School Refuses Admission to Pregnant Teenager

There are two official reports on St Joseph’s College, Borrisoleigh.  One is a whole-school evaluation by the Department of Education in 2007 and the other is an Ombudsman’s report published today.

The facts are as follows.  St Joseph’s College, Borrisoleigh, is a private school, wholly owned and managed by Pádraig O’ Shea.  It has an uncompromisingly Catholic ethos, although the exchequer pays the salaries of its teachers, but in itself, this is not an issue, since the State also pays the salaries of Muslim and Jewish teachers.

A 16-year-old girl applied to be a student in this school and was initially accepted until  her parents disclosed to the school’s owner that their daughter was pregnant.

She was refused a place.

When the girl’s mother wrote to the school’sowner, he replied,

Your letter surprises me. A neighbour called at your request and stated that your daughter was pregnant. I was shocked and I told her that I did not take in such girls. She conveyed the message to you.

Such girls.

Your daughter or mine.  Such girls.

We’re not too far from the Magdalene Laundries with these attitudes, and yet it continues to exist in this little republic.

The parents complained to the Ombudsman, who requested details of the school’s policies but the reply was equally dismissive.

Neither am I obliged to have any other frills that you mention. This school is NOT a haven for young pregnant people or for young mothers who, in particular, have been in two other post primary schools. The school has an uncompromising ethos and will not become a dumping ground for those rejected elsewhere.

There you go.  Pay my costs but don’t ask any questions.

Before you start pointing out that we’re talking about a pregnant sixteen-year-old and passing judgement, let me say something.  You don’t know the circumstances of this girl’s pregnancy, any more than I do, and certainly no more than the owner of St Joseph’s College, the man who feels entitled to talk dismissively about such girls.

I think his attitudes are reminiscent of the views that consigned generations of Irish women to imprisonment in institutions, and I think that such attitudes should  not be influencing the education system in our so-called republic.

We need to change the funding system so that people like Pádraig O’Shea are no longer funded from the public purse and we need to change the system of oversight so that such schools are subjected to proper scrutiny, instead of the half-hearted examination revealed in this 2007 report.

36 thoughts on “School Refuses Admission to Pregnant Teenager

  1. I’m not suggesting there is a defence here but it seems he did know something about the girl as he seems to sugest she had prevously been in two other schools. Why are there no questions being asked about the other two schools?

  2. That’s true. But the question is about the character who runs the school. He seems like Basil Fawlty.

  3. Ah, the catholic ethos.
    If there was ever a time when quite acceptance was asked for this was it. Show the girl, and her family, that there are decent people left in the organisiation and let that be the end of it.

    Such girls… !


  4. How advanced was the 16-year-old’s pregnancy? Would her classmates ask her pestering questions about the father-to-be? Should she not take leave of absence to have her baby safely without her classmates getting too curious and making her self-conscious? Then after delivery she could return to classes and continue with preparations for the Leaving Certificate. And there might be a role of parental coresponsibility for the father too.

    Not enough focus is given to the male impregnators in these cases.

  5. When I heard the news regarding this case I knew exactly which school it was even though the school name was not stated in the report. The person involved is a bizarre character. I had the ”’pleasure”’ of doing some business with the school some time ago – never again. At that time an atmosphere of fear resounded through the corridors from the classrooms to the staff room. I am just surprised that this school has not come to the publics attention sooner. I reckon this story has a long way to run.

  6. I think it’s sad to see a 16 year old girl pregnant. She is going to have a pretty unsettling time and could do with support. We’ve all made mistakes and shouldn’t judge.

    Regardless of what she did or didn’t do at her previous schools she was offered a place which was only retracted when her pregnancy became known. I’m no lawyer but under the Discrimination Act it is an offence to discriminate on 9 seperate grounds. One of which is family status.

    Perhaps such places shouldn’t receive public funds.

  7. Go off and hide is it Benno?
    “Should she not take leave of absence to have her baby safely ”
    She could also attend school, continue her education, and have her baby safely when it’s due.

    In my school, there were about 3 girl’s pregnant in 6th year.. when we were finally being taught the Catholic ethos on no contraception allowed, the rhythm method was ok, but only between married couples. What a farce.

    I can’t understand how this kind of shaming and discrimination is still going on in this day and age.

    I’m trying to understand the mentality of the likes of Pádraig O’Shea changing his mind, refusing the girl a place in the school.
    Is it that he would feel the other girls would also start having sex (half of them already are most likely) and want to get pregnant like this girl?
    Just what exactly is his problem?
    Moron. Should be strung up by the balls and left no where near any teenage girls.

  8. The catholic church promotes an ethos that refuses pregnant 16 year old girls an education, publicly censors dissenting priests but not the priests who vow to break the law by refusing to report child abuse if heard through confession, and condones child rape by hiding rapist priests and stonewalling inquiries by the state authorities. There are despots guilty of less.

    The mind boggles that people choose to be part of this sect.

  9. ” The school has an uncompromising ethos and will not become a dumping ground for those rejected elsewhere”. My my, as I live and breath, there’s compassion for you. Speachless yet simultaneously the urge to hit someone with a shovel rising.

  10. The phone seemed to be off the hook. I hope most of you that comment about what a jackass the school’s owner/manage is took the time to send off a quick e-mail, (Bock already listed them at the start.) I wonder did this ‘catholic ethos’ school consider that by discriminating against a girl who got pregnant at 16, the increase the stigmatisation and likelihood that the next girl will opt to take the boat for an abortion, rather than drop out of school. I’m sure none of my questions will be answered, but it would be nice if they had a full inbox of complaints from taxpayers like us who help keep the place going.

  11. I wonder why he called it St. Josephs – a saint whose greatest characteristic was his compassion to a pregnant unmarried girl.

  12. Indeed. Since the school has such a strong Catholic ethos, did they ask themselves what Jesus would do?

  13. So, presumably, if she’d gone off at 16 and had an abortion, she could have gone back to school. How does that fit in with their catholic ethos?

    I fired off a quick e-mail. I don’t expect a reply, but the more they get in their inbox the better.

  14. I believe the girl wanted to be with her friends.
    The school I worked in in Edinburgh twenty plus years ago had
    a creche for the children of school girls from all over the city.
    The regional education authority – the local government – paid for taxis
    to bring all the schoolgirl mothers in the city to this one school, provided
    of course they wished to avail of the service, every day.
    It is seen to be a long term investment.

  15. I don’t mean to labour the point but there seems to be a reason why this girl wasn’t taken in three schools in total! Who knows what it is/ was but I will withhold my condemnation till I know more. Limerick has spent over a week giving a woman stick for continuing to have kids while not being able to cater to their needs! That other clown that refuses to stop having kids ( 8 at last count) he is getting raked over the coals also. At what age does the sympathy turn to condemnation? Maybe this guy just gets his in earlier?

  16. The girl is not the issue. The issue is a school that has no formal admissions policy and that won’t engage with the Ombudsman, despite being funded by the government.

  17. I agree the girl is not the issue but there is little or no detail on this story and for sure none to come to clear conclusions about the conduct of the school. We don’t know how pregnant she was, was the comment about “such girls” about her pregnancy or some other conduct?
    Judgement reserved.

  18. @ Rob # 18 “We don’t know how pregnant she was,”

    A woman is either pregnant or not, there are no degrees of pregnany,

  19. Rob. Your comment @16 and the other thread, it is my understanding that same thread you are referring to was debating the issue of ” Entitlement ” and regardless of any circumstances, which you may find relevant or irrelevant, every single person in Ireland is Entitled to an Education and that is regardless, No person has the right to enforce their individual Ethos so as to prevent or hinder that process.

    To even attempt to investigate reasons as to why this girl attended previous schools is a red herring and just further enforces the prejudices, judgements and discrimination that prevents a person access to the basic process of an Education.

  20. @ Rob # 16: This is a 16-year old girl who wants to go to school. She feels entitled to an education — have you a problem with that? It’s very different from the sense of entitlement exhibited by your other examples.

  21. Agree with this Norma “To even attempt to investigate reasons as to why this girl attended previous schools is a red herring”.
    I hate when people do that.. use whatever they can to tarnish a person and enforce their stance.
    It’s bullshit.
    The facts are he offered a place to the girl, regardless of her attending previous schools.. until he found out she was pregnant.
    Why then go and use the fact that she’s move schools before as ammo when it suits? Plenty of students have moved schools.
    Kind of subtle innuendo to tarnish the girl isn’t it? What a cretin.

  22. The right to an education is a basic human right in this country. I believe it’s in the Constitution. What right has he to decide who should and should not have an education? The girl in question wanted to return to her studies btw and is now in another school preparing for her Leaving. What if had said no because the child was gay? or black? or a traveller? Slippery slope folks. Anywho, if he wants a private school then he can hand back the state funding and go teach under a hedge somewhere. This country needs less of these people.

  23. I went to this school.

    There are two portraits in the hallway: one of Jesus, one of Pádraig O’Shea himself. Pádraig’s is twice the size of Jesus’.

    He threatened to call to all of our houses if we didn’t pay the ‘voluntary’ subscription. His reasoning was that we could all afford wheels for our tractors, ergo we could afford to pay the school. He also threatened to shoot our fingers off with a revolver.

    Those were the days.

  24. To No8 when I said how pregnant she was it was meant as how far she was gone.
    Norma Do I have a problem with a 16yr old pregnant girl wanting to go to school not really, you seem to have all the facts at hand could you let me know why she left the other two? Moved house? The other schools didn’t want a pregnant student? Violence against another student?
    FF1 to investigate the reasons is a red herring, really under no circumstance? I’m not looking to tarnish anybodys reputation not the girl or the principle as I never even heard of the school and I don’t have a stance. Who’s the cretin? Me or the guy from the school? The right to an education may be in the

  25. The reasons the girls left the other school is not relevant to this post. What is relevant is the dismissive response of the school’s owner to the Ombudsman.

  26. I meant the principal Rob.. sorry. I wouldn’t call you a cretin.. Yet. :)

    He like a law unto himself.
    Is he answerable to no one, no?

  27. Having checked out the website of this establishment it beggars belief to me why any child would want to attend it, or why any caring parent would choose to send a girl, in a very vulnerable situation, there in the first place!!!

    These people make absolutely no bones about their right-wing leanings and their dress codes etc. would not be out of place in deepest Utah or somewhere in the Pennysylvanian boondocks. Surely the parents anticipated what was likely to happen when this 19th Century moron discovered the girl was pregnant.

    I am as disgusted by this story as everyone else but I do also wonder why the other two schools have not come in for any censre and why, in God’s (substitute your own particular) name, any parent would want to subject their daughter to this nazi institution!

  28. Without drawing the wrath of all and sundry perhaps they thought a regimental enviornment might be what she needed? Just a thought.

  29. Rob, it’s obvious from your comments that you think she’s a slut — why don’t you just come out and say it?

  30. I think I might take back not calling Rob a cretin.
    Rob stop acting like a cretin.

  31. Rob. Minus the wrath, do you really believe a 16 yr old would benefit from a ” Regimented” education ?

  32. Alanzo if I thought she was a slut I would say it. I didn’t read the reply to the Ombudsman so I can’t comment on that! I was more commenting on the title of the Article” School refuses admission to pregnant teenager”. As for what I believe it doesn’t really matter I was just suggesting a reason why the parents might pick this school ( which everybody says is no place for kids pregnant or otherwise) I wouldn’t necessarly agree!

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