Living in emergency accommodation or Direct Provision – or even being forced to move frequently due to a volatile rental market – has a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of children in primary school, according to a local school principal.
Principal of Claddagh National School Michael Gallagher said while children were resilient and adapt as best they can to tough situations, they did at times fall victim to feelings of anxiety due to the insecurity of their home situation.
According to Mr Gallagher, while a number of families with children in the school were living in emergency accommodation, teachers would have significantly greater experience with children staying at the Eglinton Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Salthill.
“We have a lot of children from Direct Provision and while it wasn’t scientific, we did have a situation where a number of the teachers took notes of the behaviour and attitudes of the children and what we found was they generally get on well in school – they want to do well and their parents want them to do well.
“If they are in Direct Provision long-term, it really affects the mood of the children. There’s no scientific or empirical evidence, but our experience is that it wears them down in a sense – they become resigned to their fate,” said Mr Gallagher.
In situations where families are in emergency accommodation, the school had less experience – Mr Gallagher estimated three families out of 270 that he was aware of in the past couple of years.
“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more in emergency accommodation – in some cases, families don’t necessarily tell the school,” he adds.
“We would also have had a number of families who get a letter from the landlord to leave their home, or that the rent is going up and they can’t afford it, and so they have to move.
“It has an impact – the uncertainty has a massive impact. The insecurity of not having a family home is huge, something so many of us take for granted,” continued Mr Gallagher.
While children adapt and can be resilient, not having a place to call home or being in Direct Provision meant students could find it difficult to do their homework and in some cases, coloured the way they responded to situations.
Teachers were very cognisant of students’ individual circumstances and made every effort to take into account the challenges they might be facing, continued Mr Gallagher.
“Getting homework done or getting reading done could be the least of their worries – if they have to move from where they are staying in the afternoon, it could simply be the case that they just don’t have time.
“Other problems arise like getting the right books organised, or having stuff to bring in for a project,” he outlined.
“You have children with anxiety issues caused by having worries that other children might not have; these are all generalisations, but they might act out a bit in class, or get a bit excited over something that might be perceived as a trivial issue.”
Claddagh NS also had experience of families being forced to leave Galway for more rural areas because of rising rents in the city.
“We have had a couple of families living in Galway and the Rent Allowance won’t cover the rent – say for example, a three-bed in Knocknacarra. Or they got a letter saying the landlord is selling up and they had to move out.
“A lot of families have moved to Tuam, Athenry and Loughrea where the rent is somewhat more affordable,” he said.
For those families who leave Direct Provision, additional supports were needed because, even with all its imperfections, the system did offer some support structure, said Mr Gallagher.
“When they move out, they can’t afford any rental property in Galway. And even if they do, they find themselves in a two-bedroom apartment and they can’t afford babysitting – that’s very difficult for maybe a single mother who has to work,” he said.
Mr Gallagher said ultimately, all children deserved the best start in life and it was at primary school that they were most open to diversity.
“Kids are kids – no matter what their social status, children behave like children. We have 39 different nationalities and kids don’t see religion or race. It doesn’t bother them; all they’re worried about is who is going to pass them the ball.
“We celebrate diversity and at primary school, there are very few incidences of bullying based on that,” he said.
Titans return to the national league for coming season
TITANS BC is returning to the national league for the upcoming 2020/21 season, one of four new teams that will compete in the Men’s Division 1 this year.
The city side will play in the Northern Conference of the league alongside fellow new sides, Drogheda Wolves and Malahide, along with Ulster University from Belfast; LYIT from Donegal; Sligo All-Stars; and Dublin Lions and Tolka Rovers from Dublin.
That looks to be the easier of the two conferences: Dublin Lions were relegated from the Super League at the end of last season, LYIT finished 5th in Division 1, Sligo finished 8th, Ulster University finished 9th, and Tolka Rovers finished 10th in a 12-team league competition that ran as a single league, rather than split into two conferences.
With four new teams for the coming season – Team Kerry are the 4th new side – Division 1 is returning to a split conference format, and all the heavy-hitters would appear to be in the Southern Conference.
Team Kerry will be joined by fellow Killarney side, St Paul’s, which finished second in the league last season, as well as Cork’s Fr Mathews and IT Carlow, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Limerick Celtics and Limerick Eagles, who finished 6th and 7th, are also in the Southern Conference, as well as last season’s bottom two, WIT Waterford and Portlaoise Panthers.
Titans took a one-year hiatus from the league last season, having endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign when it finished with the worst record in the league, winning just two of its 23 league games to finish bottom of the Northern Conference.
Maree and Moycullen will once again represent Galway in the Men’s Super League, which is also being split into a two-conference format, with six teams in each conference. However, while Titans will be looking north for their main opposition, Maree and Moycullen will be looking in the opposite direction as both have been placed in the South Conference.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Group hurling ties to be restricted to supporters of participating teams
NO neutrals will be allowed to attend the opening round of the revamped Galway senior hurling championship which is scheduled to start in little more than a fortnight’s time.
A gathering of 500 – likely to also include the rival players and mentors – will be restricted to each group game, with the participating clubs set to be allocated around 200 tickets each for sale/distribution ahead of the fixture.
A mechanism has still to be sorted for this process, but matches will be restricted to Galway’s three county grounds: Pearse Stadium, Kenny Park, Athenry and Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, along with Loughrea. Killimor was the fifth venue in consideration for hosting senior games, but redevelopment work at the ground has ruled out that prospect.
The full round of 12 group ties will go ahead on the weekend ending July 26, but there will be no double headers. Instead, games at the same venues will be staged four hours apart to allow sanitisation of the various grounds.
Only people with tickets will gain entry to the games and there will be no cash taken at the turnstiles.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.