Thursday, 13 November 2008
Schools Building Projects
Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael)
I thank the Cathaoirleach for the opportunity to speak on this. I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Seán Haughey, to the House to discuss this matter.
I have raised the issue of Scoil Bharra on the Adjournment on a number of occasions over the past year and will not go through the full background again as I know the Minister and the Department are well aware of the situation. However, there are two points I wish to stress. The school is a thriving, successful school located in the heart of a community in my constituency. The school delivers this success despite that it has been located in prefabs and temporary buildings for almost all of its existence. These temporary buildings are located on the grounds of a GAA club.
Despite the exceptionally difficult circumstances in which the school has to operate, it has managed to deliver a successful experience for students, parents and the community. A recent visit to the school brought home to me the extent of this success as well as the difficult environment in which it must operate. I was brought to the room used to help students with special needs, which also acts as a store for cleaning equipment. It is obvious that teaching young people in a temporary and unsuitable environment is far removed from what we preach in terms of looking after them. Even though the school is in a deplorable situation, the teachers and pupils have done a wonderful job in creating a great environment.
As the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science is aware, the capital funding programme for schools will be revisited in the context of the current economic environment. It is essential that we do all we can for this school, which is successful despite its temporary location and poor environment, in terms of clarifying when it can expect a new building and presenting concrete plans on how it can realise its hopes. God only knows what level of success it could deliver if it got a fairer deal.