Fury as closure hits Catholic places

2nd August 1996 at 01:00
The Roman Catholic Church in Dundee has criticised the lack of consultation on the future of St Peter and St Paul's primary following a legal setback in the Court of Session. Monsignor Joe Creegan told The TES Scotland: "The issue concerns us deeply and clearly our school is affected."

Msgr Creegan was commenting after Lord MacFadyen dismissed a request by Laura Regan, a St Peter and Paul parent, to grant a judicial review into the council's decision to close the non-denominational Rockwell primary and transfer pupils to neighbouring schools.

The Church remains concerned about the impact of some 40 non-Catholic pupils transferring to St Peter and St Paul's and Msgr Creegan said: "I have been on the education committee for 15 years and I have never been so lacking in consultation as with Dundee City Council."

Lord MacFadyen's full written opinion, which church lawyers are studying, maintains that Mrs Regan had no grounds for contesting the council's actions. Mrs Regan had contended that Catholic children would be excluded if places were filled by non-Catholics.

The council, Lord MacFadyen ruled, was correct in consulting only Rockwell parents and those whose children attended four neighbouring non-denominational primaries. St Peter and St Paul's was not directly affected, even if non-Catholic Rockwell parents used placing requests to send their children there.

Lord MacFadyen believed Mrs Regan's argument about consultation "would in practice be unworkable". Given the effect of the parents' charter and placing requests, "the consequence would be that consultation would be required with the parents of the pupils attending all primary schools in the authority's area".

Mrs Regan had "no satisfactory solution to that difficulty".

Lord MacFadyen continued: "The practical difficulty identified by the respondents [Dundee City Council] of having to consult throughout their area is therefore in my view a serious one which reinforces my view that the narrower construction of 'school affected by a proposal' argued for by the respondents is the correct one."

But Msgr Creegan commented: "What concerns the Church is that any council should be so insensitive that they do not consider these implications."

St Peter and St Paul's would be "packed to the gunnels" with 280 pupils when the school reopens in three weeks. It previously had a roll of 236.

The church understands that Rockwell parents were told by education department officials that an annexe would be available at the Catholic primary to take the overflow.

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