By Pat Brosnan

Green Flags for Schools

According to recent media reports 12 County Limerick Schools have been granted Green Flags from An Taisce during March. This is certainly good news. Four of the schools received the awards, which apparently gives due recognition to environmental achievements in education for the first time, while nine more of the schools were granted a Green Flag for the second or third time. The presentation ceremony took place at the Lifetime Laboratory in Cork and was attended by members of Limerick County Council. Helen Rooney, from the Environmental Section of the Authority, congratulated the schools for taking part in the Green School’s Programme. Fedamore National School, Scoil Mhuire, Broadford, Scoil Iosaf, Dromcollogher, and St. Fergus National School, Glin, received the flag for the first time in the Litter and Waste Categories.

Schools that received their 2nd Flag under the energy category were – Ahane National School, Lisnagry, Rathkeale National School, Christ the Saviour National School Ballingarry, Scoil Mhuire Ballingarry, Tinateriffe National School and St. Nessan’s National School, Mungret.

St. Mary’s National School, Croom, Barna National School, Pallasgreen and Oola National School all received their 3rd Green Flag under the heading of the water section. But with all the good news of all those schools around the County being awarded the Green Flags, there are some disquieting rumours that some of the smaller schools are about to be closed and amalgamated with other perhaps bigger seats of learning. While there appears to be nothing definite so far about this threat, yet we are all aware of the hatchet job that the government of the day inflicted on the rural schools towards the end of the 1960’s, despite protests from many concerned parents at the time. In Athea parish alone 3 of the rural schools were closed, but it was a different story altogether in Ballyguiltenane where the parents stuck together and steadfastly defended their rural school and refused to agree to send their children elsewhere until the Authorities finally relented and allowed the local parents to hold onto their school.

This was a prime example of people power and had the same kind of solidarity been in evidence elsewhere many of the rural schools would never have been closed.

While this, of course, is long since water under the bridge there is little doubt that the closing down of so many schools was certainly one factor in the rural decline that has since become so evident. Unfortunately, when the schools are closed down, there is no going back. In the early days after the free transport scheme was introduced, many people, including ourselves, benefited from this when our children were attending both primary and secondary schools and when there was never a question about transport charges, except for parents who were living within certain limits of the schools their children were attending. Now however, parents of the present generation of children and teenagers are being ripped off for school transport charges for our grandchildren who are depending on it to go to their classes. At one time we were led to believe by various Governments that access to education was all free. But like many other fairytales that politicians of different parties told us this has now proven to be a myth, particularly for the young hard-pressed parents of today who are burdened with so many different commitments.

In our own time, as young parents, at least the education of our children was taken care of both at primary and secondary level, even after the rural schools had closed and this was for most people living in the country free of charge.

Things are different now, but hopefully the new Government might do something practical and worthwhile to help the vastly over-burdened young parents of today in such a highly important matter as the education of their children. In the meantime any threats of closures of existing schools is certain to have a negative effect.

Reidy Cup Win

Well done to the Athea United A team in their win in the Reidy Cup final over Ferry Rangers at Clonreask on Friday evening. This was United’s second season to qualify for the final of this competition. Last year the team narrowly lost to Glantine, but last Friday evening they came good and brought the Cup back to Athea.

London Protest

The protest meeting, which according to news bulletins and pictures shown on television which was organised by the British Unions and supported by hundreds of thousands from all over the country against the austerity measures being introduced by the Tory/Liberal Coalition Government. It appears that some sections of the protesters got out of hand and that shop fronts were smashed and various other forms of damage was done which the police were unable to cope with and in which several of them were injured and many of the protesters were arrested. According to some comments on a radio news programme one head politician is said to have remarked that stronger police methods might have to be used against protesters in future. If this ever happens it could of course become a catapult for far wider and more serious consequences. After the weekend disturbances in London, it certainly look as if the British Government law enforcers and indeed the Trade Unionists as well as the ordinary English people are likely to have much more immediate and important things on their minds, other than the Royal wedding, the war against Libya or the Queen’s proposed visit to Ireland. But of course the protests against austerity measures are not confined to London. It is also happening in various other European capitals and is likely to continue and even escalate if the general situation deteriorates further. Hopefully this country will escape the kind of violence that occurred in London during the weekend.

The Greens Re-assemble

The get- together by the members of the Green Party during the weekend was probably more in the way of a post mortem after their disastrous election results rather than making plans for the future. These will come later. One cannot but feel somewhat sorry for the Greens, they set out with the best of intentions and their Dáil deputies and other public representatives were generally a decent lot with never a display of arrogance, unlike their predecessors, the so called Progressive Democrats. But unfortunately the Greens made several mistakes during their period of Government. First of all, they were blamed for joining up with Fianna Fáil, they were blamed for the carbon tax and for imposing other needless restrictions on the population. Generally their supporters became unhappy and disillusioned with the Party and deserted their candidates during the election. But in the fullness of time there is still a chance that the Greens might bounce back into the political arena as they still have a number of their party members in local councils throughout the country and many other prominent and popular people such as Tom Donovan of Tarbert who was a Green candidate in the General Election, but who perhaps is better known as a great ballad composer, singer and a man of many parts. Even though Tom did not make it on this occasion he will surely be heard of again. In the meantime the best of luck to him in all his endeavours.