Thursday, 21 October 2004
Schools Building Projects.
I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Noel Ahern, to the House. I also thank the Cathaoirleach for accepting this matter on the Adjournment today.
I have outlined the need for the Minister for Education and Science to report on the progress to date on the extension at Scoil Mhuire, Convent of Mercy, Strokestown, County Roscommon. When I was invited to visit this school I was taken aback by the standard of accommodation and the problems in the school. There is a lack of sports facilities and students must tog out in dressing rooms that are only containers. Staff have their offices and must meet in what were once corridors. The only way I can describe the science rooms is to say they are not state-of-the-art.
As chairperson of Roscommon VEC over two years ago, I oversaw the development of a new school in my home town of Boyle. Once decent facilities were provided in that school, the confidence of the pupils, teachers and parents was transformed. The Convent of Mercy school in Strokestown has over 420 students. While the quality and level of expertise of the teachers and the attitude of parents and students are excellent, they are working in a difficult situation and with facilities that are far from ideal.
I urge the Minister of State to convey to the Minister for Education and Science the necessity to have this school extension fast-tracked so that the students can compete at the highest level and have facilities of which they can be proud and which they deserve. Strokestown has a large catchment area. The school results are a credit to it and it deserves to have the same facilities as are available in other schools.
I know the Minister of State will bring this matter to the attention of the relevant Department and I thank him for his attendance here.
I thank the Senator for affording me the opportunity to outline the proposals of the Department of Education and Science regarding the proposed extension project at Scoil Mhuire, Convent of Mercy, Strokestown, County Roscommon. The Department received an application from the school authorities for the provision of an extension to the existing building at Scoil Mhuire. The proposed extension project for the school is at the early stages of architectural planning and has been assigned a band 2 rating by the Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising projects.
When publishing the 2004 schools building programme, the Department outlined that its strategy going forward will be grounded in capital investment based on multi-annual allocations. Officials from the planning and building section of the Department are also reviewing all projects that were not authorised to proceed to construction as part of the 2004 school building programme, including the project at Scoil Mhuire, with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual programme from 2005. The Department expects to make a further announcement in this regard later in the year.
I will convey the Senator's comments to the Minister for Education and Science. It very much depends on the allocation in the Estimates, which will issue in the second or third week of November. Within a few weeks of their publication, the Department will roll out its proposals for next year.