Tuesday 18 December 2018

Structural work now required at 17 schools, with 13 still under scrutiny

Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

More than a third of the schools checked for structural problems will need work following on-site inspections.

Assessments of all 42 schools built by Western Building Systems (WBS) have now been completed, with 17 requiring intervention, while inspection reports from a further 13 school buildings continue to be analysed.

Ardgillan Community College in Dublin remains shut, while three other schools - Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS, the adjoining St Luke's NS and Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada - are to partially close with only the ground floor reopening to pupils and staff on Monday.

The Department of Education said it was looking at interim accommodation for pupils who cannot return to their old classrooms on the upper floors of the affected buildings.

A further 14 schools will have also been identified as requiring external intervention and supports in the form of fencing and protective decking in order for them to reopen.

The outcome of the remaining 13 schools which have been assessed is still being reviewed by engineers and department officials, and is expected later today.

Education Minister Joe McHugh last night said none of the inspections had presented the same severity of concerns as those in Ardgillan Community School, which closed 18 classrooms more than a week ago.

"The outcomes of further structural assessments which we have received today are important in providing clarity to school authorities, students and parents," Mr McHugh said.

"The advice I have received is that no other building has presented the same severity of structural issues as those identified in Phase 1 of Ardgillan Community College, which was built in 2009."

Two other schools are still under development by the construction company but a department spokesperson previously confirmed "additional oversight" introduced from 2014 would not require any delays to the two projects.

In a statement, WBS reiterated its commitment to honouring its contracts, but said it had not seen any of the assessments carried out.

"So far, we have been invited to meet with the department's inspectors and officials at 13 of the 42 schools. We had insufficient time on site to make structural evaluations," it said.

"That such a turnaround is now being reached is troubling on a wider scale."

Of the 14 schools requiring intervention, four are in Co Meath: Coláiste De Lacy, Ashbourne; Gaelscoil na Mí, Ashbourne; Ashbourne Educate Together National School; and St Paul's National School, Ratoath.

A further three schools located in Kildare, Dublin and Laois require further works: Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Athy; Athy Model School (GP Hall Extension only); Gaelscoil Átha Í (GP Hall Extension only); Lucan East Educate Together National School; Scoil Chaitlín Maude, Tallaght; Castlemills Education Centre, Balbriggan; Convent National School, Portarlington; Gaelscoil Phortlaoise; Portlaoise Educate Together National School.

In Cork, Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Rochestown will require external intervention.

Irish Independent

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