Dáil debates

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Further and Higher Education

9:40 pm

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I appreciate that the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, is not the Minister with responsibility for this but I would appreciate it if she would bring my remarks back to the Minister, Deputy Harris. It is my understanding that there is now a call-out to education and training boards, ETBs, for strategy assessment reports on new college buildings that were approved seven or eight years ago. What are we asking the ETBs to do? Are we asking them to do a rerun of the process of validating their required need? That is crazy. I make the case that due diligence and approval of this new building occurred years ago and they have been left in limbo with no building.

I note that the response that has come from the Department talks about the Army barracks out on the Cavan Road. It is difficult for the Minister of State to know when she is not from the area. We are talking about multiple areas and multiple campuses. We are not talking about an all-in-one campus, which should be the case. In my mind, the location of the current Cavan Institute is ideal. It is in the centre of the town. I would like somebody from the Department to tell me that is not ideal for the extension, expansion and delivery of a new building for Cavan Institute.

Modular buildings do not cut it in this day and age. The teachers, the staff and the principal have been more than patient. They have had to reinvent themselves.

The Minister of State asked a question about leases. It is my understanding - the Department can come back and tell me differently - that the leases are expiring at present and decisions have to be made. I want to see the right decision made. No more taxpayers' money of nearly half a million euro should be wasted annually because some of the buildings they are renting are not fit for purpose and are in a poor state.

As I said, the principal, the teaching staff and the students attending Cavan Institute have been patient but they deserve their new building. The next time I want to hear a start date for the new building.


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