25 August 2015
By Tom O’Sullivan
TheCork.ie Opinion Piece
When you see press releases from politicians that don’t relate to local issues you know there must be an election nearby. We refer to General Election 2015, or will it be Election 2016?!
Cork South West is a three seater constituency.
The incumbent TDs are:
- Fine Gael’s Jim Daly (poll topper in 2011)
- Fine Gael’s Noel Harrington
- Labour’s Michael McCarthy
It is expected that Jim Daly TD will again top the poll, but beyond that it’s not clear what will happen. Fianna Fail’s ‘Celtic tiger sins’ have been cleansed and the Party will be knocking on the door (literlaly) looking for the 2nd or 3rd seat, which will probably be vacated by Labour.
But what about Independents? Well Former Mayor of Cork County Cllr Alan Coleman departed Fianna Fail after Cllr. Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony got the nod to run for Fiannn Fail.
Alan Coleman is a personable sort who may be the best Independent candidate to declare thusfar. Today he called on the Minister for Education to make September 1st the standard day for schools to return, this is not a local issue, but it is interesting, in that it indicates he is now an election footing, and for its legitimacy as an issue that effects tourism in his area.
In February 2014 the Department of Education and Skills issued a directive to schools outlining the standardisation of the School Year through to 2016. This circular standardised the dates for Christmas, Easter and mid term break holidays for all primary and post primary schools in the state. However this standardisation did not issue a clear dictate on the day schools should return from summer holidays. Primary schools are required to be open a minimum of 167 days and post primary 183 days. Even though the aforementioned 4 holiday periods are standardised the Department did not avail of the opportunity with summer holidays. The dates which schools return has been left to the discretion of schools. Department communication states that schools will “normally” reopen during the week in which 1st September falls. However the school year may start in the week prior to that in which September 1st falls “if this is necessary to meet the overall requirement of minimum days ”
Cllr Coleman has indicated that he has written to the Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan highlighting the case.
“In essence we have seen standardisation of every other school holiday so I see little reason not to standardise the school opening date ”
“This is the time of the year when we have a warmer climate , longer evenings and more outdoor activities for domestic tourists to avail of .
All we are calling for is common sense and joined up thinking by the Government”