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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 15 August, 2020
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"State of shock": Parents protest over amalgamation of North Mon school

Former pupils of the school include Niall Tóibin, Rory Gallagher and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Some of the participants at the protest in Cork last Saturday.
Some of the participants at the protest in Cork last Saturday.
Image: Aoife Barry/TheJournal.ie

PARENTS OF CHILDREN attending the North Monastery Primary School in Cork – known as the North Mon – are hoping that a breakthrough could occur soon in their battle to ‘save their school’.

Eight hundred parents are reported to have taken to the streets on Saturday in Cork in protest against proposed changes that would see the boys’ primary school amalgamate with a separate girls’ school.

Former pupils of the school include Niall Tóibin, Rory Gallagher and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Dialogue

Maria Higgins, a member of the parents association at the school, explained that they have been “trying to start a dialogue” with the Edmund Rice School Trust after the amalgamation was decided on last month.

She said that on 18 February there was a meeting of the boards of management of four schools in the area, where the amalgamation was proposed.

Higgins said that the ERST proposed that the North Mon, which is 203 years old, would be amalgamated with a nearby girls’ school, St Vincent’s.

Higgins described their reaction to the news:

We could not believe it. We felt as though our boys were being thrown out of our school. We were just in a state of shock.

The parents held an emergency meeting and this led to Saturday’s rally.

The proposed plan involves a gaeilscoil using the current North Mon school, she said. There are 171 boys currently attending North Mon.

Higgins said that they feared the amalgamation would have “huge implications” for the school, such as on its debt status and resources for the pupils.

A motion was recently passed by Cork City Council rejecting amalgamation proposals.

“As a parent I decided to send my child to a Christian Brothers school. This choice would have been taken away from me,” said Higgins of her own personal situation.

I’m here at the start of March still not knowing where my child is going to go to in September. It’s very traumatic for us and for our kids.

Parents are due to hold a meeting tonight on the issue.

The Edmund Rice Trust is to be invited before the Oireachtas’ Education Committee to discuss the issue.

Read: Complaints made over pay and conditions on 22 school building projects>

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