Deputy Brendan Smith, Cllr Sean Smith and Cllr John Paukl Feely outside St Mogue's College Bawnboy
Fianna Fáil Public Representatives in West Cavan have totally rejected proposals from Cavan Monaghan ETB to close St. Mogue’s College, Bawnboy and St. Bricin’s College, Belturbet with a view to constructing a new central secondary school in Ballyconnell.
The proposals were presented at a briefing session for local Councillors and Oireachtas Members today (Monday, 26 November 2018) in advance of a special meeting of Cavan Monaghan ETB to be held in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell later this afternoon.
Some students from South Leitrim attend St Mogue's College, Bawnboy.
"These two schools are at the heart of their respective communities, their teachers enjoy the confidence and support of the children, parents and wider families with whom they deal on a daily basis. This proposal would take the heart out of these communities and have a devastating effect. I cannot and will not support these proposals and call upon the ETB to withdraw them with immediate effect. Instead they should focus their efforts on continuing their support for St. Mogue’s and St. Bricin’s, securing additional capital investment to enhance the facilities and work to provide better budgets for the schools for their day-to-day activities," stated Cavan Deputy Brendan Smith.
Councillor Sean Smith who is based in Bawnboy, is a Member of the Board of Management of St. Mogue’s, attended that school and had children educated there stated that he was totally shocked by these proposals.
”In recent times I have been calling again for the provision of a sports hall and additional sporting facilities and upgrade of classroom accommodation for the children who attend St. Mogue’s. The school in Bawnboy caters for children from across the vast area of West Cavan stretching from Glangevlin, Corlough, Swanlinbar, Bawnboy, Templeport and Ballyconnell. Taking this facility from Bawnboy will have serious negative impacts on my village, it will devastate an already small village. We will have at one end of the village a closed school where there should be a thriving and expanding school and at the other end a Workhouse which is being regenerated through the efforts of the local community. It is ironic that we have a local statutory agency proposing the closure of this second level school while the local Garda Station will be reopened.
"I know that over the years there have been excellent State Exam results in both St. Bricin’s and St. Mogue’s. Neither school community will accept these proposals by the ETB” stated Councillor Sean Smith.
”The people of West Cavan cannot stand idly by as the hearts of two of their communities are taken out of Bawnboy and Belturbet, these schools are vital for their communities in which they are located and in turn serve the wider West Cavan area. These two schools require further investment to improve their infrastructure, to enhance the subjects they offer and the manner in which they are a taught, they do not need to be closed. Closing these schools will result in a massive waste of public funds given the amount of development which is taking place at both school campuses over the years. That being said we all are aware of the need for additional investment in both schools and it would fit the ETB better to work more closely with the schools staff, boards of management and indeed the wider public representatives in West Cavan to secure the type of investment that is needed. These proposals lack courage and imagination and will take the heart out of two communities in our region.
"This past summer I have worked closely with Stand with Glan Campaign. I've seen at close hand the importance of keeping a school open and allowing it and a wider community thrive. If central government were proposing amalgamations and closures it would be disappointing but not altogether surprising. The local ETB comprises officials whose remit is to provide quality education in counties Cavan and Monaghan and Board Members who are by and large elected by the people of these two counties. It is most disappointing that these type of proposals, which are totally unacceptable, have been brought forward. Public Representations and Board Members of the ETB must stand up for the people and the communities in the catchment area of both schools," stated Councillor John Paul Feeley.
More information on this story as we get it.