Sunday 17 November 2019

Skerries school places shortage

Senator James Reilly
Senator James Reilly

Ken Phelan

A local Fine Gael senator has called on the Minister for Education and Skills to 'consider' the lack of school places in Skerries, where families were 'coming into a lovely area' which was without school vacancies.

Senator James Reilly, speaking in the Seanad recently, said there was an ongoing issue of many children living in Skerries being unsuccessful in securing a place in Skerries Community College.

Officials from the Department of Education and Skills, Senator Reilly said, were 'out last December', but 'nothing' had been done about providing five permanent schoolrooms.

Many children, he said, would not have a place in the school for next year as a result.

Senator Reilly said: 'Fingal has the youngest population in Ireland, if not in Europe. Houses are being built and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, has announced plans for another 250 to 300 houses in Skerries, in addition to other housing being built by private developers.

'These families will be coming into a lovely area in which to live but there are no places in the schools.'

He said: 'The Minister for Education and Skills has done a brilliant job since taking over. I would like him to consider the situation and say whether there are not enough resources in the building unit in the Department. Is that the problem? This is not unique to Skerries.'

Senator Reilly said the same problem arose in Rush, which was awaiting a site for a new school, and that the situation was 'the same' in Swords and Balbriggan.

There was land earmarked in Balbriggan for 1,200 additional houses, he added, and schools were 'already full.'

Senator Reilly said a review of funding was required for the Department's Planning and Building Unit, and called on the Minister to 'come in and tell us what plans he has to address this.'

Senator Reilly said: 'Our children are our future. We pride ourselves on giving them the best education we can, but if they have not got a school place how can we do that? How will they compete in an ever-globalised world against the best in the world unless they have the best education?

'We know we have the brightest and best in the world in this country. One need only look at those who have qualified in science, medicine and industry, including captains of industry. Let us give our children the best chance possible.'

Senator Jeremy Buttimer, responding to Senator Reilly, said he 'does not have an answer' to Senator Reilly's query regarding enrolments at Skerries Community College, but that he would be 'happy to have the Minister to come in to the House to respond to it.'

Acknowledging Senator Reilly had made 'a very good point' regarding the need for a review of the Department's Planning and Building Unit, Senator Buttimer said this should 'always' be subject to review.

Fingal Independent