Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Aisling Dolan (Fine Gael)

In the recent budget, over €740 million was allocated in respect of school buildings under Project Ireland 2040. Scoil an Chroí Naofa in Ballinasloe has been waiting 20 years for a new building. Generations of children have gone through the school and had children of their own and still there is no new building. How did this happen? In 2000, the boys' and girls' schools amalgamated to form one school. School buildings were promised at that stage. The existing buildings date back to the 1960s. I went to infant school there. It is the only Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, DEIS, band 1 school in County Galway. There is a fantastic team of teaching staff and special needs assistants, SNAs. There is an ASD unit in the school. Children travel from east Galway, Roscommon and Westmeath to attend the school. It is shocking that, in 2020, over 290 students are still waiting in the cold because there are serious heating and insulation problems.

Planning permission was granted in 2011 and has been extended. As a councillor and now a Senator, I have worked with the principals, teachers, students and families to progress this project through the planning stages with Galway County Council and its design team. I am delighted to hear that the final designs will be submitted to the Department of Education this week. I call on the Leader and the Minister for Education to prioritise the needs of this DEIS band 1 school, especially as it is also dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. I will be working with the Department to ensure this development is accelerated to meet the needs of Scoil an Chroí Naofa, but also the children and families in Ballinasloe. It cannot be left any longer. They have waited 20 years. There is €740 million in that budget and I want to see this development happening in the next year.

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