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The VEC understandably reacted negatively. In Tallaght they felt the solution was the extension of their VCE school. A national debate followed. Coolmine was later identified as a potential site for a Greenfield school and later Ardee, Co. Louth, in the constituency of the Minister for Education, as a location for an amalgamated community school.
Many religious Orders opposed the scheme as being outside their experience and because they doubted if a very large multi-denominational school would satisfy the parental expectations in newly developing area. The VEC opposed it because they felt their schools were multi-denominational already, they had served the country well, and their democratic and local authority mandate allowed them to be sensitive to local needs and expectations.
The Archbishop of Dublin was deeply concerned that new schools should be built on the community school model which he supported. He was anxious that the educational needs of Tallaght and Blanchardstown should be addressed without delay. The Tallaght situation was complicated by the fact that the Marist Brothers and the Holy Faith Sisters had already responded to a request from the Archbishop to open a boys’ and a girls’ secondary school in Tallaght, and both Orders had briefed their architects who had drawn up outline plans for these schools, in the Tymon North area of Tallaght.
Shortly after this, the Minister for Education announced his plans to build community schools in newly developing areas. The Archbishop of Dublin was among the first to support the Minister’s proposal for community schools. He asked the two Orders already committed to Tallaght, if they would change plans and support the community school idea there.
Both Orders had international education experience which told them that there were many educational models, and that a community based school had many attractions for parents and teachers, for management and funding. There was considerable friction locally about the proposal, especially among the VEC who understandably argued that there was a valued dimension of local management and local autonomy in their traditional vocational schools. Eventually the VEC came on board and joined the two religious orders in making a start.