James Browne TD calls for old clinic building to be given to Our Lady of Fatima
Wexford TD James Browne wants the Minister for Education Richard Bruton to ask the HSE to give the old county clinic in Grogan's Road to overcrowded Our Lady of Fatima School for use as an extension.
The school which caters for children with mild general learning difficulties from a countywide catchment area, is stretched to breaking point due to a lack of accommodation and has a large waiting list for enrolment.
The school premises built in 1968, is situated on land adjacent to the clinic site where a new primary care centre is nearing completion. The existing clinic is to be demolished to make way for a car park for staff and clients of the new centre.
Deputy Browne called a special debate in the Dáil to urge the Department of Education and Skills to prioritise the development of Our Lady of Fatima school in Wexford and also St Patrick's Special School in Enniscorthy which is still awaiting the awarding of a tender for the construction of a new building.
The Wexford town school which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year desperately needs a new building on a bigger site and has applied to the Department of Education for funding. But it has been told that at the very minimum, it won't be considered for alternative accommodation until 2021.
'This is in spite of the fact that a modern extension to a HSE building on Grogan's Road which adjoins Our Lady of Fatima School, is due to be demolished', said the Fianna Fail TD. 'Moreover, I'm told that the HSE will reserve this same area for the Department of Education and Skills should they require it'.
'It makes no sense to demolish this building and the Department of Education should engage with the HSE with a view to giving the premises to Our Lady of Fatima, at least until a new school is provided', Deputy Browne told the Dáil.
He said he asked the Minister to intervene 'for the sake of the schools and their teachers who are doing the most fantastic work in dreadful circumstances. Persistent delays have left parents, teachers and students exasperated'.
'The space at Our Lady of Fatima is restricting the school's impact on children's education'.
'We know what needs to be done. It's time the Minister acted. A tender needs to be awarded for St. Patrick's. Minister Bruton needs to enagage with the HSE about our Lady of Fatima NS', said the TD.
Our Lady of Fatima School has no playground, only a basketball court. A makeshift occupational therapy area is located at the back of a hall and the multi-sensory room is in a former chair store and cannot be used during exams due to noise disturbance.
Last year, school principal Rita Waters said the HSE offered to give the school a piece of land for an extension. Expensive plans were drawn up for the project but the health authority eventually went ahead with the building of the new primary care centre without making the land available.