Dáil debates

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

School Accommodation

4:00 pm

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I dtús báire ba mhaith liom a rá leis an Aire go bhfuil an méid dul cinn atá déanta ag Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin i bhFionnghlas dochreidte ó bunaíodh í i Meán Fómhair 2005. Tá Gaeilge beo agus ag fás inti agus an-éileamh uirthi freisin. Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin on Bóthar Ghlas Naíon Road, Finglas East, is a co-educational all-Irish school registered under An Foras Pátrúnachta i gcomhair na scoileanna lánGhaeilge.

It is a primary school for pupils aged four to 12 years. It opened on 1 September 2005 using two changing rooms at the back of the West Finglas Tenants Residents Association, WFTRA Hall in Finglas west. In 2008 the school moved to the former De La Salle school building in Finglas east.

The aim of Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin is to support learning and development by providing the highest standards of education through the medium of Irish. As a Gaelscoil, Gaeilge has a central place in the life of the school. Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin is recognised as a school in a disadvantaged area of Dublin and has DEIS band 1 status.

The school has faced major challenges from the day it moved into its present building because of its condition. The windows were either yellowed Perspex or else they were boarded up. Mould, which is especially detrimental to the health of young children, was evident throughout the building.

The school received €20,000 in 2009 to rid the classrooms, corridors and toilets of mould. In 2010 the school received a grant to upgrade the heating system through a summer works scheme. However, it was refused an application for a grant to upgrade the windows.

There is evidence of woodworm in the school hall and in the attic. The yard surface is uneven and the tarmac is old and is a cause of concern as it is where young children play during break times. Children need proper facilities where they can exercise and play.

The classrooms do not have toilets in or even near them and this is very inconvenient for both teachers and the young children. A trip to the toilet for a young child has become more complicated than should be necessary and does result in the loss of teaching time.

The two-storey building has no lift, which makes it difficult for the school to accommodate children or anybody else who uses a wheelchair. It also means that all furniture, equipment, boxes for hot lunches etc. have to be carried up the stairs, which raises health and safety concerns. The Department of Education eventually bought the building in 2019, having paid more than €1 million in rent for 11 years. The school has received some grants for building improvements over the years, but this has been done in a very piecemeal fashion and is akin to putting a sticking plaster over a broken leg.

Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin is one of Finglas's success stories. It is well integrated into the community, providing employment, cultural outreach and awareness of the Irish language. It has been to the fore in assisting the families of pupils and the community during the pandemic by providing food parcels and other supports for parents and disadvantaged members of the community. The school needs a proper investment for its 300-plus pupils and 30 staff. Despite visits by departmental officials in 2019 and 2020, management is none the wiser as to the long term future of the school. It has been on a waiting list for works since at least 2010 and, according to the most current information, it is still at pre-stage 1. Huge sums of money are spent each year heating the school. Having run out of room, two prefabricated buildings were installed in 2019. A third will have to be installed to accommodate an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit, for which the school is in the process of making an application.

In ainneoin gach rud, tá an scoil ag déanamh jab an-mhaith ar fad agus táim an-bhródúil as an méid atá déanta acu.


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