Thursday, 21 February 2008
Schools Building Projects
Paul Bradford (Fine Gael)
I raise once again on the Adjournment of Seanad Éireann the urgent need for the Minister for Education and Science to intervene and ensure there will be early progress in the development of a new national school at Rahan near Mallow in County Cork. I first raised the matter of school development problems at Rahan national school during the summer of 1987 and it is extraordinary that almost 21 years later the same topic is before Seanad Éireann for discussion. This shows how slow progress has been and how disappointing the responses of various Governments through the years.
Rahan is a very successful and popular national school in the rural hinterland of Mallow. It has become a victim of its own success because from an accommodation perspective, the facilities are inadequate. The school is dependent on prefabricated accommodation and there are insufficient leisure and sporting facilities, which makes life very difficult for teachers who must strain against the odds to provide the educational resources required.
Through fund-raising in conjunction with the church authorities, the community has generated enough money to purchase a suitable site for a new national school and the Department is aware of this, as are local planning officials from the council. The site is deemed suitable from a planning perspective but it is still a green field and there has been no progress on a new building.
Matters came to a head some weeks ago when a rat infestation caused parents to withdraw pupils from the school for a few days. The story made headlines in the national television and radio media. Problems facing parents, teachers, pupils and the board of management have reached such a level that despair has set in. Meetings have taken place locally and there is a strong demand for local politicians to respond and make our views firmly known to the Minister of State and his Government colleagues. I believe a meeting took place in Tullamore between the departmental inspectorate and school management representatives. We welcome all this but must now move beyond words into actions.
The priority is a new school at the earliest possible date but I am realistic enough to accept it will not be built next week or next month. Whenever building begins it will be some time before the school is completed but I would like to see a decision made soon to build the new school. In the interim there are accommodation issues that need to be addressed urgently and I appeal to the Minister of State to assist in this regard.
It is 21 years since this issue was first raised in Leinster House and while prefabs and emergency accommodation probably made up the subject matter at the time, a new school is now required at Rahan, Mallow, County Cork. I ask the Minister of State to respond as favourably as he can and impress upon the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Mary Hanafin, the importance of resources to build the new school being provided in the very near future. Can he ensure in the interim that the pupils at Rahan need not learn in rat-infested facilities and will have at least the basic standard of accommodation due to all pupils in this country in 2008? I look forward to the Minister of State's reply and his strongly making the case to the Minister that the community of Rahan has waited long enough.