'Today is a good day': Parents and pupils delighted by St Vincent's decision 

The school’s trustees confirmed today that the proposed amalgamation of St Vincent’s and the North Presentation will not go ahead. 
'Today is a good day': Parents and pupils delighted by St Vincent's decision 

Students of St Vincent's pictured after marching from the school was at St Vincent's secondary school rally to the South Mall. Picture Denis Boyle

St Vincent’s Secondary School in Cork city is to remain as a single-sex school at its current location, following a decision that has been welcomed by students, parents and the wider community.

The school’s trustees, the Religious Sisters of Charity, confirmed today that the proposed amalgamation of St Vincent’s Secondary School and the North Presentation Secondary School would not go ahead, saying the level of opposition to the plan showed there was ‘little hope of a successful amalgamation’.

Pupils and their families had raised serious concerns about the plans to merge the schools and locate the new school on the North Presentation site, which parents said had blindsided the school community. A number of protests were held since the plans were revealed by The Echo last month.

Students, parents and school staff from St. Vincent's Secondary School protest in relation to the proposed amalgamation with North Presentation, at St. Vincent's Secondary School, St. Mary's Road, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Students, parents and school staff from St. Vincent's Secondary School protest in relation to the proposed amalgamation with North Presentation, at St. Vincent's Secondary School, St. Mary's Road, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

In a statement, the Parents Association said: “Today is a good day. On behalf of the Parents Association and all the parents at St Vincent’s Secondary school we would like to express sincere appreciation to the trustees of the Sisters of Charity for listening to our voices and hearing our call. We are so thrilled and appreciative that our daughters can now continue their education without any major changes along the way.

We thank everybody for all their support. We thank our families, local councillors, members of the board of management, principal and deputy principal, teaching and non-teaching staff and, of course, our daughters.

“We thank every single person that has supported our fight. Maybe you were present at a protest, beeped your horn as we passed through the streets of Cork City, or said words of encouragement to keep going. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.” A number of protests were organised by the Parents Association in recent weeks to highlight parents’ concerns.

 Pictured at a Save St Vincent's secondary school rally at the South Mall Cork city was Mia Doyle, Elphie Collins and Casey O'Conner. Picture Denis Boyle
Pictured at a Save St Vincent's secondary school rally at the South Mall Cork city was Mia Doyle, Elphie Collins and Casey O'Conner. Picture Denis Boyle

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the Religious Sisters of Charity said that in light of the “considerable opposition from many in the school community” there would be “little hope of a successful amalgamation” and that they had no option but to withdraw from the process.

“This will result in St Vincent’s Secondary School remaining as an all-girls school on the present site. We want to acknowledge — with regret — the potential impact this decision will have for the North Presentation Secondary School Community.

“St Vincent’s has a very well-deserved reputation in terms of academic excellence and as a caring and nurturing school community. We believe that this is a lost opportunity for St Vincent’s to be part of the development of a broad, inclusive and modern Post Primary facility in the North Cork City area on the 4.5 acres North Presentation site.

We thank everybody who took part in the year-long consultation about the future of Catholic education provision in the North Cork City area. We particularly wish to thank the Board, staff and parents for their commitment to St Vincent’s and we wish them well into the future.

Welcoming the news, Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould, who in the Dáil on Tuesday called on Education Minister Norma Foley to step in on the matter, said: “It just goes to show that finally the parents and the students, in particular, were listened to.” 

Congratulating the parents and everyone involved in the campaign to keep the doors of the school open, he said: “It was a great campaign and I’m delighted that the patrons decided to listen to common sense.

“I was really disappointed with how the decision to amalgamate was handled but at least common sense has prevailed and hopefully now if the North Pres go co-ed that will secure their future as well and it’s a positive story for everyone.” 

 Deborah O'Sullivan, Carly O'Donoghue, Ruth Kelleher and Lisa Kearney, parents of students at St. Vincent's Secondary School, St. Mary's Road, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Deborah O'Sullivan, Carly O'Donoghue, Ruth Kelleher and Lisa Kearney, parents of students at St. Vincent's Secondary School, St. Mary's Road, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Sinn Féin councillors Mick Nugent and Kenneth Collins who attended Wednesday’s protest outside the school gates welcomed the decision to withdraw the proposal.

Mr Nugent said that while nobody was expecting this decision to withdraw the amalgamation, the campaign was “very vocal and visible”.

Echoing his comments, Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Fitzgerald congratulated everyone involved in what he described as “a very dignified and professional campaign”.

He said that in terms of the students’ educational needs, personal development, and needs in the education system, it would have been a “tragedy not to allow them to have what had been traditionally a right down through the years”.

“St Vincent’s has for generations provided a great education for girls on the northside of the city and it would have been a pity to lose that,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

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