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Student protest: Children march to demand postcode equality in education at Harold's Cross. Photo: Mark Condren

Student protest: Children march to demand postcode equality in education at Harold's Cross. Photo: Mark Condren

Student protest: Children march to demand postcode equality in education at Harold's Cross. Photo: Mark Condren

Hundreds of parents and schoolchildren marched through Harold's Cross, Dublin, yesterday demanding access to a non-denominational school in their neighbourhood.

Parents of children attending 30 primary schools in Dublin 8, Dublin 12, Dublin 6 and Dublin 6W say they can't understand the logic behind the Department of Education's decision to allow only children living in the school catchment areas of Dublin 6 and Dublin6W to attend a new post-primary school due to be built at the former Harold's Cross greyhound stadium next autumn.

They argue that they live in very close proximity to the new school yet will be forced to drive or bus their children to other non-denominational schools outside the area.

Father-of-one John Maher (54), from Crumlin, took part in the demonstration alongside his son Qi (11), who is currently in fifth class at the Canal Way Educate Together school in Dublin 8.

He worries his son will not have access to a non-religious, co-educational school when he enters post-primary in two years' time.

"There's that uncertainty," he said. "I have no religion and neither does he and so I wouldn't feel comfortable going to any of the Catholic schools near me and so I have no idea where we'd be left," he told the Irish Independent.

Aside from preferring to have his son walk or cycle to school, Mr Maher said he wants his son to maintain the cohort of friends he has now. "I'm passionate about Educate Together and I don't want him to go to a traditional Catholic boys school."

His son agrees. "I want to keep the friends I have and walk or cycle to school," he said.

Labour senator Ivana Bacik, whose two daughters go to a non-denominational school in Ranelagh, said excluding local children from the new school on their doorstep is "illogical".

Irish Independent