Tuesday 15 October 2019

St Joseph's Primary School in Gorey is part of structural probe

Among 40 across Ireland due to be reassessed

Western Building Systems constructed an extension at St Joseph’s Primary School in Gorey
Western Building Systems constructed an extension at St Joseph’s Primary School in Gorey

Brendan Keane

St Joseph's Primary School in Gorey is one of the schools at the centre of a nationwide probe into work carried out by construction firm Western Building Systems (WBS).

The local school is the only one in Co Wexford included on the list which was published by the Department of Education on Thursday.

To-date three schools inspected as part of the probe have been closed, however, in some cases Western Building Systems was responsible for developing a phase of a school rather than the entire building and in such cases the Department said it's likely full closures will not take place.

That is the case with St Joseph's National School where WBS was involved in constructing an extension to the main school building.

A dedicated communications team has been set up by the Department of Education to liaise with Principals around the country whose schools are affected by the assessment.

Some schools across the country will have to look for temporary accommodation while assessments of their main buildings are carried out.

The assessments are due to take place throughout the mid-term break in order to minimise disruption to the schools involved and a statement from the Department of Education said the plan is to complete the work as quickly as possible.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh TD said schools will only be closed where it's deemed necessary to do so and added: 'Every effort will be made to minimise disruption to students, staff and families.'

Representatives of WBS visited the three schools that were closed in Dublin, on Thursday, to view the structural issues identified.

Those issues relate to buildings developed using a particular construction method involving steel frame and timber infill.

Three teams of contractors will be undertaking the assessments over the coming days.

Examination of a school does not necessarily mean issues will arise or that it will be forced to close - as was the case in Gaelscoil Teach Giúise in Firhouse where no issues came to light following the inspection.

The Department of Education said that even if issues are identified it might be possible to manage the situation and address the problems without having to close the school building.

However, where facilities are forced to close the Department will work to put contingency accommodation arrangements in place and an interim accommodation team has been set up to look at solutions.

Consultations have already taken place with local authorities and Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

Minister McHugh appealed to local communities to get in touch with their local principals with any suggestions of interim solutions which can also be passed on to the Department.

St Joseph's Primary School was unavailable to comment when contacted by the Gorey Guardian.

Gorey Guardian