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Archive for December, 2008

By Eoghan Harris

Sunday Independent December 21 2008

WEDNESDAY

Get a bad vibe listening to the excellent Valerie Cox‘s report on Today With Pat Kenny chronicling the protest by parents about poor conditions in Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra.

Some of the parents travelled from Cabra to Cork to picket the Minister for Education’s private home in Ballincollig — where his wife Mary was alone in the house. This did not sound good, and Pat notes as much. As the report goes on, I am struck by two further suspicions. First, I begin to wonder who suggested the picket of Batt O’Keeffe‘s private home — and whether the Cabra parents were wise to go along with it.

Second, that kind of personalised protest gives bad example to children who may not distinguish clearly between protest and intimidation.

Later in the day, I learn that Mary Lou McDonald — whose ambitions Bertie Ahern thwarted in the General Election 2008 — has called on O’Keeffe to meet the Cabra parents. Those parents would do well to reject the support of Sinn Fein politicians seeking to piggy-back on genuine local grieviances for their own purposes.

 

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By Claire Murphy

‘Evening Herald’  Friday December 19 2008

REPRESENTATIVES from a Dublin school, who staged a protest outside the Minister for Education’s home, said that they were merely making a statement and did not intend to cause any upset.

Schoolchildren from Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra travelled to Cork with eight adults to deliver ‘Santa letters’ to Minister for Education, Batt O’Keefe’s constituency office in Ballincollig on Wednesday.

The school, which has 220 pupils, has been housed in temporary accommodation and Tom Byrne, chairman of the Parents Committee, said that the school desperately needs investment from the Department of Education.

“The school has been in unacceptable condition for 13 years,” Mr Byrne said. “It is third world conditions. There is over-ground sewerage in the school grounds and there are rodents present around the school.”

However, when the group arrived at the address in Cork, they realised that it was also Mr O’Keeffe’s home.

 

Wife

“On the Fianna Fail website, his constituency office was listed as that house,” he said. “And we tried to contact party headquarters to find out if there was a different address.”

Mr Byrne said that they only stayed for a short time at the house and the protesters did not realise that Mr O’Keeffe’s wife was inside at the time.

“It was far from intimidation,” he said. “There was a group of 14 children, aged between nine and 11, in their school uniforms. We just wanted to make a point. We were approached by gardai and immediately left the area.”

The group delivered a sackful of letters asking Santa for a new school as well as Christmas cards with requests to ask the minister to fund the construction of a new school building.

Mr O’Keeffe yesterday criticised the behaviour of the group saying that his home was his private domain and that he “expected better from an educational institution”.

Mr O’Keeffe was not at home when the campaigners arrived and his wife was alone in the house at the time.

“My wife felt as if she was effectively barricaded into her own home,” Mr O’Keeffe said. “I am more than 30 years in politics and I have never before experienced anything like this.”

Sean O Donaile, the school’s principal said that he supported the actions of the parents and Mr Byrne said the school has records of communication with local representatives about the situation over the years.

The press officer for the minister suggested that the school attempt to make a formal request by deputation to meet with the minister, by contacting their local councillor.

Source: http://www.herald.ie/national-news/school-protesters-deny-barricading-ministers-wife-1580850.html

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By Ralph Riegel

Published ‘Irish Independent’ Thursday December 18 2008

EDUCATION Minister Batt O’Keeffe has expressed outrage after Gaelscoil parents and students staged a Santa protest outside his family home yesterday, leaving his wife very upset.

The demonstration — by parents and supporters of Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra, Dublin — involved a sackful of Santa letters — demanding a new school building — being delivered to Mr O’Keeffe’s Cork home in Ballincollig.

Mr O’Keeffe was on Government business in Dublin and only his wife, Mary, was at home.

She became upset when there was no sign of the demonstrators leaving.

“My wife felt as if she was effectively barricaded into her own home,” Mr O’Keeffe told the Irish Independent. “I am more than 30 years in politics and I have never before experienced anything like this.

“I have no problem with people demonstrating or protesting against Government policies, it’s part and parcel of democracy. But I have to say that staging events like this outside a family home does raise serious issues,” he added.

Mr O’Keeffe also queried how appropriate it was for students to be given a day off school to make a 300-mile round trip to protest outside his Cork home.

“If they wanted to protest, I was in Dublin all day and I could have saved them the trouble of the trip,” he said.

“I am checking the records now but, as far as I know, no-one from this school sought to send a direct deputation to me,” he said.

Gaelscoil Bharra — which caters for 220 students — was founded 13 years ago but is still based in a series of ageing prefabs.

There was no suggestion the protesters behaved in an unruly or intimidating manner beyond mounting what was described as a noisy demonstration.

Source: http://www.independent.ie/education/latest-news/okeeffe-furious-as-protesters-target-his-family-home-1578875.html

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Published in ‘Irish Times’ 18/12/08

MINISTER FOR Education Batt O’Keeffe has criticised the behaviour of a protest group from a Dublin Gaelscoil who staged a demonstration outside his family home in Cork yesterday.

Mr O’Keeffe said last night that while people who wanted to protest had every right to do so, his home was his private domain and he regretted the incident which occurred yesterday afternoon.

Parents and supporters from Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra travelled to Cork yesterday where they held a protest outside the Minister’s home in Ballincollig.

The group of 15 children and five adults was armed with a sackful of Santa letters and Christmas cards containing requests from the school’s 220 pupils calling on the Minister to fund the construction of a new school building.

However, Mr O’Keeffe was working in the Dáil yesterday and his wife, Mary, was alone at the family home in the Westcliffe estate outside Ballincollig.

The lunchtime protest lasted about 20 minutes with the campaigners playing drums outside before leaving a number of petitions on the doorstep.

Although there was no formal complaint made to the gardaí, the local station in Ballincollig was aware of the protest and two officers attended the scene.

Mr O’Keeffe said people who created a clamour outside a private house and caused annoyance for neighbours set a very bad example to children. He said he regretted yesterday’s incident outside his house and “expected better from an educational institution”.

Since its establishment in 1996, Gaelscoil Bharra has been housed in temporary prefabs without proper heating or sanitation. Its principal, Seán Ó Donaile, said that while he did not travel on the protest because he was a State employee, “I fully support the actions of the parents. They have no apologies to make for picketing the house. They have been campaigning to no avail for 13 years.”

Source: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/1218/1229523050532.html

Gaelscoil protesters follow Minister home

The Irish Emigrant (22/12/08)

Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has criticised a group of protesting parents and supporters from Dublin who travelled to Cork to hold a protest outside his family home in Ballincollig. The group from Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra were calling on the Minister to provide a new school building for the school’s 220 pupils.

Source : http://www.emigrant.ie/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=68544&Itemid=381

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Foilsithe i  ‘Lá Nua’ 18/12/08.

13 bliain agus fós ag fanacht le foirgneamh scoile buan

Daltaí agus tuismitheoirí ó Ghaelscoil Bharra sa Chabrach, BÁC, rinne siad turas 300 míle, inné, chuig oifig toghlaigh/teach an Aire Oideachais, Batt O’Keeffe, le litreacha ‘Daidí na Nollag’.
Bhí na literacha, ó na 220 páiste sa scoil, ag iarraidh ar an Aire scoil bhuan a thógáil don ghaelscoil sa Chabrach.
Ón am a bunaíodh í in 1996, tá an scoil lonnaithe i dtithe réamhdhéanta ina bhfuil fadhbanna spáis, fadhbanna leis an teas agus leis an chóras séarachais.
Dúirt urlabhraí ar son an Choiste um Fhoirgneamh Buan do Ghaelscoil Bharra, Paul Mac Sweeney:
‘‘Tá atmaisféar iontach sa scoil, leis an bhéim ar an chultúr idir spórt agus cheol. Tá an t-ádh linn go bhfuil múinteoirí agus foireann den scoth sa scoil, daoine lán d’fhuinneamh, daoine éirimiúla díograiseacha.
‘‘Ní feidir a leithéid a rá faoi dhálaí na scoile, ámh.
‘‘Tar éis 13 bliain, tá an scoil fós lonnaithe i dtithe réamhdhéanta agus i seomraí nach bhféadfá cat a luascadh iontu. Tá drochbholadh ó na leithris, bíonn fadhbanna againn leis an teocht agus tig an bháisteach tríd an díon.
“Cé go bhfuil líon foraoise de chomhfhreagras déanta idir an scoil agus an Roinn/polaiteoirí, tá muid fós ag fanacht le scoil bhuan. Tá na dálaí mí-shláintiúil; briseann siad treoirlínte na Roinne i dtaca le spás i ranganna agus spás súgartha srl
‘‘Níl muid sásta fanacht a thuilleadh.
‘‘Cá bhfuil ár scoil?’’
Dúirt Celine Kelly, máthair Mollie (10), duine de dhaltaí na scoile:
‘‘Tá mé féin agus na tuismitheoirí eile buartha agus feargach.
‘‘Ceart bunúsach atá ann go mbeadh ár bpáistí ábalta oideachas a fháil i dtimpeallacht atá sábháilte sláintiúil.
‘‘Tá sé de dhualgas ar an Stát timpeallacht shlán shábháilte a chur ar fáil dár bpáistí.
‘‘Iarrann muid ar an Aire an bronntanas is fearr a d’fhéadfaidís a fháil i mbliana a thabhairt dár bpáistí trína gheallúint go dtógfar scoil bhuan in 2009.’’

  

Suíomh – http://www.nuacht.com/index.tvt?_ticket=3JB7R7VMBHSJ53J94NNAD0UKJKLAFS6DJQRFL1PAAVUGCLLICQUOTRRITAXM9NTHNLL9CHUTVTQFIQ0DPMTECYZMBHSI73ZEIOPNNYSEAOW4UURGUU4GMNNADYN1WKLAFURGUX3EIOTB9NTHLWZ&_scope=La/Content/Nuacht&id=12476&_page=&psv=20 

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Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald today met with Dublin City Council officials and following a productive discussion secured a meeting between the Council, the Department of Education and Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra to take place in January to discuss tackling the horrendous conditions of the school which is without proper sanitation, heating and is housed in run down over crowded prefabs.
 
Following the meeting Ms. McDonald whose daughter attends Gaelscoil Bharra said:
 
“My meeting today with Dublin City Council was productive. We have agreed that the Council, Department of Education and Gaelscoil Bharra will meet in January to discuss tackling once and for all the Dickensian conditions of the school.
 
“The decision by parents of the school to demonstrate outside Education Minister Batt O’Keeffes house was I have no doubt an effort to bring home to Mr. O’Keeffe just how bad the conditions of the school are. Parents and teachers have been campaigning for years now to get a proper school building with the necessary sanitation, heating and class sizes for this communities children.
 
“I am confident that Dublin City Council is fully committed to playing it’s part in resolving the “deplorable conditions” in which children are educated in. I believe the failures to date have been primarily the responsibility of the Department of Education.
The facts are that there been a systematic failure of this and successive governments to provide adequate school building funding and resources to this school.
 
“As a parent of a child attending this school and as a local representative I am appalled at the Dickensian conditions that exist.  That children have to bang hurls on the ground to scare off rodents and put up with third world sanitary facilities is a stark indictment of the government’s attitude to education.
 
“But this attitude will have to change. Families have a right to expect a decent education for their children. It is the government’s responsibility to deliver such an education.”

source: http://www.sinnfein.ie/news/detail/36725  Issued 18th December 2008

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Pupils and parents from Gaelscoil Bharra travelled over 300 miles on Wednesday, December 17th to deliver a sackful of ‘Santa letters’ to the Cork home of Minister Batt O’Keefe. The letters contained written requests from the school’s 220 students imploring the Minister to fund the construction of a permanent school building for our children. After 13 years in ‘temporary’ prefabs, whose cramped and unsanitary conditions breach the Department of Educations own health and safety guidelines, parents are losing their patience with the Governments/Departments inaction.  

We had a sendoff from all the pupils and teachers in the school as well as many parents.  The Northside People were there to cover the sendoff. 

Fourteen pupils and seven adults traveled to Ballincollig where we delivered the Santa letters to the Ministers doorstep, played some Samba music under the watchful eye of two Gardaí and moved on after a quarter of an hour.  The Evening Echo covered the event.

We did an interview in the centre of Ballincollig with RonánBeo@3 on Raidió na Gaeltachta, with the Samba Band playing in the background.

Mobile phones were busy on the bus doing interviews with the Daily Irish Mirror, Treó Nua and organizing future interviews.

We arrived back in Dublin eleven hours after we left tired but satisfied.  The pupils who went were a credit to the school in their behaviour and good moods despite the long day.

 

 

 

 

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