Shock and anger at school closure

Buncrana Gaelcholáiste set to shut; ETB blames low pupil numbers

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Coláiste Chineal Eoghain is based at Buncrana’s Tullyarvan Mill.

There was widespread shock and anger throughout Inishowen this week following the decision to close the peninsula’s only Irish-language secondary school.

The Donegal Education and Training Board says it has taken the decision to shut Coláiste Chineál Eoghain because of low pupil numbers, which had left the school in an ‘unsustainable’ position.

ETB Check Executive Officer Shaun Purcell said the fact that only four pupils had enrolled at the Buncrana-based school for the 2015/16 year was the ‘last stand’.

“Unfortunately, in the present economic climate, teacher allocation and resources are too challenged to continue to support Coláiste Chineál Eoghain with no evidence of appreciable growth,” he said.

The ETB decision has left pupils, parents and staff at the school, which first opened in 2007, ‘completely devastated’.

Burt woman Catherine McGinty, whose daughter attends Coláiste Chineál Eoghain, says she is heartbroken.

She said it was ‘shameful’ that the school’s stakeholders were not consulted before the closure was announced at a meeting on Monday night.

Another parent, Siobhan Quinn, from Buncrana, said it is a ‘crying shame’ that the school has been forced to close.

She said the closure will have a hugely detrimental effect on all the pupils.

A father of a student at Coláiste Chineál Eoghain, Gerard Moyne said he cannot accept the argument that education can be solely based on economic or financial footings. He said the school’s closure will have ‘failed our children’.

Buncrana TD Padraig MacLochlainn blamed the move on the ETB’s failure to deal with ‘ongoing staff difficulties’.

“The reality is that for a number of years, it has been widely known that there are ongoing serious disputes between staff at Gaelchloláiste Chineál Eoghain. The failure of the Donegal ETB to ensure that these disputes were amicably resolved has severely undermined the confidence of the people of Inishowen and Derry in the school,” he said.

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