It’s always difficult, reporting bad news in this town, of having to cover stories that are often tantamount to family squabbles being played out in public.
Whether it’s management intimidation at SoBe or WCC playing Russian Roulette with our housing estates (as they desperately try to off-load a deeply troubled tenant), there’s little joy to be had in highlighting such hardships and street hassle.
And having dumb dogs barking at the postman isn’t a barrel of laughs either.
And so it has proven with St Patrick’s Church, and the inner turmoil over a new, hardline-verging-on-fundamentalist Church Of Ireland approach to school applications that has seen one much-loved Principal pack up her principles and walk.
There’s no need to go into the nitty-gritty once again here, but, when you’ve got the national media covering your crisis, and a former canon expressing his anger at how St Patrick’s is now being run, plainly, some healing clearly needed to be done.
Instead, Canon David Mungavin seems to be battening down the hatches, and pushing on through with those changes. And it’s very much a case of putting the head down, and going underground to get it done.
After a meeting on Monday, August 20th between the Board of Management at St Patrick’s National School and the Parent Teacher Association to address parents’ recent queries and concerns, chairperson Mungavin sent out a letter explaining that instead of an Emergency General Meeting, individual class meetings were being organised, and only parents of children currently enrolled in the school could attend. Once they brought along some ID.
Plainly fearing that any discussions might be made public too, we have been told that parents arriving for these smaller, more controlled meetings this week were being searched for recording equipment. Not sure who’s taking the mic here though, as we find that one difficult to believe.
Perhaps all this heavy-handed secrecy is just paranoia. Or perhaps it’s something a little more troubled. Either way, the parents were having none of it – the EGM has been reinstated, and it happening tonight.
For his part, Canon Mungavin reportedly claims that a bigger boy is making him do it – namely Archbishop Michael Jackson. The two are said to be thick as theologians.
What concerns us most though, given Mungavin’s insistence that St Patrick’s weren’t becoming far more exclusive than inclusive, are reports that only two of the 24 kids being admitted to St Patrick’s this year are non-Church Of Ireland. And those 22 Church of Ireland kids are all ‘active members’. If you ain’t at St Patrick’s Church on Sunday, you ain’t going to St Patrick’s National School on Monday.
Let’s hope all this nonsense is just panic stations, and not a new regime taking control of one of the town’s most respected, loved and welcoming schools.
You gotta have faith. Or else.
Update: At tonight’s EGM, where roughly 3/4 of the families in the school turned up, quite a few of the staff were in tears, reading a message stating that they couldn’t comment as the Board Of Management is their employer, and their union would not get involved. The PTA, for their part, were keen to push the idea of mediation to resolve the matter, but, to no avail. Tellingly, Ms Jackson got a standing ovation. Even more telling were the three votes of confidence conducted…
For the chairman of the board, of 125 votes, 5 spoiled/abstained, 24 Yes, 96 No. For the board of management, of 125 votes, 3 spoiled, 21 Yes, 101 No. For the school principal, Eileen Jackson, of 123 votes, 7 spoiled, 112 Yes, 4 No.
Talk about a thriller night. Even Wacko Jacko is going to have to accept that the situation at St Patrick’s is currently, ahem, off the wall.
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