O'KEEFFE RATHCORMAC ROW RAGES ON!
The dispute between Cork East Fianna Fail TD Ned O’Keeffe and the parents of schoolchildren in Rathcormac continued this week, with the row making national headlines.
Two weeks ago Deputy O’Keeffe confirmed that he told the chairperson of the Scoil Bhride NS Parents’ Council, Claire O’Flynn that he felt the village did not support his party when she approached him for help in securing funding for a new school in Rathcormac.
The rebuttal has gained national attention since it first broke in The Avondhu two weeks ago, and Mrs O’Flynn has subsequently appeared on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland to discuss the matter.
“A lot of parents down here, including myself, are fuming. That is not on,” Mrs O’Flynn told RTE last Monday morning.
“He is actually playing with children’s lives… and that’s not fair. Our children need a new school here in Rathcormac. That’s the only message we are trying to get across. We need a new school.”
“It’s not an environment for any child to be in because they go in, in summer, they’re passing out with the heat inside there, parents are being rang to bring home their children because they are not able to cope with the heat. We go in, in winter and children have to put on their coats,” she explained.
“We can’t sit back and watch our children go through that anymore,” Mrs O’Flynn added.
Speaking on local radio last weekend, however, Deputy O’Keeffe reiterated his claim that he must prioritise his supporters.
“I’ll prioritise, as a politician, my own area and the areas I think are right and are necessary and where I get my support from. Because I won’t be in Dail Eireann if I don’t get that support,” Deputy O’Keeffe told Patricia Messenger on C103fm.
“I haven’t been ever top of the list in Rathcormac, so I mean if Rathcormac wants me to support them then they should support me,” he added.
The story has now featured on a number of national papers, and opposition politicians have come out in criticism of Deputy O’Keeffe’s stance.
Labour TD Sean Sherlock and Fine Gael Cllr Pa O’Driscoll both appeared on C103fm this week to discuss the matter.
€100,000 ON PORTOCABINS
Speaking to The Avondhu about the controversy Cllr. Patrick O’Driscoll said “the issue is whether Rathcormac needs a new school or not. The Census in 2006 showed a 70% rise in the population of the Rathcormac area over the 2002 Census. The number of pupils enrolled in the school has increased from 92 in 1998 to 240 in 2009. These figures alone show that a new school on a new site is badly needed.
The Department of Education has obviously seen that need as they purchased a 4 acre site for a new school back in 2006. That site is now lying idle while €100,000 will be spent next year on rent for 10 portacabins.”
“When Brian Hayes TD, the Fine Gael Spokesperson on Education, met with representatives of the board of management and parents’ association three weeks ago he urged them to get cross party support for the construction of a new school. Ned O’Keeffe’s response has been very disappointing and his statement that there is a fabulous layout of portacabins in Rathcormac and it is not a priority, is damaging to the campaign to get a new school built.
"Fine Gael has raised this issue in the Dail through David Stanton TD, and in the Seanad through Senator Paul Bradford, and I will be raising it at county council level. There is a lot of work being done by the staff, parents and management of Rathcormac NS to get the new school built, and that will have to continue with the support of all public representatives.”
Labour TD Sean Sherlock said that Deputy O’Keeffe’s remarks will offer no help to the Rathcormac cause.
“My late father had a parliamentary question to former Minister Dempsey on this matter dating back to 2004. The minister stated at that stage that it had a Band 1 rating. It now has a Band 2.2 rating which knocked it down the pecking order.
"Our responsibility now is to keep the school as a priority and I have written to the minister to ask that he would ignore the shenanigans of the local Fianna Fail TD and place the school on an urgent footing given the fire safety concerns, which are real.
"This is a community wide issue and I hope to co-operate with politicians of all persuasions to get the result that Rathcormac needs. Deputy O’Keeffe’s remarks are damaging and he does not reflect my views. I represent all of my constituents equally and I don’t care what their politics are,” he told The Avondhu.
The second Cork East Fianna Fail TD, Michael Ahern has assured Rathcormac of his backing for the school as a priority, in a statement to The Avondhu.
Thursday 9th July 7:02pm