Kunle's fellow-students were not content to simply allow this to happen to their classmate and friend. By organising themselves and by taking their protests to the streets they forced the Minister for Justice into an about-turn and Kunle had to be returned to Ireland. Equally shocking for many people were the stories -from Athlone, Monaghan and Kerry -of immigration cops entering schools in an aggressive manner looking for children who they wished to deport. It shocked teachers and parents alike to think that this could happen.
All parents like to think that their children are safe when they send them to school, and that they are going to return home safely. Imagine the horror for young children seeing their classmates being wrenched from among them. Imagine the horror for those children who are removed from their school in this manner.
At the annual congress of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO),these actions by the gardai were roundly condemned by the outgoing president, Austin Corcoran, who called for schools to become safe places for all children -to be given the status of embassies. This would mean that cops would not be entitled to come in to schools looking for people they want to deport.
Now the Dublin City North Branch of the INTO has passed a motion endorsing this call and it is hoped that more branches within the union will take up this issue and that by next year's annual congress a campaign will be launched in the union to make this a reality.
The full text of the motion passed is: Dublin City North INTO
1.Condemns the actions of immigration authorities who earlier this year entered schools seeking children for deportation.
2.Endorses the statement by outgoing INTO president Austin Corcoran at Congress 2005 that "Parents should have an assurance that when their children are sent to school they will not be abducted from their place of learning by the state."
3.Further endorses the call of Austin Corcoran for schools to be given the status of embassies and calls on the CEC and all sections of the INTO to campaign to make this a reality.
4.Agrees to circulate this motion to all branches of the INTO seeking their support on this issue.
Similar motions being passed by parents' organisations and committees would help strengthen the call so if you a parents' association, you know someone who is, maybe you too could take on this issue.
Gregor Kerr - Member Dublin City North INTO (personal capacity)
This edition is No87 published in July 2005