Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 January 2011

3:00 pm

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, Deputy Seán Haughey.

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Fine Gael)
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I thank the Minister of State for his attendance. The issue I raise is the status of Gaelscoil Bharra in my constituency. I have raised this matter on several occasions in the House. A building project for the school has progressed in recent years and I understand the Department of Education and Skills is involved in discussions with staff and parents regarding the potential design of the school. I raise this issue to emphasise the need for the building project to be progressed given the long-standing poor condition of the school building. I ask the Minister of State to provide an update on what will be the position regarding funding for the building project once the design has been agreed.

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Dublin North Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Mary Coughlan, who has today been appointed Minister for Health and Children.

I thank the Senator for raising the matter as it affords me the opportunity to outline to the Seanad the process being utilised to ensure there will be adequate accommodation in schools at primary and post-primary level in all parts of the country. The forward planning section of the Department has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at both primary and post-primary levels over the coming years. The study was conducted using data from the Central Statistics Office, General Register Office and Department of Social Protection, with reference to recent schools' enrolment data. School accommodation requirements in the Dublin 7 area have been considered as part of this detailed study. Indicators are that approximately 12 additional primary classrooms may be required across the area to cater for increased enrolments up to the school year 2014-15. The Department is considering options to meet the deficit identified.

To address the position of the specific primary school referred to by Senator Donohoe, Gaelscoil Bharra, Cabra, Dublin 7, the Department has agreed, in principle, a design solution for the school subject to securing the necessary planning consent from the planning authority. St. Finbarr's GAA club is agreeable, in principle, to surrendering its interest in the relevant land holding to facilitate the proposed design solution. The Department has also received permission from the GAA club to apply for planning permission for the school. The Department is in the process of working up a design solution for submission to the planning authority based on previous discussions with the local authority. I assure Senator Donohoe that the school authority will be apprised of the design solution in advance of the application being submitted to Dublin City Council. To this end, the Department has advised the Office of the Chief State Solicitor that the necessary legal arrangements should be prioritised and the Department will continue to work with the office in this regard.

The progression of the accompanying building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to the Department for school buildings generally. I thank the Senator again for affording me the opportunity to outline to the House the current position regarding this matter which he has raised on several previous occasions.