Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

One Direction Holy Communion clash splits Irish school parents

Parents of children at a primary school in the Republic of Ireland have overwhelmingly rejected a bid to change next year's Holy Communion date because it clashed with a One Direction concert.

Baby pics - One Direction's Harry Styles
Baby pics - One Direction's Harry Styles

A heated meeting was held at Gaelscoil an Raithin in Limerick earlier this week over the decision to have Holy Communion on May 24 next year.

Three families whose children had tickets for the sell-out gig by the boy band in Dublin's Croke Park on the same day had asked that the event be brought forward by three weeks to May 3.

But in a ballot of all 30 families whose children in second class are due to receive Holy Communion next year, the overwhelming majority voted to retain the original date of May 24. It is understood the margin was almost nine to one. Gaelscoil an Raithin decided, after a failure to agree a compromise between parents, that a ballot was the fairest option. Children were sent home with ballot papers on Wednesday and yesterday Gaelscoil an Raithin in Dooradoyle confirmed that the result was overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the original date.

"Further to requests from a small number of parents to change the planned date of May 24 next for the receipt of Holy Communion for the first time for the second-class pupils, Gaelscoil an Raithin, in order to give the fairest outcome to all concerned, balloted parents overnight on this matter," a school official said.

"The result of that ballot has been overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the original (date) and the staff, parents and children of Gaelscoil an Raithin now look forward to preparing for this very special occasion."

A school meeting on Tuesday night became extremely heated when three families insisted that the date be changed – while other parents became incensed at what one described as the "disrespect shown to the blessed sacrament".

When it was impossible to agree on the alternative date, the school meeting was ended.

"A lot of parents who had no problem with the date contacted the school subsequently to express their outrage at the (perceived) disrespect shown to the blessed sacrament," a school source confirmed.

Some parents had no principled objection to a change of date once there was proper justification.

"They just didn't think a pop concert was a good enough reason," one relative said.

The parents involved now face either swapping their tickets for alternative One Direction gigs the day before or the day after the Holy Communion.

Another option is that they could postpone their post-Holy Communion celebration for 24 hours to allow travel to the Dublin concert that evening.

The controversy erupted after a number of schools in Cork and Dublin previously selected Holy Communion dates to avoid a clash with the sell-out concert series, following early representations from both parents and children.

One Direction will play three gigs in Croke Park from May 23-25.

Tickets sold out within minutes.

The band, which has only been together three years after forming on 'X Factor', now has a combined estimated wealth of almost €40m.

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