Engineers have identified structural flaws in 17 school buildings that will require temporary works to be carried out in coming weeks in order to ensure that they are safe for pupils and staff to return to in September.
The 17 schools are in addition to 22 others where defects discovered last year required precautionary measures, such as scaffolding and protective fencing, to be put in place.
Two of the 17 schools newly identified with structural defects were built just last year, while several others were completed as recently as 2017 and 2016.
A sign (above) erected last night at the building site for the new Holy Family National School
Ardmore Road, Mullingar, County Westmeath.
Holy Family NS Action Group writes:
After it was announced last month that the completion of the new Holy Family (Curraghmore) National School has been pushed back AGAIN to October 2019 (the 9th revision date in the last 5 years) we are taking action to ensure the newest date is met this time.
We have had excuse after excuse and we don’t know what the issue is that is causing such delays so we now just want to highlight the issue and put the pressure on to get the school delivered.
The site is not being resourced adequately and it looks unlikely that the new October 2019 date will be met now either.
The building was originally supposed to be ready around September 2015/2016. It is a 12 month contract.
Since then, 287 students are in inadequate prefab buildings on an overcrowded site. 46 of the new junior infants this year will begin their school experience off site.
This includes 24 ASD /Special Needs students who are among the most vulnerable in society.
Further to ongoing scaremongering in Catholic schools in north Dublin.
Emer O’Toole, in The Guardian, writes:
Incomprehensibly, the state all but handed over administration of the divestment process to the church.
The result? Catholic schools denied parents any objective information on alternative patrons, then warned them that if they voted for divestment there would be no opportunity to reconsider once they learned details of the proposed replacement.
Who in their right mind would vote for change under those circumstances?
Not only would divestment protect the rights of Ireland’s non-Catholic children, who are currently excluded during religious instruction, and of non-Catholic teachers, who can be discriminated against in the hiring process,
it would also help to complete the separation of church and state. While over 90% of children undergo near mandatory Catholic faith formation in state schools, the church simply has too much power in the Irish Republic.
Why do state schools continue to teach Irish children to respect the moral authority of the Catholic church, when most Irish adults, aware of the lessons of the Ryan report, the Ferns report, the Cloyne report and too many others, know that such respect is dangerous and misplaced?
Why do we continue to show children that it is normal for the church to play a privileged part in public life, when generations have lived the tragic effects of such indoctrination?
If we continue to keep children ignorant of any religious belief but Catholicism, and teach them that children of other faiths are deviations from the norm, will we act surprised when these seeds grow into intolerance and division in our newly diverse Ireland?
And will we continue to ignore the misogyny and homophobia of the Catholic church, and to pretend that this has no effect on the children in its schools?
Previously: Hello Diversity, Goodbye Grandparents
Principal Mary Mother of Hope Senior School in Littlepace, Dublin 15, Enda McGorman
On RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.
Journalist Evelyn O’Rourke reported on homeless children who go to school hungry because the breakfast area at their place of accommodation isn’t open in time for them to eat before leaving for school.
[The most recent Department of Housing figures show that, as of the final week in September, 3,829 children were living in staying in State-funded emergency accommodation across the country]
Ms O’Rourke visited the Mary Mother of Hope Senior School in Littlepace, Dublin 15, and met the school’s principal Enda McGorman who is also a member of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network.
Mr McGorman told Ms O’Rourke:
“It’s a growing concern for me and school principals…One area that we’re really, really worried about is the effect that homelessness and the homeless crisis is having on children in school. The immediate effects that it’s having on school children, it’s really alarming and it’s at a basic level.
“One family that we’re trying to support – their B&B was in town. So to get transport out here, the children had to be on a bus so early that the breakfast bar wasn’t open for them. So they would come to school hungry.
“…And I think one of the other issues for us, it’s so silent, maybe not always here until kids maybe are already homeless and already in a place that they can’t back to school to and then we see absenteeism or we see lateness and we start to query it, where parents are either through fear or shame, forget or don’t wish to share it with us.
“I’m just thinking in the last month, I’ve written three letters for families to say ‘I know this family, they’re a good solid family, please afford them the opportunity to rent your house’.
“Because they’ll go to view a house and there could be 100 families waiting ahead of them. So you never thought you’d be doing that as a school principal, to try and support people who you’ve known and whose children you’ve known…these are some of the realities that we’re dealing with that we never thought we’d be dealing with.
“Another concern we have is homework. And ‘how can I do my homework if I’m lying on the floor?’. One of the families that we’re supporting were living in one of these, it wouldn’t be quite a hotel standard, but it was surrounded by roundabouts, on the periphery of a motorway and even accessing it, getting in and getting out of there, there’s no public transport.
“So the family were literally trapped there. There’s no way those children were going to get to our school. And no prospect of them leaving it either.”
Mr McGorman also said he has often been approached by parents who go to him for help after they’ve received eviction letters.
Listen back in full here
Ciaran Tierney writes;
Rush hour in Galway yesterday morning. Funny how the traffic gridlock just seems to ‘evaporate’ when the schools are closed …
During Leaders’s Questions.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised what he called a “legacy issue which reflects all parties who’ve have been in Government over the last number of years” and that he wasn’t raising it as a mean to score political points.
The issue is how the State has dealt with child sex abuse in national schools in Ireland up to and since Louise O’Keeffe’s successful case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2014.
Mr Martin said the State’s response to the ECHR judgement has been “a significant failure and leaves a lot to be desired”.
From Leaders’ Questions:
Micheál Martin: “The State that introduced an ex-gratia payment scheme, in many respects the limits were too low; but also the prior complaint expedient that was put in, has effectively debarred a lot from seeking justice. Only seven settlements so far have been reached out of about 210 cases and those cases are still going through the courts.”
“I recently met a victim of, who has been involved in this situation for quite some time, of horrific abuse, at the hands of a Christian Brother in a school. The person who abused was subsequently convicted, okay, so there’s no doubt about the issue. And I think he was convicted of other abuse cases as well. And there are quite a number of other victims out there at the moment, Taoiseach. Now this man went through horrific abuse, has been up and down through the courts and religious orders and has received absolutely no compensation, not a cent, nothing from the State. And, recently, in the High Court, because many of these people discontinued their cases when the Supreme Court ruled that the State didn’t have an obligation, the High Court would not uphold the rights now to pursue it in law and, indeed, Judge Barrett made such a ruling. But he also said in his statement that ‘The Irish people…’, and I quote, this is at the end of the court case, the High Court: ‘…with their great and proper sense of justice may well conclude to the path of rightness in this matter should lead ultimately into a different end’. He added: ‘as an Irishman, I would respectfully agree’. Essentially, Taoiseach what has been going on has been quite, in my view, unacceptable.”
Enda Kenny: “I don’t know how many victims of sexual abuse there are in the, there have been over the years in the primary system, no more than the secondary system I assume. We have the, we had the redress scheme, we had the case of all the Magdalenes – not that there was sexual abuse in the vast majority of cases. There is the mother and baby home report coming before the Minister for Children as well which we’ll have to see what that means. I can’t recall all the details of, of the file in this case. Your question is can something be done about this. I’ve no idea of the scale of what might be involved here. But I need to read the detail of the file and the legal outcomes here. People who are abused have to live with that for all of their lives and it’s a horrific issue to have to contend with, every waking moment. Now, I don’t want to go beyond that because to come into something that I haven’t the full facts and details about, it wouldn’t be appropriate on the floor of the Dáil here…
Kenny: “Yeah, you see, you mention that there are 7 out of 210 that have been settled – that’s 210 that are before the courts now. But, you have no idea of the numbers who might wish to come forward and say ‘I was sexually abused in school X or Y by teacher or person X or Y. You have no idea of the scale of that. And, and, I think in the process, when the State dealt with the Louise O’Keeffe case, on the 28th of January, 2014, that judgement was issued and the State awarded made awards both in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses. They also agreed in December of that year that out-of-court settlements would be offered to those extant cases of school child sexual abuse being brought against the State – where the cases came within the terms of the ECHR judgement and satisfied the statute of limitations. And in that regard the State claims agency could manage such cases on behalf of the State, has made settlement offers which have been accepted, as you say, in six cases. In July 2015, the Government approved proposals to offer ex-gratia payments of up to a maximum of €84,000 to those who initiated legal proceedings in such cases agains the State but who subsequently discontinued their claims against the State and where, similarly, the circumstances of the claims came within the terms of the ECHR judgement and where the claims were not statute barred prior to the proceedings being discontinued. I’ll follow through on the question.”
There you go now.
Previously: Grooming A Nation
From top: Patrick Treacy and April Duff
Further to new proposals that would entail the Deaprtment of Education ‘encouraging‘ the Catholic Church to transfer patronage of primary schools.
Patrick Treacy SC, of new lobby group ‘Faith in our Schools’ and April Duff, chairperson of Education Equality, spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning.
Mr Treacy, who runs a ‘domestic centre of Christian spiritually’ called Integritas, in Stoneyford, Co. Kilkenny, argued that he actually wanted more divestment.
Patrick Treacy: “We’re in favour of divestment because we want Catholic schools to be really Catholic, and Protestant schools to be really Protestant. And what we believe is that when parents start to see Catholic schools and Protestant schools really living out the Christian philosophy and understanding…”
Seán O’Rourke: “And are there Protestants in your group?”
Treacy: “Well, for instance, my wife is Protestant and just to say this, I have four children. And my three sons are Catholic and my daughter is Protestant and we send all of our four children to an Educate Together school and we actually live through the very thing that April is talking about and it’s an absolute superb school in Kilkenny. But the problem is, we know from experience that what April is actually suggesting doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Because what Catholic schools need to learn from Educate Together, which is a huge gift, that Educate Together give is that they really show you the importance of parental involvement. That’s what we’ve got to bring in, in particular to Catholic schooling. We’ve got to move away from this mentality that the parent is left outside the school gate. The parent has got to come right into the school but the problem is, is that we need Catholic and Protestant schools to permeate the ethos throughout the invisible pedagogy, so to speak, throughout the entire working day, or sorry, the entire school day, I should say.”
O’Rourke: “What do you say that to that, April?”
April Duff: “I think the main point to make is that we don’t live in an ideal world. And, even if we did, we couldn’t have a Muslim school and a Hindu school and a Jewish school and a Scientology school in every single area where there is one child. So this idea that you have a right to be educated in accordance with a particular religious belief and for that to be the only, the only ethos that’s within that school, just isn’t sustainable because you can’t have that for every single religious belief and every…”
O’Rourke: “So on the basis of that logic then, there should be no schools based on any particular ethos, except where there’s a sufficient population to allow for one for everybody in the audience, as it were.”
Duff: “No the school should cater for everybody. I mean, remember, the purpose of schools is to educate. We’re talking about education here. These aren’t religious institutions, they’re educational institutions, they’re institutions to educate people. Remember, those schools are paid for by the taxes, sorry, by the taxpayer and people – atheist parents, Muslim parents and Catholic parents – all pay the same taxes. So the schools simply have to accommodate everybody and have to respect religious freedom of everyone. And the current system simply does not respect religious freedom. Because, first of all, you’re penalised in accessing school because, if the school is oversubscribed, you won’t get in unless you have a baptismal cert or if you don’t belong to the right religion. So you’re penalised for the exercise of your religious right at that point and then, once you’re in the school, you don’t have a right to continue your religious belief without another…”
Duff: “…religion being imposed on you.”
O’Rourke: “Brief response to that, Patrick Treacy.”
Treacy: “Well just to say, unfortunately, there’s been a gross exaggeration of the position in relation to the baptism requirement. The actual position there is that only 1.6% of Catholic primary schools have an oversubscription problem – 3.69% in Dublin. That’s the first thing, the second…”
O’Rourke: “But it doesn’t get away from her substantial point that she makes about what the children are subjected to, if you like – and I know that’s probably a loaded phrase – in the course of the school day.”
Treacy: “Well can I just say this, let’s just be clear about one thing we can all agree on too. The word education comes from the Latin ‘edu cara’. It means to ‘lead out’. Now you either accept that your child is a spiritual being or that your child is not a spiritual being. The vast, vast, vast majority of parents believe that their child is spiritual, all right? So if you want to create a schooling system that denies the spiritual basis of the child, that in my view is not education.”
There you go now.
The debate followed an interview on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland with Education Minister Richard Bruton.
Mr Bruton spoke about the Government’s plans to transfer patronage of primary schools from the Catholic church.
During the interview, presenter Gavin Jennings reminded Mr Bruton that there are more than 3,000 primary schools in Ireland and 90% of them are still run by the Catholic church.
Mr Bruton said:
“We are committed to trebling the rate at which there is new options emerging, with a target of 400 schools which would be, you know, multi-denominational, over the next 15 years. So that would be trebling the rate at which we develop new options for people.”
Mr Jennings also asked Mr Bruton how many Catholic primary schools had been divested so far. Mr Bruton said 11 while Mr Jennings said some reports claim that the figure is just two.
In addition Mr Jennings asked Mr Bruton if schools will continue to be allowed to prioritise pupils on the basis of their religion.
Mr Bruton replied:
“The provision in the existing bill, there’s a lot of valuable things there and I think it’s very important to say what’s in it. It provides that there must be a written policy, it provides that children with special needs cannot be discriminated against, it provides that parents must, you know, be consulted in respect of any changes in that policy. Parents must have an opportunity to review, there can’t be discrimination in different areas.”
“Now the issue of whether an oversubscribed school, that is a religious ethos, can, if you like, choose a child of a religious background over those of a non-religious background, that is a thorny issue which the last committee recognised, raised, you know, difficult Constitutional issues.”
“And I will have to sit down with colleagues in the Oireachtas to discuss how we handle that because we don’t have a majority. There will be different views on how to handle this and indeed whether it can be done within the Constitution. But that will be something that I will sit down and discuss with others in the Dáil so that we can have not just the good elements of the existing admissions bill but have a debate about that issue as well.”
Listen back here
A short film from Equate Ireland ahead of the general election, as part of the group’s Open The School Gates campaign.
“With a general election expected next month, a movement is underway in the rapidly changing nation to target another hurtful social condition by which non-Catholic children are legally denied seats at overcrowded state-financed primary schools, 97 percent of which are controlled by Catholic authorities.”
“With schools allowed to give preference to Catholics, other families are forced to have their children baptized in the church, linger on school waiting lists or search for scarce alternatives. Only 74 of the nation’s 3,200 primary schools are run by Educate Together, the main multidenominational alternative, whose Dublin schools are swamped with four applications for every available space.”
“…Church officials are at odds, with some urging a slow evolution toward a more open-door policy in the schools. Clearly the current policy is at odds with a modern Ireland. The most encouraging force in the debate is the Irish public’s realization that their nation can no longer afford shameful religious bias to remain in the law.”
Michael Neary, the archbishop of Tuam
Michael Neary, the archbishop of Tuam,, says that we have mainly church-run schools because parents want it that way (“Parents must ensure the ethos of Catholic schools is maintained, says archbishop”, November 11th).
I would suggest we have predominantly church-run schools because parents have virtually no choice in the matter.
If the church is so sure of its position in the debate, then surely there would be no objection to asking the people of Ireland what they want, democratically, rather than dictating ever more from the pulpit. A vote to decide the matter once and for all would seem a reasonable proposition.
Pic: Tuam Herald