‘Dilapidated’ Dublin school should be an emergency, Dáil told

The cramped classrooms in Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire on Parnell Square

Amy Blaney

A primary school in the north inner city that has been in temporary accommodation for 20 years, is dilapidated, falling apart and a “serious risk” to students, the Dáil has been told.

Health and safety concerns have been raised by parents and staff at Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire on Parnell Square over the crumbling state of the Georgian building.

Social Democrat TD Gary Gannon called for the construction of a new school on Dominick Street to begin “without delay”, after funding for the shovel-ready project was put on pause this month.

“The classrooms are cramped with crumbling plasterwork, there is no universal access, the staircase poses risks to students and teachers, there is no assembly hall and the playground is a car park,” said Deputy Gannon.

“If you are to mindlessly delay this project you will allow children to continue to have a building on Parnell Square which is nothing short of dangerous.

The school's playground is in a shared car park

“It’s dilapidated, it’s falling apart and it poses a serious risk to its young students. No child should have to risk harm in order to attend school.”

The Dublin Central TD said the school’s ongoing situation is an “emergency and it has to be treated as such”.

A site for a new 16 classroom school was earmarked on Dominick Street in 2006. Planning permission was received in 2021 and builders were expected to be on site by Easter.

However, the school was notified this month that funding for construction had been put on hold, along with 58 other school projects across the country.

Mr Gannon said the “incredible teachers and wonderful students have been failed by the infrastructure”, and the school’s hopes had been “dashed”.

Mr Gannon said children are facing “unsuitable conditions” and parents “worry” for the safety of their children in the school each day.

The Department of Education is currently paying €328,000 on rent each year for the building, and has spent almost €7m over the last 20 years.

Mr Gannon said public money is being “misspent on exorbitant rents for sub-par buildings”.

Concerns have been raised over the narrow staircase

In response, Junior Minister Peter Burke said funding for the new school is on hold due to “capital funding pressures”.

Speaking on behalf of Minister for Education Norma Foley, he said the project would be delivered “but it is a question of timing”.

“The Department’s Planning and Building Unit is currently assessing its work programme and priorities for the remainder of 2023 in the context of overall requirements and available funding,” he said.

“The most immediate priorities are to cater for September 2023 requirements,” said Mr Burke.

“We understand the urgency in relation to this matter and other projects, and our aim is to get them progressed and delivered as quickly as possible.

“The department will provide an update to the school authorities when there is further clarity,” he added.