Norma Foley forced to intervene after Dublin City Council and Department of Justice ignore Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire parents’ concerns

Government departments and Dublin City Council (DCC) ignored Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire parents after last week’s stabbing attack and failed to activate an emergency plan at the school. 

Today education minister Norma Foley was finally forced to intervene after it emerged that neither the Department of Justice nor DCC had security in place at Choláiste Mhuire – despite parents of children raising concerns about a lack of crisis management at the school. 

DCC chief executive Richard Shakespeare and justice minister Helen McEntee’s office had been made aware of parents’ concerns in recent days. Foley had also received the correspondence outlining these concerns on 27 November.

In correspondence seen by The Ditch, Shakespeare is reported to have said the council was working on the basis that the crisis facing the school “finished on Thursday last week”. Foley has since written to a councillor who’d raised the parents’ concerns to say she is “making enquiries about this matter”. 

The crisis has been and gone – Dublin City Council 

Emails seen by The Ditch discuss the “considerable stress” of parents with children at Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire about the possibility that the school could become a site of media scrutiny or far-right protest.  

In one email a councillor from outside Dublin outlines their own belief that the council has failed to coordinate an adequate response to the recent attack in which an assailant stabbed three children, one of whom remains in critical condition, and a carer who also remains in hospital.

“I feel obliged to contact you because I know that my own local authority has emergency protocols in place for this type of occurrence and over the weekend would have pulled in the various public service and community actors to ensure public safety and support for potentially traumatised children, parents and staff at the school,” the email reads. 

The councillor wrote that this didn’t happen with Choláiste Mhuire.

“There appears to have been little by way of communication either from the school's management nor from the City Council.”

Dublin City Council’s Major Emergency Plan 2022 document outlines the coordinating role the council can play for emergency management in Dublin City. Section 7.11.1 outlines casualty and survivor arrangements during a crisis.  

Council CEO Richard Shakespeare however responded to say, in the council’s view, that the crisis related to the school is now over. According to Shakepseare, the council considered “the crisis facing the school (as) having occurred and finished on Thursday last week,” the email reads. 

The councillor went on to say that they were told by Shakespeare that the school had not requested support from the council and that An Garda Síochána had not been made aware of any recommendations about safety at the school.

The Ditch asked the Department of Justice for comment and didn’t receive a response. The Ditch did however receive a statement from the Department of Education, which said, “The Department of Education has been centrally involved in the inter-agency response to the vicious attack on a carer and children in Parnell Street last Thursday.”

The statement claimed that department psychologists had “attended the school on Friday and met and linked with the school continuously over the weekend in an effort to support the implementation of a critical incident management plan”, along with other work at the school. 

Later today education minister Norma Foley finally intervened, writing to the councillor who’d raised parents’ concerns to say, “I am making enquiries about this matter and I will write to you again as soon as possible.”

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors