Monday 10 December 2018

Ár scoil le do thoil!

The whole school marching up the Florence Road
The whole school marching up the Florence Road
Students Fiachra Bond and Aoife Hick with the minister
At the school: Principal Gearóid Ó Ciaráin, Minister Simon Harris, Rosemary Fitzgerald, Claire Brennan and parents’ association chairwoman Aileen O’Reilly

Mary Fogarty

Young people from Coláiste Ráithín walked through the town of Bray last Friday morning, as they call for the keys to their new school.

They carried placards from Florence Road, through the town, past the offices of Minister Simon Harris, and back to their school.

This was over two weeks since the day they were meant to start taking classes in their new school building on the golf club lands. Their school is complete, and neighbouring Ravenswell Primary School is almost finished.

The collapse of developer Carillion has left them in limbo.

Minister Harris visited the school after their march on Friday morning and asked students and teachers for their views on the delayed school opening.

He collected letters and stories from the students in order to communicate the community's frustration to the Department of Education.

'The entire community here has been so very patient with a campaign over 20 years to get a much needed new school building and this delay is extremely frustrating,' he said.

'I wanted to visit here today as I wanted to be able to bring the views and indeed frustrations of the students, teachers and parents back to the Department of Education.'

The meeting included the principal, some teachers and parents. 'It is absolutely vital that this school moves to its new state-of-the-art building urgently,' said Minister Harris. 'I have worked with the school community for years in their campaign to secure a new building. This is now built and we cannot allow them get caught up in a complex process involving companies, liquidation etc. I really want an interim solution found for this school and will be working very hard on this. I intend to meet the Department of Education again next week on this and will keep people up to date

'The whole school community, along with that of Ravenswell NS is tired of waiting and need certainty as soon as possible.'

The matter was raised in the Dáil the previous Friday, with members of the school community present in the public gallery.

'A huge crowd left bitterly disappointed,' said Deputy John Brady. He said that suggestions put to Minister Bruton including putting in an interim caretaker were not accepted. The minister said that a plan is being put together by DFI and a financier in Tokyo.

'In the case of Coláiste Raithín, the school simply needs certification in order for the teachers and students to be moved in,' said Deputy Brady. 'I put it to the Minister that this needs to be fast tracked. I asked the Minister to put in place a caretaker maintenance agreement to ensure that the move in can happen without any further delay,' he said.

'I asked the Minister to ensure that all suppliers are paid in full to ensure that all supplies in the school are paid for and are therefore, not at risk of being removed. The school is fully equipped and this must remain the case.

'I also put it to Minister Bruton that it was absolutely necessary for contingency arrangements to be put in place so the Government are prepared to act if the liquidation process in place is to end up in court which would further draw out the time-frame for the opening of the schools in Bray.

It is essential that the Minister is prepared and willing to bring forward emergency legislation if this is to occur.'

Deputy Stephen Donnelly said that the 'vagueness' on Coláiste Ráithin and Ravenswell is 'not enough' for pupils, staff and parents.

He said that there is concern that the schools could be delayed for months or longer. 'This cannot be allowed to happen,' said Deputy Donnelly. 'I have asked for clear dates to be provided, and for a contingency plan to be put in place, if it looks like the schools will not be accessible in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, the Minister did not indicate when this is likely to be resolved.

'He stated that a "rectification plan" is being developed, but when I asked for indicative dates for when this plan would be in place, he did not answer.'

Wicklow People