Irish Catholic schools set to welcome migrant children

‘As an integral part of parish life in Ireland, Catholic schools would not be found wanting’

Syrian refugee children play in Victoria Square, central Athens, Greece, September 21st, 2015.  Hundreds of migrants and refugees are sleeping rough in the square. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

Syrian refugee children play in Victoria Square, central Athens, Greece, September 21st, 2015. Hundreds of migrants and refugees are sleeping rough in the square. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

 

The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA) has said its primary schools would be delighted to welcome and educate refugee children from Syria and other conflict areas when they arrive in Ireland.

General secretary Fr Tom Deenihan said the majority of schools have space to enrol children and would be happy to do so.

“Catholic parish schools have been to the fore in helping to integrate migrants into our local communities. Children of various creeds and nationality comprise the multinational enrolment profile of Catholic schools throughout the country. All our pupils receive a quality education and in turn enrich the day-to-day life of our schools,” he said.

Offer support

The recent call by Pope Francis for parishes to offer a welcome to people who have suffered was also a call to Catholic parish schools to offer support, he said.

“As an integral part of local parish life in Ireland, Catholic schools would not be found wanting at this critical time for refugees,” he said.

On Monday, Limerick City Councillors unanimously passed a motion extending solidarity and welcome to refugees, and pledging to “work with other interested groups locally to investigate what [the council] can do to help provide support, sanctuary and security”.

Proposing the motion, the Anti Austerity Alliance’s Cllr Cian Prendiville noted that “around 15,000 beds have been pledged to house refugees in Ireland. Limerick Council staff have donated € 3,000 out of their own pocket. Dozens have gathered at protests here in Limerick to show their support. I believe the council should show that same solidarity.”

‘Urgent action’

He called on the Government to “take urgent action to provide the thousands of social and affordable affordable houses needed for the homeless, those on housing waiting lists and those coming to Ireland to seek refuge from war and persecution in the Middle East and North Africa”.

Last week a group from the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council (IMPIC) brought two van loads of donations from Dublin to refugees at Calais in France.

Led by Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri of the Clonee mosque in west Dublin, the group said they spent “a very emotional day in a place that is unimaginable in Western Europe” at Calais last Wednesday.

They saw scenes “that normally are seen on TV in reports of developing countries. Almost 4,000 people live in an absolute state of poverty in France.”

The IMPIC volunteers thanked all schools, churches, mosques, community centres and individuals in Ireland who donated for the refugees.