Donegal clergy to hold protest at referendumMonday, May 21st, 2012
An outspoken County Donegal Catholic priest and his Church of Ireland counterpart have organised a number of vigils outside schools, many of which will be used as polling stations in the county on the day of the referendum on the EU Fiscal Treaty, which is scheduled for Thursday May 31st next.
Fr John Joe Duffy and Church of Ireland rector John Dean have organised hour-long vigils outside schools in Donegal as a protest over education cuts in the county.
The two priests, who are both based on Arranmore Island, have stressed they are taking no part in the referendum and are holding the vigils to send a clear message out to the government that investment in education must be a priority.
In a statement, they said, “The objective would be to have a presence of parents, children, teachers and members of the general public, with placards outside the school gates reminding the government that they need to prioritise education investment now and protect education, protect the future of our children.”
Speaking to the Donegal Daily newspaper Fr Duffy said, “No one should in any way interfere with or hinder anyone entering or leaving polling stations. Everyone should exercise their democratic right to cast their vote. We will be in contact with each school in County Donegal to set out the rules and regulations concerning the holding of a vigil on election day in the proximity of a polling station. We are asking each school to organise its own vigil. We ask the parents to take a very active role in organising this vigil. We do appreciate everyone is very busy and we thank everyone for their help and time.”
Both Fr Duffy and Rev Dean have been very vocal on the issue of the closure of small schools in rural areas.
Last February they both met with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on the issue in Leinster House and got him to raise the issue during leader's questions.
They have also corresponded with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn on the matter.
by Sean Ryan