School places crisis is priority for candidates
The secondary school places crisis in Wexford was laid bare to all 17 general election candidates over the past number of weeks.
The Concerned Parents for secondary education Wexford wrote to all candidates asking for their support on the worsening problem facing parents and children in Wexford.
Lisa McDonald of the group said 'this problem is causing untold stress and uncertainty for parents and children alike. It is pitching neighbour against neighbour as the children of those who attended a school in Wexford are guaranteed a place due to the continued existence of the parental rule, whereas those who didn't attend a school in Wexford have no guarantee of a place and are forced into a lottery system which has a shortage of places.
'Children as a consequence are leaving their communities at 12 years of age and travelling from Wexford to schools in other districts. This is unacceptable.
There are also clearly issues with the admissions procedure itself which allows multiple offers to be made by schools and temporarily accepted by parents over a prolonged period of time which adds to the uncertainty and stress of those without an offer.'
In the letter the group called on all the candidates to 'actively campaign, if elected to ensure that any child who wishes to attend secondary school in Wexford town be accommodated this September 2016 and that the necessary resources be made available to our secondary schools to educate them and to support the long term solution of the provision of secondary school places in Wexford in the form of a new secondary school in the town.'
Candidates were also asked to ensure that the admissions system be addressed as well as the abolition of the parental rule.
Them majority of candidates responded favourably to the proposals with Deputy Paul Kehoe saying the need for a new secondary school in the town is 'the most pressing issue in that part of the county and the issue that people in the area are raising with me on the canvass. The provision of a new secondary school in Wexford will be a priority for me in the next Dáil.'
Cll. Malcolm Byrne said he had raised the matter last year saying 'the potential of up to 2,000 places short at second level in the county by the early 2020s is a major cause for concern and requires evidence based policy planning.
'I have also indicated an interest in sitting on the Oireachtas education committee if elected and to ensure that we properly plan for future education need.'
Cllr James Browne said if elected he 'will ask the Department of Education & Science to make good and provide the necessary resources to accommodate children to attend school in Wexford', while Mayor Ger Carthy said 'one of my immediate priorities will be to ensure that emergency measures are taken to ensure that every child from the Wexford area is offered a second level school place locally this September.
Aoife Byrne said she was committed to 'ensure that any child who wishes to attend secondary school in Wexford town be accommodated this September 2016 and that the necessary resources be made available to our secondary schools to educate them.'
Caroline Foxe said she was fully committed to the cause as did David Lloyd, Emmett Moloney, Deirdre Wadding, Ann Walsh and Leonard Kelly.
Lisa said that they are still awaiting replies from Minister Brendan Howlin, Michael W. D'Arcy, Julie Hogan, Johnny Mythen and Mick Wallace