Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 May 2006

2:00 pm

Jerry Cowley (Mayo, Independent)

I thank the Minister for her reply. IDA Ireland announced earlier that job creation in County Mayo fell again last year and, therefore, the county is in a bad way. Crossmolina national school has not been included under the school support programme. This school opened in 2002 and the teachers have done wonderful work under the various programmes. However, since then, the catchment area has been affected by job losses at Bellacorick power station, Bord na Móna, the ESB, Hennigans and Oasis in Ballina and Volex in Castlebar. The Bank of Ireland recently closed its branch in the town and four shops have closed as a result of the job losses. No new jobs have been created in the area since the school opened.

The school authorities cannot understand why the school has not been included in the programme. I acknowledge that no school has been informed it will lose resources but no commitment has been given that the school will not lose resources. The home-school-community liaison co-ordinator has been of great benefit to the school and I ask the Minister to consider this post, in particular. No funding is guaranteed after 2007 and the pupils could be left hanging. However, there is a concern about the assessment process, although a questionnaire was filled out.

In a place like Crossmolina, employment is temporary, such as the McAlpine operation for the ESB. There are no local authority houses in the area, although there should be, but just people in poor private rented accommodation, so the assessment process is questionable. When will this review process take place again and a school that has lost out be catered for? The reason Mayo accounts for 20% of rural national schools invited to benefit from the programme, is that Mayo is so badly off taking into account the BMW under spending of €4.65 billion and the transport under spending of €500 million. Therefore, it is not surprising that Mayo has more schools in the new programme. However, schools in Crossmolina, Lahardane, Currane, Tonragee are in an area where there has not been any job creation and where the situation has got worse rather than better. When the temporary employment in Crossmolina goes, what is the future for the area, when the assessment process depends on the pupil rather than the school?


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