Rammy likely over Renton school proposals at Wednesday meeting
By BILL HEANEY
February 4, 2018 – Look out for a rammy in Renton on Wednesday night over West Dunbartonshire Council’s plans for the education future of the children in the village.
The principal protagonists will be Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP administration, and community activist Drew MacEoghainn.
The two men are already at each other’s throat with angry words allegedly being tossed around accompanied with accusations of lying.
Mr MacEoghainn said: “All those who commented on, and defended, the SNP policy to eradicate Catholic education from Renton after 119 years should come along on Wednesday, 7th February, at 7pm in St Martin’s church hall.
“Unsurprisingly, it seems that some SNP councillors have prior engagements and won’t be able to attend. An open and transparent council this is not.”
He added: “We will empty chair any party who has been invited and isn’t prepared to come along or send a representative. We welcome and value all points of view.”
The big fight on Wednesday is the talk of the village and beyond with the left wingers, who include Mr MacEoghainn, Shantivaira Robertson and his wife, Louise, and Cllr Jim Bollan, being allocated the red corner.
The yellow corner, not a flattering colour when it comes to even a metaphorical fight, has been allocated to the SNP’s rotund Ronnie McColl.
SNP, Labour, Tories, Community Party, education department officials and representatives of the Archdiocese of Glasgow have been invited.
Observers are suggesting it is odds-on that McColl will be tasting resin dust after this one.
Some prominent SNP figures have made it known publicly they are not in favour of the council’s plan to close St Martin’s RC Primary and re-locate it to a refurbished St Mary’s RC primary school at Ferryfield in Alexandria.
St Mary’s was declared too old and not fit for purpose when the council decided to reorganise primary education in Vale of Leven.
They would prefer that all the local education provision for children from nursery through primary should be on a new-build shared campus in the centre of the village.
The big worry for the meeting organisers is that neither Cllr McColl or any of his SNP colleagues or council officials, including Laura Mason, the Chief Education Officer, will not turn up.
The committee dealing with the matter will be meeting in Dumbarton earlier in the day. The options, which the villagers say is no option at all, will be placed before them to debate and decide on.
Shantivaira Robertson, a former Labour leader on the old Dumbarton District Council, said: “My big worry is the SNP are taking voters for granted and just like Scottish Labour think that people will vote for them regardless of who is the candidate and as a consequence will harm the case for independence.”
He added that around the West of Scotland some political decisions were made for reasons that had nothing to do with politics.
Suggesting possibly that politics and religion should be kept out of any decision on this matter, Drew MacEoghainn said: “The sad thing is it is only party affiliation that gets most of the current crop of councillors in.
“If they were to stand as independents without their yellow blue or red rosettes they would get nowhere near elected as they have done virtually nothing in local politics or in their communities. When are the council going to just listen to us?”
He added: “Jonathon McColl seems to be standing by his statement that I was a liar and that SNP did not give officers instruction to only give parent councils one option on this.
“Parent council reps have confirmed that they were given only one option and Laura Mason [Chief Education Officer} has confirmed this was under instruction from an SNP via email.
“A letter circulated to all children from education department also confirms there was just one option.
“We’ll see what happens at the meeting on Wednesday. I have no intention of being bullied by these people.”
SNP councillor Caroline McAllister has already declined the invitation on the grounds that she has prior engagements.
The parent council has asked the SNP to send a replacement as any party or organisation which does not send at least one representative will be empty chaired.
The SNP have declined to comment and appear not to recognise that The DEMOCRAT is a legitimate on-line newspaper.