Thursday, 19 May 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta as an gceist agus as an deis chun freagra a thabhairt dó ó thaobh na scoile seo. I thank the Deputy for raising this matter as it provides me with the opportunity to outline to the Dáil the current position in regard to the major building project for Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin in Finglas East, Dublin 11. The project is included in my Department's construction programme, which is being delivered under the national development plan, NDP, as part of the Project Ireland 2040 framework. Under Project Ireland 2040, the education sector will receive a total of approximately €4.4 billion in capital investment over the period from 2021 to 2025. This significant investment allows us to move forward with certainty with our ambitious plans to deliver high-quality building projects, with a real and particular focus on sustainability, for school communities throughout Ireland. The investment will build on the good progress being made on adding capacity to cater for demographic changes and provision for children with special educational needs. It will also facilitate an increased focus on the modernisation of existing school stock and help to transition the school system to an era of net-zero carbon by 2050.
As the Deputy will be aware, the brief for the Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin project provides for the development of a 16-classroom school, with an additional two classrooms for pupils with special educational needs, including the refurbishment of the existing school buildings, minor demolitions, construction of a new school extension and all associated works on the school's existing site at Glasanaon Road. The major building project for Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin will be delivered under the Department's accelerated delivery of architectural planning and tendering, ADAPT, programme. Under the programme, a professional external project manager co-ordinates and drives the design team to achieve the best possible timeframe for the delivery of projects through the stages of architectural planning, tender and on to construction.
The tender process to appoint a project manager has just been completed. The first step to be undertaken by the project manager will be the tender competitions for the appointment of design teams for a number of school building projects. This will include the appointment of the design team to progress the project for Gaelscoil Uí Earcáin. The Department will shortly advise the school authorities of further developments in regard to these appointments. Upon appointment, the design team will proceed to stage 1 of architectural planning, that is, preliminary design, whereby the team will assess the site and current school buildings and prepare their initial sketch schemes. The scope and extent of works to be carried out will be established during this early stage. My Department is currently engaging with the school's patron to explore the potential for providing interim accommodation on the school site to facilitate the establishment of a special class for the 2022-23 academic year.
I appreciate all the points the Deputy has made, which are to his credit. I want to be clear that this project is now moving in a positive direction in terms of the appointment of a project manager and the other steps that will follow in suit.