New schools should be named after State’s founders, Varadkar says

Taoiseach suggests schools could honour the signatories of the Proclamation

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits Coláiste Ghlór na Mara, Balbriggan, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits Coláiste Ghlór na Mara, Balbriggan, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Schools built over the next four years should be named after the founding figures of the State, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has proposed.

However, the Taoiseach said such a move would not be “partisan” and that figures acceptable to all political traditions could be chosen. He also said the naming of schools was a matter for their patron bodies, and not for the Government.

Mr Varadkar was speaking at Coláiste Ghlór na Mara in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, at the announcement of €12 billion in funding for schools.

He suggested that naming schools after the founders of the State was appropriate as the centenary of the establishment of the Irish Free State approaches in 2022.

“I wouldn’t be proposing that that be a decision for government,” Mr Varadkar said. “The schools are named obviously by the patron bodies. But it is a suggestion that they might consider because we are going to build 42 new schools between now and 2022, which is a huge number.

“The tradition in Ireland was always to name schools after saints and we don’t do that so much anymore.

“They are very often named after places. It would, of course, have to be something that wouldn’t be partisan. It would have to be named after the founding fathers, coming from all backgrounds. Perhaps the signatories of the Proclamation, for example. I think everyone can agree around that.

“The downside there is, of course, that they are all male and I wouldn’t like to see schools only named after men. I’d like to see them named after some of the female members of the State as well.”

Sports halls

As part of the €12 billion package, the Government pledges to spend millions of euro over the coming decade to ensure all secondary school students have access to “state of the art” sports and PE halls.

The introduction of PE as a Leaving Cert subject, along with concerns over childhood obesity, has helped focus attention on the need for proper sports facilities in many schools.

The funding announcement provides new details on the National Development Plan – also known as Project Ireland 2040 – which was published earlier this year.

It promises a 70 per cent increase in school capital funding over the next decade to build new schools and modernise existing ones.

Along with new and upgraded PE halls, there will be a focus on modernising science labs, providing digital equipment in schools and energy-saving upgrades.

However, most of this is likely to take place in the latter half of the coming decade.