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How parent power helped to finish high-tech school at centre of building dispute

THIS Dublin school overcame a dispute with a building contractor and the Department of Education to create a state-of-the-art new facility with local help.

The principal of the former Scoil Ard Mhuire, near Belgard in Tallaght, said the new-look Solas Croi school will make a massive difference to the area.

The board of management initially refused to pay the construction company for work done on the €3.2m project over a disagreement about the type of work that was completed.

However, the dispute was settled and the school went on to employ builders to complete the development, hiring men and women from the area.


"It was a huge uphill battle," principal Pat Keogh told the Herald. "A lot of it was drawn out behind the scenes.

"But everyone got paid in the end – the Department paid the original construction company and ourselves."

The board of management at the school disputed the cost of moving an ESB cable (€28,000) and the €10,000 asbestos removal charge.

But Midlands Construction rejected all of the claims and insisted that the contract on their side had been fulfilled.

It's understood the Department of Education agreed on a settlement with the firm and also provided funds for the school project to be completed by local employees.

The school, which now has 350 pupils and 19 staff members, underwent a radical redesign to account for an increased intake.

"The Department agreed to give us €100,000 and we raised €32,000 locally," Mr Keogh said. "We did an awful lot of work and employed up to 15 different builders in the local area – a lot of these are parents of children in the school."

Solas Croi now has a water-harvesting system, solar power, iPads for students and interactive white boards for teachers.

And they are hugely security conscious, with 30 CCTV cameras on the grounds.

"In all honesty, I think we are the envy of a lot of schools in the area," Mr Keogh said.