Parents to remove children in protest against conditions

PARENTS are planning to remove their children from deplorable conditions at Kilfinane National School in the first of a series of protests on Friday.

The planned school for the 126 pupils and staff is on hold, after Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe told them on a recent visit that money for the project is not available.

Parents council secretary Sonia Sheehan said they felt the minister was only paying lip service to keep the parents and teachers quiet until September.

“People might think it’s militant to remove the kids but we feel the children are being denied their fundamental right to be educated in decent conditions,” said the mother of four pupils.

“It’s not just the outside toilets which are an issue, the classrooms are too small and the kids can’t even open the windows and there’s no space to teach art or drama.”

Parents will protest outside the Co Limerick school when classes start and will bring their children home at break time because they do not want to use the toilets.

“It’s all well and good for the Government to say the economy is slowing down but they are still getting their pay increases,” she said.

The plan is to repeat the withdrawal of pupils on two days next week if no written commitment on the new school is given, and on a further three days the following week.

Asked about the situation yesterday, Mr O’Keeffe urged people to be patient but told parents he could not give the go ahead at this stage.

“I will be in a position down the line to make a decision in Kilfinane which is one of the priority projects. We will be moving on the earliest possible date,” he said.

Labour Party education spokesman Ruairi Quinn said the image in yesterday’s Irish Examiner of children queuing to use an outside toilet at the school was shocking, but not surprising.

“It is unacceptable in this day and age that children are educated in conditions that would hardly have been acceptable to their great-grandparents when the school was last refurbished in 1909.”


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