Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Schools Building Projects

9:50 am

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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67. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an update on the new school building for a school (details supplied). [23672/22]

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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I seek an update on the new school building for Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers in Cork.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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I thank the Deputy for his brevity.

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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It is the soul of wit. The project for Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers is included in the Department’s construction programme, which is being delivered under the national development plan as part of 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 on our ambitious plans and deliver high-quality building projects with a real focus on sustainability for school communities across Ireland. This investment will build on the good progress being made in adding capacity to cater for demographic changes and provision for children with special educational needs. This investment will also facilitate an increased focus on the modernisation of existing school stock and help transition the school system for an era of net zero carbon by 2050.

The brief for this project for Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers is the development of a new 16-classroom Gaelscoil with two classrooms for pupils with special educational needs and all associated site works on the site adjacent to the current school at Farranferris in Cork city. The major building project will be delivered under the Department's ADAPT programme. ADAPT is an acronym for the accelerated delivery of architectural planning and tendering. The ADAPT programme uses a professional external project manager to co-ordinate and drive the design team to achieve the best possible timeframe for the project through the stages of architectural planning to tender and construction.

The tender process to appoint a project manager will be completed this week. Once appointed, the project manager will commence the tender process for the appointment of a design team for each of the projects on this ADAPT programme, including a design team for Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers. The Department will keep the school authorities informed of the progression of these appointments as they proceed.

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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I have been on the board of management of Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers for 11 years. Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers was originally founded in 1986 when a group of people who wanted to develop the Irish language on the northside of the city came together. For 36 years the school has had no permanent home. It has been brilliant to see how people have been encouraged to speak the language and the interest in Gaelscoileanna in the northside of the city. Students come from throughout the northside to attend the school. The school has now got a reputation for being a hub for the language and heritage, something I am very proud of.

I welcome the Minister's announcement today that appointments will be made this week. Does she know the timeline for start and completion?

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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I acknowledge the growth of the school, as well as the service provided by the school community, school staff and wider community in ensuring it is the success that it is. As the Deputy indicated, it is a positive step that the process to appoint the project manager will be completed this week. Once fully appointed, the project manager will meet departmental officials and will put in train their programme for appointment of the design team for each of the projects in this ADAPT programme. The project manager will also be in direct contact with the school. After the appointment of the design team, it will take approximately 12 weeks to appoint the consultant architect, quantity surveyor, civil construction engineer, building services engineer etc. I appreciate this has been a long process, but the appointment of the project manager by the end of this week is very positive.

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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This will be very welcome news for the almost 300 students, their parents and the staff. My youngest and eldest daughters went to the school. My eldest daughter is in sixth class and so she will not see the delivery of the new school. However, for the other children who are in Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers it will be wonderful to have a purpose-built modern school with special needs units. The school wants to be inclusive of all the children. The staff and in particular the principal, Adrian Breathnach, have always encouraged that. For the 300 children and their parents this is welcome news. Ten years ago, that school had 89 students and now it has almost 300. For the northside this is welcome. It is long overdue. I thank the Minister for her response today.

Photo of Donnchadh Ó LaoghaireDonnchadh Ó Laoghaire (Cork South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Ba mhaith liom cuidiú le mo chara agus leis an méid atá ráite ag an Teachta Gould. Is scéal dearfach é sin. D'éirigh go hiontach leis an scoil in ainneoin nach bhfuil foirgnimh aici le breis is 30 bliain. It has been a very long and difficult road for this school, but despite that it has thrived. I am encouraged by what the Minister has said, but I hope this can be followed through on and that we finally see a permanent home for Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers. I know the board of management and the principal, Adrian Breathnach, have worked very hard on this. I hope we see progress.

I again take the opportunity to urge the Minister to finally submit the planning application for a permanent building for Cork Educate Together secondary school, for which we have been waiting for a long time.

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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That was related.

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Is léir dom gur scoil iontach í Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers. Tá sárobair ar siúl sa scoil lá i ndiaidh lae. This is a good news story today. It is positive progress, as Deputy Gould has articulated. A growth from 89 pupils initially to almost 300 now speaks volumes. This is an ambitious project for the school, a 16-classroom project with two classrooms for pupils with special educational needs. It is a series of processes but, as I have articulated, the tender process to appoint a project manager will be completed this week, and after that it rolls on. It is my intention as much as possible to expedite all of these issues. As I said earlier, it is usually a 12-week programme for the appointment of a design team. It is my intention to do that as quickly as possible. It is testament to the success of the school that it has grown in such great numbers. Like Deputies Gould and Ó Laoghaire, I would like to see this move as quickly as possible.

Question No. 68 replied to with Written Answers.