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Two schools shut due to structural safety should reopen by Thursday

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Scaffolding erected at Tyrrelstown Educate Together school. Photo: Mark Condren

Scaffolding erected at Tyrrelstown Educate Together school. Photo: Mark Condren

Scaffolding erected at Tyrrelstown Educate Together school. Photo: Mark Condren

Two Dublin primary schools still closed as a result of structural safety issues identified two weeks ago are expected to open again by Thursday.

Further work is being undertaken at Tyrrelstown Educate Together and the neighbouring St Luke's NS, west Dublin, before pupils return.

The return of pupils to the schools after their mid-term break was delayed because the schools were not satisfied that work done to make them safe was fully completed.

When they do reopen, access at both will be restricted to the ground floors, forcing hundreds of pupils to relocate to other schools while remediation work is carried out.

Hopes that pupils would be back yesterday were dashed by concerns about the quality of the finish on the precautionary measures which had been put in place to facilitate reopening of the ground floors.

Yesterday, St Luke's National School said it had concerns that work to make the school safe had not been finished to a high enough standard.

The school said it would examine the building again today with a view to reopening tomorrow.

Criticisms

The two schools needed safety fencing and protective decking on the outside and internal timber supports.

Criticisms included sharp edges, unfinished woodwork and exposed surfaces which could potentially be hazardous.

It led to a three-hour site meeting yesterday involving Department of Education officials, representatives of the schools, parents and engineers to discuss what needed to be done to satisfy concerns.

As well as issues about the integrity of the buildings and finish on the protective measures, the disruption presents a logistical nightmare for the two schools in ferrying children to and from alternative accommodation.

More than 250 workers, in five teams, spent the weekend carrying out work on 22 schools where precautionary protective measures were undertaken before reopening following the mid-term break.

They are among 42 schools built by Co Tyrone-based contractor Western Building Systems (WBS) that have undergone structural assessments in the past 10 days.

The assessments followed the discovery of significant structural issues at the Phase One building at Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, which remains closed.

Subsequent discoveries were made at the two schools in Tyrrelstown.

Walls

Nineteen of the schools reopened without any intervention needed, 19 required external precautionary measures and three others needed internal and external measures, including the installation of fencing and protective decking around some external walls.

In a statement, the department said: "A number of engineering teams will be in a position to oversee handover to schools this evening."

Today, Education Minister Joe McHugh will be questioned by the Oireachtas Education Committee on the matter.


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