch of The Irish Red Cross Society.