Seanad debates

Friday, 16 October 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Marie Sherlock (Labour)

On behalf of the Labour Party, I indicate our support for the amendment to the Order of Business proposed by Senator McDowell. We, too, believe it is unnecessary and unjust to rush through this legislation today. I do not need to tell his House how important it is. As we all know, it has generated very intense personal interest. It concerns people's lives. As Senator Warfield said, we need time to listen and to consider the 38 amendments tabled, some of which are very detailed and substantial. We very much hope that the proposed amendment to the Order of Business will be accepted today.

The other issue I wish to raise concerns the schools building programme of the Department of Education and Skills. I wish to express my extreme frustration over the tortuous and unnecessarily protracted process involved in getting some schools built. I am dealing with the two schools at present. The first is Pelletstown Educate Together National School, Dublin 15. It is only a new school. When it was established, children were educated in a basement in their first year. In the second year, children had to be bussed to another school. There was no planning for a proper school building when the project was announced. It is a disgrace that the Department establishes schools but puts in place no proper buildings.

The second school I am dealing with is Bunscoil Coláiste Mhuire, Parnell Square. This is a school that had to move into temporary accommodation almost 30 years ago. Ten years ago, a commitment was made regarding a new school building. Management has been waiting ten years for a new school. It is absolutely shameful that the Department has dragged its heels despite the tremendous efforts of the príomhoide, the families, students and teachers. There is a wonderful school community but it is really up against the odds. There is plaster falling down from the ceilings. The playground is the car park for the teachers. Two major issues arise. First, the Department is wasting valuable money, amounting to €300,000 per year, on rent to a landlord when it could be used to build a school. Almost €3 million has been spent on rent over the past ten years, which is one third of the cost of the school. Second, at every stage of the building process an enormous campaign had to be launched to get the Government to act. This is clientelism at its worst. The Department needs to put in place a smooth, streamlined system for building schools. We should not have to have a campaign at every stage of delivery.

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