'It's obscene, madness...' - schools 'ban pupils from running' after insurance bill soars
Children are banned from running and kicking footballs in schoolyards because of soaring insurance costs, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell said it was "obscene" and "madness" that children's exercise was being restricted in this way in some schools.
Mr Farrell, who is chair of the Oireachtas Children's Committee, said rising insurance costs faced by schools needed to be urgently addressed to ensure children could exercise.
Speaking on Independent.ie's 'Floating Voter' podcast, Mr Farrell said: "They will not allow the children to run or kick a ball above waist height ... because you might hit a kid in the head, scratch their head and the parent will sue.
"You can't stop a child from exercising and I just think it's wrong."
Mr Farrell said he had discussed the issue with Minister of State in the Department of Finance Michael D'Arcy, who is examining insurance costs across a number of sectors.
It is understood Mr D'Arcy has been told by the insurance industry that policies do not prohibit children from running or playing football as along as they are supervised by a teacher.
A Government source said the key issue facing schools was teachers who refuse to supervise children during break periods.
Separately, Mr Farrell said he wanted vending machines filled with chocolate bars and fizzy drinks banned from schools as part of the Government's strategy to tackle childhood obesity.
"Vending machines in schools is just wrong unless it's healthy eating, water and fruit, but the kids won't eat that," he said.
Mr Farrell said he hoped his committee would recommend this action when it published its report on childhood obesity later this year.
Meanwhile, GAA community and health manager Colin Regan warned pushy parents and over-competitive coaches were putting children off sport.
At a Children's Committee meeting, Mr Regan said the GAA's Respect initiative set out guidelines for acceptable sideline behaviour for parents and coaches.
However, he added: "It has not had the impact that we would have hoped for at this stage."