PARENTS of schoolchildren who use the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Training Centre in Schull say they still have unanswered questions regarding the use of the facility.
At a meeting last Thursday night, centre manager Jon Hynes asked parents to ‘work with’ him regarding the future diversification of the centre, which he said would subsidise the sailing programme and not detract from it.
Mr Hynes, who is also in charge of the Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre, quashed rumours that Schull was to be turned into a ‘kayaking centre’. He also said there was no truth in the rumour that team racing boats are going to Kinsale.
‘In fact,’ he said, ‘there are more boats arriving that will benefit your students. And there is a lot more investment to come.’
Mr Hynes gave a 40-minute presentation, at the end of which questions were not allowed, but he did ask parents to email their questions directly to him, and he said he would answer them on a one-to-one basis.
Mr Hynes outlined all aspects of how the centre in Schull works and said he is ‘subject to the highest standard of governance, and that determines how I manage both centres.’
Since his appointment in September 2021, 24 boats had to be brought back to standard as part of the centre’s stringent health and safety rules, he said.
Inclement weather was another factor, he added, in determining the number of days that students have been on the water, but he said a split programme on Saturday was offering students greater accessibility to the amenities.
Despite having been asked not to, three women asked questions at the meeting regarding additional training for additional amenities, how the centre is governed and funded, as well as local employment opportunities for qualified instructors.
Schull Community College principal Sarah Buckley confirmed that since 2013, the centre has been under the governance of the Cork Education Training Board, not the school, and it has its own budget.
The sailing centre was established by former school principal Vince Ahern, and, with the support of the local community and generous benefactors, the centre and its sailing teams have enjoyed enormous success.
Meanwhile, many of the locally-trained instructors have followed careers in the industry. Much of Mr Hynes’ presentation dealt with the instructor development programme.
He gave a commitment to help those already qualified to diversify their skills to meet the new role of the centre, and to employ local, qualified candidates where applicable. ‘I respected the legacy of the centre,’ he said.
Mr Hynes gave a breakdown of newly reduced rates, including a new €10-a-day rate for students, as well as what he described as competitive charges for sailing and training courses.
After the meeting, some parents said only two of their nine questions had been answered during the presentation.
However, others described as ‘positive’ plans to increase off-season recreational pursuits, such as scouting and archery, to meet the cost of expanding the centre’s sail training programmes.