Hanafin ‘too busy’ for school meeting

PARENTS of children attending a community college in Cork have reacted angrily to news that Education Minister Mary Hanafin is too busy to meet them and explain why promises made prior to the last election haven’t been fulfilled.

Marian O’Regan, a member of the parents’ council and board of management at Clonakilty Community College said yesterday that she would never again believe any promise made by the Government.

Ms O’Regan, who has three children attending the college, said that conditions at the school remained very cramped, and that there is also a serious health and safety issue.

“Children still have to walk to the other side of town, across roads and in hail and snow to attend metalwork and woodwork classes at the VEC school.

“It’s a major health and safety issue. Before the last election the then Minister for Education, Michael Woods, promised a major extension. It’s now 2007 and we’re still waiting,” Ms O’Regan said.

“I don’t believe Minister Hanafin hasn’t the time to meet us. She simply doesn’t want to. We’re very annoyed in Clonakilty,” she added.

Parent, Norma O’Sullivan, said an architect was supposed to be appointed to oversee the extension but this hadn’t happened either.

“I’m not at all happy with Minister Hanafin’s response. We have nearly 600 pupils going to the school,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

Both women made their feelings known after it emerged that the minister’s private secretary had written to Labour’s Senator Michael McCarthy telling him that she’d be unable to meet parents’ council members because of diary commitments.

Mr McCarthy said he was angered by the response, especially as he had not specified any date for the meeting and said parents would have accommodated the minister.

“A public meeting was held in February last year, where it was decided that a meeting between the parents’ council and the minister should be held. I first wrote to the minister on February 15, 2006, seeking that meeting.

“The fact it has taken her a year to look up her diary to assess her availability for a meeting does not augur well for priority being given to this project.

“It is almost as if the minister wants to deny that there’s an issue here at all,” Mr McCarthy said.

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