Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I welcome the Minister to the House and thank her for appearing in person to address this Commencement matter. It calls for an update on the status of a school's application for the construction of a permanent building and a timeline for the commencement of construction. The school, details of which I have supplied, is the new Harold's Cross Educate Together Secondary School, ETSS, which opened in August 2020 with a view to eventually teaching 1,000 secondary school pupils. It will be a big school. It is currently housed in temporary buildings and awaits the granting of permission to construct permanent accommodation. Staff, parents and students alike are eager for construction of the permanent buildings to begin.
The planning application is currently at stage 2a. The principal contacted me in October to express his concern that the planning application has not yet been lodged and to ask me to contact the Department. I wrote to the Department and received an acknowledgment. The school community is conscious of the urgency of the matter, as am I. The school is located at 151 Harold's Cross Road, just beside Harold's Cross Park, south of the canal in Dublin 6W. As I have noted, it is a new secondary school. It opened in August 2020 following a concerted campaign for the opening of a new Educate Together secondary school in the area. It is my own area and I campaigned for it alongside many other parents. We were disappointed that the catchment did not include Dublin 8 and Dublin 12. It encompasses Dublin 6-Clonskeagh and Dublin 6W.
The school has four mainstream classrooms and two specialist rooms. This is a complex matter because, as the Minister will be aware, the school is on temporary accommodation which is shared with two primary schools, Harold's Cross Educate Together National School and Harcourt Terrace Educate Together National School. There are three schools in temporary accommodation on the premises. All are due to be moved to permanent accommodation. The secondary school will have permanent school accommodation which will ultimately cater for 1,000 students. There will also eventually be a national school for 400 students on a shared campus.
Five-year planning permission for temporary accommodation for all three schools was granted in August 2018 and is due to expire in 2023. The school community feels very strongly that while the students of 2020-21, this year's first years, have commenced their second level education in temporary accommodation, they should not have to finish it there when they complete their leaving certificate in 2026.
Looking ahead, the school is very concerned that the planning application will need to be submitted in early 2021, which is almost upon us. This expectation arises from the likelihood that planning permission will be appealed to An Bord Pleanála if it is granted by Dublin City Council. The school is working backwards from the decision process and is planning practically, as it should. The principal, Mr. Pádraig Conaty, has asked me to raise this matter with the Minister on behalf of the school community, parents and teachers and to seek a timeline.