O’Rourke again raises questions over Third Level grants row

Cllr Paddy O’Rourke has again raised the issue of asset testing of properties and businesses owned by parents of students seeking third level education grants.

Cllr Paddy O’Rourke has again raised the issue of asset testing of properties and businesses owned by parents of students seeking third level education grants.

The Ballinamore Area councillor noted the recent controversy surrounding the claim by the Department that they were using figures supplied by Teagasc when arriving at the proposed threshold of €750,000. Cllr O’Rourke noted Teagasc say they didn’t provide any figures to the Department for this purpose adding that Teagasc has since said the claim a holding of 75 acres would provide an income of w41,000 was “meaningless”.

According to Cllr O’Rourke, Teagasc has made a further suggestion that the Department of Education has mixed up land measurement of hectares and acres, something he said “would have a profound effect on any calculation if true”.

While some parents in this county may take comfort from the relatively high proposed threshold, Cllr O’Rourke warned that once the principle of the valuation of property and businesses is accepted, the threshold can be lowered.

The Fianna Fail Councillor said this would have the “obvious effect of excluding children from self-employed families from obtaining grant aid regardless of the ability of their parents farms or business to generate sufficient income to support them.

“The Principle of this proposal has got to be rejected and its is up to the elected representatives in the Government parties to see that it is,” he concluded.