Ó Domhnaill challenges Govt on new school for St Mary’s Stranorlar

Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has challenged the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn in his decision to drop Scoil Mhuire, Stranorlar from the School Building Programme.

Raising a special debate on the matter in the Seanad this week, Senator Ó Domhnaill highlighted the fact one third of the pupils at St Mary’s are being taught in prefabs.

“It is completely unacceptable that St Mary’s National School was suddenly dropped off the School Building Programme when it is clearly desperately in need of a new building,” said Senator Ó Domhnaill.

“I visited the school myself recently and meet with the principle and staff members.  They, and the parents of pupils at the school, are struggling to understand how Minister Quinn can justify his decision.

“The school was originally built in 1958 with an extension added in 1974. It currently has 479 students and 36 staff.  Nearly a third of the pupils are being taught prefabs.  The annual bill for renting these prefabs is €58,847.50.  Instead of forking out a small fortune for buying and renting temporary accommodation, Minister Quinn’s department would be far better off investing in the permanent school facilities that St Mary’s needs.

“As it stands, 4 of the 12 of the permanent classrooms at the school have running water. The recreation areas are in confined tarmac yards and are totally unacceptable for many physical education activities.  On top of this, parents and staff are concerned about the very dangerous car park and pick-up / drop-off area, which is adjacent to St Mary’s Church.

“The bottom line is that St Mary’s needs a new school. The 5 acre site is secured, and planning permission has been granted. This puts St Mary’s ahead of many other schools that were not dropped from the School Building Programme.”

Senator Ó Domhnaill appealed to Minister Quinn to put St Mary’s back on the list and immediately address the valid health and safety concerns in the current building.

In response Minister Quinn said, “Stranorlar has not been identified as an area of significant demographic growth. School building projects which have not been included in the five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will be ready to be progressed to the final planning states in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to the Department in future years.”

Senator Ó Domhnaill continued, “The Minister’s response is extremely disappointing.  It clearly demonstrates his Government’s anti-rural agenda, given that only 1 of the 136 Schools on the School Building Programme are located in County Donegal.”

Posted: Apr 24, 2013     |     Categories: Uncategorized