Parents refuse to send their children to Feenagh National School which was condemned 35 years previously.

Children in Feenagh, County Limerick, are enjoying an unscheduled extended school holiday.  Their parents are keeping them at home in protest at the poor conditions at their local national school. 

Built in 1840, the four room building is not only overcrowded, but has inadequate sanitation, no running water, and is infested with rats.  The school has 4 teachers and 130 boys and girls are on the roll book, all squashed into a building that was condemned 35 years ago, and is now no longer fit for purpose.  

Parents have reached breaking point.  One mother explains why they have resorted to strike action, 

It was an action we really should have taken five years ago...we have cattle yards around the country and in Feenagh locally that are in a better condition

There are concerns about the unhygienic state of the school, and the potential impact on children’s health, as one man explains,

I have seen rats scurrying on the desks inside is a disgrace...I haven’t seen worse, and I’ve seen a few places...we’re agitating for a new school here for the past couple of years.

The strike has total support in the district.  The action is based on the fact that up to now there had been too many promises and too little action, according to parents’ spokesman Joe O’Ryan,

We’ve had justifiable reasons for going on strike for a long time...we’re going to wait until we get a definite assurance from the government department concerned, that work is going to commence at a definite date on the new school...we’ll keep our children out until then.

This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 16 January 1968.  The reporter is Bill O'Herlihy.

‘Newsbeat’ was a half-hour feature programme presented by Frank Hall and ran for 7 years from September 1964 to June 1971. ‘Newsbeat’ went out from Monday to Friday on RTÉ television and reported on current affairs and issues of local interest from around Ireland. The final programme was broadcast on the 11 June 1971.