Minister will press ahead with Junior Cert changes

By Shaun Connolly

Political Correspondent

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has insisted she will push on with controversial junior cert reforms despite strong opposition from unions.

However, the Minister was unable to explain how she could achieve this without the backing of teachers.

In remarks which are unlikely to not go down well with teachers, Ms O'Sullivan said she would "encourage" them to behave in a "professional" manner.

Speaking at the Labour conference in Killarney, Ms O'Sullivan said she was disappointed unions had rejected a compromise formula worked out by Dr Pauric Travers after talks between the Education Department and unions,

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland and the Teachers' Union of Ireland said Dr Travers’ proposals represented the basis for new talks, but did not represent a comprehensive resolution to the issue of teachers marking the work of their own pupils.

Meanwhile, two contentious motions at the Labour conference calling for the constitutional block on future privatisation of irish Water, and the introduction of rent controls, were withdrawn for further consideration after appeals by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

However, Mr Kelly indicated he would be prepared to introduce legislation to prevent big rent hikes by landlords over the next four years.

Mr Kelly said he would everything he could to establish "rent stability".

"There is a need for a new framework for rent in this country," Mr Kelly told delegates as he urges them to "rip apart" Labour's opponents.

“We need to bring about certainty with various different regulations, and legislation if necessary, to change this.

“We have a situation where landlords feel, in some cases, they can get away with increases in rent that are absolutely scandalous,"

“We need to bring an end to that," Mr Kelly said.

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