Seanad debates

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

School Facilities

9:00 am

Photo of Emer CurrieEmer Currie (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State. My Commencement Matter concerns a licence agreement for a green field beside a school in Dublin 15, St. Patrick's National School in Diswellstown. The agreement is with Park Developments Group. It is a local agreement between the school and developer for the use of the land. It is zoned for community infrastructure and will not be used for housing. The agreement has worked very well. The school needs it for playing. It is the only green space it has. On 30 June, Park Developments Group has said it will revoke the licence unless there is significant progress on the purchase of the field. I will explain why that is so important, not just in terms of playing.

The school was built as a three-stream school and has been operating as a four-stream school for the past three years. It is on a three-stream site, and even at that it was squashed. For the past three years the school has used two community centre rooms, one of which only has one window, and the library of the school as classrooms. None of those rooms have proper bathrooms and children do not have any green area in which to play besides the field.

If the school is not expanded, it will have to revert to three streams because it cannot accommodate any more children. A four-stream school is not sufficient to meet the demand in the area. Every year I deal with disappointed parents who cannot get their children into the school. The pupil-teacher ratio is 30:1.

A two classroom extension in a new prefab was opened recently, but the cycle will start again in September with the library being used as a classroom for the school year 2021-22.It cannot continue like this. This is just the beginning of the challenges this school faces. It was built in 2006 and in 2010 the presence of pyrite was discovered. Engineers recommended a total removal of the hardcore infill. That work needs to be done but legal proceedings through the Chief State Solicitor's office are ongoing. There were issues as the contractor that built the school in the first place expressed interest but that was not a situation with which the school wanted to proceed. I believe there is mediation going on between the parties but if unsuccessful, the Department will instruct the Chief State Solicitor's office to set the case down for trial with a view to progressing the permanent remediation works, in parallel with legal proceedings. This school faces emergency works every year and has lost more play spaces in its yard because of pyrite.

In the short term we need this field. Going into September of a school year without a green play area, with all the children squashed into the areas the school has is unthinkable. In the medium term the school needs that field for the permanent remediation works, to accommodate the children in other areas while the work is ongoing in order that the school can continue to function properly. We also need this field for the long-term expansion of the school for the area because there is ongoing development. The school has the field up until 30 June and the clock is ticking. Park Developments has signalled very clearly that it needs to see significant progress when it comes to purchasing this field. The school wants it, Park Developments wants it and the Department has told the school that it should continue to take in students on the basis that it would purchase this field. I ask the Minister of State for an update on this.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.