Rector tied to Obama quits school board over Lowry row
Published 25/03/2011 | 05:00
THE Church of Ireland rector who traced Barack Obama's Irish roots has resigned from a school board in a dispute involving Michael Lowry.
Canon Stephen Neill is angry that the North Tipperary TD was allowed to openly target Borrisokane Community School for votes.
A letter from Mr Lowry seeking votes was sent home with students to give to their parents ahead of the recent general election.
Mr Lowry topped the poll in North Tipperary but has been the focus of national attention in recent days in the wake of the damning Moriarty report.
He had maintained in the letter that he played a key role in securing a new building for the school in Borrisokane.
Canon Neill has resigned from his position on the school's board of management over the issue.
"The reason that I felt compelled to take this action was the facilitation by the school in the distribution of political electioneering material by minors and the subsequent refusal of the principal to acknowledge that this decision sanctioned by him was an error of judgement," he added.
He said that he felt pupils and the principal were victims of what another board of management member branded "cute hoor politics".
"Regardless of what undemocratic leverage Deputy Lowry was able to exert on the previous government, it represents the worst of parish-pump politics and is hardly something to celebrate or use children to promote."
The rector said the school "could and should" have refused Mr Lowry's request.
School principal Matthew Carr said some politicians had written to parents and students, but these letters were given out by the school to protect the personal data of students.