31/08/2013

Seamus Heaney RIP

I met Seamus Heaney when he was an honorary graduate of the
 University of Dundee
I was really sorry to hear of  the death of the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney.  First and foremost this is a great loss to his family and friends.

I heard him give an amazing lecture in Dundee when he was receiving an honorary degree from the University of Dundee.  I was delighted to meet him just after the graduation ceremony.  He took a great interest in what I had been doing at the University of Dundee and the topic of my thesis on Irish immigration to Dundee.  It was great to get the chance to spend a few minutes talking to such a great man.  One of my prized possessions is the graduation programme which Seamus signed for me.  He was a humble man who wore his learning and success lightly but who clearly made a great contribution to twentieth and twenty-first century culture.

I have previously said that Dundee's close links with Ireland should be celebrated in our bid to take over the title of City of Culture from the City of Derry.  I had envisaged that one of the main ways this could have been done would have been to have Seamus Heaney  who was educated in Derry and was an honorary graduate of Dundee University come to Dundee, sadly this suggestion can no longer be made.

Seamus Heaney's poetry remains though and I hope that people will read it and be inspired by it and remember this great man, may he rest in peace.


29/08/2013

Update on Harris Academy

Last week at the City Council's Education Committee Mr Arthur Forrest who is a teacher's representative on the committee and an official of the EIS trade union raised concerns about the cleanliness of Harris Academy at the Rockwell site as well as a number of health and safety issues.  I was very concerned to hear these allegations and I asked that the Education Department deal with them quickly, I also asked to be kept informed of progress towards dealing with the concerns.  The Director of Education has responded with a report that you can see here

According to the report there are no on-going issues.  I hope that this is the case.  It is crucial that the young people now being educated at the Rockwell site are in no way disadvantaged by these issues.  I am committed to working with the council, with Harris Academy staff, pupils and parents to ensure the best possible education for everyone using the school.  I am determined to ensure that staff are working in an appropriate environment.  We should be very concerned when trade unions raise issues.  It is their job to speak on behalf of their members, and I hope that the City Council's Education Department will listen to what they have to say in the future.