'Difficulty' with Ó Searcaigh work in schools

Thursday 21 February 2008 14.12
Cathal Ó Searcaigh - Setting up Nepal trust  - Credit: Eoin Mc Garvey
Cathal Ó Searcaigh - Setting up Nepal trust - Credit: Eoin Mc Garvey

The Minister for Education has said there are 'difficulties' with the inclusion of poems by Cathal Ó Searcaigh on the Leaving Certificate curriculum.

This follows controversy surrounding a TV documentary about the poet.

Mary Hanfin told the Dáil that the issue would be addressed by the National Council on Curriculum Assessment, which recommends what poems should be included on the curriculum.

She said she was confident it would consider the poems in a wider context than their literary merit.

Minister Hanafin said students had to write about the poet's life as well as his work, and this was where the difficulty arose.

But the Minister said it was not open to her to change what is on the course at the moment, pointing out that students in 5th and 6th year had already been working on the poems.

She was responding to Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes, who pointed out that the Minister has the ultimate power to decide what was on the curriculum.

Deputy Hayes said a teacher had commented to him that if similar concerns arose about a teacher or a principal, they would not still be in place.

Minister Hanafin said she was quite shocked and appalled by what she had read in the newspapers, but said she was conscious she should not make any comment that could be prejudicial.

Meanwhile, Cathal Ó Searcaigh has issued a statement about the controversial documentary about his life in Nepal.

He said that in order to support the people of Nepal he intends to establish a trust to administer whatever funds he can provide in the future.

He said he will distance himself completely from the distribution of funding from the trust.

Regarding the film 'Fairytale of Kathmandu', Mr Ó Searcaigh said that to suggest he coerced or preyed upon young men was distasteful and that some of his actions could have been misinterpreted.