'They were treated like criminals' - mum's outburst after son expelled from Irish college
A woman has told of her outrage after her son and his friend were expelled a week-and-a-half into a course at an Irish college for breaking curfew.
Barbara McDonagh explained how her son, Alex had been attending Coláiste Lurgan for the last three years and had never breached the rules up until last week.
She added that while she knows breaking curfew is a “serious misdemeanour”, she feels it was unfair that her son did not get a chance to explain himself.
She claimed he was told to shut his mouth and sit down. She also complained that there is no appeals process in place.
“I got a phone call from the principal to say that he was being expelled. He said you can either come down for him or we’re putting him on the train. I was in shock, he’s three years down there he’s never broken any rules, and they know him,” she told RTÉ’s 'Liveline'.
“He said he broke curfew, he left the house in the middle of the night.”
Barbara claims that the master of the Irish college, Michéal O'Fhoighil told her that he did not know how long her son had been gone or why he left.
“He said he can’t stay here. Organise a ticket and send it down to me.
“I said 'Can I speak to him?’ And he said, ‘no, you can’t speak to him. You can speak to him on the train,” she added.
“As I was texting him during the day I was saying what did you do and where did you go. Literally what they had done, him and another fella, they heard a fight going on outside at one o’clock in the morning. They thought it was funny.
“The two of them decided to go out and have a look at what was going on. They stepped out into the garden, down as far as the gate, couldn’t see anything, was on the way back in and on the gravel the Fear an Tí heard them and told them ‘get the f in’.
She said her son and his friend apologised the next morning and thought they would get a ‘warning’ over breaking the rules until the Fear on Tí told them to “eat up your breakfast, that’s your last supper.”
She appealed the colleges decision to send Alex home, but her request “went over his head".
The college told her that her son was welcome to return to the three week course, which costs €980, next year.
The concerned mother added that her son was "treated like monkeys in a cage, like criminals" and isolated from their fellow students and staff after the incident.
“It wasn’t a good decision, obviously. I’ve been going there for three years, I should have known better, but at the time it was more of a just let’s do this, do this quickly and come back into the house,” Alex said.
In response to the claims, master of the college, Michéal O'Fhoighil said Alex had left the college for “more than an hour”, and not “ten, not even” minutes previously stated.
“It would be wholly irresponsible of us to give a clear signal that this kind of misbehaviour is acceptable. We can’t overlook it. There is more at stake here than yourself and how you feel,” he said.