Thursday, 29 September 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I completely agree that the first step should be energy reduction. That is what we should be pursuing. It is encouraging to hear that 41 schools had pathfinder works carried out and another 15 are under assessment. That is kind of what my question is about. How does a school apply for or get on the radar of the Department for an assessment to be carried out?
I visited a school in Wicklow town recently. It was a school that had two buildings. One was the original 1955 block with high ceilings and high windows. It was the type of classic, old Irish national school building. I went in to have a look at it and I could see very simple measures that could be introduced there, for example, interior wall insulation, rather than exterior, because it is a classic looking building and you do not want to take away from that classic look. There were very simple measures that could be carried out that would reduce the heating costs in that school. If we can reduce the heating bills for the school, it will reduce the pressure on principals who want to keep the schools warm and comfortable for children and staff. The bills roll in and that money could be better spent on other provisions in the class. I have no doubt that many principals would have many other things to spend the money on rather than high energy bills.
Particularly, in relation to St. Patrick’s school in Wicklow town, I would appreciate if the Minister of State could relay to the Minister for me that it is a school that would be very suitable for that pathfinder programme. Generally, how does a school apply? Does it go on the SEAI website like a residential or business user would? Is there a direct line to the Department where you can tell it the school is freezing, the bills are huge or the windows are drafty and ask to be put on the pathfinder programme? If the Minister could come back to me at a later stage, I would very much appreciate that.