Saturday 21 September 2019

Safety work needed at half of checked schools

Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

More than half of the 42 schools undergoing structural safety checks need some form of precautionary measures or remediation works.

However, 19 have been cleared to open in full next Monday, without any internal or external interventions, the Department of Education confirmed.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said that by today, contractors would be implementing precautionary measures at all schools where this was required.

"Right throughout this process, our overriding priority has been the safety of school students and staff," he said.

"This has led us to adopt a very cautious approach and to initiate precautionary interventions where structural issues have been identified during the assessments."

All the schools involved were built by Western Building Systems (WBS), which stated that no details of the assessments had been shared with the company.

It also said it did not know the methodology of the assessments or the basis of any conclusions reached.

The company insisted that each of the 42 schools was "previously certified for completion as being free from defects and suitable for use by the Department and its employed professionals - the same people who have now arrived at a different view."

Defending its record over 35 years, the company added: "We have written to the Department requesting proper access and time to evaluate the identified schools."

The Department said that while 19 of the schools will be opening in full next week, another 19 schools can open with external precautionary measures in the form of fencing and protective decking, pending more detailed assessments.

These are Scoil Chaitlín Maude, Tallaght; Castlemills Education Centre, Balbriggan; St Paul's NS, Ratoath; Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Athy; Athy Model School (GP Hall Extension only); Gaelscoil Átha Í (GP Hall Extension only); Lucan East Educate Together NS; Convent National School, Portarlington; Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Rochestown; Gaelscoil Phortlaoise; Portlaoise Educate Together NS; Coláiste De Lacy, Ashbourne; Gaelscoil na Mí, Ashbourne; Ashbourne Educate Together NS; Griffeen Valley Educate Together NS (2003 phase only); Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin, Clonakilty; Cara Junior (Special) School - one part of building only; Carrigaline Educate Together NS; St Colman's Boys NS, Macroom.

Three schools will be opening at ground-floor level only initially - Tyrrelstown Educate Together; St Luke's NS, Tyrrelstown and Gaelscoil Eiscir Riana, Lucan, all in Co Dublin.

At Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, phase one will remain closed.

Irish Independent

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