Minister for Education open to meeting ASTIFriday 18 October 2013 13.50
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said he has no problem meeting the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland, but said he has no authority to re-open discussions on the Haddington Road Agreement.
The teachers' union is opposed to the public sector deal on pay and conditions.
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Quinn said he was willing to engage in exploratory discussions with the ASTI, but he said that these discussions could be on educational matters only.
President of the Association of Principals and Deputy Principals Kay O'Brien warned earlier today that problems were beginning to mount, due to the cancellation of parent-teacher meetings as part of the dispute.
She appealed to Mr Quinn to meet the ASTI to try to resolve the issue.
Mr Quinn described the ASTI's rejection of the Haddington Road Agreement as a "democratic and perfectly legitimate" decision.
However, he repeated his claim that the deal would have left the teaching union's members better off had they signed up to it.
ASTI General Secretary Pat King has welcomed the minister's comments about meeting.
Speaking on the same programme, Mr King said members are deeply concerned with aspects of the agreement and the current demands placed on schools and their staff.
He said: "Teachers and schools and principals are deeply concerned about the state of schools, the demands of schools, the incapacity of schools, the inability to deal with the range of demands placed on them.
"These are important issues that need to be discussed - the way schools are organised, the lack of middle management. We need to talk about all of these things and I'm very pleased to hear the minister is willing to sit down and discuss these with us."