Garda inquiry into bullying incident

 

AN END-OF-year incident at a girls’ secondary school in south county Dublin, which had been described by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn as “sheer bullying”, is now the subject of a Garda inquiry.

It concerns the case of a fifth-year student at fee-paying Mount Anville in Goatstown, who was abducted last month by sixth-year schoolmates and left tied to a post in a nearby boy’s school.

A solicitor’s letter criticising the school’s handling of the incident has also been sent to the board of management on behalf of the victim’s parents.

The victim, said to be well regarded by staff and fellow-pupils, was interviewed by gardaí last week in relation to the incident which occurred just over a month ago when she was called from class by five sixth-year students under false pretences.

The girl was tied up with builder’s cable cord, blindfolded and driven to Blackrock College while five other sixth years followed behind in another car.

The girl was verbally abused and left alone on the school grounds tied to a post, after a bottle of water was poured over her.

After a cryptic text message was sent by the sixth years to the girls’ friends, she was cut free and returned to school. The victim was said to have been traumatised by the incident.

Earlier this week a solicitor’s letter, which has been seen by The Irish Times, was sent on behalf of the girl’s parents to the chairman of the Mount Anville board of management.

The letter goes into lengthy detail about the abduction and strongly criticises the school’s handling of the incident.

Following a complaint to the principal Patricia Bourden, the five perpetrators – who are currently sitting their Leaving Cert – were punished by being banned from their prize-giving and graduation ceremonies.

The solicitor’s letter demands answers in relation to the school’s policy on bullying and the consequences in store for those engaging in such activity.

Ms Bourden, who is also on the school’s board of management, did not respond to a phone call or an email query on the matter sent by The Irish Times yesterday.

A Garda source told The Irish Times that the police were aware of the incident and that inquiries into the matter were ongoing.

Last month Mr Quinn described the incident as being “more than a prank” and “sheer bullying”.

The abduction at Mount Anville was one of several end-of-year so-called “pranks” which occurred in schools around the State recently, resulting in controversy over the behaviour of second-level students.

They included one incident at High School in Rathgar, Dublin in which teachers uncovered an unofficial rave being held in the sixth-year common room. Three students were expelled as a consequence.

The school also cancelled the scheduled sixth-year graduation ceremony.

Sixth-year parents at High School subsequently organised their own graduation ceremony for their children at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.