School 'outraged' McFadden song linked it to corporal punishment
The principal of St Fintan's High School in Sutton, Co Dublin, said yesterday the school was "outraged" at a video by the singer, Brian McFadden, that misleadingly linked the school with corporal punishment.
The singer's music label, Sony BMG, said the reference to the school was unintentional. When it was brought to its attention, the video was removed from television stations and a new version is being issued.
The song in question, Irish Son, speaks about "being born in the heart of Dublin/ back when being gay wasn't cool".
The lyrics include the following: "Made get on our knees every Sunday with the other fools/we were warped by the Christian Brothers/in the cell blocks at our schools/get a handprint on your skin/before your break their rules".
In the video, McFadden plays the part of a taxi driver taking a boy to school. He drops the boy at a school with a sign for "St Fintan's School for Boys".
The only St Fintan's school in Dublin which is run by the Christian Brothers is St Fintan's High School in Sutton. However, the singer was not a pupil there and never had any connection with the school.
The building shown in the video is not St Fintan's High School.
Yesterday the school's principal, Mr Dick Fogarty, said it was "unacceptable" that the video linked the school with corporal punishment. Pupils at the school had seen the video on a music channel and told the teachers about it, he said.
"We certainly were alarmed, especially when we saw the lyrics of the song," he said.
The entire community was outraged, Mr Fogarty added, as the school was such an integral part of the community.
"Pupils are being slagged, to use their own term, by pupils from other schools," he said. "Not only the teachers, but the pupils themselves are outraged at this."
He said the record label had said it believed the school name was fictitious yet McFadden lived in Portmarnock, less than three miles from the school.
If it was an unfortunate coincidence, then it was a very careless mistake to make, the principal said.
The school had worked hard to build its reputation and was one of the top schools in north Dublin, Mr Fogarty said, but now the video had been linked in the public mind with St Fintan's. He called on McFadden or his record label to apologise for the damage done to the school. "They have apologised for the confusion caused," he said, "but that's not enough. This is unacceptable."
Yesterday the singer's spokesman, Mr Max Clifford, was issuing no apologies when he spoke to RTÉ's News At One.
He claimed the school had brought the issue into the public domain themselves. "They are the only people that are drawing attention to the school. Nobody else has," he said.
"Obviously he didn't go to that school and presumably everybody knows he didn't go to that school if that's the case. So, therefore, they wouldn't think it could have happened there because he didn't go there," Mr Clifford said.
McFadden's song is proving controversial for more than one reason. The singer, Elton John, has slated it in the latest edition of Time Out magazine.
"Brian is probably a nice man," Elton John writes, "but I nearly died when I listened to Irish Son. I absolutely hated it. It's the worst lyric on a record I've ever heard. I had to take it off in case I committed suicide. It's just horrible."