Seanad debates

Thursday, 11 June 2009

3:00 pm

Photo of Michael FinneranMichael Finneran (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fianna Fail)

I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe. I thank the Senator for raising this matter as it provides me with the opportunity to outline to the House the Government's strategy for capital investment in education projects and the current position in regard to future plans for Gaelscoil Bharra, Cabra.

Efforts to modernise facilities in the existing building stock and to respond to emerging needs in areas of rapid population growth represent a significant challenge. Such efforts are a priority for the Minister for Education and Science. The Government has dramatically increased capital investment in the schools building programme to an unprecedented level which reflects its commitment to continue its programme of sustained investment in primary and post-primary schools. This investment will underpin our particular emphasis on the delivery of additional school places in rapidly developing areas while continuing to facilitate our commitment to delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary accommodation throughout the State.

The Office of Public Works, which acts on behalf of the Department in regard to site acquisitions generally, was requested to source a greenfield site for this gaelscoil. On foot of advertising, no proposals were received for such a site in the Cabra area. As a result, the issue of providing a permanent school on the existing temporary site then came into focus. To pursue this further, meetings have taken place between the Department and Dublin City Council regarding the potential availability of this site. The Department wrote to the council with a proposal that a lease arrangement be put in place. Officials from the Department met the city council and representatives of the GAA club to discuss the issue of entering into a lease arrangement with the council which in time will require the GAA club to surrender its interest on some of the lands required for a building project.

In February 2009, Department officials met separately representatives of Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club to discuss three potential design options to allow for the provision of an eight-classroom school on the site. The club responded by way of letter in March 2009 indicating its preferred design option based on the options presented by the Department and highlighting its concerns that car parking for its members and the school's teaching staff be addressed. On foot of this, the Department wrote to Dublin City Council advising it of the design option favoured by the GAA club and requested the council to consider a technical assessment of the site incorporating the views of the GAA. At the end of May 2009, the Department received Dublin City Council's observations on the proposed design and these are being examined. The Department will contact Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club when this exercise is completed.

The further progression of the acquisition of this site and the accompanying building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to the Department for school buildings generally. I thank the Senator once again for affording me the opportunity to outline to the House the current position in regard to future plans for Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra.


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