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23rd Jun 2022

Father calls Liveline to recount son’s experience of alleged bullying in Gaeltacht

Stephen Porzio

The teen sent his parents a letter in which he detailed his negative experience.

A father has called into RTÉ’s Liveline to recount his teenage son’s experience of allegedly being bullied in the Gaeltacht.

Andrew explained to host Joe Duffy that his son, who he did not name, had entered the Gaeltacht for the first time but had told his parents a week into the experience that he was “a bit homesick”.

Attributing it to the boy’s first time being away from home, Andrew said he and his wife had assumed that the feeling would pass.

However, on the Thursday of the next week, the teen told his parents during a phone call that he was being bullied.

“I rang the Bean an Tí straight away and to her credit, she got on to the college and I spoke with one of the ladies down there involved in running the course, looking to explain that we weren’t happy and that something needed to be looked at here,” Andrew told the show.

Prior to his son arriving at the Gaeltacht, the dad had provided the teen with “a few pre-paid envelopes” to write to home with as access to phones in the Gaeltacht is limited.

Using one of these letters, Andrew’s son wrote the following message to his parents which they received on the Friday and that Duffy read out on Liveline:

“Please, can I come home? All the other boys in my house hate me and they bully me. Whenever they are talking and I come over, they all walk off, and when they don’t, no one talks to me.

“They all steal my things and break them. Some other boys don’t talk to me much. And sometimes they join in with the other boys.

“I had a big bottle of coke that I’d put on my shelf and I’d been saving it for the last week but all the boys took it and started shaking it and then opened it outside and drank what was left.

“They all call me names like queer and fatty. They blame me for everything and they say it’s just a joke. Please can I come home?

“They all hate me. I want to come home. I want to come home. I want to come home.”

Andrew said he and his wife were “heartbroken” and “devastated” to receive the letter and immediately called the woman in charge of his son’s course to alert her of the situation.

During this conversation, Andrew asked what the Gaeltacht had done so far to handle matters.

‘Their initial reaction was to put someone, a cúntóir or something, into the house,” he told the programme.

“That night I said: ‘Well at this stage, do you think we should start involving the other parents in this?’ which I thought would have been a fair and reasonable step to do at this stage.”

Having already planned to visit, the boy’s mother arrived at the Gaeltacht on Saturday afternoon and took him out of the location.

“We debated whether we’d send him back or not but we thought: ‘Okay, the college is going to deal with this’,” he told Duffy.

After returning the boy to the Gaeltacht on Sunday evening, that night the parents received a text from the teen.

“When he [Andrew’s son] went back to the room that night, the boys in the room said to him: ‘Nobody likes you. We’re only being nice to you here so we don’t get in trouble’,” Andrew recounted.

“We made the decision absolutely then first thing Monday morning to have him removed.

“I spoke to the lady in charge of his particular course on the Monday… and I said: ‘What did the other parents have to say about this?’.

“To my absolute amazement, I was told that she had only spoken to the boys in the house.

“I was on to them for the previous three, four days about actual instances of bullying… that my son was subjected to.

“I just couldn’t believe that there was nobody else involved apart from the boys in the house,” later adding that none of the parents of the alleged perpetrators were involved up until last Monday.

Andrew said that his son is “happy” and “enjoying himself” since returning home to “his own environment with his friends from school”.

The father also told Duffy that he has since spoken to “the boss of the whole college” to discuss the alleged bullying and that the latter said he would look into the matter.

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