Thursday, 23 April 2015
Sports Facilities Provision
I thank Senator Darragh O'Brien for raising this matter as it provides me with an opportunity to outline to the Seanad the progress on providing sports facilities at Balbriggan community college.
The sports hall proposal submitted is a joint undertaking between Fingal County Council and Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB, with the site to be provided by the ETB and funding to be provided by both Fingal County Council and the Department of Education and Skills. My Department approved co-funding for the proposed sports facility in April 2011 and responsibility for delivery of the project was devolved to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB, which at the time was County Dublin VEC.
The sports facility concerned will be developed on the existing site of Balbriggan community college. That might put to bed some concerns that are out there. In addition to the sports facility project, the Senator will be aware that a major capital project for Balbriggan community college was announced in March 2012 as part of the five-year building programme. Responsibility for the delivery of the major community college project has also been devolved to the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB.
Following a site visit in 2013, it was agreed that in view of the condition of the existing community college building coupled with other site issues, the most economical solution was to demolish the existing single-storey school building and build a multi-storey building on the footprint of the existing building. In addition to providing a new school building, this major project will also incorporate and retain the existing Drogheda Street building. When completed, it is envisaged that Balbriggan community college will cater for 1,000 pupils and will include a two-classroom special needs unit.
In view of the co-location of the major project for the school and the sports facility on the Balbriggan community college site, I understand that it has been necessary, as part of the architectural planning process, to master-plan the development of the site in question. In tandem, arising from ongoing discussions between Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB and Fingal County Council, variations to the brief for the sports facility have also been the subject of proposals submitted to the Department. In respect of the most recent variations, the Department sought clarifications in respect of the revised proposal, which was recently provided by the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB.
A meeting to discuss both projects - the major project and the sports facility project - has been scheduled between officials from my Department and Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB this coming Friday, 23 April in the Department's offices in Tullamore. I can assure the Senator that officials in my Department are progressing matters with a view to advancing both projects to tender and construction stage as soon as possible. I cannot give a date for the building work to start but it is intended to drive it on as quickly as possible.We hope to move forward at the meeting on Friday.
The Department fully recognises the key role played by physical exercise within the school environment and continues to respond to the need to improve physical education facilities for all pupils within the constraints of the available funding. I thank the Senator for giving me the opportunity to outline to the Seanad the current position on the provision of sports, recreational and PE facilities at Balbriggan community college, Balbriggan, County Dublin.