Last week, five of the local election candidates, Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fáil), Helen Mc Entee (Fianna Gael), Dominic Hannigan (Labour), Darren O’Rourke (Sinn Féin) and Sharon Keogan (Independent) were invited to the school to discuss their attempts to become elected to Dáil Eireann.
The candidates got an opportunity to speak about themselves for two minutes and we then had ten questions from the pupils. The questions had been discussed at home and in class in advance. The topics were then narrowed down. All the questions came from the pupils.
DRK was appointed timekeeper so that no candidate would go over their allotted time and he did a marvellous job. Many thanks to all the candidates for their time. We wish them all well in the election.
You can find the questions and a summary of the responses below.
1. We have six green flags in our school for care of the environment. Why do you put up posters and print leaflets and do you think they cause litter pollution after the election? AR
Answer Thomas Byrne FF – It would be much better if posters were not used. To be honest I wish they were banned. Leaflets are very useful because they let voters know what I stand for and what my party stands for.
2. The national elections should be about national issues. Do you think that local issues are an important factor in getting elected? ER
Answer Helen Mc Entee FG – Yes local issues are very important because they feed into and sometimes become national issues.
3. Our school tries to get us to walk and cycle to school each Wednesday on BOWOW day (bus, bike or walk on Wednesdays) to get exercise and lower car pollution. Many pupils are afraid of walking to school because of the traffic in Slane. One in five vehicles are big trucks. What will you do if you are elected to help get a bypass for Slane? ME and CK
Answer Dominic Hannigan Lab – I think every candidate here will agree with me that getting a bypass for Slane is a priority for all of us as local representatives in this area. We have to go through the planning process and then make sure that money is ring fenced for the project.
4. Ireland has the largest primary class sizes in Europe. In our 5th class there are 35 pupils. Do you think this is an acceptable number of pupils to have in a classroom? If not, what do you propose to do about it if you are elected? EG
Answer Darren O’Rourke SF – Investment in primary education is one of the primary aims of our party. Within that, the reduction of the pupil teacher ratio is extremely important to us.
5. In our school we respect and get on with everyone. Will your party form a government with any other party after the election and if not why not? AF
Answer Sharon Keogan Ind – If, after the general election, I am approached to form a government, I will talk to any group or party, that is willing to consider what I believe to be, important local and national issues.
6. One in ten pupils has a specific reading difficulty. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland has got the same amount of money €63,000 for the last 15 years in a row. Will you support an increase in this amount if you are elected? LM
Answer Thomas Byrne FF – Yes. There will be limited money available after this election. Our party is prioritizing the provision of services such as education (and groups like Dyslexia Association in education), health and infrastructure first and tax cuts second. Money will be used for services and tax cuts in the ratio of 2:1
7. I don’t think Irish Water is very well run. I am eleven years of age and I am getting texts from Irish Water about an unpaid bill. Is this a sign of Irish Water being badly run and what should I do about the texts? KC
Answer Helen Mc Entee FG – There is no doubt that things could and should have been planned better at the beginning, but the service is improving. We need to invest in clean and safe water for our population. You should tell your parents immediately and get them to contact Irish Water to stop the messages.
8. What will you do about overcrowding in A and E if you are in government? LG
Answer – Dominic Hannigan Lab – We need to get people who are not in a serious emergency situation away from accident and emergency units. Over thirty local health centres have been set up around the country to provide an alternative to A & E, including Kells in Co. Meath. We want to continue the roll out of these centres to treat patients in the right place for the right problem.
9. Do you think it is fair that new teachers are not being paid the same as other teachers for doing the same job? AC
Answer Darren O’Rourke SF – It is definitely not fair and our party will reverse the different rates of pay if we get into government. It is just not a problem in education. It also exists in other areas also.
10. If you are all competing for seats in the election, do you talk to each other? EH
Answer Sharon Keogan Ind – Yes. We all have our jobs to do and we are competing here but we do also have to work together to solve problems and we respect each other as we do that.