Parishes have little more to give desperate schools

Education minister ignores most vulnerable in her own constituency

Michael Kelly and Mags Gargan

Limerick parishes do not have enough valuables to be sold off or melted down in order to fund a teaching post in Moyross for more than a few months, a spokesman for the diocese has said.

He was responding to desperate calls by the parish priest of Moyross, Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, who appealed to other parishes to sell off gold chalices or other valuables to fund a teaching post in his hard-pressed school.

Fr O’Riordan, who works in one of the country’s most socially deprived communities, revealed this week that the Department of Education and Skills cut a teaching post at Corpus Christi school. He said that parishioners and the Board of Management had been forced to raise funds to keep the teacher employed.

“Parish pastoral councils are encouraged to, and do typically, support their schools through a variety of measures. However, we are not aware of any situation where Church artefacts have been sold to help fund teaching posts, which is, again, the preserve of the department,” a diocesan spokesman said.

Fr Tom Deenihan, General Secretary of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA), said many schools continue to suffer as a result of cut backs despite more hopeful economic news. “Schools are definitely feeling the pinch.”

He said that “because of the shortfall, parishes are being obliged to contribute for the basic upkeep of the schools. Local parishes are contributing more and more.”


Local Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea told The Irish Catholic that the cut to the vital post was “awful… I think it is shameful,” he said. “At a time when people are talking about regeneration in Moyross, all the Government seems interested in is knocking down houses. The school is getting a very raw deal.”

Mr O’Dea is appealing to Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan to intervene immediately. “She needs to sort this out, this is one of the most socially deprived communities in the country, and the minister is very well aware of the challenges facing the school,” he said.

Fr O’Riordan said that local parishioners “are used to the Government letting the vulnerable down”. He said that the school had been involved in extensive fundraising to keep essential services for vulnerable children.

“We have been bag-packing in supermarkets and raising funds for extra supports for children as well to fund the running costs and utility bills, because like all primary schools the capitation doesn’t cover lighting and heating costs. I never thought we would have to fundraise to pay for a teacher’s salary,” he said.


Fr O’Riordan said that parishioners in Moyross “have very limited income and it is impossible to raise the salary of a teacher from our pool of resources alone.

“Parishes and individuals from around the country have started to get in touch to offer what they can, like financial contributions from €50 to €100, and others are talking about organising things with their friends, so there has been a significant outpouring of generous spirit,” Fr O’Riordan said.

Fr Deenihan said that the most recent budget did not alter the already indicated further reduction in capitation grant to schools and there has been no restoration of the minor works scheme. “Schools and parishes are having to fundraise to carry out basic remedial works on schools around the country,” he said.

In relation to teachers’ salaries, the CPSMA head pointed out that “the responsibility to finance the employment of teachers rests with the Department of Education and Skills, it is not the responsibility of Boards of Managements to fund the employment of teachers independent of the department”.