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Balbriggan Gaelcholáiste could solve capacity crisis

May 20, 2011

SCENES that attracted worldwide attention in 2007 when Balbriggan was forced to open an ’emergency school’ could return unless the Department of Education stops dragging its heels over the opening of a new secondary school, it has been warned.

That is the view of the people behind a proposed new Balbriggan secondary school project that stands willing and able to solve the town’s school capacity problems at a stroke this September if the Department of Education will just give it the green light.

With a nod and minimal funding from the Department of Education, a new ‘Gaelcholáiste’ which will deliver secondary school education through the Irish language for the first time in Balbriggan, is ready to go.

A site which is already owned by the Department of Education is available in the town but the delay in approving the project has already cost school authorities the chance to secure discount prefabricated classrooms for the site as time ticks on towards the start of the new academic year.

Gaelcholáiste Ghlor na Mara has signed up over 500 students who are interested in attending the school if it manages to get its doors open in time for September and with most local schools, particularly for boys, bursting at the seams, the arrival of the school cannot come fast enough.

But despite public meetings and political support from across the parties locally, the school is still waiting on Department of Education approval.

It is a source of frustration for school chairman, Tadgh O Tuachaigh, who said: ‘A shortage of second level places for male applicants to secondary schools in Balbriggan is becoming a more than likely reality for this coming September and is set to develop into a bigger crisis in 2012 for both male and female applicants.

‘With almost all schools in the suburban town at full capacity the founding committee for Coláiste Ghlor na Mara is calling for immediate action from the department of Education in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the places crisis which occurred at primary level in 2007 and received worldwide publicity.’

Mr O’Tuachaigh said the school stands ready to ‘resolve a major headache for the department in regards secondary school places in Fingal region’.

‘With a bit of urgency we can resolve this problem quite easily and cater for the 507 pupils who are anxiously awaiting the department’s decision,’ he added.

The school is waiting for a response from the department and on a recent visit to Drogheda, the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn would not take questions on the issue so for now at least, those 507 potential students must sit and wait.

– John MANNING, Fingal Independent