5 October 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The prospect of farmers and small businesspeople having the value of their assets taken into consideration in applications for college education grants for their offspring raised a strong tide of opposition when it was discussed by the members of Monaghan Co Council on Monday.
Although some members voiced the view that the suggestion was only a form of pre-Budget kite-flying, there was a consensus that any such move would be discriminatory against, and strongly resisted by, the rural population.
Full support was forthcoming for a motion tabled by Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus Coyle, “That Monaghan Co Council demands a commitment from the Government, the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn TD and all local Oireachtas representatives, that assets, i.e. farm land, shop/business premises, be not included in means testing for student college grant applications, following the current review, as this would be totally unfair to farmers, etc.”
Colr Coyle stated that this was an issue of major concern to small businesspeople and farmers, sectors facing huge challenges because of the terrible farming year and the pressure being experienced by small business. He pointed out that, despite misconceptions that suggested otherwise, only about 6%, or 4,000, of the 65,000-66,000 students who benefited from grants came from this type of background.
Arguing that the assessment should be based on income, he stated that they all knew how valueless assets were in the current economic climate.
The motion was seconded by Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy, who agreed that this was a massive issue, and was the subject of significant campaigning at the recent National Ploughing Championships.
Describing the proposal as “absolute lunacy”, Colr Carthy said that its proponents did not understand the complexity of the situation and were taking a very simplistic view. He pointed out that there had traditionally been great difficulty in encouraging people from a farming background to progress into third-level education.
“This proposal can only have come from a group of Dublin academics who have no idea of what life is like in rural Ireland,” Colr Carthy added, expressing the hope that the …

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