TEMPERS flared at a special meeting of Shannon Town Council last Friday morning when discussing concerns raised by Gaelscoil Donncha Rua regarding the use of the area adjacent to the school for funfairs and circuses.
During the meeting it was claimed that Councillor Gerry Flynn had failed to promptly pass on letters from parents and teachers at the school, while the Independent councillor insisted he had acted correctly.
A number of parents attended the meeting, along with the school’s headmaster, Eamonn Brommell.
At the outset, Councillor Tony McMahon excused himself from the meeting, saying that it would be inappropriate for him to contribute, as he is chairman of the school’s board of management. “I want the message to go out that this is a very good and safe facility, with a history of over 26 years in existence.”
Headmaster Eamonn Bromell addressed the meeting and said that the school had no objection to circuses or carnivals using the site, as long as they didn’t “impact on the day-to-day running of the school”.
Parent Eilis Wall spoke to the meeting and said she had presented an envelope with ‘Town Council’ written on it to Councillor Flynn, containing letters about the situation.
Helena Keyes also spoke and she reiterated that circuses or carnivals could go ahead at times when there wouldn’t be an impact on the school. “We have no problem with circuses or carnivals but they should be arranged for Easter or some time when school is not on.”
She said that a teacher hadn’t been dealt with appropriately when she asked carnival workers to move a portaloo. “The abuse that she got was uncalled for,” she said.
Ms Keyes said that her daughter had been talking to carnival workers while at school. “I sent my child to school and I didn’t want the only thing that she learned to be that the circus is on at six and that she has a free pass.”
Mr Bromell said that candyfloss had been given to children at break time, which had led to giddiness among the children.
Councillor Tony Mulcahy was very critical of Councillor Flynn for not passing on the letters promptly. “It [the envelope given by parents to Councillor Flynn] was addressed to Shannon Town Council, you’re not Shannon Town Council,” he said.
While Councillor Flynn said that the envelope had been delivered to town clerk Liam O’Connor, Mayor of Shannon Seán McLoughlin said that 10 days had passed before it was given in.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy said that when she was entering politics she had been advised that even if she helped people with forms or letters, she shouldn’t hand them in on their behalf. “It diminishes people’s rights and entitlements and makes them feel beholden,” she commented.
Councillor Mary Brennan said that the members should have cut out their squabbling after the parents had come in. “They come in voicing their concerns and we turn it into a battleground,” she commented.
She said that she felt Councillor Flynn should have passed on the letters at an earlier stage but said that the coals shouldn’t be raked over for too long. “We all accept that mistakes have been made but we have to move on.”
In the letter signed by concerned parents, they claimed that they didn’t believe the site used for fun fairs, which is right next to the school, is appropriate. “We do not understand how the town council can approve of a fun fair beside a place where children are playing and being educated.
“Do we not value education in this town? Would this happen outside any other national school in Shannon without objection?
“We feel that the location of the carnival and future circuses should be changed to a more appropriate area within the town. Please do not ignore our pleas in regard to this matter. All we want is the best for our children.”
The matter also came up for discussion at Tuesday’s June town council meeting and one suggestion was that an area close to the Oakwood Arms may be suitable for use by circuses and carnivals.
The matter is to be discussed at a further meeting of the council.