In schools…..

Here we see an example of these cultist attitudes having an effect in a Muslim school. We are awaiting the NEFA report on the Muslim Brotherhood Brotherhood in Ireland.


Muslim school to face State probe

By Catherine Reilly

The North Dublin Muslim School on Navan Road is being investigated by the Department of Education for possible misappropriation of funds and improper appointment practices, metro eireann has learned.

A senior political source confirmed to metro eireann that the Inspectorate at the Department of Education has expressed “concern” over the school’s management of finances and appointment procedures, and an investigation is underway.

Chairperson of the North Dublin Muslim School’s board of management, Shahzad Ahmed, is out of the country until the end of this month and could not be contacted for comment. He is an Irish citizen originally from Pakistan.

As well as his role as chairperson of the North Dublin Muslim School, Shahzad Ahmed has also served on the Majlies ash-Shura (Consultative Council) of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, of which the school’s patron –Imam Yayha al-Hussein – is president. Imam Yayha is imam at the South Circular Road mosque, which is operated by the Islamic Foundation of Ireland. As patron of the North Dublin Muslim School, Imam Yahya appointed Shahzad Ahmed to the position of chairperson of the board of management at the school.

The chairperson of a primary school board of management is responsible for the signing of the school’s monthly returns and annual statistical returns, as well as the signing of cheques or withdrawals from the school’s account. The Board of Management oversees the appointment of teachers and ancillary staff at primary schools.

According to figures from the Department of Education, the school received €124,800 funding in capitation, minor works, rental and other grants for the 2004/5 academic year. A Department of Education spokesperson said that this funding is paid directly into the school’s bank account. “Generally such bank accounts would be in the name of the school, but all that’s required for payment is the account number and sort code, so we wouldn’t necessarily be aware of the account name,” the spokesperson stated.

Metro eireann spoke to Ahmed Hassan, who said he currently sits on the board of management at the North Dublin Muslim School. He said he knows nothing about the Department of Education investigation and claimed he does not know the full name of “Mohammed”,  the board’s treasurer. “We don’t get time to introduce ourselves or know each other very well,” he said. Hassan confirmed that the school is seeking a new principal, but was unable to inform metro eireann when candidates are to be interviewed.

The North Dublin Muslim School is listed under the Islamic Foundation of Ireland’s “services and activities” on its webpage.

However, Abdul Haseeb, spokesperson for the Islamic Foundation of Ireland said that the Islamic Foundation of Ireland has no official link with the school. He said that Imam Yahya’s role as patron amounts to ensuring “the school is Islamic in ethos”.

According to the Department of Education a patron is a key figure in the running of a school. The patron is entitled to dissolve the board of management, while “procedures for the appointment of principals and teachers must be agreed between the Minister, the patron, school management organisation and teacher unions or staff associations”.

Metro eireann requested comment from Imam Yahya on the Department’s investigation. Imam Yahya is currently on a break in his native Sudan and was not contactable.

Meanwhile, two sources told metro eireann that music is “haram”, or prohibited, as a teaching aid at the school. One source added that teaching standards are generally good, but there is a lot of “coming and going” of teachers.

The North Dublin Muslim School caters for approximately 190 Muslim pupils and is based at rented premises on Navan Road in Dublin 7. It is understood that the Department of Education became concerned at how the school spends its funds and appoints staff after an inspector paid a routine visit. Inspectors’ reports on schools are exempt from publication, according to the Department’s Freedom of Information section, on the basis that the information could be used in the compilation of school league tables.

Ireland has only two Muslim schools, the North Dublin Muslim School and the Muslim National School at Clonskeagh in Dublin, which is run by the Islamic Foundation of Ireland. In the early 1990s, Sheikh Hamdan Ben Rashid Al-Maktoum, deputy governor of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry in the United Arab Emirates agreed to finance the buying of land for a school and a mosque to be run by the Islamic Foundation of Ireland.

The al-Maktoum Foundation later asked for the property to be reassigned back to it. The Islamic Foundation of Ireland moved its headquarters back to South Circular Road, although it still runs the Muslim National School at Clonskeagh. The Islamic Foundation of Ireland took the al-Maktoum Foundation to court five years ago over control of the Clonskeagh site where the Islamic Cultural Centre is based. The case was last listed in 2002, and so far does not appear to have been pursued by either party.


Unqualified principal at Muslim school for four years

By Catherine Reilly

An “untrained temporary teacher” was ‘acting principal’ at the North Dublin Muslim National School from 2001 until recently, with the full knowledge of the Department of Education, a spokesperson for the Department has confirmed.

The acting principal, who has only recently been replaced, didn’t possess “a recognised qualification required to teach in a primary school”, the Department said. The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has described the situation as “extraordinary”.

Jan O’Sullivan TD, Labour Party education spokesperson, told metro eireann, it is “unfair” on any child attending a school where there is no qualified principal in place. “This does not give them equal treatment with other children in the State.  The fact that the school caters for children of a minority religion should not cause the Department of Education to be less insistent on the rules being implemented,” commented O’Sullivan. A Department of Education spokesperson said “the Board of Management as the employer has responsibility for advertisement and recruitment of all teaching staff”.

Chairperson of the school’s board of management, Shahzad Ahmed, told metro eireann the board placed advertisements for the job every year and claimed they were unable to find a qualified candidate over a period of four academic years. Ahmed told metro eireann that, ideally, the school would like a Muslim principal in place. The North Dublin Muslim National School caters for approximately 190 Muslim pupils and is based at rented premises on Navan Road.

According to the Department of Education, the need to appoint a qualified principal had been “communicated” to the school’s management ever since it opened in September 2001. The Department spokesperson said there is no record of how many times it corresponded with the school on the issue.

It is believed the Department recently requested again that the school appoint a qualified principal. According to Shahzad Ahmed, a new principal has been appointed by the board of management for the present academic year. However, while this person is a qualified teacher, he is one year short of the minimum five years teaching experience normally required to be a principal, as set out by the Department of Education.

Ahmed said this person was the only applicant. He suggested that there may have been less interest in the job because the school caters for children from a minority religion. An INTO (Irish National Teacher’s Organisation) spokesperson told metro eireann it is “very uncommon” for only one applicant to apply for a principal’s job, but added “it has happened before, mainly in small rural schools”.

The INTO spokesperson said that members of the organisation have, during 2004 and 2005, communicated concern over “employment practices” and “lack of resourcing for the classrooms” at the school. The spokesperson said that some of its members, who are all fully qualified teachers, had been put on temporary contracts at the school when they believed permanent posts were available. The spokesperson said the INTO informed the Department of Education about the situation. It is believed that these five qualified teachers, who had been on temporary contracts, were subsequently given permanent posts last May.

Shahzad Ahmed of the school’s board said these teachers were put on temporary contracts because the posts hadn’t been sanctioned as permanent posts by the Department of Education. Ahmed said that, in his view, there is not a lack of resources in the school, but added that “rent is too high, and the light and heating is high. The Department doesn’t give enough money for resources”.

The INTO also said that, during 2004 and 2005, members complained to it about “a lack of board of management meetings” and no customised code of discipline in place in the school, which, according to the Department of Education, should be drawn up in consultation with parents and staff. Other concerns included role book attendances not being aggregated into a school attendance record, and teachers being “very very unhappy” about the “low level of resources for PE and Science”, according to the INTO. The school also failed to inform the Department that it had teachers who needed to be probated, whereby an inspector visits a school to access and certify the performance of newly graduated teachers. Ahmed of the schools board said the school had received a PE grant three years ago, but had received a Science grant more recently. According to the Department of Education, a “one-off grant” for Science equipment as given to all primary schools for the 2004-5 academic year. “The new principal will be looking at everything [in this regard],” said Ahmed.

He said that, in his view, there is not a lack of resources in the school. He added that “rent is too high, and the light and heat is too high”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has confirmed it recently requested the school’s accounts for the past three academic years, but “a detailed examination of the accounts submitted has not yet taken place”, according to a Department spokesperson. The spokesperson would not inform metro eireann why the accounts had been requested, but instead referred to the right of the Department to inspect any school’s accounts.

Independent sources in the primary education sector told metro eireann it is “unusual” for the Department to request a school’s accounts. Shahzad Ahmed of the school’s board said there was “no reason given” by the Department when it asked for the school’s accounts. Ahmed said the school’s accounts have been properly administrated and independently audited.

Patron of the school, Yahya al-Hussein – who is Imam at South Circular Road Mosque in Dublin and president of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland – has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Muslim school in probe

Irish Independent 10/10/05

Too much time spent on Koran
Fears extremism could flourish

A MUSLIM school is being closely monitored after an inspection found it was spending too much time teaching the Koran.

An investigation into work practices at the state-funded school found it was devoting too much of its resources to Muslim teachings and not enough to the curriculum as laid down by the Department of Education.

Education Minister Mary Hanafin and senior officials in her department are said to be extremely concerned at the management of the North Dublin Muslim National School Project in Cabra.

And there were also fears the state-funded school could have become a focus for religious extremism.

Some parents have become so concerned they have taken their children out of the school and sent them to nearby Catholic and multi-denominational schools.

Others have transferred to the only other Muslim school in the country, in Clonskeagh on the southside of Dublin.

Pupil numbers at the school have dropped from 185 last year to 147 this year.

Following a recent official inspection of the school, it was discovered that its then principal had been working there for four years without any qualifications in primary teaching.

The inspection also found the school, set up in 2001, did not keep proper rolls of pupils.

And the Irish Independent has learned there were official concerns that insufficient time was spent teaching the pupils English and too much time was devoted to the Koran.

A number of religious teachers regularly visit the school and teach the Koran for 45 minutes a day.

That is one hour and 15mins more per week than the time specified by the Department of Education for religion.

The INTO has raised a number of issues with the school authorities over the past two years.

These include:

* Constant battles to get basic materials such as library books.

* Inadequate computing facilities.

* No art and craft materials.

* Health and hygiene concerns, even down to insufficient supplies of soap.

* Contractual issues.

Department inspectors find inadequate pupil records kept

EDUCATION Minister Mary Hanafin has ordered closer scrutiny of a Muslim school. This follows an investigation by one of her inspectors.

The inspection found that until recently, the North Dublin Muslim National School Project, which was set up in 2001, did not keep adequate rolls of pupils.

It also found that for four years, its previous principal had no qualifications in primary teaching. Pupil numbers have dropped from 185 last year to 147 this year. The Irish Independent has also established that there are official concerns that insufficient time was devoted to teaching the pupils English and that too much time was devoted to the Koran.

Various religious teachers frequently appear in the school and teach the Koran for 45 minutes a day – an hour and 15 minutes more per week than the time specified by the Department of Education for religion.

The regular teachers generally have no contact with the religious teachers and do not know them.

The use of some forms of music as a teaching aid is frowned upon by some of those associated with the school. Until recently, the walls of classrooms did not have the usual artwork and drawings by pupils because of religious sensitivities towards art.

It was only last week that teachers were given funds to purchase materials necessary for their classes. This follows pressure from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), which had raised issues last year and at the start of the current school year about employment practices and lack of resources for the classrooms.

But the Patron of the school, Imam Yaha Al Hussein, said he was not aware of any concerns expressed by either the department or the INTO.

Board of management meetings were very few and far between over the past four years – it was only recently that one long meeting of the board was held, which is chaired by Shazad Ahmed, who was appointed by the Imam.

It’s only now that many of the issues are being dealt with by a new principal and that a parents’ association is getting underway. The INTO also claimed that there was very little staff consultation.

For instance, there was no discussion about a policy document on discipline, which was simply a copy of the document used by the Muslim school in Clonskeagh.

Duties of promotion post holders were not drawn up in consultation with the staff, either. The INTO also complained that there was no Learning Support teacher or caretaker in the school.


The Muslim school and a separate Educate Together multi-denominational school are on premises leased from the Catholic Church at the old St Joseph’s School for the Deaf in Cabra.

It was not unknown in the past year for some Muslim pupils to run upstairs and look at the classrooms in the Educate Together school, which were much better provided for in terms of resources and art work on the walls.

The pupil numbers in the Muslim school have dipped in the past year, despite the growth in the Muslim population on the north side of the city. Some have gone to multi-denominational schools and other are going to the Muslim school in Clonskeagh, which is in much better stand-alone accommodation with better facilities and which tends to cater for pupils from a more middle class, professional background.

Many Dublin Muslims are quite happy to send their children to the local Catholic or Protestant school – in Castleknock, for instance, a large number are attending local Catholic schools.

Parental concerns about the poor facilities, as well as personality differences, were contributory factors to the decline in enrolments in Cabra. There are said to be serious differences of opinion among the parents over how deeply Islamic the school should become. Many of them are poorer and more conservative than those on the southside of the city. Some want Muslim teachers brought over from England because of the difficulty in getting qualified Muslim teachers in Ireland. A contributory factor to the unease among some was an article in Metro Eireann, the first to publicly raise issues about the school.

The publication caters for the immigrant community. It reported in August that the school was to face an audit from the Department, although it is understood that nothing improper has been found. Department sources have played down the audit as a sample of schools. Apart from teachers’ salaries, the school received €124,800 funding in capitation, minor works and other grants for the 2004-2005 school year.

The Islamic Board of Education, which is the management body for all the Muslim schools in Ireland, got €41,133 this year, the same amount as given to the Church of Ireland Board of Education, the management body for Gaelscoileanna, and the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education.

Educate Together received €81,133, while the Catholic Primary School Managers’ Association received €103,333.


A new principal, Neil Hennigan, took up duties this September in Cabra. Normally a principal needs five years’ teaching experience before appointment to the top job, but in this case the principal has four. He is understood to have been the only candidate.

Mr Ahmed, who can speak Irish, suggested in Metro Eireann that there was less interest in the job because the school caters for children from a minority religion and he said that ideally the school would like a Muslim principal.

The Department will not comment on the school’s operations, saying that it is working with the board of management. But unofficial sources say the Department is determined to ensure that it is follows the Rules for National Schools and that the pupils get a broad education.

John Walshe

Irish Independent 11/10/05

THE TWO Muslim primary schools in Dublin are now in crisis, the Irish Independent learned last night.

The North Dublin Muslim School Project has been told to leave its existing premises at the end of June next.

And the board of management of the Clonskeagh Muslim school has been dissolved because of a row between the principal and the school authorities.

The patron of both schools, Imam Yaha Al Hussein, confirmed he has dissolved the Clonskeagh board, made up of teachers, parents and nominees of the Muslim community.

He declined to say why he had done so but it is understood to be related to personality clashes and to a disagreement between the principal and the school authorities over the amount of information given, particularly about finances. It is understood that this is the first time that a primary school board has been dissolved since the passing of the 1998 Education Act this confirms that the patron has such powers.

The Act says that the patron has to give the members reasons for dissolving the board. The decision is subject to approval by the Minister for Education after a month having considered any representations made by board members.

It was also learned that for the past few weeks the school has been the subject of a ‘Whole School Evaluation’, which consists of looking at all aspects of the operation of the school, including teaching, the curriculum, facilities, administration and finance.

The Department of Education and Science stresses that there is nothing unusual about such an inspection and that it is part of the “roll-out” of Whole School Evaluation.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that a letter was received last week by the North Dublin Muslim school asking it to vacate its premises at the end of the current school year in June. A similar letter was received by the Educate Together multi-denominational school, which is on the same premises in a disused dormitory at the old St Joseph’s School for the Deaf in Cabra.

The premises are owned by the Catholic Institute for the Deaf, which agreed four years ago to assist the Muslim and multi-denominational schools by allowing them to use the premises in Cabra. It gave similar permission to the multi-denominational school and the premises were expensively renovated. The letter says that the Institute is of the view that the premises in their current state will not be suitable for use as a national school without the expenditure of significant money. The expenditure required to adapt the premises for school use is beyond the means of the Institute, it adds.

It is understood that the Department is to hold talks with the Institute before the end of the month.

John Walshe
Education Editor

IT TAKES two to tango. Conservative Muslims might deplore the picture conjured up by the literal meaning of that phrase. But it has another meaning: equal dealing, fair returns. And this applies to them as much as anyone else.

Muslims who have come here from abroad are welcome. Irish people who have embraced the Islamic faith are entitled to freedom of religion. Under our system, this includes the freedom to run their own schools and to secure State funds for that purpose.

But those schools must be managed in the manner, and according to the standards, laid down by the Department of Education, and the Department has grounds for suspicion that the North Dublin Muslim School Project is not being run to its satisfaction. Either the fear must be allayed, or action taken to rectify matters.

Sadly, evidence exists of breaches of normal standards in the four years of the school’s existence. The former principal had no primary teaching qualifications. Too much time is devoted to instruction in the Koran. The regular staff do not know the religious teachers. The children have developed attitudes to art and music very different from those prevalent in Europe.

There is a danger that these children will grow up with a wide gap separating them from the rest of the population. One has to fear that for many of their parents, such a gap already exists.

Elsewhere, it has caused serious divisions. There is no need to dwell on the alienation that made it possible for young men, born and brought up in Britain, to fall into the delusion that “holy war” could bring world justice. Enough to note the French example, when the government stood firm against the wearing of headscarves in schools and insisted on uniform dress as well as behaviour.

On other questions, there is room for compromise. If, for example, Muslims object to representations of the human body, they must not be forced to create or view them against their will. But preserving their own culture must not mean setting themselves apart from ours.

With due regard for religious sensibilities, every Muslim child must be educated in the same way as the rest of the population. The Department of Education must see to that, in the North Dublin Project and everywhere else.

Sunday Independent 16.10.05

Gerry O’Regan, the new editor of the Irish Independent, recognises an important story even if RTE News does not.
Last Monday, the Independent led with a report by John Walshe about a Department of Education probe into the Muslim National School Project in Cabra, North Dublin. It stated that Education Minister Mary Hanafin is said to be “extremely concerned” at the management of the school “after an inspection found it was spending too much time teaching the Koran, …and not enough to the curriculum as laid down by the Department of Education.”
The report also disclosed that the previous principal of the school, which caters for around 150 pupils, “had been working there for four years without any qualifications in primary teaching.” Walshe added that the state-funded school, which was set up in 2001, “did not keep proper rolls of pupils,” and was shown to have inadequate supplies of library books and computing facilities. It had no art and craft materials.  A new principal has very recently been appointed and faces a tough challenge.

And last Tuesday, Walshe confirmed that the board of management of Dublin’s second Muslim school based in Clonskeagh, has been dissolved.  While no official reason was given for the board’s dissolution, it is believed to have resulted from an internal row over the financing of the school.
The Irish Independent was right to lead with this story because it tells us a lot about the current struggle going on in the Islamic community in Ireland. Congratulations must also go to Mary Hanafin for cutting through the cloud of political correctness which surrounds these issues.

It is a pity the same can’t be said of RTE.  On Monday, they relegated this story to a minor item at the end of their evening news coverage. And in so doing, they did a serious disservice to the cause of progressive Muslims in this country. Let me say why.
A few months ago, I reported in the Sunday Independent that there were growing concerns about what was being taught at the Muslim school in Dublin.  At least one Islamic cleric tried to rubbish my report.  But John Walshe’s articles confirm that my report was correct.

Expressing concerns about Islamic extremism always lays a reporter open to the charge of being Islamophobic or racist by the liberal vanguard.  But that is not how moderate Muslims see it.  They are glad there are people in the media willing to take their side against extreme elements within the Muslim community.
Such moderates include those parents who withdrew their children from the Cabra school fearing that extremism was taking control. The numbers of students enrolled there has decreased from 185 to 147 in a single academic year.
But they also include parents who opted to keep their kids in the school despite the problems.  One parent I spoke to this week said he stayed because his children did not want to be separated from their friends.  He says he just wants his kids to get a decent education like everyone else.



Taoiseach blew the whistle on Muslim school



THE Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern alerted his Minister for Education to concerns about a Muslim school in Dublin after he conducted his own investigation into a string of disturbing claims about the management of the school.

The Sunday Independent has learned that Mr Ahern’s attention was first brought to the manner in which the North Dublin Muslim National School Project was being run – including a claim that too much time was being devoted to teaching ofthe Koran.

The school, which is in Mr Ahern’s North Dublin constituency, yesterday issued a lengthy statement defending itself following the disclosure last week that it was being closely monitored by the Department of Education.

Government sources have confirmed that Mr Ahern was the first to be informed, last June, by “sources in his constituency” of issues of concern in relation to the school.

The Taoiseach then undertook his own investigation during the summer holiday period which, according to sources close to him, “confirmed his fears”.

The revelation that Mr Ahern undertook such an inquiry and that his fears were confirmed will come to a further blow to Shahzad Ahmed, the controversial chairman of


the Board of Management, who yesterday sought to downplay the furore surrounding the running of the school.

Yesterday, the Sunday Independent learned that just two weeks ago, his fears finally confirmed, Mr Ahern moved to act.

He approached the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, who at that stage was personally unaware that there were issues of concern relating to the school.

However, she soon established that the schools inspectorate division in her Department had knowledge of and was “aware of the concerns”. The school is now being closely monitored by the Department, which is reported to be “extremely concerned” at the management of the school in Cabra.

The Sunday Independent has also learned, in greater detail, of specific allegations being made in relation to the management of the school.

There are claims that a soccer match with a local multi-denominational school was cancelled recently when the Muslim school discovered there were two girls on the other school’s team.

It is also claimed that some outside religious teachers refuse to go into the staff room if there are women teachers present.

Further allegations relate to pupils covering their ears when certain types of music are played and that break-time is being disrupted because some pupils, who perform purification rites in school which others do at home, are taunting children that they are “impure”.

Yesterday, Shahzad Ahmed said: “None of the concerns you raise about our school have ever been brought by the Irish teachers with the school authorities. If and when they are, we shall deal with them.”

The time specified by the Department of Education for the teaching of religion is 30 minutes per day. Concerns had been raised that the school pupils were getting an extra one hour and 15 minutes per week for the subjectwhich is taught by visiting teachers who tend not to mix with the other national school teachers.

Mr Ahmed’s statement confirmed that the North Dublin School allocated 45 minutes per day for religion, but said this was the same as for the Muslim school in Clonskeagh which had been in existence since 1990.

He said the issue of the time allocated for religion in Clonskeagh had never been raised by the Department. Sources said, however, the Department’s concern was to ensure that the pupils in the North Dublin school received adequate education in English and the other subjects. But they claimed that their education had been frequently disrupted by pupils leaving class for wudo, the cleansing ritual used for preparing for religion classes which could often take up to 20 minutes.

It was not unknown for those pupils to come back to class and taunt other pupils about not being “clean”. In some cases other pupils would then insist on leaving to prepare in the same way, causing further disruption.

Meanwhile, INTO sources said last night the union had been forced to act last year and earlier this year when members in the school raised issues of concern including contractual problems, health and safety, lack of resources, and consultation.

Although the school’s statement was scathing of the Irish Independent’s reference to a shortage of soap, the INTO said the shortage was a fact. It was only during the summer that proper hygiene arrangements were put in place,it said.

The school statement confirmed that there were problems with keeping proper rolls, an issue of concern to the Department, but said this was being addressed by the new acting principal who took up duty last month.

It blamed the difficulties on the fact that the roll books are published in Irish. However, this was dismissed by sources last night as a nonsense. They pointed out that there were plenty of qualified teachers in the school who had Irish.

The lengthy statement dealt with many of the points raised in the Irish Independent but also with some that were not raised such asthe high turnover of staff and delays in filling posts ofresponsibility.

Last week’s reports had referred to the lack of a parents association and the moves to set one up now. Mr Ahmed said the board of management had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to establish an association which was difficult as the parents came from such a widespread community all over Dublin.

There were other schools without a parents association and the Muslim school in Clonskeagh established one only a couple of years ago when Mr Ahmed was chairman there.

On the reported lack of resources, Mr Ahmed said for the first three years of operation the board had purchased classroom material in bulk and given it to the classroom teachers. In the fourth and current year, in addition to buying resources, all class teachers were given an extra allowance to buy specific material for the classroom.

But INTO sources said it was only this month that the board gave this additional allowance to purchase the materials. The union had also complained about lack of consultation, saying, for instance, that the discipline policy was the same as the one for the Clonskeagh school.

But Mr Ahmed said the policy was agreed four years ago and was quite similar to the Clonskeagh one simply because the schools had one patron, Imam Yayha Al-Hussein, and co-ordinated their school holidays, policies and enrolment practices.

The Sunday Times – Ireland
The Sunday Times

October 16, 2005

Muslim leaders fear smear campaign on Dublin school
Siobhan Maguire

MUSLIM leaders have hit back at critics of their north Dublin school, saying claims of extremism made against them are part of a smear campaign against the Islamic community.

The North Dublin Muslim National School Project in Cabra is being monitored by the department of education amid concerns too much time is being allocated to teaching the Koran. Inspectors found the subject was being taught for 45 minutes a day, 15 minutes more than is recommended by the department.

Imam Yahya al-Hussein, the head of the Islamic community in Ireland, said the school was being unfairly targeted by people who did not understand its ethos or the Islamic religion.

“It is a pity that we are being accused of spending too much time teaching the Koran,” he said. “There are claims of religious extremism, which is absolute nonsense.

“The teaching of the Koran is one part of religious education in the school and to focus on that one subject and criticise us for that is unfair.”

Imam al-Hussein, who is also patron of the only two Muslim schools in Ireland — the second is in Clonskeagh, in south Dublin — said pupils had longer days than in other national schools to facilitate religious education classes.

Although the primary curriculum provides for half an hour of religious tuition a day, it does not preclude extra time being allocated.

“Forty-five minutes are allocated to religious education but this is divided into three subjects which are taught on different days of the week. These are the teaching of the Koran, the teaching of Arabic and moral education, which is a learning of the practices in Islam such as fasting,” said Al-Hussein.

He said members of the Islamic community visited the school to teach Arabic and read from the Koran because there were no teachers qualified to instruct in Islam in Ireland.

It is understood that an inspector visited the school three times in the past year.

Last month, the school was told that the visiting inspector had some concerns about the amount of time spent on teaching the Koran.

Shahzad Ahmed, chairman for the board of management, said the school has been damaged by unsubstantiated claims but maintained a good relationship with the department of education. He said several schools in Dublin, including the Muslim school in Clonskeagh, had hired unqualified teaching staff on a temporary basis and that falling numbers were due partly to a number of families moving for employment purposes.

By the start of the new school year last month, pupil numbers had dropped from 185 to 147. Most had moved to the Muslim school in Clonskeagh.

“The department has no problem with the children praying during the school day and children learning Koran,” he said. “You know that Muslims pray five times each day. One of these times occurs during school hours and the children in 4th, 5th and 6th class perform the afternoon prayer with Muslim staff. Do people seriously object to our children praying to God each day during school hours? We find these allegations conducive to spreading further Islamophobia.”

The school was first investigated by the department of education earlier this year after it was contacted by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) last October.

The union told the department that teachers in the school were concerned that Lalarukh Jovindah, the then principal, was not a trained teacher. Other issues raised by staff included problems with securing permanent teaching contracts, a lack of classroom resources, hygiene and ancillary staffing.

John Carr, INTO general secretary, said the union had never received complaints from staff relating to religious teaching in the school or the amount of time allocated to the subject.

Since last month, the school has had a properly qualified principal appointed and all 11 teaching staff now hold relevant qualifications.

A spokesperson for the department of education said: “During the course of the normal inspection process, the inspectorate became aware of a number of issues at this school. The majority of those issues have now been resolved.”


Muslim school awaits decision on dissolution of board

By Catherine Reilly

A request by the patron of the Muslim National School at Clonskeagh in south Dublin to dissolve the school’s board of management has been received by the Minister for Education and is “under consideration”, according to her spokesperson.

Yahya Al-Hussein, who is Imam at the South Circular Road mosque in Dublin and patron of both Muslim schools in Dublin, recently submitted the highly unusual request to the Department, but neither the Department nor the Imam would disclose the reason for it.

Board of management members were notified of the Imam’s intentions in September, when he informed them of “continuing difficulties within the board of management” which he claimed have led to low staff morale and have “affected the whole school community” which includes some 273 Muslim school kids.

However, metro eireann also understands that last May, the chairperson of the board of management at the school, Mohammed Wisal Khan, wrote to the Department of Education informing them that the school’s accounts had not been audited in 14 years and of other finance-related concerns. The Department has confirmed it received a letter from the board’s chairperson but said it was not appropriate to disclose issues raised in this letter.

Mohammad Wisal Khan, who took over the chairpersonship of the board in March 2004 from Shahzad Ahmed Quidwai , wrote that some invoices from the period 2002 and 2003 arrived to the school which appeared to relate to work done at “a different place”. He also wrote that solicitors’ letters had arrived with some invoices asking for payment.  He continued, “If the board continue to pay all the old invoices we fear that we would have no money left for the current expenses of the school,” in a letter addressed to the Department’s Central Funds Unit. He wrote that since he had taken over as chairperson he and the treasurer had experienced difficulties finding all the necessary records relating to the school’s accounts.

The Department has confirmed that it requested the accounts of the Muslim National School Clonskeagh, covering the past three academic years, for inspection last June but as of the middle of October the accounts have not been submitted. The spokesperson said a reminder notice was sent in July. Under the Education Act 1998, schools must “ensure that in each year all accounts are properly audited or certified in accordance with best accounting practice.  These accounts must be available from the school concerned for inspection by the Minister and by parents of students in the school, in so far as those accounts relate to public monies”, said the spokesperson. One source said that difficulty finding all the school’s financial records have facilitated this delay.

Metro eireann saw a bank statement for the school’s caretaker and secretary’s account dated May 2004 which contained a caution to send future statements to the address of Shahzad Ahmed Quidwai. It is not unusual for bank statements to be sent to a board member’s home address, but by May 2004 Ahmed Quidwai – who is presently chairperson of the North Dublin Muslim School board of management – had been replaced by Khan the previous March. When contacted to explain why this caution was on the bank statement in May 2004 after he had left the position of chairperson, Ahmed Quidwai told metro eireann “then that is the bank’s fault”. He said he left the position of chairperson at the Clonskeagh board because he was also chairperson of the North Dublin Muslim School and “could not give time required to both schools. Nothing sinister in that and not much of a story”. Khan was subsequently appointed while Ahmed Quidwai continued in his role at the North Dublin Muslim School. As patron, Imam Yayha al-Hussein is responsible for the appointment of chairpersons at both Muslim schools.

One Muslim parent said that it was their understanding that the accounts are ready but that “the Department hasn’t collected them”. The parent said the reason circulating for the proposed dissolution of the board was a personality clash between some board members.

Prior to the request to the Department to dissolve the board of management, the Imam had referred to difficulties between the principal Colm McGlade and chairperson Khan.

When asked about the patron’s request to dissolve the board, Colm McGlade, who has been principal of the Muslim National School since it opened in 1990, told metro eireann, “I can’t go into detail, and it would be wrong to have a discussion with the media on the internal workings of the board. It would be breaking confidentiality.”

McGlade confirmed that there “were problems, and the patron decided that the best thing to do was to dissolve the board, for which he needs the approval of the Minister”. McGlade disputed a previous report in the media that there were tensions between him and “the school authorities”, which he took to mean the entire board which consists of eight members. “It wasn’t a case of me against all of the people on the board,” he told metro eireann.

Asked whether any of the difficulties related to management of finances at the school, and about the claim that the school’s accounts had not been audited in 14 years, McGlade said he is “bound by confidentiality on all matters related to the board”.

He said he did not know of any invoices arriving into the school which allegedly related to work done at a different location. He added that the school has a good record with the Department of Education, and that Muslim students undertake the full national curriculum, including participation in music and art, at which they excel.

One issue that is related to management of finances at schools, which was recently raised by the INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) is the absence of training for people serving on such boards, which is a voluntary role. An INTO spokesperson told metro eireann there is “a major training deficit” in terms of preparing people to serve on boards of management. The spokesperson said some boards are fortunate in that they might have an accountant serving as their treasurer, “but I would know other boards who are not as lucky”. He said the issue of training has been raised with the Department, but “they haven’t formally committed to it”.

Jan O’Sullivan TD, who is Labour’s spokesperson on education, said that in general, the Department of Education does not appear to have a “detailed mechanism” to monitor funds. “There is a hit and miss kind of monitoring, and it should be a lot tougher than that because it is public money.” She added that most schools are “totally under-funded”.  She also said that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education had recently met with patrons and other interested groups to discuss the absence of training for people serving on boards of management. O’Sullivan said the Muslim schools’ patron body, the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, did not appear to have been invited but that she will raise the issue of inviting minority patron bodies at the next meeting.


The Independent

National News

Department ‘failed to heed’ Muslim school warnings

By John Walshe Education Editor

Thursday June 18 2009

THE Department of Education was last night accused of ignoring warnings of serious failings in a Muslim primary school.

Former inspector Sean O’Diomasaigh and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation alerted the department that all was not well in the north-Dublin Muslim school on a number of previous occasions, the Irish Independent has learned.

Mr O’Diomasaigh, who is now a primary school principal, last night said he would not comment on an individual case because of the Official Secrets Act.

However, he warned that the rigid structures in the department meant that similar situations could arise again.

The INTO claimed the department failed to act decisively on information it provided concerning the running of the school.


General secretary John Carr said that in 2004 and 2005 the union wrote to the department about irregularities in the employment of teachers.

The union also informed the department that the school’s then board of management was failing to comply with employment and equality legislation and the rules and constitution of boards of management. One letter called on the department to conduct an investigation.

The Irish Primary Principals Network said it had provided professional and personal support for an acting principal in the school who left because of ongoing stress over dealings with management.

Fine Gael education spokesperson Brian Hayes said that despite being aware of problems at the school since 2004, it was only now that the inspection report was being delivered by the department.

“This report is indeed the most damning ever, but we should not have had to wait five years,” he said.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe insisted steps were being taken taken to remedy the serious weaknesses identified in the ‘Whole School Evaluation’ report.

The current board of management was providing the department with an account of expenditure since it took office in January 2008 and confirmed it was pursuing the accounts for the period prior to that date.

The board has also introduced changes such as the introduction of a child protection policy, the regularisation of the school day, particularly in relation to the arrangements for the teaching of religion; making provision for some subjects (such as music) that were not being taught in the school; and advertising for the appointment of a permanent principal.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee of Ireland last night called on the department to hold an independent audit to account for the monies handed over to the school. It also called for the transfer of the patronage of the school from Imam Yaha Al-Hussein to the department itself.

– John Walshe Education Editor

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