Limerick mum and daughter’s anger over PLC courses switch

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Breda and Michelle Berkery, Cappamore, at the LCFE East Limerick Campus where Michelle hopes to study Picture: Dave Gaynor
A CAPPAMORE mum and daughter have spoken of their anger at the proposed loss of 83 PLC places in the village.

A CAPPAMORE mum and daughter have spoken of their anger at the proposed loss of 83 PLC places in the village.

LCETB said in a statement to the Leader last week that it has “announced exciting new developments for Limerick College of Further Education (LCFE) with the restructuring of all PLC programmes onto the LCFE Mulgrave Street Campus”.

This means the current 83 places in the LCFE East Limerick Campus in Cappamore would go.

Breda Berkery, who studied in the same building 20 years ago, and her daughter Michelle don’t think it is very “exciting”. The decision is to be reviewed following a “heated discussion” between a deputation of politicians and locals and management last week.

After an open day in Cappamore three weeks ago 17-year-old Michelle planned on studying Healthcare Support there.

“They really sold it to me and I really wanted to go to Cappamore. Now all this has come up that I can’t go anymore. I don’t know what I am doing to be honest with you. They said if I do some extra modules I will have pre-nursing as well. So after one year I would have two certs,” said Michelle, who knows three girls in her year that want to study Healthcare Support in Cappamore.

She said the uncertainty isn’t helping as she prepares for her Leaving Cert. Her mum Breda is “livid” about how the whole thing was handled.

“We attended the open day, met the principal Michael O’Connor and were very impressed by the course and facilities. The following week Michelle heard some rumours about the PLC courses going and I said ‘don’t be silly’ because we had attended the open day which was packed. They said it was one of the biggest they ever had.

“Then last Monday week Michelle had a missed call on her phone. We established it was Mulgrave Street but before I spoke to them I wanted to speak to Michael O’Connor because we had heard nothing from Cappamore. I went into him and asked if the rumours going around that the PLC courses were being pulled were true. He said: ‘That is correct’. I asked him why he didn’t tell me. He said he wasn’t allowed to and that he didn’t know at the time of the open day.

“Why did the powers that be let the open day go ahead and Michael and his staff talk to the students and sign them up if they were going to make this announcement? The whole thing is crazy,” said Breda.

If the PLC courses do end up going she says Michelle will have to pay more money for the same course in Mulgrave Street, the extra costs of travelling in and out, have to take modules at day and night to get the same certs she would have got during the day in Cappamore.

“The campus in Cappamore is the perfect transition for her. After the open day she was happy and smiling and now this,” said Breda, who attended the college 20 years ago. The mum of four decided to return to college and it was a perfect fit.

“They started the classes at 9.15am so mums like me could drop their children to school and you would be finished in time to pick them up in the afternoon. There was no way I could have gone in to Mulgrave Street if the college hadn’t been here. It wouldn’t have been possible.

“I studied Business/IT and Childcare/Special Needs Assistant. I had used a typewriter when I worked in Dublin but in Cappamore I learned about computers and that is how I have my job now as secretary in Scoil Chaitriona. I also worked as an SNA in schools,” said Breda, who knows a young mum who has completed a number of modules in Cappamore but still has five more to do.

“She can’t go into Mulgrave Street to complete them. It is just not possible with collecting children from school. She reminds me of me when I was studying there,” said Breda.

The LCETB say the LCFE Cappamore Campus will provide a new suite of programmes and “will go from strength to strength over the next number of years”. However, Breda is worried that it could be “death by a thousand cuts”.