Gaelscoil to aim for charts with protest

PUPILS are using the power of song to shame Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe into giving them a permanent school.

They hope getting their song, Cá Bhfuil Ár Scoil?, to number one in the Irish charts next week will end their nightmare of stinking toilets and dead mice.

Principal of Dublin school Gaelscoil Bharra, Seán Ó Donaile, said the Department of Education had wasted €1.5 million on renting the 14-year-old prefabs instead of investing the money in a new school.

“The prefabs are too hot in the summer and too cold in winter. They are too small and too dangerous,” said Mr Ó Donaile, who has had to deal with mice infestations and leaking sewage pipes.

Pupils complain most about the “horrible” smell in the toilet blocks. “The smell is rotten and the children will often hold on until they go home before going to the toilet,” she said.

The school’s accommodation in the grounds of St Finbarr’s GAA Club in Cabra was condemned by the department’s own inspectorate almost a decade ago.

“Last year the parents and children played drums outside Minister O’Keeffe’s Cork office and after that we got a small grant to fix some of the toilets,” he said.

Lead singer-songwriter of Dublin-based rhythm and roots band Tupelo, James Cramer, whose son, Cian, started in the school this September, composed the song.

He said he continues to send his son to the school, despite the scandalous physical conditions, because the teachers were so enthusiastic and committed.

Parent Niamh Maloney, whose son Daithí is in junior infants, said they felt they had a better chance of getting a song to number one in the charts than a permanent school for their children.

“What does it say about the values of our society that parents have to release a protest song in the hope it will lead to our children being taught in a healthy and safe environment,” she asked.

Earlier this year all of the local politicians, including former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, signed a letter addressed to Minister O’Keeffe, demanding a new school.

The song can be downloaded from iTunes for 99c; texting ‘music 4075 m’ to 57501 or buying the special limited edition CD for €3 from Tower Records in Wicklow Street, Dublin.

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