Thursday, 19 January 2023
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Schools Building Projects
Jennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats) | Oireachtas source
I thank the Minister of State but, unfortunately, not a single question was answered and there has been no further update on this issue. He said the Department has a strong record of building schools and I absolutely disagree, not least in respect of Wicklow. In that county, there have been years of instances where demand has built up and students cannot get into a school within their locality, where they have to fight for a place and where their parents or the school community have to campaign. When a school is finally sanctioned for the community, that school takes years to get under way. In Wicklow, there have been cases where, because of building issues, those schools have been held up.
When it comes to Wicklow, the record of school building is not something on which the Department should be selling itself. I am glad to hear the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, is working closely with the Minister of State and perhaps the Minister of State might have further information on this. I acknowledge he pledged to keep this school on track for 2024. It is now clear that deadline will not be met. The building on the site and the construction was meant to start now and there is still no news about whether a tender has been put in place. It is unacceptable and it appears this is the case in a lot of schools. A bloc of schools have gone to tender but for some reason, the Department has decided not to tender for this school. As the Minister of State is in contact with the school body, I would appreciate it if he got in touch with it to tell it what is going on because it is not fair that it must deal with these temporary accommodations and that the promises made to it have been broken. This is not the first time it has happened but these promises have been broken. Those students deserve to know where they are going to be attending school in two years' time and where they will be sitting their leaving certificate exams. They deserve the full curriculum, not a limited one, and deserve to have proper facilities, such as a PE hall. It is not much to ask. Considering that the Department has made repeated promises in this regard, I am not sure whether the Minister of State can give me an update but I would appreciate it if he could do so, if he had further information, because it appears as though that he and the Minister, Deputy Foley, are working closely on it. It would be really great if he could give me an update on this.