Lowry defends decision to distribute letter on lobbying success to children


TIPPERARY:INDEPENDENT TD Michael Lowry has defended a decision to give hundreds of letters to schoolchildren in Borrisokane outlining his success in securing a new school building.

Last Friday all students at the school were given letters from Mr Lowry in Oireachtas envelopes and asked to pass them on to their parents.

The letters state that he played a key role in securing a new school building for Borrisokane Community College. It had been a “primary condition” of his support for the Fianna Fáil-led government.

“Using my influence . . . I ensured the community school was rapidly brought beyond the planning stage, that the project was brought to the top of the school building priority list, and that an irreversible decision was made to fund same.”

He continued: “In order to achieve this I brought the project right into the heart of Government and made sure that the project would become a reality”.

The letter said the contracts for the building had been signed the previous week and work was due to begin within weeks.

However, some parents have objected to the letters, with one telling The Irish Timesthat it was “highly inappropriate” for schoolchildren to be used for political purposes. “This isn’t the place for politics,” said one parent, who declined to give their name.

“It’s totally inappropriate going through schoolchildren. In addition, we all know that several different political representatives have been involved in lobbying for a new school.”

Mr Lowry yesterday defended the move and said he had played a crucial role in ensuring a new school would be built.

“I don’t apologise for communicating what is exceptional news for the area. It has received an overwhelming welcome by parents and by every past and present pupil. It’s a well-established tradition that where a public representative has gone to exceptional lengths to help a school, the public representative is allowed to communicate that to the parents of the children.”

In a statement, the school’s principal Mathew Carr said that from time to time the college receives material for distribution to parents and students. The school typically facilitates these requests, provided the material does not contain anything objectionable.

Mr Carr said all political representatives have shown interest in the development of the school over the past 10 years.

“Some of the political representatives have written to parents and students. These written correspondences were distributed by the school in order to protect the personal data of the students.”