Seanad debates

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

9:00 pm

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Ceist phráinneach atá mar ábhar ar an Athló inniu maidir le dhá Gaelscoil atá ag fanacht le fada an lá le coiríocht cheart i gContae na Gaillimhe. Tá Gaelscoil Riabhach i mBaile Locha Riach agus Gaelscoil de hÍde in Uarán Mór. Tá Gaelscoil de hÍde ag stocaireacht le fada an lá ó tá an scoil ar bun ó 1994. Fuair an scoil stádas oifigiúil i 1998 ach ó shin i leith tá siad ag lorg ionaid buan le gur féidir leo a bheith lonnaithe ann. Le scéal fada a dhéanamh gearr, tá suíomh faighte acu agus tá súil acu go leanfar ar aghaidh le tógáil scoile nua don dream atá ag plé leis an scoil seo. Nuair a bhí mé ar chuairt ann chonaic mé go bhfuil núinteoirí den scoth ann agus slua mór gasúir ann atá ag déanamh sár oibre trí mheán na Gaeilge. Ach, tá siad i mullach a chéile i Portacabins nach bhfuil feiliúnach sa lá atá inniu ann le go mbeadh oideachas ceart, cóir curtha ar fáil a bhaineann úsáid as na saoráidí is nua aimsirí agus is feiliúnaí le haghaidh oideachas cuí a chur ar fáil.

I gcás na Gaelscoile eile, tá stocaireacht ar bun ag muintir Bhaile Locha Riach chomh maith céanna i dtaobh scoil nua. Is í an scoil is sine i gContae na Gaillimhe atá lonnaithe ina iomlán i seomraí réamhdhéanta. De réir na figiúirí agus fáistiní beidh os cionn 190 páistí ag freastal ar an scoil i Meán Fómhair 2016 agus faoin am sin, ba mhaith leo go mbeadh cóiríocht bhuan ann. Tá seomra réamhdhéanta mí-oiriúnach d'oideachas a gcuid páistí agus tá riachtanais fadtéarmacha sa Ghaelscoil. Nuair a bhíonn an drochaimsir ann i rith an gheimhridh bíonn sé deacair na seomraí a théamh. Bíonn siad tais agus tá sceitheanna iontu agus ó méadaíodh uimhreacha, tá achar na seomraí ró-bheag agus cúngaithe. Dá bhrí sin, tá siadsan ag lorg go n-ardófaí an grád banda atá acu leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna, ó 2.2 go dtí 2.1.

Ba mhaith liom dá dtabharfadh an tAire soiléiriú dúinn maidir le stádas an dá scoil seo. Cén uair an mbeidh an chóiríocht cheart atá ag teastáil go géar ar fáil don dá scoil seo?

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I thank the Senator for raising the matter as it affords me the opportunity to outline the process being utilised to ensure adequate accommodation in schools at primary and post-primary level in all parts of the country.

The forward planning section of the Department of Education and Skills 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. School accommodation requirements throughout the country have been considered as part of this detailed study and the Department is considering options to meet the deficit of accommodation identified in areas of particular need as a top priority.

Turning to the specific query referred to by the Senator regarding the gaelscoil in Oranmore, County Galway, I can confirm that, following discussions with Galway County Council, a suitable site has been identified for this school and it is proposed to acquire this site for the purposes of developing a new school building. However, the acquisition of this site is subject to outline planning permission being granted. The Department lodged an application for outline planning permission with the local authority on 4 July. The planning authority has eight weeks from that date to make its decision on the application. The planning application included the results of a number of different reports and studies regarding the site such as topographical surveys, a traffic management study and environmental surveys, including ecological, hydrological and visual impact assessment reports. Pending the outcome of the planning process and the acquisition of the site, the progression of the accompanying building project will then be considered in the context of the capital budget available to the Department for school buildings generally.

The current position regarding the other gaelscoil is that the school authority submitted an application for large scale capital funding for an extension and refurbishment project. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2.2 rating. Documents explaining the band rating system are available on the Department's website. Information in respect of the current school building programme, along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including this project, is available on the Department's website.

The project criteria for a band 2.2 project are as follows: there is a deficit of mainstream accommodation; the deficit constitutes a substantial and significant proportion of the school's overall accommodation needs; and the condition of the existing accommodation is adequate. For a 2.1 band rating to be applied to a project, the project would have to meet these criteria and, in addition, an extensive refurbishment of the existing accommodation would be required. In the case of the gaelscoil in Loughrea, County Galway, the school's existing accommodation is in adequate condition but there is a deficit of accommodation and, therefore, a band 2.2 rating is the most appropriate. It is open to the school authority to supply further information to the Department in support of its application, if it wishes to do so.

All large scale building projects, including this project, are progressed in the context of the Department's multi-annual school building and modernisation programme and the available financial resources. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. I again thank the Senator for the opportunity to outline to the Seanad the current position regarding both gaelscoileanna.

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Tá mé buíoch don fhreagra ach tá díoma orm gur i mBéarla a tháinig an freagra ón Roinn cé gur i nGaeilge a chuireadh isteach an cheist, ach tuigim sin i dtaobh an Aire atá ag cur an fhreagra i láthair.

Will the Minister ask the Minister for Education and Skills to reconsider assigning the 2.1 band rating because it is a particularly difficult situation for that school? It is a huge waste of public moneys to spend so much on portakabins when proper school accommodation could be built. I thank the Minister for the information and clarification.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I will bring the Senator's views to the Minister's attention.

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I support Senator Ó Clochartaigh on this matter. There is a difficult situation in Loughrea.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Senator is out of order.

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

There is a real need for school accommodation there.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Senator is out of order. I call Senator Ó Domhnaill.

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Will the Minister convey our views on this matter?

Photo of Brian Ó DomhnaillBrian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Senator will get higher preferences there in the next election.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He got away with it though.