'DCU Athletics will not function without Enda Fitzpatrick'- DCU students rally around dismissed coach
DCU athlete Kate McGowan has penned a powerful endorsement of the former Head of Athletics in DCU Enda Fitzpatrick, in which she claims 'DCU Athletics will not function without Enda Fitzpatrick' and urged University President Brian McCraith to take action on the petition and reinstate the athletics coach.
Fitzpatrick is a former Irish 1500m athlete and is held in very high esteem by the DCU Athletics Club. He transformed a club with no record in inter-varsity success, bringing them 190 team titles in the past fourteen years. The club started an open letter petition to DCU President Brian McCraith which has amassed over 1500 signatures since Wednesday.
He has overseen a growth of the Athletics Club in his tenure from 18 members in 2003, to 115 member for the 2018/19 season. DCU have not renewed his position this year due to 'secondment' regulations disabling them from renewing the contracts of those employed under secondment agreements as is the policy by the Department of Education.
McGowan is a gold-winning athlete for the University and has given powerful and emotive testimonial of her coach and friend on behalf of the athletics club.
Speaking about the late Joanna Duignan, McGowan highlighted the unique 'family' environment that Fitzpatrick has instilled in the DCU Athletics Club during his time there.
"[Joanna Duigan] told me they weren't just a team but more like a family. I was amazed by the idea of this and in that instant I decided DCU was the place for me. This environment created is a credit to the work Enda has done in his time here in DCU and with the removal of Enda, you will also destroy our DCU Athletics Family.
"I can vouch that if it weren't for this environment Enda has created I would have no incentive to go to DCU as opposed to any other university throughout the country."
Joanna Duignan tragically passed away in 2017 at the age of 20. Two years on and McGowan said that Fitzpatrick was the person she trusted most to talk to while grieving her DCU teammate.
"In the most unspeakable circumstances we as a family came together, we grieved and we supported one and other through the darkest time. I don't think Joanna would have had the confidence and trust she had in Enda in her time of need in any other college in the country.
"On her anniversary two weeks ago I was upset and the first person I felt like talking to about it was Enda, you're losing someone who students feel comfortable enough around to talk about anything with and these days that is more important than ever."
McGowan finished her testimonial with a plea that the concerns of the members of DCU Athletics be taken into account regarding Fitzpatrick's dismissal saying that the club 'will not function' without him.
"I ask you to take my concerns along with all others you have received into consideration. There is no job description for this role as it has been shaped and transformed by Enda himself. DCU Athletics will not function without Enda Fitzpatrick."
In a statement DCU assured that Fitzpatrick was removed this year as the Department of Education regulations has stopped renewals for those employed on a long term secondment basis for the 2019 academic year due to 'teacher shortages'.
"It is not the practice of DCU to comment on affairs relating to individual cases, however inaccurate commentary has circulated regarding the role of the Head of the Athletics Academy at the University.
"For 13 years this role has been filled on the basis of a secondment for the school year, renewable annually by request to the Department of Education and Skills. In the context of the current teacher shortages at second level, however, the Department of Education has issued a circular regulating the Secondment Schemes for Teachers (0029/2018).
"Consistent with this national policy, the Department has informed Dublin City University that, regrettably, secondments which have existed over a period of many years will not be renewed in August.
"In the light of this directive, DCU will create a full-time permanent position as Head of the Athletics Academy which will be publicly advertised in the coming weeks."