Pádraig Ó Conaill’s address to INTO Congress in Killarney 2022

President, General Secretary, members of the CEC and Delegates

It is indeed a privilege and honour to address Congress on behalf of the Retired
Teachers’ Association of Ireland, and I thank you for the opportunity to do so.
Delighted to have my colleague, our General Secretary Billy Sheehan, here with me
to lend his moral support. It’s great to be back to some semblance of normality.
However, you haven’t been inactive in the past few years. The INTO, and you the
teachers, have admirably responded to the many and varied challenges thrown up by
Covid 19.
You have successfully addressed the scourge of lower pay for teachers and the
infamous two-tier salary structure. Your sheer doggedness, perseverance and
patience has ended that scandal. It may have taken longer than was desirable and
much longer than you expected, but you eventually got there.
The Sectoral Bargaining Clause in the Building Momentum (2021-2022) public
sector pay agreement opened up the prospect of solving the other long-outstanding
issue – Implementation of the Arbitration Award of the second Benchmarking
Report – and you grasped the opportunity presented with both arms.
When it appeared that the 1% sectoral ‘pot’ might not be sufficient to fully extend
the recommended increases to all retired Principals and Deputy Principals, you
skilfully steered the negotiations on to another key element of the agreement. You
focused in on the issue of Parity, which is enshrined in Building Momentum, and
guaranteed until at least the conclusion of that agreement at the end of this year.
On behalf of RTAI, I wish to congratulate you Mr. President, the CEC and very
especially you John and Deirdre, on your magnificent achievement. All serving and
retired Principals and Deputy Principals will benefit to some extent, but the
increases will be especially significant for those in the smaller and medium size
schools. And that is as it should be. You have delivered what we all hoped for, but in
all honesty, what many of us feared might never be achieved.
Rinne sibh éacht. Comhgáirdeas ó chroí agus míle míle buíochas.
As Building Momentum nears completion, and regardless of whether we have a
completely new pay deal or an extension of the current one, parity will again be a
key issue of concern for us in the RTAI. I know that you are – and will continue to
be – acutely aware of the significance of parity, not only for us pensioners but for all
future retirees. After all, pension is but deferred salary.
As we face into an uncertain future following Brexit, Covid and particularly the
abomination of the disgraceful and ruthless Russian invasion of Ukraine, we again
see the prospect of high inflation on the horizon; indeed it is here already.

Inflation affects us all, but increases in health insurance, utility bills, fuel and food
costs impact more severely on retirees and on people with lower and fixed incomes.
There is a further pay/pension increase of 1% due next October, but this quantum of
increase will not be in anyway adequate to mitigate against spiralling costs.
Any successor to Building Momentum must therefore protect the living standards of
serving and retired public service employees!
The past two years have been very challenging for the 10 000+ members of our
Association as our meetings and social activities came to a standstill. The RTAI
provides a valuable social connection for many members, and not withstanding our
newfound proficiency with Zoom, our ‘face to face’ gatherings were sorely missed.
But I’m happy to say we are up and running again! We had our Annual Convention
in Croke Park on 6 April last with a full turn out of 140 delegates and guests. The
occasion marks the rebooting of activities after a long period of disruption. We are
moving forward with caution, but with confidence and optimism for the future.
Those of you in this audience who are approaching retirement are invited to join us
on this journey! Agus beidh fáilte romhaibh uilig nuair a thiocfaidh bhúr lá.
Teaching is a noble and honourable profession. It is a stimulating, fulfilling and
rewarding career, if at times challenging and demanding. You play a vital and
priceless role in the education and overall development of the future members of our
society and our country.
The late Bryan MacMahon said that “a teacher leaves the track of his teeth on a
parish for three generations.”
From my own primary school days, well over 60 years ago – in a small rural two-
teacher school about 40km from here, but crucially on the right side of the county
bounds! – I can still recall some remarks and comments from my teacher. One of
those in particular, when adapted to present circumstances, really defines the close
links between RTAI and INTO:
“Bhí sinn-ne uair mar atá sibh-se. Beidh sibh-se fós mar atá sinn-ne.
Go mbeimid go léir faoí mhaise”.
That statement really encapsulates the close ties and enduring links that have been
cultivated, carefully nurtured and maintained over the decades between our two
Táim cinnte go leanfaidh an dlúth-cheangal sin sna blianta atá rómhainn amach.
Guím gach rath ar bhúr saothar agus go h-áirithe ar obair na Comhdhála seo.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh as ucht an deis labhartha seo a thabhairt dom.
Fanaigí slán.