We will make primary education free and promote pluralism in schools

February 22, 2016

Today we launched our ‘Cherishing Children Equally’ policy today with a commitment to make primary education free, reduce primary class sizes to 20, and a plan to connect every school with fibre broadband.

Heavy investment in children’s early years and childcare is some of the best money any government can spend.


Our policy is broken down into 3 key parts:

1. Driving Quality and Access to Education

2. Supporting Childcare and Early Years

3. Pluralism in Education

We pledge to provide funding so that paid parental leave (counting maternity benefit) is extended to 36 weeks and we are committed to increasing this to 52 weeks over a three-budget cycle.

Speaking at the launch today the Social Democrats co-leader said that: “Ireland’s education system is our single greatest competitive advantage. However funding to Ireland’s schools and colleges has been cut year-on-year. We must strive, instead, to have an education system that helps every child achieve their potential and that is why the Social Democrats are committed to frontloading investment in early years, childcare and primary school education.”

Mr. Donnelly said that “the Social Democrats are committed to carrying out a full economic review of the cost of childcare based on quality standards, implementation of national curricula, and the introduction of a proper career structure for staff”.

On pluralism, Mr.Donnelly said that, “while there have been some attempts to introduce pluralism to the education system, 96% of State-funded schools remain denominationally-controlled. This is not reflective of the wishes of large numbers of parents and the Social Democrats believe that reform is urgently needed. We will repeal of Section 7 (3) (c) of the Equal Status Act so that children cannot be refused admission to a local school on the basis of their religious beliefs.”