'Non-Irish are dregs' -- Gogarty's latest gaffe
Published 12/02/2010 | 05:00
CONTROVERSIAL Green Party education spokesman Paul Gogarty's mouth got him into trouble again yesterday.
The Dublin Mid-west deputy had to apologise before for using very unparliamentary language after he said to Labour TD Emmet Stagg "f**k you" when he was heckled in the Dail before Christmas.
And yesterday, Mr Gogarty -- the chair of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Science -- referred to pupils from non-Irish backgrounds as the "dregs" when he was discussing their difficulties in enrolling in schools.
Mr Gogarty refused to withdraw the remark because, he said, he was borrowing a phrase used by others with which he did not agree.
He drew a collective gasp of disapproval at a meeting of the committee to discuss problems in schools which had a large number of pupils from ethnic communities. Mr Gogarty had picked up on a point about the difficulties such families encountered in getting their children into schools, because they were new to the community.
He spoke of such experiences in his constituency, which has many families from non-Irish backgrounds, and used the word "dregs" to describe those with the least school choices.
He said he was using the word "in inverted commas". But Fine Gael deputy Ulick Burke asked him to withdraw it.
Mr Gogarty said he was aware he had used strong language and he hoped reports of the meeting would be on the substance of the discussion.
But he added: "I will not withdraw the comment, which is an unfortunate comment, but has nothing to do with my own personal view."
Justifying the remark, he said that some "less than responsible individuals in my own constituency, had used headlines like 'ghetto school' and it doesn't do the community any good".
Colette Kavanagh, the principal of Esker Educate Together School, who was there representing one of the secondary schools with a high percentage of non-Irish born children, said she accepted his explanation.
In a subsequent intervention, Tom McGinley, principal of St John the Evangelist national school in Adamstown, west Dublin, insisted they were "not ghetto schools" but centres of excellence.