Adj – Ballyea School

November 20th, 2007 - Pat Breen

Adjournment Debate on Ballyea National School

Deputy Pat Breen

TUESDAY, 20TH NOVEMBER 2007.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to raise this important issue and to see the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science here. He can imagine the frustration and anger of the board of management of Ballyea, given the fact it has spent almost €200,000 on a temporary site and should have had prefabricated port cabin buildings in place for September.

The first application for a new school in Ballyea was made approximately eleven years ago and the board has worked hard since to get that school in place. I will not go into the history of the application because the Department has that information. However, I want to hear tonight when the construction of this badly needed school will commence. I do not want to hear that all building projects have been put on hold while waiting confirmation of the budget allocation from the Department of Finance.

The Ballyea project had gone further than any other project. I raised the issue in a parliamentary question last week and was told the tender report was currently under examination, but my information from the Department is that the tender report has been approved and a contractor has almost been appointed. Somebody is misleading someone with regard to the Ballyea project and the result is that nothing has happened since last September with regard to the putting in place of the temporary school that should have been set up. The local board of management has entered a lease agreement with the local GAA club for 12 months for the use of the car park, facilities have been put in place and €200,000 has been spent, but nothing has happened with regard to provision of the buildings. The board is frustrated and angry about this and has been in constant contact with the Department in an effort to find a resolution.

Deputy Carey and I want confirmation of a date from the Department tonight for when the project will commence. It should have begun in September, but, unfortunately, it did not. Is it the case the Department has overspent and there are no further funds? If so, why was a supplementary budget not put in place to meet this demand? I am angry about the situation and want a commencement date from the Department.

Deputy Seán Haughey: I thank the Deputies for giving me the opportunity of outlining my Department’s position regarding the provision of a new school premises at the location referred to by the Deputies.

The proposed project involves the construction of a new two-storey eight classroom generic repeat design school preceded by associated decanting works to facilitate the main project.

Planning permission and a fire certificate have been obtained and the tender report for the project is being examined by my Department’s building unit.

Under the National Development Plan €4.5 billion is assigned to the capital requirements of the primary and post-primary sectors. More than €540 million will be spent this year on school buildings. The level of construction alone in the primary and post-primary sectors in 2007 is such that it will deliver more than 700 classrooms to provide permanent accommodation for approximately 17,500 pupils.

The progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase is considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department’s multi-annual school building and modernisation programme in which the main focus is to deliver school places within rapidly developing areas. The progression of the school referred to by the Deputies as is the case with all large scale projects will be considered in this context.

I assure the Deputies that the Department is committed to providing suitable high quality accommodation for the school in question at the earliest possible date.