serious danger | 

Principal of Cork primary school says anti-mask demonstration upset young kids 

"We wanted the children to go home with positive thoughts... instead their day culminated in children crying and upset"

One of the leaflets that Newstalk tweeted had been handed out at the school

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

The principal of a Cork primary school has described how an anti-mask demonstration yesterday afternoon "posed a serious danger” and upset a lot of the children.

Principal Sinéad Flannery said the protest at the school gates of Bunscoil Rinn an Chabhlaigh “absolutely should not have happened."

Principal Flannery told Lunchtime Live on Newstalk that the demonstration had started off peacefully just after 2pm when she noticed the protestors were outside the main school gate.

"They appeared quite peaceful and they had their placards,” she said. “There would have been about 10 or more of them.

"They asked me if I had a risk assessment and I said 'yes' - it was on our website, along with our Covid response plan - as well as the other advice that we have shared with parents."

Ms Flannery, who is the head of the school that has some 700 children and a staff of 80, added that protestors were "at all our exit points".

"They approached, quite forcefully, with their leaflets to awaiting cars that were waiting on their children,” she said.

“We also would have had about eight school taxis that come to our school that would escort the children with special educational needs.

"And those parents could not get access to their children."

She says some children got distracted and walked on to the road.

"Because the protestors were handing out their leaflets it caused the children to stop and stare at the placards and looking at the leaflets and wondering what this was about.

"It caused children to actually go on to the road, it's a narrow enough footpath outside," she added.

"It definitely posed a serious danger - and a lot of the children were upset, and the parents couldn't get access to their children".

Ms Flannery said she and other staff members moved to reassure the distressed children.

"It caused an awful lot of upset; I received a number of e-mails last night from parents letting us know that the children were very worried.

"These are young children; these are young primary school children - and some of those children were actually frightened to come to school today.

"We were actually in the middle of Wellness Week: we started yesterday morning off on such a positive note here.

"We wanted the children to go home with positive thoughts... instead their day culminated in children crying and upset".

"It started off quite peaceful... Towards the end, certainly one or two of the protestors were definitely raising their voice.

"Everyone is entitled to protest, and obviously they have that right.

"But I would feel very strongly that absolutely that should not have happened at a primary school gate.

"Any grievances they have certainly is not with the board of our school, or any school decision or staff member."

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