Batt O'Keeffe

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Batt O'Keeffe
Batt O'Keeffe 2.png
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
In office
23 March 2010 – 20 January 2011
Preceded by Mary Coughlan
Succeeded by Mary Hanafin
Minister for Education and Science
In office
7 May 2008 – 23 March 2010
Preceded by Mary Hanafin
Succeeded by Mary Coughlan
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal
In office
20 June 2007 – 6 May 2008
Preceded by Noel Ahern
Succeeded by Michael Finneran
Minister of State for Environmental Protection
In office
29 September 2004 – 19 June 2007
Preceded by Pat the Cope Gallagher
Succeeded by Office Abolished
Teachta Dála
In office
May 2007 – February 2011
Constituency Cork North–West
In office
November 1992 – May 2007
In office
February 1987 – June 1989
Constituency Cork South–Central
Senator
In office
October 1989 – November 1992
Constituency Labour Panel
Personal details
Born (1945-04-02) 2 April 1945 (age 69)
Cullen, County Cork, Ireland
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Mary Murphy
Children 4
Alma mater University College Cork
Occupation Former lecturer

Bartholomew "Batt" O'Keeffe (born 2 April 1945) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) and Senator from 1987 to 2011.[1] He also served as Minister for Education and Science (2008–10) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (2010–11).

Early and personal life[edit]

O'Keeffe was born in Cullen, County Cork. He was educated at St. Brendan's College, Killarney, County Kerry and at University College Cork where he received a Bachelor of Arts. O'Keeffe worked as a lecturer in the Cork Institute of Technology before becoming involved in politics. He also had a sporting career, being the holder of three Munster football Gaelic Athletic Association medals with Cork GAA at Under 21, Junior and Senior level. He was also a Cork Intermediate Handball Champion. In 1985 he was elected to Cork County Council. He was formerly chairman of the Southern Health Board. He is married to Mary Murphy and they have three daughters and one son.

Political career[edit]

At the 1987 general election O'Keeffe was first elected to Dáil Éireann for the Cork South–Central constituency. He lost his seat to Micheál Martin at the 1989 general election but he was subsequently elected to Seanad Éireann by the Labour Panel where he was spokesperson on Finance. At the 1992 general election O'Keeffe was re-elected to the Dáil and was re-elected at each subsequent election until his retirement in 2011.[2] Between 1995 and 1997 O'Keeffe was Opposition Spokesperson on Transport and Communications. He has also served on a number of committees including the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, the Public Accounts Committee and the Sustainable Development Committee. In Bertie Ahern's Cabinet reshuffle of 2004 O'Keeffe was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with special responsibility for Environmental Protection.

In 2006 O'Keeffe was selected unopposed to contest the 2007 general election in the re-drawn Cork North–West constituency along with Michael Moynihan and Donal Moynihan. O'Keeffe was elected though his party colleague Donal Moynihan lost his seat. In 2007 O'Keeffe was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Urban Renewal. In 2008 when Brian Cowen became Taoiseach, O'Keeffe was appointed as Minister for Education and Science. In his role as Minister for Education in 2010 he decided to dissolve the National University of Ireland,[3] a move which was later reversed in 2011 by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.

Budget 2009[edit]

On 14 October 2008, as part of Budget 2009, O'Keeffe announced cutbacks and the imposition of increased charges[4] to pay for the running of the Department of Education and Science throughout 2009,[5] including the increase of the primary school teacher:pupil ratio 1:27 to 1:28 and the increase of the post-primary school teacher:pupil ratio from 1:18 to 1:19 although the capital allocation of €889m was increased by €80m.[5]

On 29 October 2008 approximately 12,000 teachers and parents demonstrated against the education cuts announced in Budget 2009. The rally outside Leinster House coincided with a Dáil debate on a Labour Party motion calling for the increase in class sizes to be reversed. INTO General Secretary John Carr described the budget as an act of educational sabotage.[6] Ferdia Kelly – representing most second-level school managers – said school principals and deputy principals "are saying loudly and clearly that they are not available to supervise classes where teachers are absent. Failure to act now on this proposal will lead to an unwelcome disruption of school life in January." The cutbacks removed substitution cover for uncertified sick leave and for teachers on school business at second level from 7 January 2009.[7]

The education cutbacks were supported in the Dáil on 30 October 2008 by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.[8] O'Keeffe accused the opposition parties of whipping up "hysteria" and said they were being dishonest with the Irish people.[9]

The minority Protestant population in the Republic were outraged[10] by cuts announced by the Minister for Education to grants previously available to the 21 Protestant denomination secondary schools. This breached a forty-year-old agreement reached when free secondary education was introduced by the then Minister for Education Donogh O'Malley. It was claimed that the cuts would disproportionately affect Protestant Schools. Protestant parents claimed that they must accept fewer teachers per child, and that their schools would not be funded to employ non-academic staff in the way that their Roman Catholic neighbours are.[11]

Proposed re-introduction of third level fees[edit]

On 11 August 2008, O'Keeffe proposed the re-introduction of third level fees which had been abolished in Ireland since 1995.[12] While originally indicating that high earners would be hit,[13][14] it was later announced that this scheme would raise far short of the €500 million in the original report compiled by UCC economist, Dr. Noel Woods.[15][16][17] O'Keeffe stated that he wanted to increase third level participation and claimed that the "free fees" scheme had not accomplished this.[18] After putting forward a range of options to the cabinet in July 2009, O'Keeffe set a deadline of 15 September 2009 for his colleagues to decide on the issue.[19] The range of options was then discussed in a new programme for government. It was later announced in the new programme for government, brokered by both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, that third-level fees would not be introduced in the lifetime of the government,[20] although O'Keeffe had stated his support for their introduction and had stated that existing registration fees,[21] commonly cited as "fees by another name", faced an increase.[22][23][24] His stance on fees was supported by former education ministers Noel Dempsey and Mary Hanafin.[25][26]

Resignation and retirement[edit]

O'Keeffe resigned his position as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation on 20 January 2011.[27] He retired from politics at the 2011 general election.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mr. Batt O'Keeffe". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Batt O'Keeffe". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  3. ^ "National University of Ireland body dissolved". RTÉ News. 20 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Education". Department of Education and Science. Retrieved 30 October 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "Main Estimate Features of Budget 2009 for Department of Education and Science". Department of Education and Science. Retrieved 30 October 2008. 
  6. ^ "12,000 protest over education cuts". RTÉ News. 29 October 2008. Archived from the original on 1 November 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  7. ^ "Managers warn of major disruption in schools next year". The Irish Times. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008. 
  8. ^ "Govt defeats Labour motion on education cutbacks". Breakingnews.ie. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  9. ^ "Government wins key Dáil vote on education cutbacks". The Irish Times. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  10. ^ "Protestants outraged over schools budget 'discrimination'". Irish Independent. 2 September 2009. 
  11. ^ "Cuts pose a real threat to future of Protestant schools". The Irish Times. 10 October 2009. 
  12. ^ Brennan, Michael; Walshe, John (12 August 2008). "Storm of protest as O'Keeffe hints at return of college fees". Irish Independent. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "O'Keeffe personally backs the return of college fees". The Irish Times. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  14. ^ "Third-level fees for wealthy would raise €500m, O'Keeffe report claims". The Irish Times. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  15. ^ "O'Keeffe never received inaccurate fee report". Sunday Tribune. 22 March 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  16. ^ "Fine Gael compares O'Keeffe to 'Grandpa Simpson'". The Irish Times. 8 November 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  17. ^ "Economist of flawed fees report is friend of minister". Sunday Tribune. 21 September 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  18. ^ Obrien, Stephen (14 February 2009). "Students warned they'll have to pay for college". The Times. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  19. ^ "Ministers given deadline for views on third-level fees". Eircom.net news. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  20. ^ "Key promises in revised Programme for Government revealed". Irish Examiner. 10 October 2009. 
  21. ^ "O'Keeffe remains in favour of third-level college fees". The Irish Times. 10 October 2009. 
  22. ^ Riegel, Ralph; Walshe, John (29 October 2009). "College chiefs warn registration fees must rise". Irish Independent. 
  23. ^ "O'Keeffe refuses to rule out fees". The Irish Times. 10 October 2009. 
  24. ^ Walshe, John; Riegel, Ralph (13 October 2009). "Registration for third level costs more than most EU tuition fees". Irish Independent. 
  25. ^ "Cowen appeals for pre-Budget support". RTÉ News. 19 October 2009. 
  26. ^ "Greens 'still oppose' return of college fees". Irish Independent. 11 February 2009. 
  27. ^ "Election date set for 11 March". RTÉ News. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
Oireachtas
Preceded by
Pearse Wyse
(Fianna Fáil)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Cork South–Central
19871989
Succeeded by
Micheál Martin
(Fianna Fáil)
Preceded by
John Dennehy
(Fianna Fáil)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Cork South–Central
19922007
Succeeded by
Michael McGrath
(Fianna Fáil)
Preceded by
Donal Moynihan
(Fianna Fáil)
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Cork North–West
20072011
Succeeded by
Áine Collins
(Fine Gael)
Political offices
Preceded by
Pat the Cope Gallagher
Minister of State for Environmental Protection
2004–2007
Office abolished
Preceded by
Noel Ahern
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Michael Finneran
Preceded by
Mary Hanafin
Minister for Education and Science
2008–2010
Succeeded by
Mary Coughlan
as Minister for Education and Skills
Preceded by
Mary Coughlan
as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
2010–2011
Succeeded by
Mary Hanafin