Méid an Téacs

16 extra schools to benefit from expanded building programme

Nollaig 19, 2014

Some 16 school building projects have been added to the Department of Education’s infrastructural programme for 2015.

The extra projects include a new primary school building for Gaelscoil de hÍde in Fermoy, Co Cork, which has been engaged in a long-running campaign to accommodate its expanding student population.

Also benefitting is St Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School, which abandoned fees for its pupils earlier this year so it could qualify for building grants and other supports under the Free Education Scheme.

The 450-year-old school, one of the country’s oldest, had been campaigning unsuccessfully since 2000 for the new building, which will encompass a derelict site on Kevin Street.

The 16 projects, which will replace inadequate educational infrastructure, are part of 70 building projects scheduled to proceed to construction next year.

The projects are part of a €2.2 billion five-year capital investment programme launched in March 2012, aimed at meeting demographic demand for new schools and facilities.

44 new primary schools

The 70 projects scheduled to begin next year comprise 44 new schools at primary level, 11 extensions at primary level, five new schools at second level, eight extensions at second-level and two new special schools.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said that together with school projects ongoing from 2014, this meant that a total of 196 major school projects would be on site next year. She said further building projects would be announced next year.

Ms O’Sullivan acknowledged that some schools had campaigned for years to get new buildings but there was “no intention to delay” on the part of the Government or the department.

“Inevitably some of these are very large projects. Some of them do run into difficulties that delay them. But as Minister I want to move them forward as quickly as possible.”

She also said the department was monitoring claims of exploitation of labourers in school building projects. The trade union Unite has claimed that workers are earning less than €5 per hour in some projects due to sub-contracting arrangements.

The Minister said there was an auditing system in the department “and anything that is untoward is reported to the relevant authorities” be it Revenue, the Department of Social Protection or the National Employment Rights Authority.

She noted that there were difficulties from the striking down in court of some of the protections for workers but her colleague Ged Nash, Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, was making “significant progress” in addressing these.

Construction industry

“This programme brings a very large number of jobs to an industry that has been pretty much on its knees for several years now. So it’s a very important element of the revival of the construction industry, which is a priority for Government,” Ms O’Sullivan said. l The full list of building projects approved can be found at education.ie.