Saturday 21 September 2019

'Disrespectful' letter angers local councillors

Cllr George Lawlor.
Cllr George Lawlor.
Cllr Ger Carthy.
Cllr Deirdre Wadding.
Mayor Frank Staples.

By Esther hayden

Wexford councillors were left fuming last week when they received a 'disrespectful' letter from the Department of Education.

District manager of Wexford Borough District Angela Laffan had written to the Department requesting a meeting with Richard Bruton, Minister for Education, to discuss catchment areas for secondary schools in Wexford.

Last week Ms Laffan said that the return reply read: 'your correspondence will be brought to the Minister's attention and this office will revert to you as soon as possible'.

Ms Laffan said that 'basically it's a one line acknowledgement; that's what we're getting the whole time', she said.

Cllr Ger Carthy said he had spoken in the past about the 'total disrespect' being shown to them by Government departments. He said Transport Infrastructure Ireland had shown similar lack of respect. 'How is this going to be addressed? Are we going to have to talk to Paul Kehoe as the Government representative or go up and stand outside Leinster House until they listen?'

'Now you are talking like me', said Cllr Deirdre Wadding.

Cllr George Lawlor said that there is currently legislation going through the Dail regarding school admissions policy. He said 'we should speak to all TD's requesting that the issue of catchment areas be attached to the bill.

'If catchment areas were implemented I don't believe we'd have this crisis. 30 per cent of the admissions at one Wexford school come from outside the district catchment area.

'We have students from Adamstown coming to school here in Wexford when there is a brand new school after being built out there. It's the same in Kilmuckridge.

'One pupil I know lives across the road from a secondary school but has to travel to Enniscorthy. This is a crisis,

'It will also have serious economic problems because if we have companies who want to bring jobs to Wexford but we can't offer school places what kind of signal would that send out?'

Mayor Frank Staples said that Colaiste Abbain in Adamstown is currently only at 50 per cent capacity saying some students from the area actually caught the bus to Wexford from right outside the school.

Cllr Wadding said that she broadly agreed with the idea of catchment areas but said that 'we will have to look at the nuances, things like public transport and we'd also have to phase that in so that people currently in a school can continue their education in that school.'

She also pointed out that the issue with younger siblings also needs to be addressed.

Cllr Lawlor said that catchment areas gives priority to students in the catchment area rather than excluding students.

Cllr Wadding said that none of the legislation going through the Dail won't solve the problem for parents and students in September. 'How are we going to cope with that?' she wondered.

Cllr Anthony Kelly said that the council should write to the Minister about the 'discourteous' reply. Cllr Davy Hynes said that the members should also support an application for a new school for Selskar College which he said 'will hopefully improve the situation if it goes ahead'.

Cllr Lawlor said that it might be an option for Selskar to work on a joint proposal for a new school with Educate Together who he said were keen to have a secondary school in Wexford.

Wexford People

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