Wednesday 23 March 2011

Full text of my statement on resignation from Board of Management of Borrisokane Community College

Statement - 21st March 2011
Re: My resignation from Board of Management of Borrisokane Community College

It is with huge regret and sadness that I have tendered my resignation from the Board of Management of Borrisokane Community College. The reason that I felt compelled to take this action was the facilitation by the school in the distribution of political electioneering material by minors and the subsequent refusal of the Principal to acknowledge that this decision sanctioned by him was an error of judgement.   

I feel that both the pupils in the school and the Principal are the victims of what a fellow Board member, Cllr Virginia O’Dowd has described as ‘Cute Hoor’ politics on the part of Deputy Michael Lowry. However the school was not required to accede to his request despite his shameful attempt to take all the credit for the provision of the new school in Borrisokane – If one person is to be singled out for credit then the Principal himself is the one who should be given credit for this achievement. Regardless of what undemocratic leverage Deputy Lowry was able to exert on the previous government it represents the worst of parish pump politics and is hardly something to celebrate or use children to promote.

The school could and should have refused Deputy Lowry’s request. There is a reason that minors do not have the vote and to involve them in political electioneering of any kind is totally unacceptable. When this story broke over a month ago I approached the Principal and voiced my concerns. I had hoped and expected that the Principal would issue a statement that would resolve the matter or that we as a Board would have an opportunity to meet and discuss the issue. Neither has happened and in the light of the recent meeting of the VEC where the issue was discussed at length it is obvious that the issue has not been dealt with properly. 

The response by the CEO of North Tipperary VEC that it is his fault for not having a policy in place on this issue is an insult to people’s intelligence. No school or institution can have policies to meet all possible situations and it is then that common sense comes in to play. In what possible circumstances could it be right to use children to promote one candidate above another in a national election? It is if anything undermining of democracy itself.

In the light of my colleague Cllr Casey’s decision to resign from the Board of Management I feel that I have no option but to do likewise. To stay on would be to stand over the totally inadequate response to this serious incident. That I cannot do and so with a heavy heart I have tendered my resignation to the Chairman of the Board of Management and notified same to the CEO of North Tipperary VEC. 
Canon Stephen Neill


Mattco said...

The headlines of today's Irish Times and Nenagh Guardian make interesting contrasts. If all that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing, I'm happy you did something. Well done.

Jim Daly said...

Fair play to you, sir. Fair play.

I find it sickening, and I don't use the word lightly, that children were used, indeed one could say abused, in this way.

Shame on (the long now discredited) Deputy Michael Lowry. Shame on the staff of the school for not standing up to such pressure. And, dare I say it, shame on the people of Tipperary for giving Mr Lowry their votes yet again.

Unknown said...

Well done Stephen i am on the Board of The V.E.C and i am also now considering my position. When all this happened i was in the middle of a general election but now that i have read the actual letter added to the cover up by the Chairman David Leahy i am not at all comfortable the abuse of children in this way. Well done Stephen you are a man of honour

Stephen Neill said...

Thanks guys - Really appreciate the support :)

Séamie - I agree Leahy is a thundering disgrace - The Principal's actions are indefensible - its the usual circling the wagons! Depressing but predictable - I am considering going to Ombudsman for children and Minister for Children - I reckon this policy is unconstitutional - Just shows we really do need a referendum on children's rights!

Danny said...

Well done Stephen on your stand. It was gombeen politics at its worst.

Póló said...

Clientistpolitics/blackmail at its worst.

Well done in your stand.

Hope it catches on in a wider sphere. The only way to get rid of clientist politics is for the "clients" to take a stand.

Dermott said...

Well said and fair play!

george said...

Well done, but please do not move too far from the scene, good men are rare in these troubled times.

Eilis said...

I am very diappointed you've decided to resign from the Board of Management of Borrisokane Community College. If voices of opposition resign it hands full control of the Board over to those to implement inappropriate decisions without opposition to them on the Board. It's critical that such decisions are vocally denounced by members of the Board which is why it's necessary for those who oppose them to remain members of the Board.

Bock the Robber said...

That's beyond belief. I'm speechless. The principal permitted distribution of political pamphlets to schoolchildren and sees nothing wrong with that.

John O'Driscoll said...

Nice to see there's a man of honour in this suffering kip. This Sunday I'll do what I've been thinking of for awhile and go to mass in my local Anglican church just down the road from my house.