Hundreds protest to save school pitches

by Rebecca Ryan
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Clonkeen College students protest outside the Dail

Hundreds of students, parents and teachers of Clonkeen College hoping to save their school’s sports pitches, took their battle to Leinster House.

The protest outside the Dail last week was in a bid to stop their playing fields being sold to a private property developer.

It was announced last year that 7.5 acres of pitches at the Deansgrange school was to be sold for a price tag reported to be around €18 million.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett was at the demonstration and told Dublin Gazette the attempt to sell the pitches is “outrageous.”

Richard Boyd Barrett TD

Richard Boyd Barrett TD

“I’m here to support the students, parents and teachers of Clonkeen College, who are fighting against what is an absolute outrageous attempt by the Christian Brothers to sell their playing pitches to a private property developer, which will massively degrade the school’s abilities for physical education.

“It will have a really damaging impact on their special needs unit which has been recently developed.”

Clonkeen College’s board of management has been told it will be axed over their resistance to the plan to sell the pitches.

In a statement, The Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST), as Trustees, accused board members of showing “poor governance” and failure in acting in the “best interests of ERST’s school” and they are seeking the Education Minister’s consent to dissolve the board.

Deputy Boyd Barrett is calling on Minister Richard Bruton to “get off the fence” and support the school, and to “reject the attempt to dissolve the board”.

Labour Senator Aodhan O Riordain was also at the protest and said it is happening to other schools.

“It is happening where I am as well with a school called St Pauls in Raheny.

“Richard Bruton has to back the board and to absolutely refuse the move to dissolve the board.”

Dublin Gazette spoke to some students about why they were protesting.

Fifth-year and chairperson of the student council Mark Brophy said he thinks that profit is being put before the pupils.

He said: “Richard Bruton should be the advocate for Clonkeen. But in fact, he’s done nothing to help solve this situation at all. What he really needs to do is stop ignoring questions and take action to stop the dissolving of the board.”

Clonkeen College students

Clonkeen College students

Student Kevin Quinn said he is protesting “to retain the rich heritage of Clonkeen College”.

“Our school is massive into GAA, Soccer, Hurling and Rugby and I am here to reiterate the importance of sport to the people of this school.”

Chairperson of the Clonkeen College Parents Association Susan MacKenzie said the parents are behind the board.

“This is purely the parents who have organised this. We haven’t been involved with the board of management at all. We just felt because ERST have come out now and decided to dissolve our board of management, that enough is enough.

“There are six individuals in the board of management and they’re entitled to take this case. We are proud of them. They are role models for these boys.”

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