Thursday, 10 November 2005
Ferns Report: Statements.
Ulick Burke (Fine Gael)
Indeed. I saw it occur myself when a religious person who was head of a boys' school in England was taken back into a diocese in this country in the full knowledge of the fact that there were certain difficulties. The nature of the difficulties should have been obvious to anybody. However, they were put aside. The person was brought back to minister in a parish. As soon as he arrived the same thing recurred. He was taken from one parish and put into another, obviously where somebody could keep an eye on him. When people in authority in the church have the attitude that a person can be moved from one place to another where somebody can keep an eye on him, it demonstrates an unwillingness to face the reality that something should have been done with him initially.
There has been much discussion about the boards of management of schools. I hope the Minister of State, along with the Department of Education and Science, will immediately initiate a complete reappraisal of what has happened with these boards in the past. We must learn from the mistakes. There is no longer a place for the dictatorial position of the religious on boards of management. Usually the parish priest is considered the only person capable and worthy of the position of chairman of the board of management of a national school. Something must be done about this.
Consider the structure of the boards of management of schools. I was once a member of a board of management. There were always those on the board who were known as "safe hands" to represent the trustees or the bishops. These were model people who were put there for a reason. They would not rock the boat in the event of difficulties arising.
According to the report, a cleric was taken from the staff of a vocational school and put on the board of management of a national school in the parish to which he was transferred. That was irresponsible and the person who did it should have to answer for it.