In an interview on the programme PléScéal on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta today, a mother spoke of her daughter’s experience at an Irish-language summer course at Coláiste na Rinne in the Waterford Gaeltacht, where she said that the children had their mobile phones in their possession at all times, and that some of them were watching porn.
Jo O’Connor from Blackrock, explained to reporter Fachtna Ó Drisceoil, that there were no limits on phone use, although that was not her understanding of the mobile phone policy before her daughter went to the college.
“The children are very young, and at home my daughter doesn’t have her phone all the time ... I got texts from her very late, at 11 and 12 O’Clock at night. The cinnirí (prefects) had no control over their phone use.”
They have internet access all the time if they have the phone, and that’s not safe when children are together in a group ... The children are in the care of the college, they are in loco parentis, and there was no effort to control the phone use.
Jo O’Connor said in the interview that some of the boys were watching porn on their phones.
“The girls told me that the boys were watching porn on the phones ... and one of the girls asked her mother what porn was ... The mother of that girl phoned me to tell me, that girl had never heard of it before then. The girls told me that the boys played them pornographic sound clips on their phones.”
“I was very disappointed ... porn is terrible at any age, but especially for children, 13 years of age or so.
The children attending the college are aged from Sixth Class to Second Year in secondary school, they’re very young, and that they were able to access porn in an Irish summer college, that’s terrible.
She also said that she was very disappointed with the amount of English she heard from the cinnirí (prefects) in the college.
“There was a cinnire and I spoke to her in Irish and I said I was there to take the girls out ... the cinnire spoke back to me in English, and she spoke to the girls in English, she said ‘Girls you have to be back by 6 O’Clock’. I spoke in Irish and she answered in English.”
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta spoke to two other families whose daughters were on the same course who had similar complaints to Ms O’Connor.
In a statement to the programme, Coláiste na Rinne said they were sorry to learn that some parents were unhappy with their experience of the course, and that the parents had been in touch with the college about their concerns which were investigated and steps were taken to address them.
The statement said that the staff were watching out for the matters of concern raised, and that they got no further feedback from any source, including the Students’ Council, who met regularly during the course.
The interview with Jo O’Connor was broadcast on PléScéal on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Thursday.