Donegal children should get free summer meals like their Derry neighbours, says Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

A T.D. has asked the Education Minister Joe McHugh to provide poorer children in Donegal with free school meals like their neighbours in Derry this summer.
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Labour Party T.D. Aodhán Ó Ríordáin urged the minister to introduce an emergency summer school meal scheme like that proposed in the North.

"I think he appreciates the unfairness of a situation, to give an example from his own area, where children in Derry are getting school meals over the summer while children in Donegal are not, even though they are both going through the same pandemic and the same crisis. It does not make any sense.

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"I am appealing to the Government to make the same decision that has been made in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. None of us wants a situation where families are struggling and having to make decisions on bills and so on which result in children going hungry," he said.

Free school meals appeal.Free school meals appeal.
Free school meals appeal.

Minister McHugh said: "We are looking to do something in this area. I appreciate the Deputy raising it here today as well and something like this is not a political issue to be tossed across the Chamber.

"I certainly would be interested in hearing Deputy Ó Ríordáin's viewpoints on how we do this. As he is aware, the schools have been under pressure in dealing with the calculated grades process.

"In the more than 200 schools that have registered for the summer-based provision we will provide school meals, as well as for the DEIS schools involved in the summer camps, so that will be covered anyway.

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"If the Deputy has any ideas or suggestions around how we do this and my instinct is that there is a great capacity out there at a community level as well, whether it is youth groups or community groups, perhaps there could be some sort of support there in trying to distribute the food as well because it is something that I would like to support."