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Doherty welcomes O’Keefe’s U-Turn on closure of small rural schools

16 November, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has welcomed the statement by minister of Education Batt O Keefe in which he said that there would be no change to small schools as long as he was minister. Senator Doherty paid tribute to the parents, teachers and the wider community who campaigned with him to bring this u-turn about.

Senator Doherty said:

“Today comments from the minister on Radio na Gaeltachta Athmhaidin programme are to be welcomed and will come as relief to many communities across Ireland. It represents a u-turn on the governments position in relation to An Bord Snip’s proposal which called for the closure and merging of small rural schools.

“Those that made their anger felt on this issue are to be commended. It is those people that have forced the minister to back down from the position he articulated on RTÉ news only five days ago when he said that he ‘was certainly going to look at the small rural school and talk to communities in relation to perhaps into the future providing a more central school’ system.

“Only on Thursday of last week the minister in a parliamentary reply to Sinn Féin in the Dáil refused to rule out the government implementing the Bord Snip proposal, saying that ‘the proposals are being considered as part of the estimates process for 2010.’ The minister also put on the record of the Dáil that ‘I am of the view that my department will have to examine the implementation of more strict guidelines in relation to the numbers of pupils required for the sustainability of schools’.

“Today’s U-turn on his own and his governments position is much welcomed and I will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that rural schools continue breathing life into rural communities.” ENDS

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