Quinn urges action to counter 'demon of chauvinism'

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

THE “DEMONS of nationalism” and “chauvinism” embedded in our cultures will only stay under control if we have a deeper European culture, the Minister for Education told an audience at an anniversary celebration for St Kilian’s German school yesterday.

The private school, in Clonskeagh, south Dublin, yesterday celebrated its 60th anniversary, having been founded after the second World War to cater for child refugees from Germany. Between 1945 and 1946, Operation Shamrock, initiated by the Irish Red Cross, resettled over 400 children from postwar Germany, as well as from Austria, France, and England.

Many of the children, some as young as three years old, had lost their parents in the war, while others had their homes destroyed.

They were kept in foster families before being returned to their home countries, but about 50 were adopted by Irish families and stayed in Ireland.

The interdenominational school began in autumn 1952 with language courses for the German boys and girls, many of whom had forgotten their native language.

At yesterday’s celebrations the story of one such child, Elke Carey, was told by present pupils of the school. Ms Carey left Germany in 1946 with her sister and spent five years with a foster family in Ireland. As an adult, she came back to Ireland, where she married.

Mr Quinn congratulated the school and highlighted the importance of a closer Europe.

“The demons of nationalism, and dare I say it of chauvinism, those demons are still embedded within our culture and . . . will only stay in the place where they belong if we have more Europe, if we have a deeper Europe, if we have a wider Europe.”

School principal Alice Lynch said the school’s work was “ a very concrete example of European co-operation”.

German ambassador Dr Eckhard Lubkemeier said he saluted the school for its persistent and successful work.