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Gaelscoil Rath Tó supporters ‘gutted’ by Dept recognition ‘no’

June 1, 2010

A decision by the Department of Education and Science not to give recognition to Gaelscoil Ráth Tó which is due to open in September has left the establishing committee of the school, local parents and supporters “gutted”, a Dunshaughlin area county councillor has said.

A local committee had been established in Ratoath to push the project forward but there has been widespread disappointment that the Department has failed to issue recognition in time for September this year.
Cllr Regina Doherty told members of Meath County Council that there was a definite need for, and support for, the concept of a gaelscoil in Ratoath. Other Gaelscoileanna in Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin and Ashbourne had “completely overstretched” their capacity to take in any more pupils, she said.

Meath County Council passed a unanimous resolution at its May meeting “supporting and applauding the work of the establishing committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó and calls upon the Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills to immediately recognise Gaelscoil Ráth Tó which will be opening in September 2010”.

Cllr Doherty was supported at the council meeting by Cllrs Joe Bonner, Nick Killian, Maria Murphy and Jim Holloway. Cllr Killian said he fully supported the efforts of the team pressing for the new school in Ratoath. He said he felt the difficulty with the Department was a technical one and held out the prospect that Departmental recognition would come.

Cllr Murphy said that matters in regard to education would “have to change”.

She said: “Parents have to fight so hard to get education for their children. They are being knocked down at the first hurdle. It is a shame that the Department is not giving recognition and I would hope that it would change its mind by September.”

Cllr Holloway said the efforts by the community to provide a new school “represents one of the better things in this country when people get together to follow this worthy objective”.

Cllr Doherty said that Meath’s local representatives had sent out a very strong message to the Department by endorsing the motion that the wishes of parents should be heeded in the provision of education in Ratoath. “The Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills should act now to ensure that Irish-medium education is provided in Ratoath with the full support of her Department by granting recognition to Gaelscoil Ráth Tó,” she said.

Cllr Doherty said the proposed school had 135 students on its roll. There had been a review by the Department last year of the 43 locations around the country in line for gaelscoileanna. However, that number had been brought down to nine and it had now emerged that Ratoath was not among them.

“We thought we were going to have a school in September”, she said. “The money had been collected with the grest support of the whole community. To our deep dismay, we had word from the Department that the only criteria used in assessing the need for schools was demographic. We were told that we did not have enough children to justify the school. We were gutted,” she said.

Backers of the proposed new school are hopeful that the recognition will come by September next year but, in the meantime, they have been encouraged by a number of Gaelic organisations and gaelscoil authorities from other areas to go ahead with the project without Departmental approval.

At one public meeting in the Ratoath Inn, parents reached a consensus to proceed with the opening of the school in September this year without Departmental recognition. It is now planned to open the school in the local GAA centre next September.

Meath Chronicle – Paul Murphy
19 Bealtaine 2010

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