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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 23 August, 2014

Death of former MEP’s son inspires establishment of Catholic university in Ireland

Sinnott said those involved in the project have already started scouting locations and a group has been established in the US to raise funds.

Image: James Horan/Photocall Ireland

FORMER MEP KATHY Sinnott has said the idea to set up Ireland’s only Catholic liberal arts college was inspired by her son who died in a tragic accident in 2009.

A group in the United States has been formed to raise funds for the Newman College Ireland and to pay for scholarships to allow students to attend without paying huge fees. Sinnott said those involved in the project have already started scouting locations for the college but “we haven’t discovered it yet”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie she said the idea for the four year college, which will offer courses in theology, philosophy, history, literature, maths and natural science, was inspired by her son Kevin, who passed away five years ago. The 22-year-old drowned while trying to swim across a lake near his college.

She said he had been through the Irish education system and “didn’t do so well”.

He went to a liberal arts college in America, he got a good scholarship and I wanted him to absolutely blossom. He discovered talents there he didn’t know he had.

“At his funeral I was thinking how happy he was over the last couple of years and how some of his friends in Ireland didn’t have the same opportunity,” she continued. “Some were doing subjects they wanted to do when they were 16 but changed their minds and I just thought people in Ireland should have this.”

Scholarships

Sinnott explained that the college will offer students a chance to major in a particular topic of their interest but they will also be given an education in the base subjects, like theology and history.

On a website set up for the college, it says it expects to be able to award students substantial scholarship aid. It also said students will be encouraged “to learn the unity of truth, and to see the goodness, truth and beauty of creation, as well as the inviolable dignity of human life, which is threatened in our time by an eclipse of the sense of God”.

The project’s Facebook page promises the college will “form the next generation ot Catholic leaders; ethical businessmen, mothers and fathers, priests and religious eager to serve God.”

Sinnott said the project is still in the early stages now and fundraising is expected to pick up once a site for the college has been selected and plans are more concrete. However she said the group is also hoping to collect 3.5 million memorares, as the college “is going to be built on prayer”.

Read: Martin: “Insensitive” Quinn should “lay off” schools over religion>

Read: Demand from parents leads to four new multi-denominational schools>

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