Up to 3,000 representatives from small schools across Mayo are expected to march to the Castlebar constituency office of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on February 25 next, where they will hand deliver a letter of petition calling for the reversal of retrospective Budget cuts to education, in particular those affecting small schools.
The move comes in the wake of Budget cuts announced in December, which increased the pupil teacher ratio retrospectively.
Up to 150 small schools across County Mayo have joined together to launch a campaign under the umbrella of the Save Our Small Schools group in Mayo against measures taken in December’s budget. Following growing support up and down the west coast of Ireland, the protest march on February 25 next in Castlebar is expected to draw over 3,000 people from Mayo and beyond.
The march route will go from the Mall to the Taoiseach’s constituency office on Tucker Street. The aim is to raise awareness of the detrimental effects on small schools after the Budget announcements.
Assembly will take place at the Mall on Saturday February 25 at 1.30pm after which a short public address will be made at 2pm by Tom Byrne, principal of Partry NS, before the march proceeds to the Taoiseach’s office.
One Mayo school principal at Glenmore NS, Crossmolina, Caithríona Carty, said: “I am shocked that Mayo has three TDs and a Taoiseach in Government who are willing to turn a blind eye to what is happening in their local communities to please the Troika. The Taoiseach himself attended and worked in small schools in Mayo, is he going to stand by and watch this happen?
“These cuts are a direct attack on small rural communities, removing the focal point and diminishing communities throughout rural Ireland, targeting small schools and special needs children. The Minister doesn’t seem to realise that not everybody can or wants to live in urban areas and therefore, reducing teachers in these areas, makes it impossible to teach with such limited resources and reduced grants coming into schools.
“The effects of Budget in December 2011 will leave many communities with no option but to close their local school or to amalgamate with larger town schools.”
All those interested in supporting the march are welcome and should present for assembly at the Mall at 1.30pm on Saturday February 25.