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*Photograph: Eamon Ward

Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) has taken up a new position as a sitting member of the Oireachtas Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

Deputy Crowe was appointed to the Committee by Minister for Education, Norma Foley (FF). He already sits on the Oireachtas Committee on Transport while he serves as Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on tourism and aviation.

A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Crowe said he plans to flag the issues affecting workers in the early years sector and trying to progress their pay. “When I was in Mary Immaculate, students of Early Childhood Studies were in many of my lectures. They left college highly trained, highly skilled and with a lot of the same skillsets as their teacher counterparts but they all started out on a far, far lower salary than us”.

He stated, “This isn’t fair and it’s insulting to workers in the sector overall. If we want a top-quality early years sector we better, as a nation, be prepared to pay for it. I look forward to being able to use my political voice on this committee to advance the needs of those directly experiencing our education system – both from a pupil and staff perspective – and engaging directly with the relevant groups in my work”.

Prior to his election to the Dáil in February 2020, Cathal spent sixteen years working as a primary school teacher, most recently in Parteen NS. “I’ve been passionate about education since I graduated from Mary Immaculate College back in 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed my time at the top of the classroom in both Meelick and Parteen national schools. I hope to bring my experience as a teacher to the fore in my new position and be a strong advocate for pupils, teachers and the whole realm of special education”.

Crowe said he has “an excellent working relationship” with the Minister for Education “and have a path worn to her office in terms of making representations on all sorts of educational matters in Clare. I also intend to hold a series of School Clinics throughout my tenure on this committee so that school principals and boards of management bodies can regularly engage with me on building projects and other issues that they are facing”.

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