Northern Ireland news

Teachers who cross border for work raise concerns over Brexit impact

David O'Brien, who lives in Mullaghbawn Co Armagh, is a teacher in St Ultan's SNS, in Flowerhill in Navan

TEACHERS who cross the border for work have serious concerns about the negative impact of Brexit, a conference has heard.

The annual gathering of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) was told of fears about a hard borders, changes to driving licences, insurance, healthcare cover, pensions and mortgages.

Delegates heard that increasing numbers of staff were being forced to seek permanent jobs in the Republic due to better working conditions and better pay.

INTO Chairman Paddy McAllister said that, in spite of Brexit looming, there was no reason why any qualified teacher living 10-15 miles north of the border should be unemployed or underemployed.

Mr McAllister was part of an INTO delegation to Brussels to highlight to politicians and bureaucrats the concerns the union had about Brexit.

"Teachers within travelling distance to the border should register for work with the teaching council to also work in the south," he said.

"Recognition is not as straight forward as we would like, but, we have, in Belfast and Dublin, been looking at what we can do to help the process."

Teachers in cross border working can have a salary range from €36,000 to €68,000.

"So you could live in Newry and work in Dundalk and your salary could be within this range. Compare that to our salary range in Northern Ireland of £22,000 to £37,000," Mr McAllister added.

INTO member David O'Brien, who lives in Mullaghbawn in Co Armagh is a teacher in St Ultan's SNS, in Flowerhill in Navan. He has been teaching at the school for 20 years now and car shares with three other teachers living nearby.

"There are not the same benefits in the north for teachers as there are in the south. The INTO northern conference is highlighting the north-south difference in pay conditions and working conditions. The differences are stark and many teachers from the north are heading over the border because of better conditions," he said.

"But, who knows what the impact will be when Brexit kicks in. I grew up experiencing the roads being closed, seeing the patrols, sitting in traffic and getting diverted. None of us know what we are facing because what driving license do we need, what way will our health cover be, our car insurance, what will our pension provision look like and of course the everyday hassle of getting to and from work. But sure no-one knows because no-one has any answers and there's still no Government in Stormont to even give some form of guidance.

"I am five to six minutes from Dundalk geographically and live two miles from the border. It's no wonder so many teachers from the north are moving into the southern jurisdiction. The pay is better and the conditions are better and the INTO is right to point this out."

Jonathan Lyons, who lives in Banbridge, Co Down is an assistant principal in Scoil Mhuire na nGael, in Dundalk.

"It's very hard to get a permanent job in Northern Ireland. That's widely known. I am used to the Irish system but I can totally understand why more and more teachers from Northern Ireland are making the journey into the south every day. The workload of teachers in the north is not reflected in their pay," he said.

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