While schools like Ennis CBS sit and wait, the Department continues to waste taxpayers’ money on renting prefabricated buildings for schools

March 13th, 2009 - Pat Breen

I wish to raise on the Adjournment Debate of the Dail as a matter of urgency the situation regarding Ennis C.B.S National School in County Clare.  Ennis CBS N.S. has their own site ready to go and they have a real need for this new building.  The current school building which was built in 1830 is totally unsuitable for the diversity of students now attending the School: the Minister must sanction an extension for the School immediately.

Schools Building Projects. ^^

   Deputy Pat Breen: I wish to share my time with Deputy Joe Carey.

 

   Acting Chairman (Deputy John Cregan): Is that agreed?  Agreed.

 

   Deputy Pat Breen: I thank the Chair for facilitating me in raising this important issue.  I am a regular visitor to Ennis CBS and visited it again last Friday morning with my colleague Deputy Carey.  I commend Brother de Róiste on the work he, his staff and the board of management do in trying to operate under difficult circumstances.  The  school was built in 1830 and is totally unsuitable for the diversity of students, 570 in all, now attending it.  The children must climb old stairs with deep steps and 28.5% of the children must go to prefabs or converted small rooms for resource and support learning.  Some 26.1% of the children are taught in prefabs.

  Ten years ago, a feasibility study was carried out for the school by the Department on Ennis CBS, Ennis national school and Scoil Chríost Rí in Cloughleigh, which recommended that three new schools should be built in the town of Ennis.  Ennis national school was given the green light recently to proceed to architectural stage and I welcome that.  Unfortunately, the other two schools have been left out in the cold.  I have highlighted the need for a new school building atEnnis CBS national school with the Minister for Education and Science on several occasions, including with the Minister’s predecessor, Deputy Mary Hanafin.  Unfortunately, I have received the same reply to parliamentary questions, namely, that the Department does not have any timescale for progression of the project.

  That is not good enough.  I am sick and tired of these old excuses.  The teachers, board of management and the parents are frustrated.  They have been very patient.

 Ten years is along time to put up with the conditions in the school.  Last week the Bishop of Killaloe, Bishop Willie Walsh, described the conditions at the school and the other two schools in Ennis as “unacceptable”.  He is right.  While schools like Ennis CBS sit and wait, the Department continues to waste taxpayers’ money on renting prefabricated buildings for schools all over County Clare, including Ennis CBS. It costs €885,590 annually to rent prefabs, an average of €11,210 per prefab.  This is disgraceful.  Instead of spending money on temporary accommodation the Minister should invest in permanent classrooms which will save taxpayers’ money in the long run.  Ennis CBS has a site ready to go.  Kick-starting the school building programme would be a major boost for the construction sector in County Clare, which is very badly needed.  I urge the Minister to give the green light to Ennis CBS National School.  He would be doing a favour for the people of Clare, particularly the school children who have to be taught in such poor conditions.

 

    Deputy Pat Breen: Is that the Minister’s answer?

 

   Deputy Billy Kelleher: Yes, that is the answer.  I will convey the Deputies’ invitation to visit the school to the Minister for Education and Science and I will also bring the Deputies’ views to the Minister’s attent