Face in the crowd: new Labour TD Jerry Cowley

THE 18 religious congregations, which were heavily criticised in the Ryan report into residential institutional abuse, should transfer the legal ownership of their schools to the state to help share the costs of the Redress Board, according to the Labour party's education spokesman Ruairi Quinn.

Quinn welcomed the government's decision that the congregations should share the costs of the Redress Board on a 50:50 basis. But as the religious orders need to find an extra €200m to reach this goal, he claimed that Labour in government would negotiate with the congregations to secure the transfer of the schools and educational infrastructure at no cost to the state. "This transfer by the religious congregations would go a long way towards making a fair and just contribution to the massive redress costs," said Quinn.

Meanwhile, the party's justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte called for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to seize rogue bankers' assets.

Pending the outcome of the legal process, CAB should "sequester the assets of the country's senior bankers... who have plunged us into the worst economic crisis in living memory".

In a jibe at Labour's potential future coalition partners, Dublin City Councillor Aodhán Ó Riordáin said that the only thing more frightening than Mary Coughlan as minister for education was the prospect of a Fine Gael minister holding the portfolio in cabinet.

Cork North Central TD Kathleen Lynch said the withdrawal of special needs assistants from schools was the effect of what she called Seán FitzPatrick's "treason".

Labour's newest recruit, former independent TD for Mayo Dr Jerry Cowley, got a warm reception when he said, "I've always thought Labour but acted independently", and added he could have achieved more as a TD between 2002 and 2007 if he had been in the Labour Party.