Seanad debates

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

6:00 am

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. Tá mé ag iarraidh stádas buan a fháil do Ghaelscoil Ros Eo, a bhunaíodh ceithre bhliain ó shin. Nuair a d'oscail an scoil, ní raibh ach rang amháin inti, ach tá 96 dalta sa scoil anois. Tá mé ag iarraidh stádas buan a bhaint amach don scoil faoi láthair. Is scoil iontach tábhachtach í Gaelscoil Ros Eo. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil sé thar am go mbeadh an stádas tugtha di.

I am asking that Gaelscoil Ros Eo be given the official status it deserves. It is four years in operation in the heart of Rush, which has a population of 8,000. The school started with only one classroom and its enrolment has since increased to 96 pupils, with a waiting list. My constituency of Dublin North includes four gaelscoileanna, three of which, I am pleased to say, are in permanent accommodation which was built in the past two and a half years. These are Gaelscoil Bhaile Brigín, Gaelscoil An Duinninigh in Kinsealy agus Gaelscoil Bhrian Bhoróimhe in Swords.

Gaelscoil Ros Eo cannot move any further until it receives official status. We are not expecting miracles, but it is in the gift of the Minister to progress the matter. I have been immensely impressed by all the gaelscoileanna in my area and throughout the country. I see the Minister of State nodding in agreement. It has been a blot on the record of successive Governments that gaelscoileanna such as this have been obliged to operate out of portakabins. Thankfully, that is, in the main, a thing of the past and I wish the Government well in the work that remains to be done.

Granting Gaelscoil Ros Eo official recognition will help it to grow further. It is certainly the wish of people in my Dáil cheantar that their children have the opportunity to be taught through the medium of the Irish language and to avail of all the benefits that go with it. I hope the Department will ensure official status is granted to Gaelscoil Ros Eo without further delay.

Photo of Ciarán CannonCiarán Cannon (Galway East, Fine Gael)
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I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn. I thank Senator Darragh O'Brien for raising the matter as it affords me the opportunity to outline the current position with regard to Gaelscoil Ros Eo, Rush, County Dublin. In April 2008, under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge, the school was granted provisional recognition, with effect from September 2008, following on from the report and recommendations of the new schools advisory committee on the recognition of new primary schools for 2008.

An application for permanent recognition was submitted by the school to the Department on 5 November 2010 but was refused on the basis that it did not satisfy the necessary requirement of having a minimum of 17 junior infants enrolled for three consecutive school years. The gaelscoil was notified of the Department's decision and advised that its temporary recognition would be extended and the matter reviewed again when the pupil enrolment position for the current school year 2011-12 was available. On the basis of the increase in school pupil enrolments that has been returned by the gaelscoil, the Department arranged for an inspector's visit to the school, which took place recently. A decision on the matter of granting permanent recognition will be conveyed to the gaelscoil when the inspector's report is received.

My Department has carried out a study to identify the areas of the State where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at both primary and post-primary levels in the coming years. In that regard, it has been determined that the number of pupils at primary level is projected to increase nationally from a current enrolment of 510,000 pupils to approximately 540,000 by 2014, with a further increase to 553,000 pupils by 2018. That is an increase in the primary sector of 43,000 pupils over the current levels.

In determining where additional school accommodation is required, the Department has identified the greater Dublin region, including the Rush area, as one of the likely locations of such pupil enrolment increases. In that context, the Department recently approved the rental of an additional temporary mainstream classroom to Gaelscoil Ros Eo to cater for increased enrolments at the school. Given the projected increases in pupil enrolments in the Rush area, the Department will continue to work with the gaelscoil to address its accommodation requirements.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister of State for his response. Reading between the lines, it seems there are good grounds for hope that Gaelscoil Ros Eo will be granted official status. I understand the departmental inspector visited the school some weeks ago. Will the Minister of State see his way to expediting the publication of the resulting report? I have no doubt that the cigire will recommend that official status be given to the school. Rush is a growing area, as borne out by its population and the student numbers in this school. I will follow up this matter in a few weeks time with the Minister of State's office. Recognition of this school would be greatly appreciated by the daltaí, tuismitheoirí agus múinteoirí Gaelscoil Ros Eo.