“Mommy, what’s an abortion?”
That was the question of a five-year-old who’d been given a leaflet at school with the invitation to attend a pro-life political rally. The mother, understandably, was not amused, and neither were lots of other parents whose children had received the flyer.
The incident occurred two weeks ago in an Irish elementary school whose administrators saw nothing wrong with indiscriminately tucking the anti-abortion material into kids’ bags. Chiefly responsible for the odd initiative is the Catholic chairman of the school’s management board, Eddie Shaw (pictured, in file photo), a former spokesman for the Archbishop of Dublin.
At a raucous school gathering last Thursday — demanded by parents who wanted to find out why their kids had been subjected to age-inappropriate propaganda — Shaw did little to soothe hurt feelings.
The Irish Times quoted minutes from the meeting:
“On Friday the 7th of June, a notice for a pro-life vigil was put in the bags of three classes. The leaflets were intended for every bag in the school but some teachers either chose not to put them in and others forgot.
“The leaflet highlighted a vigil taking place last weekend for the Pro-Life Campaign against the upcoming legislation on abortion. The parent body were outraged that the children were being used as vehicle to promote a controversial campaign.”
Although Shaw apologized to the parents, he only made matters worse when he appeared to misconstrue rather spectacularly why they were upset. Said one irate father:
“Mr. Shaw told the meeting he should have put the leaflets in an envelope, which is to miss the point entirely.”
He deemed Shaw’s apology inadequate.
Another parent agreed, dismissing as “preposterous” Shaw’s assertion that the distribution of the leaflets “wasn’t political.”
Yesterday, looking to end the controversy, Eddie Shaw resigned from the school.
I can’t help but think that he could have benefited from some great PR advice. For instance, one of the most prominent corporate communications firms in Ireland is Carr Communications, whose staff are self-described experts at spinning public faux pas, and at “handling media crises.” Maybe Eddie Shaw could have retained Carr’s services as soon as the protests started, and taken professional pointers from Carr’s head of public relations, one Eddie Shaw.
Yeah. Same guy.
(photo via The Journal)