Educate Together seeks Dublin secondary
Bringing pressure on politicians was critical in the effort to secure a second-level Educate Together school for Dublin city, a public meeting heard last night.
The challenge was whether funding could be secured for a new premises or whether patronage of an existing school could be secured by the multi-denominational body instead, the 200-strong gathering in Wynn’s hotel on Abbey Street was told.
There was strong support for the initiative from the broad representation of political figures who attended the meeting, organised by the Dublin City Educate Together Second-level Action Group.
Campaign chairperson Nuala Finnegan said they were asking politicians for a timeframe for action in the near future.
She raised the possibility of Nama properties and underused buildings being made available for the school, and said five Educate Together primary schools in the city, with more coming on stream, had no similar-ethos second-level institutions available.
Demand for such schools was clear, she said.
The organisation’s chief executive Paul Rowe, who has been involved for 20 years, said nobody had thought it possible that such an educational body, valuing esteem for children “irrespective of their backgrounds”, could be established.
“We are at a unique and special time in the education system, and a critical mass for the second level model has arrived,” he said.
“We are convinced there is evidence and viability of demand for at least one” second level school in Dublin city, he added, welcoming the partnerships under way with Vocational Educational Committees on the opening of secondary schools next year in Drogheda and Kishogue, Lucan.
Broadcaster Olivia O’Leary spoke of the historical background and her own experience which in her view made essential a vision of an inclusive element in educating the young on how to have a “shared identity, a shared sense of living in the same space”.
Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello said it was “a natural development to move to second level” for Educate Together.
A difficulty was there was “a surplus of secondary schooling in the Dublin area at the moment”. But he added: “Parents and children have rights and it’s a natural development. I’d fully support the campaign.”
Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis said there had been “massive progress” with the campaign and it was a “shame it has not advanced more”. Such diversity in the schools system was needed, he said.
Ruairi McGinley of Dublin City Council (FG) said there were sufficient secondary schools and that the reality would mean a transfer of patronage. There “aren’t going to be new schools built”, he stressed.
Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue said the principle of needing diversity in the city area is well established “and I wish to support that”.