In 2008 Ireland found itself in the forefront of the Eurozone crisis. The impact on education has been profound. In this article it is suggested that Ireland’s education problems long pre-date the economic crisis and current ‘reforms’ are about long-term neoliberal restructuring, not short-term solutions to immediate economic problems. Rather than treat teachers as the problem, there is a need to work with the profession and to reclaim the value of education for its own sake. Teacher unions are central to mobilising around this much more optimistic vision of education.