By Noel Dundon
The former Mayor of North Tipperary, Councillor Jim Casey has formally resigned from the board of management of Borrisokane Community College, after 26 years service, over the failure of Principal Mr Matthew Carr to apologise for distributing political literature through students prior to the General Election.
Furthermore, the Tipperary Star can reveal that Cllr Casey has been joined by Canon Stephen Neill who tendered his resignation to board of management chairperson Tony McKenna this week as the row continues to escalate. We understand that Canon Neill, like Cllr Casey, had a major problem with the facility of the school being used for political purposes.
The matter came to a head at a meeting of North Tipperary VEC last week and The Tipperary Star reported that Cllr Casey was set to resign from the Board of Management and the VEC itself.
The Cloughjordan man had expressed his huge disappointment at the manner in which the whole issue had been handled by the VEC and said that he would not be party to a situation where students were being used to distribute political literature - Deputy Michael Lowry had organised for a letter to be sent to the parents of all students in the school outlining details of his role in the securing of an 8.5 million euro fund for the provision of a new school in Borrisokane, and asking parents for their vote in the general election.
The VEC, having placed an item on the agenda for the meeting, had attempted to draw up policy to deal with the distribution of literature through the school, but Cllr Casey claimed that this was an attempt to sideline the main issue and expressed his anger that the committee should try to deal with it in such a manner.
Cllr Casey pointed out that he was not taking issue with Deputy Lowry but said: “I have tendered my resignation because I cannot stand over what has happened. The principal allowed for the distribution of political literature through our students and that is simply not acceptable. Furthermore, the principal claimed that he had the full backing of management in this matter - well, I am on the board of management and I certainly didn’t back him.
“I don’t wish to be associated with anything that would use students in our schools in this way,” Cllr Casey told us this week.
A letter had been sent by Cllr Casey to the board of management chairperson on February 23 - before the general election - outlining his dismay at the crux in the former workhouse which has recently been given the go ahead for a new state-of-the-art school and autism unit.
“I have been associated with the school since 1957 when I went there myself and I have been on the VEC and board of management since 1985.
“It breaks my heart to walk away from it at this stage having witnessed and been part of the transformation of the school, but my principles will not allow me to continue when I have a fundamental difficulty with so major an issue.“I did not take the decision lightly and there is no going back,” said Cllr Casey who added that any apology at this stage from the principal would be too little, too late. However, he did acknowledge that the Principal has been a great man for Borrisokane Community College apart from this incident.