'Unless you have minister's ear, nothing gets done'
WHEN Mike O'Connor bec-ame principal of St Brendan's National School in Blenn-erville, Co Kerry, in 1996, one of the first things he did was apply for a new school, writes Paul Melia.
The existing school was built in 1932, and had four classrooms. Today, one measuring 19 feet by 18 feet is home to 27 pupils, a teacher and special needs teacher. A second room much the same size holds 28.
"You're trying to run a modern classroom. If someone gave me a computer I wouldn't have anywhere to put it," he said. "In April 2000, the department sent us a letter granting us a new school."
But not until 2006 was a site bought, when the department spent €240,000 on a 1.12 acre site. In May 2007, Mr O'Connor was taken to Tullamore and shown plans for an eight-teacher school.
"In January 2008, I got the word that the project suspended indefinitely. No one had the decency to tell us."
Unless you've got the ear of a minister, he claims, schools will not be built.