Young computer coders mortify Minister by speaking truth to power


A POLITICIAN learned a valuable lesson yesterday from youngsters who were unafraid to speak truth to power.

Minister of State with responsibility for training and skills Ciaran Cannon is such an enthusiastic support of CoderDojo, a movement of computer programming clubs for children, that he invited some of the young participants to Leinster House yesterday.

He squatted in front of a laptop to pose for photographs with whizz-kids Luke Lally (6) from Birr, Co Offaly, and Holly Kretschemer (9) from Waterford.

“You made the screen go blank!” Luke told him, much to the amusement of the photographers. The blushing Minister continued in his attempt to engage the youngster as he tapped at the keyboard. “How are my coding skills? Is it easy?”

“It’s just blank!” Luke shouted.

The mortified Minister turned his attention to Holly, who was by then fielding questions from photographers. “Can you see anything on the screen, Holly?” one asked.

“I can see black and a bit of dust and more black,” Holly replied.

The children attend weekly CoderDojo classes, where they are taught how to develop websites, games and apps. The classes were the brainchild of self-confessed “geek” James Whelton (19) from Cork.

His enthusiasm caught the attention of investor Bill Liao, a venture partner at SOS Venture, whose managing director is Dragons’ Den personality Sean O’Sullivan. Mr O’Sullivan turned up at Leinster House yesterday.


James Whelton (19) set up a computer programming club while in secondary school. Clubs have sprung up across the country for children to learn how to develop websites, games and apps. But what is the origin of the name? “The coder bit is self-explanatory, but dojo is a Japanese word for a place of learning,” he says.