Monday 1 April 2024

Councillors call out 'discrimination' of Church of Ireland school

Elected members of Mayo County Council have said a Westport national school is the victim of "blatant discrimination".

Holy Trinity National School in Westport has recently been told that its Altamont Street site will now be used as temporary accommodation for the Sacred Heart Secondary School.

The Department of Education informed the Board of Management of Holy Trinity NS that it has identified the old Scoil Phádraig NS building and the site on Altamount Street as a "solution for urgent temporary accommodation needs" for the Sacred Heart Secondary School in Westport. 

The building had been earmarked as the location for a new home for the Church of Ireland national school.

Holy Trinity NS had been battling for almost 15 years to secure a new school after its modest building was deemed not fit for purpose by the Department. 

After many false dawns, the school finally believed their new location was secure and design plans were drawn up.

At a recent meeting, the Department of Education was unable to tell Holy Trinity representatives how long the site would be used by Sacred Heart.

Cllr Brendan Mulroy said the Department of Education is "picking on a Church of Ireland school", and accused it of "using an iron fist". 

“It’s absolutely shocking,” said the Fianna Fail councillor who said he has contacted Minister for Education and party colleague Norma Foley on the matter.

“It’s totally wrong,” added Independent Cllr Christy Hyland. "The Department of Education is dividing two communities," he stated.

“This smacks of discrimination,” added Independent Cllr John O’Malley.

Cllr Hyland asked that the council step in and offer an alternative site for the temporary classrooms needed by the Sacred Heart Secondary School. He suggested the former Convent site in the town could be utlised. 

However, the council's chief executive Kevin Kelly did not believe this proposal would be possible.