Labour Party TD for Dublin North Central Friday, 17 June 2011
Ó RÍORDÁIN BRINGS RESIDENTS’ CONCERNS REGARDING DUBLIN BAY TO MINISTER PENROSE
Labour Party Representative for Dublin North Central, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin met with Labour Minister Willie Penrose TD, who has responsibility for planning relating to Dublin Bay.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin explained local concerns regarding Dublin Port’s recent statement that they intended to recommence their plans to infill Dublin Bay, and briefed the Minister on the planning history relating to Dublin Port and the recent An Bord Pleanála decision to refuse permission to expand the port into the bay.
Following a detailed discussion on the matter, Deputy Ó Ríordáin welcomed Minister Penrose’s commitment to bringing forward long overdue legislation on foreshore licensing and marine spatial planning. The Minister also agreed that any major projects such as the proposed expansion of Dublin Port should take place with full public engagement and consultation in the Port masterplan, and in the context of the report of the Dublin Bay Taskforce.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said “Marine spatial planning is required by the EU to ensure proper planning for large scale foreshore developments, and deals with all aspects including environmental concerns. It is essential that our out-dated foreshore legislation is brought up to the standard of best examples in other EU countries. There is considerable pressure on our marine environment, but great potential too for aquaculture, tourism and the creation of green energy solutions. We need any plans for the Bay to take place within a modern planning framework.”
Ó RÍORDÁIN WELCOMES DISCUSSION DOCUMENT ON SCHOOL ADMISSION POLICIES:
I am delighted to welcome the most recent initiative from the Minister Ruairí Quinn in relation to the restrictive admission policy practices of some schools.
The details of the initiative are outlined below in the communication received from the Minister's office yesterday.:
This morning, I am launching a document entitled “Discussion Paper on a Regulatory Framework for School Enrolment”, which contains proposals on how to make the process of enrolling at primary or second level schools more open, equitable and consistent.
Central to the debate on enrolment is the need to ensure a fair and transparent system at all of our schools, which does not discriminate unfairly against students or parents. At the heart of this paper is the simple question, ‘Can we find a better way for all?
80% of all schools enrol all children who present, according to a 2009 ESRI report, while selection criteria are used for the other 20% of schools. Appeals have risen by over 750% since the procedure was introduced in 2002.
One of the main problem areas with enrolment in schools is when demand exceeds supply of places at a school. The discussion document sets out a number of options to be considered in these cases:
Age of applicant. Schools could give, as is often the case now, priority to children who are older.
Remove waiting lists. This is seen to disadvantage new comers to an area.
The practice of giving priority on a first come first served basis, which can result in long waiting lists in schools or even queues forming outside schools at the time of enrolment. However, if such a decision was taken, consideration would have to be given as to how to deal with existing waiting lists.
Siblings in the same school. It would seem reasonable to continue to give priority to students who already have siblings in a school.
Remove the practice of giving priority to a student on the basis of being a relative of the staff, board of management, past pupil or benefactor of the school.
Faith. Continue the right of denominational schools to give priority to children of a particular faith
Give priority to pupils on the basis of proximity to their schools.
Replace requirements for competency of parents in a particular language with a criterion that parents should respect the linguistic policy of the school.
Ensure that admission to a school is not based on a pupil’s skills, whether academic or otherwise.
Admission should not be contingent on the payment of a booking deposit.
The overall approach in the discussion document is to regulate only those aspects of enrolment policies and practices where a common or national approach may be desirable. Otherwise, maximum discretion remains with the school and board of management.
However, the paper also sets out possible new sanctions in a case where a school or board of management is not compliant with any new regulations. In such cases, a patron or the Minister may have the power to appoint an external admissions officer and remove the control of enrolment from a board.
I am inviting education partners and interested parties to submit their views on school enrolment to the Department by the 28thOctober 2011. A new regulatory framework will then be devised on school enrolment.
Ruairi Quinn, TD Minister for Education and Skills
Politicised by his experiences as a teacher in Sheriff Street, Aodhán was first elected to Dublin City Council for the North Inner City Ward in'04. Re-elected with a huge vote in the Clontarf Ward in '09, Aodhán is a consistant advocate of the most vulnerable in society with a track record of strong representation and practical solution-driven politics. In the 2011 General Election, Aodhán was one of 17 new Labour TDs elected to serve in Dáil Éireann.