Dáil debates

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Adjournment Debate

Schools Building Projects.

9:00 pm

Photo of Jimmy DevinsJimmy Devins (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for allowing me raise the important issue of a new school for Dromore West in County Sligo. Dromore West Central national school is situated in Dromore West village in west Sligo. Dromore West is a designated growth area under Sligo County Council's development plan. It has experienced rapid growth in population in the recent past. The school is in a bad condition and in urgent need of replacement. Unfortunately, this has been the position for some time.

There have been ongoing discussions between the board of management and the Department as to whether a new school should be built or whether the existing school should be reconstructed and extended. I am pleased to say that agreement has been reached that a new school is the answer. That is the correct way forward. There has been much discussion locally and great interest in the future of the school. In that regard, the board of management, teachers and parents are to be congratulated on their commitment to and interest in the school.

I would be grateful if the Minister of State would outline to the House and for the people of Dromore West the current status of the school's application for a new building. I have spoken with the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Hanafin, and have communicated with her and her Department in regard to the school on many occasions. I know the Minister of State is well aware of the need for a new school. I strongly urge that Dromore West Central national school be included in the 2007 schools building programme.

The children, parents, teachers, board of management and wider community in Dromore West village and its surroundings are badly in need of this new school. I ask that the school be sanctioned early in the new year.

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Deputy for affording me the opportunity of outlining to the House the position of the Department of Education and Science regarding Dromore West Central national school, Dromore West, County Sligo.

The building project for Dromore West Central national school was one of a number of schools that the Department of Education and Science announced in 2005 to progress through architectural planning. This project is at stage 3, developed sketch scheme, of architectural planning. The brief on the project is to provide adequate accommodation for a principal plus four classroom teachers with the possibility of future expansion. It has not yet been decided whether this accommodation will be provided by means of an extension to the current school or a new school building.

A letter issued to the board of management in May 2006 requesting additional stage 3 information. This information was submitted by the board of management in August 2006. The stage 3 submission received in the Department deviated from the agreed brief for the building project and consequently the Department wrote to the board of management seeking a revised stage 3 in accordance with the agreed brief. When the revised stage 3 submission is received in the Department, a meeting will be convened which will involve the board of management representative and the design team presenting the submission, outlining key aspects of same. Any issues or commentary by the Department will be addressed at the meeting.

The minutes of the meeting will issue to the school afterwards as a formal record of the meeting. It is envisaged that unless there are very exceptional circumstances involved, the meeting will be sufficient to authorise the project to progress to the next stage of architectural planning subject, if necessary, to formal receipt of confirmation by the school from the design team that issues raised by the Department have been addressed.

The design and planning of the project is covered by stages 1 to 5, during which the project is developed from the assessment of site suitability, through the detailed design, including the obtaining of planning permission, to the point where detailed bills of quantities are prepared. In the case of all large capital projects currently on hands, progression of projects to construction will be considered in the context of the school building and modernisation programme 2006-2009.

I thank Deputy Devins for raising the matter. I know he has the interests of constituents and parents in mind when he addresses this matter. I thank him for his sustained interest on my own behalf and that of the Minister for Education and Science.

The Dáil adjourned at 9.05 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 October 2006.