Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue says the Government should explore alternative options for polling stations instead of forcing schools to close for elections and referenda. Hundreds of schools across the country are closed today as the country votes on two referenda and a bye-election.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The practice of using schools as polling stations was acceptable when there were no other suitable venues available. However, over the past decade we have seen sports centres and community halls built in almost every community across the country. These venues are modern and accessible and would provide an ideal alternative to our primary schools.
“The closure of hundreds of primary schools causes unnecessary difficulties for parents who either have to take the day off work or find childcare for their kids who are off school. These children are also losing out on school days every time there is an election or referendum. County Registrars should be forced to look at alternative options for polling stations instead of continuing to use school halls and classrooms.
“The Department of the Environment should show some leadership and order County Registrars to carry out a full review of polling stations to identify other possible venues. The large prevalence of community centres, sports facilities and parish halls across the country should provide a range of options for polling stations and would relieve the pressure on parents who are forced to make alternative arrangements when schools are closed on polling days”.