'We stood together as one': St Vincent's students and parents continue campaign to keep school open

A meeting between the trustees and the Board of Management and the staff of the school is due to take place tomorrow.
'We stood together as one': St Vincent's students and parents continue campaign to keep school open

General view at the protest. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Students of St Vincent’s Secondary Schools and their parents took to the front gates of the school on Wednesday afternoon to continue their campaign to keep the doors of the school open next September.

It comes following the Department of Education’s confirmation that it had received correspondence from the patrons of St Vincent’s Secondary School and the North Presentation Secondary School regarding the proposed amalgamation of the schools and a change of status of the newly amalgamated school to co-educational.

The Parents Association of St Vincent’s Secondary School and its students have since voiced their concerns about the decision which they say has blindsided the school community.

 General view at the protest. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
General view at the protest. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Sinn Féin councillors Mick Nugent and Kenneth Collins, who attended the protest, said that Sinn Féin councillors along with TD Thomas Gould are calling for the reversal of the decision.

“It has become evident to us all that it’s a much-loved school and why would you lose it now?"

Councillors in the Cork City North West Local Electoral Area have put forward a joint motion calling on the trustees of St Vincent’s Secondary School to consult and listen “in a meaningful way with the students and parents who wish to remain in an all-girls secondary school and pause the current proposal to amalgamate the school”.

Speaking following the protest on Wednesday, St Vincent’s Secondary School Parents Association member Sonya Lane said the protest was about “showing people the solidarity and unity that exists within St Vincent’s school community amongst students and teachers and staff”.

“Today we stood together as one. We witnessed teachers, students and parents united in one voice.

“What hurts us so much as parents is the fact we were not consulted, considered or thought about while this proposed amalgamation was being planned.

“At the end of the day parents and students were denied any say in the proposed amalgamation. The girls of St Vincent’s school are being denied their right to continue being educated in a single-sex school.” 

A meeting between the trustees and the Board of Management and the staff of the school is due to take place tomorrow.

 Darren Nelligan with his daughter Leah Murphy.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Darren Nelligan with his daughter Leah Murphy.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

On Tuesday, all four Cork North Central TDs - Fianna Fáil TD Pádraig O’Sullivan, Fine Gael TD Colm Burke, Solidarity TD Mick Barry and Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould - spoke in the Dáil calling on the Minister for Education Norma Foley to step in.

Deputy O’Sullivan said: “To say the communication has been poor is an understatement. To say that a consultation process has been undertaken, at least an adequate one, is misleading.

“This decision had been foisted upon people late in the day, denying students of enrolment options elsewhere, evicting students of the four ASD classes, the Lir Hub, from a building where they are immersed in a whole school experience to a prefab in a car park potentially.” 

 Speaking in the Dáil, Solidarity Party TD Mick Barry said that such major decisions within a school community should not be made without the consent of parents, teachers and students and told The Echo that the school “should be kept open but taken out of the hands of the Religious Sisters of Charity”.

 Vicky Dawes, Isabella and Yvonne Roche, Lily Foley and Johann Hickey, parents of students.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Vicky Dawes, Isabella and Yvonne Roche, Lily Foley and Johann Hickey, parents of students.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Deputy Thomas Gould said that the proposal is having “a very negative and upsetting effect on many students”, particularly those in the Lir ASD unit and Leaving Cert students.

In response to the deputies, Minister for Education Norma Foley said that the decision-making authority for any amalgamation or change of status is the patron of the school.

She said that the information provided to the Department by the patrons indicated that there was a thorough local consultation process undertaken between March 2021 and February 2022 but that she is very conscious of the concerns that have been brought forward recently.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130
EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more