Wednesday 21 February 2018

Pupils home again as water shortages now close schools

Katherine Donnelly

Thousands of pupils were back at home yesterday after lack of water forced schools to close again after only their first or second day back in class after Christmas.

In Dublin city, at least 20 schools have run out of water, the worst affected areas being Rathmines-Terenure, Cabra, Coolock and Finglas.

A range of other weather-related problems, including frozen and burst pipes and overflowing and burst water tanks, are continuing to cause difficulties to schools all over the country.

Among the schools forced to close in Rathmines-Terenure were St Mary's College; St Louis Infant and St Louis Senior primary schools; Kildare Place National School, all Rathmines Presentation Primary School, Terenure, as well as Our Lady's in nearby Templeogue.

The city council has asked Dublin Fire Brigade to get water to schools where tanks have run dry. But with no guarantee of when that would happen, principals were forced to close again.

A council spokesperson said it hoped that the fire brigade would be able to deliver water to schools today, but admitted "we are still in a desperate situation".

The two St Louis primary schools have 650 pupils between them and Marie McCabe, principal of the senior school, said after re-opening on Tuesday, they started running out of water in the toilets at noon.

The schools closed on Tuesday and last night were awaiting information on the water supply.


Miriam Mulkern, principal of the St Louis infant school, said they were told at the start of the week that they would have one tanker of water before the end of the week, but they needed a guaranteed ongoing supply.

Meanwhile, in Cork, principal Mairin Tobin described her primary school as being "like a swamp", after a water tank on the roof overflowed during the weekend.

The school has remained closed since Christmas and she said last night that she was not sure whether they would even be able to open by next Monday.

The problems began for the 225-pupil Scoil An Teaghlaigh Naofa, in Ballyphehane, when a pipe burst last week, causing serious damage, including to the electrical and heating systems.

But as the pipe was repaired, there was worse to come -- the roof-top water tank overflowed, bringing down the ceiling into classrooms below.

"It's a big mess," said Ms Tobin, who added that as well as the damage to classrooms, computers and other materials were destroyed.

Repair work is now under way and Ms Tobin will re-assess the situation with staff tomorrow, "but I am still doubtful about whether we will be able to re-open on Monday.

"This messes up everybody -- teachers parents and pupils, who are ready to be back," she said.

The Ennis Educate Together school managed to open last Thursday and Friday for the first two days of the new term, then suffered a burst pipe, and now has a water supply problem.

Sean O Confhaola, principal of the 180-pupil school, said eight of the school's 13 toilets had no water running to them, including the main four-classroom block.

"We would have opened on Tuesday if this water problem had not emerged," said Mr O Confhaola.

Irish Independent

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