Colm O'Rourke: ASTI has 'been a barrier to badly needed educational reform'

The GAA legend joined Ivan to discuss everything from NAMA to Joe Brolly

Colm O'Rourke: ASTI has 'been a barrier to badly needed educational reform'

Colm O’Rourke. Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

GAA legend and broadcaster Colm O'Rourke has claimed that the ASTI secondary teachers union has been a "barrier to badly needed educational reform" in Ireland.

Colm joined Ivan on Yates On Sunday this week, and discussed everything from NAMA to the role of GAA pundits.

Colm is principal of a St Patrick's Classical School, and discussed some of his views on the current education system.

He says reform is needed in the post-primary sector, including a change to the apprenticeship system as "there's far too high a percentage going to third-level [education]".

He also argued that unions have been an obstacle to change.

He argued: "My perception of the ASTI has been that they have been a barrier to badly needed educational reform and that they haven’t served the education system or the teaching profession well in their barriers to all types of change. I think that the leadership of the ASTI has been poor, and it has been insular, and it hasn’t served us well as a profession.

"The problem from my point of view is the ASTI always say no. That’s the starting point and things have improved. At least the Junior Cert reform is coming in."

He added: "What the ASTI need to do is to show a bit of leadership on policy and design a policy for the future that they see which would be more beneficial than the one that they always seem to want to block.

"They have to give a lead in demonstrating some type of new initiative that they see would be of benefit both to students and teachers."

'A lost generation'

Colm moved on to the subject of NAMA, suggesting it was 'short-sightedness' to sell so much property to foreign investors - a trend which he argued has resulted in 'a lost generation'.

"People who would have helped rebuild the country of course had either to go abroad or the policies of the day made sure that they weren’t going to have access to the funds which were needed to build the houses," he argued. "So we’re running into a housing crisis which could have been averted, I think, if there was a far better and more far-sighted policy by those in authority."

However, he also sounded a note of optimism, suggesting: "The opportunities are there now. I think this new group are coming out into a much better Ireland, a more open Ireland, an Ireland of opportunity... so I think the future is very bright for young people now."

Colm touched on the difficulties he himself experienced in the property market, telling Ivan: "I got into a project with my eyes wide open. Nobody twisted my arm to do so and it went wrong so you know you have to pay the consequences of that.

"But it makes you a more resilient person and you get to know who your friends are very quickly."

'A pure gentleman'

Of course, Ivan and Colm also discussed more sports-related matters - including the veteran Sunday Game panellist's views on his fellow pundits.

Colm said: "Joe Brolly is a pure gentleman and he has wonderful, wild and whirling ideas going on in his head on a continuous basis. And you know, I’m his warm up, sidekick, that’s what it amounts to. Sometimes he over-eggs the cake, but I think that in general most of the points that he makes about things are valid.

"Sometimes I would have to say that he gets too personal and that he maybe shoots down people in language that maybe is a bit forceful, but in general I think that the points he makes are valid and when people go away and think about them.

"One thing about him is he certainly is colourful and won't sit on the fence. He’ll give an opinion," he added.

He said "it's the same thing" with Pat Spillane.

"People sometimes think our opinion is far more important than it actually is," Colm observed. "All we are is three people sitting and watching a game and commenting on it - and our comments and our opinions on it doesn't mean that it's any more important than the ordinary person sitting in the stand or sitting at home."

He stressed: "The game is what is important."