Wednesday 24 October 2018

Delay continues for school sites

Potential sites found by department but location under wraps

Alan Farrell TD
Alan Farrell TD

John Manning

The permanent location of two Educate Together schools serving the Malahide and Pormarnock areas remains a mystery with the Department of Education saying potential sites for both schools have been identified but claiming 'commercial sensitivity' as the reason for not identifying their location.

The opening of a new Educate Together Secondary School for Malahide and Portmarnock has been put back a year already while the department sources a home for the school while an Educate Together National School serving the same towns is up and running but in temporary accommodation some distance away, in Kinsealy.

Deputy Alan Farrell TD recently raised the issue in the Dáil with the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton TD.

Deputy Farrell told the minister: 'Unfortunately, the primary school is operating in a temporary location while the secondary school which was supposed to open last September has no site at all, let alone a temporary one. On behalf of my constituency, I ask for information as to where we are in this process.'

Minister Bruton responded, saying: 'I am not in a position to provide further details at this time in respect of the schools in Malahide-Portmarnock due to the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally.

'I can, however, assure the Deputy that the provision of sites for schools is a priority for the Department. My Department is in communication with the respective patron bodies in respect of interim accommodation arrangements pending delivery of permanent accommodation.'

Deputy Farrell argued that 'if we designate an area for a non-denominational school, we have to back it up with the purchase of a site. I cannot understand how we are no further along three years later with the secondary school delayed and no site for the primary school'.

Explaining the delay, the minister said there had been 'an evaluation of sites but they ultimately proved unviable'.

He added: 'A potential permanent site has been identified and is being progressed in respect of the secondary school. In both cases the Department must work with others to bring the project ashore.'

When Deputy Farrell suggested that co-locating the two schools might be a way forward, the Minister for Education felt that could delay the process even further.

Miniter Bruton said: 'I understand that separate sites are identified for these two schools that are being progressed and I shudder to suggest that we should scrap the progress that has been made and come up with another approach. I fear that would delay the project.'

He concluded: 'My knowledge is that two sites are being progressed and the Department is working in good faith to bring those to conclusion.'

Fingal Independent