Wednesday 19 June 2019

Daly raises Fingal schools accommodation concerns

Local TD Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills in the Dail last week of his plans to improve capacity for schools across Fingal, in view of what she said was a 'widespread shortage of places', and a deterioration in accommodation for students.

Addressing the Minister, she said she had 'never seen this matter raised as much as now.'

Of the '16 major projects for the area', she said, only two were at the on-site stage.

She also raised the issues faced at Ardgillan Community College, as well as other schools in the Fingal area.

Deputy Daly said the situation was 'unsustainable in a growing area', and that a 'serious strategy' was needed to deal with these concerns.

Addressing the Deputy, the Minister said: 'I thank the Deputy and acknowledge that this is an issue of concern. When I walk down the corridor and meet Deputies and Senators from north County Dublin, it is the only matter they raise.'

He said: 'As the Deputy will be aware, my Department recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years up to 2022, including six new primary and two new post-primary schools to be established in north Dublin.'

Speaking of the situation at St. Joseph's Secondar School in Rush, Deputy Daly said: 'We all saw the day that was in it yesterday, when parents, teachers and students from St. Joseph's Secondary School in Rush organised a protest in the town.

'They walked from the existing school to the field where the new school is supposed to be built. The school is oversubscribed this year by 140 students. They were outside the Dáil earlier this term, and while it is an incredibly useful education for them in the need to protest to get things delivered, they should not have had to do that.'

Deputy Daly said the situation was 'critical' for St. Joseph's and for St. Molaga's in Balbriggan.

She said that in St. Molaga's, 58% of the students were in '20-year-old, crumbling prefabs', and that the school was at the project brief stage, even though it had been 'in the pipeline for so long.' The system, she said, was 'broken.'

Deputy Daly added that the situation at St. Joseph's was replicated in other areas, including Skerries and other parts of North Dublin, saying she 'did not even get a chance to address' Swords, a town 'with a population approaching 40,000', where there was a 'critical' school accommodation problem.

The Minister for Education said it must be 'kept in mind' that there had been an 'explosion' in the provision of housing in north County Dublin in the past five years, but that this was not an 'excuse' for not acting.

The Minister said he would bring these concerns to his Department and ensure that this issue was 'kept on the radar.'

Fingal Independent