On Shane Donnelly and Moyle Park

BudgetJammer Gavan Titley has written to the Moyle Park College Board of Mangement expressing his disquiet at the potential expulsion of student Shane Donnelly for his part in leading a walkout from the school in protest at the budget. It's pasted below. If you would like to add your voice to the protest against the school's stated intention to discipline the student a Facebook page with details of how to contact Moyle Park's Board of Management has been established here (not by Gavan, it should be noted).

For the attention of the Board of Management, and Mr Clarke,

 I would like to add my voice to the growing anxiety and anger that Shane Donnelly could be expelled or otherwise disciplined for the exercise of his constitutional rights, and in a manner that contravenes his right to an education. I think this proposed course of action is astounding. Currently we hear constant public discussion of the need for active citizens and leaders. In education, we hear endless discussions about encouraging students to 'think for themselves'. Shane has shown enormous integrity and courage in acting on this rhetoric, only to find that it appears to be empty. In the current climate, in a country in crisis and in need of selfless and inspiring action, he should be encouraged and engaged with, not punished in such a reactionary and unthinking manner.

 Such protest action is unusual - but not unprecedented - in Irish schools. It is in conflict with an institutional model of education in ways that it is not in other European countries, where high school student organisations and actions are an established element in civil society. Nevertheless, this should be regarded as a source of hope, not insubordination to be slapped down. It provides an opportunity for teachers and students to engage with each other on what they have in common, namely a need and a will to demand a well-resourced educational system built on principles of equality. For any teacher to be associated with a disciplinary process predicated on precisely the opposite vision is shameful. For any school to turn one student into a scapegoat for a protest built on principles of collective action, solidarity and hope for the future further compounds that shame.

Today I witnessed third level student protests that took inspiration from your students' actions, and that expressed a commitment to act in solidarity with them if they are victimised. Community groups, political networks, media and concerned citizens around the country are now following this process closely. Given the intensive activity of students across Europe, this case has also been picked up internationally and is being monitored closely. It is clear that any punitive action will be circulated and opposed instantaneously, and for as long as it takes to rescind it. I can assure you I will be a part of that if it comes to pass.

Gavan Titley

Brian Stafford has also written to the school and forwarded the email to BudgetJam:

To Whom it may concern,

May I commend your education institution on instilling a sense of fairness, justice and equality in your student populace, in particular Shane Doherty.

This young man is a great example of a young Irish man who gives us all hope for the future of this country in a time when despair is widespread.

In relation to reports that this citizen may be punished for his brave actions the other day, I ask that you reconsider any punishment.  Whoever opens and subsequently reads this e-mail will have been affected by the situation this state currently finds itself in.  Under normal circumstances I do not condone students walking out or protesting, however as we all should be aware by now these are no longer normal circumstances.  People on the frontline of the education system are well aware of what has been done is been done and what will continue to be done to destroy any hope of a fairer society.

May I suggest that the students and staff work together to fight back against the destruction of education for poor and middle income families in this country.  Perhaps evening/weekend protests or non exam year's walking out in a controlled and supervised manner.  In the end this kind of fight is about the improvement of Irish society and that is something we should all be active in.  At the risk of sounding twee, it will be Shane Doherty and the broader student body who are the victims of the current situation and also the people we will all depend on to hopefully pull us out of the mire we find ourselves in.

Brian Stafford.