Could a Dublin allowance improve teacher supply? – The Irish Times

‘Teachers can’t afford to live in Dublin’

Kate Relihan, Blanchardstown branch

“My tracker mortgage has gone up by €200. You can’t get a school place. Bills have doubled. Teachers can’t afford to live in Dublin: one year and they are out. They are looking at €1,000 a month for a box room, and there is a turnover of teachers because of it.

“There are so many vacant posts and a city weighting will help. We have to incentivise teachers, and we should be using the leverage we have now with the shortage. In the UK schools are losing teachers because of Tory cutbacks. The union has a mandate from us that they were supposed to work on a city allowance for the last year. We argued for them to do it, but the general secretary didn’t even report back to us.

‘The problem is housing supply – and demand is too high’

Tomás O’Reilly, Roscommon

“I spoke against the city weighting at our INTO congress. We have congress to debate things, it was passed, and we respect the outcome. I hope the union pursues it and the teachers who want it get supported.

“Rural issues don’t get highlighted as much as those facing our urban colleagues. I live in the countryside and you need a car to get around. Even if you wanted to take the practically non-existent public transport you have to take your car. Our GP is only available two mornings a week in our village, and we have to travel half an hour on the other days.

“We only have a bar in our village, there are no services. Electricity is more expensive with higher standing charges, and we pay into group water schemes. I don’t think an urban weighting will treat the problem: the problem is housing supply, and demand is too high with not enough affordable housing, which is a Government failure. It may drive up the price of houses.”

‘An allowance feels more like papering over the issue’

Conall Ó Dufaigh, Bray, Co Wicklow

“I firmly believe that the cost of living, particularly in urban areas, is a major factor in the staffing crisis that we have in education in Ireland. That said, I feel there are more fundamental problems that could be addressed in relation to housing and living costs. That would be a far more sustainable solution than a particular allowance being granted for a particular city, where costs can rise and fall. It feels more like papering over than truly addressing the issues.

“The Government should invest massively in social housing to reduce pressure on the private market, both for rental and home buyers, and allow the price of housing to drop. Then you’ll start to see people living in cities more easily and more people to staff our schools and public services.”

‘In London the allowance is embedded in the culture’

Martin McMullan, Dublin

“I work in Dublin and used to work in London. I don’t believe an allowance would solve teacher-supply problems in the capital. You’d be throwing pennies at a very big problem. People from Cork, Galway and elsewhere would justifiably say why are these guys getting a higher allowance? The cost-of-living crisis is prevalent right across the country. It requires a bigger solution.

“In London the allowance is embedded in the culture there. London, historically, has been seen as a place apart from the rest of England. I think it was maybe £2,000 more than the rest of the country. It didn’t really solve anything.”

‘It should be looked at in Cork and other cities as well’

Eileen Mageean, Dublin

“My branch brought a motion on this because we saw it as an issue in Dublin but actually I think it’s something that should be looked at in Cork and other cities because the cost of housing in all of them is a problem for lecturers and teachers.

“I live in Meath, commute 90 minutes each way, to and from work. I spoke to some young colleagues recently and was fairly shocked to discover they had been sleeping on people’s couches since starting as assistant lecturers at TU Dublin. That’s a fairly shocking situation but they couldn’t get anywhere and that is why it’s so difficult to attract teachers to many schools but also colleges.

“So we need a lot of policy changes in relation to the way we work, trying to manage different aspects better and making housing more affordable, but this is something that would help those who are really struggling to find accommodation they can afford at the moment.”

‘60 per cent of my wages just goes on rent’

Aoife Claffey, Dublin

“I couldn’t get a job down the country. I’m from Kilkenny originally so I moved up to Dublin to rent, and trying to find somewhere that was even a half an hour away from work was very difficult. Now about 60 per cent of my wages just goes on rent.

“We’ve massive shortages in our school and a lot of it is down to the fact that people don’t want to come to Dublin. So it’s definitely a huge issue but a payment would only be a temporary measure, a short-term solution to a long-term problem. It’s not going to fix the situation, it’s only going to work for a certain time because people do want to settle down.

“People want to have a house or somewhere permanent to live. What’s needed is affordable housing. And fair rents. It’s about not renting from massive corporations who are going to just keep putting up the money [rent] every year.”

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