One of the country's most exclusive fee-paying secondary schools has begun an inquiry into allegations of racism at the school from some past and current students. 

St Columba's College in south Dublin has announced that an independent review is to be carried out.

In a statement, the school said that it was contacted a week ago by a former pupil of the College, "who bravely shared with us her experiences of racism while attending the school".

The statement went on to say that her actions motivated other people, both former and current pupils, to share similar experiences.  

"We can only imagine how difficult it was for the young people involved to write down those experiences. We thank them for having the courage to bring these matters to our attention," it stated.

The school said the board and management of St Columba's were taking these matters very seriously and embarking on a number of steps to address and respond to the issues raised.

The College has established an independent review to consider the issues raised by the pupils and former pupils and specifically to evaluate whether there is a culture of racism, direct or indirect, within the College and "importantly, to make appropriate recommendations arising out of the review" it stated.

RTÉ News has spoken to a number of black alumni of St Columba's who have alleged that they suffered racism and endured racist comments at the school.

The former pupil who first complained to St Columba's is Seyilogo Braithwaite, a young Nigerian woman who graduated from the school several years ago. She was prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement to write to the school urging it to address racism.

Principal Mark Boobbyer has told RTÉ that the complaints would be looked at now by the independent review. "We will not shy away from making any changes," he told RTÉ News.

St Columba’s charges annual fees of up to €29,000 for boarders, and between €8,600 and €11,500 for day pupils. Just over 300 students attend the Church of Ireland south Dublin school, most of whom are boarders. The school is co-educational. Many of its students come from abroad.

RTÉ News has seen several emails from other former students who have also written to the school in recent days recounting what they allege are their own experiences of racism, and urging action.

In a response to one student, Mr Boobbyer described the events of recent days as "a wake-up call" for the school. In an email seen by RTÉ, he said he does not have any excuses to make.

"I want to make this a happier and more inclusive school and if this episode and these revelations can help us along that road then that will be a very positive outcome," he stated in the email.