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Education

Gladiator Timmy's Education Motion Falls

Kildare Net News - 16 May 2001: by Brian Byrne.
Gladiator Timmy's education motion falls to death of a thousand 'buts'

'Your proposal is good, even laudable, but you force us to cut you down at the knees.'

With that consensus from his fellow gladiators, Timmy Conway's motion that an education fund be set up for the young people of Naas was left limbless and bleeding terminally on the floor of the Naas UDC arena last night.

Sometimes there is little difference between the brave and the foolish. Sometimes they are absolutely the same. But losing blood is losing blood, and if the wounded can't, or won't, stanch the flow, there can only be one result.

And if the protagonist makes the first cut on himself, it is even harder to reach a point from where the battle might be won.

In his opening skirmish, gladiator Timmy at first did well. He pointed out that in a mid-Kildare where it seems the Celtic Tiger has been rampant; there are still many families who need help. "And the only way they will get that help is through education," he said. He added the fact that with the Tallaght IT agreeing in principle to provide outreach certificate and diploma courses in Naas, and the coming 'new era' for St Patrick's College, there were great possibilities for third level education in the town.

"But there is a host of young people who will not get the benefits of third level," he suggested. True, and sharply said. But then his sword proved to be double-edged when he suggested that the UDC sell industrial-zoned lands it owns, 'and which we don't have any need for', and use the money to set up the education fund.

A self-inflicted wound already. And worse, one easily pounced on by any foe. As it was to be.

The proposal in principle was good, though. Like 'motherhood and apple pie' as they say in that democracy beyond Atlantis. And the opposing gladiators all had to show their respect for it before they inflicted the death of a thousand 'buts'. Each did before they struck.

Gladiator Seamie Moore had 'difficulty' about the protagonist's emphasis on third level, and thought there were greater problems with the dropout rate of young people in second level. Gladiator Pat McCarthy had his own difficulties in seeing how the proposal could be implemented. As for the land, he believed that if it was not used for industry, it would be needed for affordable housing.

Gladiator Charlie Byrne noted that there were Government ministers who dealt with education and itís funding and Naas UDC should not sell its assets 'to get any minister off the hook'.

Gladiators Mary Glennon and Anthony Egan were both in favour of setting up some form of education bursary, but she wasn't sure if the UDC had the money to do it and he recalled how a similar suggestion of his had been disallowed in a 'quasi-judicial' manner by town Caesar of the time, Terry O Niadh. Gladiator Pat O'Reilly, who had relinquished his Emperor position for the evening, thought that there might be a 'feasibility investigation' but the UDC could not be at cross-purposes with any other institution.

Asked for an arena side decision, town consul Declan Kirrane said the 'talented' would always find a way to succeed, but there were those 'on the margins' who could benefit from 'the right financial intervention at the right time'. He was wielding no sword, of course.

Gladiator Timmy took succour from this and suggested there was 'an enormous amount' of talented young people out there 'who would not get the opportunity' because they had dropped out. "They need support and they need childcare," he trusted with renewed strength, consciously or unconsciously classifying some of them. "It could transform the lives of people."

The combatants took a breather and looked to the Caesar for the evening, Niall Bradley. His own quiet words of wisdom upheld an idea 'which every community would support'. The role of the council was, after all, to support the development of the people for whom it worked. There were many who would benefit from education, particularly those needing 'a second chance'. "The spirit of the motion is very worthwhile," he said. "It is an important issue. It might be shaped up, if we were to look at who we were aiming at and how we might do it."

But ...

Yes, Caesar Bradley had a 'but' too. There might be 'serious consequential difficulties' if the UDC went down the road of disposing of assets for this purpose. And he didn't think it appropriate for local authorities to 'step into the breach' where clearly there were other institutions with responsibilities for the matter.

And so the battle seemed ended. It was now up to the Emperor of the evening, Willie Callaghan. He was impressed by the fighting performance of gladiator Timmy, and taking his cue from the Caesar he suggested a way in which the motion might get a 'thumbs up'. By adding the words 'if feasible'.

But gladiator Timmy had his blood up. What remained of it, anyway? And, though his sword was now bladeless, he remained defiant. "I want it passed as it is," he pounded the haft of his shattered weapon on the table. "I want it passed tonight."

He stood brave as only one gave him a thumbs-up, gladiator Evelyn Bracken. And then he insisted on coups de grace, which he got from all the rest save gladiator Glennon, who could not bring herself to kill.

A mostly pitiless place, the arena, for the brave who fight to the death.