Councillors debated the closure of two west Cavan schools

The chamber of Cavan County Council became heated yesterday evening, as councillors debated the proposed closure of two west Cavan schools.

Fianna Fail Councillor Sean Smith put forward the motion that the local authority reject the proposed closure of St Mogue’s College, Bawnboy and St Bricin’s College in Belturbet.

The motion was voted down with four in support, eight against and three abstaining.

Last month, Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board announced plans for Saint Mogue’s and Saint Bricin’s to close and be replaced by a new school in Ballyconnell.

Sinn Fein Councillor Damien Brady said he received threatening text messages for opposing the call to keep both schools open.

Speaking in the chamber, he said he wouldn’t be intimidated and wouldn’t accept threats from anyone.

On proposing the motion, Sean Smith said the county is used to calling on national bodies to reverse decisions that will affect rural Cavan, and that it’s a local state agency doing the exact same here.

He went on to say that correspondence from the Department of Education contradicted claims that approval had been given for the state-of-the-art school in Ballyconnell.

On the opposing side, the chamber heard how the decision was supported by the principals of both schools, with those supporting the amalgamation saying it would be in the interest of the children to back CMETB.

Councillor Brady listed the amenities needed in the Bawnboy school, including a woodwork room, canteen, staff toilets and art room; and said that the current site was too small for expansion.

Councillor John Paul Feeley supported his party colleague in calling for the decision to be reversed, saying it would be better to invest a small sum money in both St Bricin’s and St Mogue’s, instead of spending millions on a school no one asked for.

Peter McVitty claimed personal attacks were made on local representatives during the public meeting in Bawnboy last Monday.

Sean Smith said that as chair of the meeting, he controlled it to the best of his ability and that it was an excellent meeting. He rejected “that petty nonsense”, calling it completely wrong.

A vote was called on by John Paul Feeley, with the local authority choosing to reject the motion.