By Noel Dundon
North Tipperary Vocational Education Committee has been rocked by the resignation, after more than a quarter of a century of service, of Councillor Jim Casey (FF) after the Cloughjordan man had “ been left with no other option.”
In what is seen as a major blow to the education authority, Cllr Casey, a former long serving Chairman of one of the most successful VECs in the country, informed members at a meeting on Monday evening that he was handing in his resignation as there had been no admission of “error of judgment” on the part of the VEC or Borrisokane Community College.
The move comes after political literature had been handed out through pupils in the school, in advance of the general election, on behalf of Deputy Michael Lowry - with whom incidentally, Cllr Casey has “no axe to grind.”
The saga had already claimed the positions of Cllr Casey, Cllr Virginia O’Dowd and Canon Stephen Neill off the board of management of Borrisokane Community College and the fallout could well spread even further in the coming weeks. The positions vacated will have to be filled by the VEC - not an attractive prospect considering the current difficulties associated with them.
“I had informed the VEC last month that I was resigning and I informed them that I would defer it until the next meeting to allow them to deal with the issue.That was not done and I was left with no other option but to resign. It was not an easy decision for me considering that I have been on the VEC since 1985, but I could not be part of an organisation which would not admit to a mistake being made. It’s regrettable that it should have come to this, because all that had to be done was for there to be an admission of an error of judgment and that would have been the end of it. I have nothing but the height of respect for the school and VEC authorities for all that has been achieved, but on this issue, I believe that we failed to maintain the kind of standards that we should and I would not be a party to that,” an emotional Cllr Casey told The Tipperary Star.
Stating that he had to gripe whatsoever with Deputy Michael Lowry, whose literature it was, that was distributed through the school, Cllr Casey wished the CEO of the VEC, Mr David Leahy, Chairman Willie Kennedy, VEC members, the Borrisokane management and the school well for the future, especially with the building of the new state-of-the-art school - a project Cllr Casey had helped promote and bring to construction stage.
“I have been associated with Borrisokane for many years - I went there as a kid myself - and it pains me to end my association in these circumstances. However, I believe that the error of judgment on the part of the school management in distributing this material has brought the VEC in North Tipperary into disrepute. Had there been an effort to hold up the hands and say ‘sorry we made a mistake’, that would have been the end of it. You know, we try to teach our children to admit when they do wrong or when they make a mistake, and here we have our second level school and the VEC hierarchy doing exactly the opposite. I could not be part of that,” Cllr Casey said.
As one of the most long standing and influential local politicians in the constituency, Cllr Casey’s experience and know-how will be sorely missed at VEC level. As chairman, he had worked very hard, in conjunction with the CEO, Mr David Leahy, and his predecessor Mr Luke Murtagh, on the development of a number of very significant adult, second chance, and second level education projects which have made very telling contributions to the lives of so many across the county. And, he was also at the helm when the VEC was driving the TRBDI project forward - now the Tipperary Institute.
Losing Cllr Casey is a bad days work for vocational education in North Tipperary.