Friday 18 October 2019

Daly speaks out on delays in St Finian's extension project

Design approved in 2010 for redevelopment of St Finian’s Community College
Design approved in 2010 for redevelopment of St Finian’s Community College

Ken Phelan

A local TD has called on the Department of Education to act on a long-awaited refurbishment and extension of to St Finian's Community College in Swords.

Speaking in the Dail, Deputy Clare Daly raised health and safety concerns at the school which has been waiting nine years for an extension.

In a project which was initiated in 2010, she said, and following delays due to fire safety and ESB issues, planning permission for the school extension was finally granted in 2015.

The Deputy noted the project was then expected to go to tender, with work beginning shortly thereafter, but that this had yet to commence.

Deputy Daly said that, in a letter she received from transition year students at the school, students described classrooms without windows; leaking windows which have damaged student work and ICT equipment; problems with ventilation; classes without access to emergency exits; and a lack of space to accommodate '660 people.'

There was also, she said, no Wi-Fi in classrooms, which was 'affecting teaching and learning.'

The Deputy said she was 'utterly shocked' to hear that the Department was 'unaware of the scale' of the problems in the school, and said the response from the Minister was that it was not possible to say when the project would proceed to tender.

She said: 'It appears from the Minister's response to me that the Department is using the pre-qualification process as an excuse not to proceed with the development. The ETB is saying that the pre-qualification process has been completed and is with the Department but the Minister is saying that it is with the ETB. They cannot both be right.'

'This is beginning to make the children's hospital project look well managed', Deputy Daly said.

'Somebody, somewhere has to do something', she said. 'This project is more than nine years old, and the planning permission for it will expire in the next year if it does not progress.

Speaking on behalf of the Minster, Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor noted that the 'detailed design stage' for the St Finian's Community College project was 'almost complete', that planning permission had been obtained, and that Department officials had been liaising with Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB with a view to resolving 'some other issues' with respect to the project. She said she these issues had been 'worked through', and that Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB was now proceeding with its prequalification process, which would then lead to the preparation and issue of tender documents and the appointment of contractors to complete the project.

Deputy Daly said that 'based on all of the stages outlined', it would be 'another two years' before work would commence.

Fingal Independent