Thursday, 10 March 1983
Dáil Éireann Debate
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy S. Walsh has been given permission to raise on the Adjournment the question of accommodation at Killinarden post-primary school, Tallaght, County Dublin. He has 15 minutes and the Minister has five minutes.
Killinarden community school started in September 1982 with 149 pupils. It is now operating from Killinarden primary school. In September this year an additional 210 pupils will be available for enrolment in post-primary education and this will give a total of 360 pupils. It will not be possible to continue in the present primary school because there will not be accommodation for the additional pupils.
There is a new community school under construction in the area to service  Killinarden. This school is due to be completed in May 1984. The board of management of Killinarden community school of which I am a member have endeavoured to find suitable accommodation on a temporary basis, so far without any success. There is a new community college very close to this area which is under construction and it is expected to be completed this summer.
The board of management of Killinarden community school have approached the board of management of this college to accommodate them on a temporary basis until their own school is completed but the board of management of that college have not co-operated. The board of management of Killinarden community school have also sent deputations to the Department of Education and have been in touch with County Dublin VEC of which I am a member. The members of County Dublin VEC appear reluctant to make any recommendation so far as concerns this community college which comes under the aegis of the County Dublin VEC.
The Killinarden area is newly built-up with local authority housing and there is high unemployment there. Killinarden and the Department have been fortunate in getting such a fine body of teachers — the principal, assistant principal and teachers. They have worked very hard for the people in the area. These people are very worried because so many pupils will be available for post-primary education next September. I appeal to the Minister charged with responsibility for education to ensure that a decision is made so that accommodation will be available for these children.
May I take this opportunity to mention post-primary education in this part of Tallaght which is known as the west part of Tallaght. At present there is one community school in operation there, Saint Mark's. This school is packed to capacity and is unable to accommodate additional pupils. There is a new community school planned for the Brookfield area, also part of west Tallaght. The work is scheduled to commence towards the end of this year and will be available to take pupils in 1985. I appeal to the Minister to ensure  that a community school, be it on a temporary basis or otherwise, is an operation in the Brookfield area in September 1984, so that accommodation will be available for pupils seeking post-primary education.
There are a number of other schools adjoining the Tallaght area and they, too, are full. I am a member of the boards of management of a number of these schools and know the position. An additional school is planned for the Jobstown area but no decision has been reached about starting work on this school. Again, I ask the Minister to look at post-primary education in this area. I will come back now to Killinarden.
Mr. S. Walsh: This is all in the interests of post-primary education which is very important in this area of high unemployment. I appeal to the Minister to ensure that a decision is reached as soon as possible so that the necessary accommodation will be available and the teachers, pupils and parents will know where they stand.
Minister for Education (Mrs. Hussey): I have listened with interest to the contribution by Deputy Walsh. Let me first of all trace the background to the problem and inform the House of the action taken by me and by my Department with a view to resolving the issue.
A new community school for 1,000 pupils is presently under construction at Killinarden. Work began last November and the building is scheduled for completion in the summer of 1984. There was a considerable delay in getting work on the new school started. It arose because of a problem in getting access to the site. Portion of the site — over three acres — was the subject of a compulsory purchase order and possession could not be obtained until the vesting procedures had been completed. Unfortunately, this area in question was to provide the permanent  access to the overall site. After protracted negotiations with Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council, a temporary access was obtained through other land owned by the corporation. This enabled work to be commenced last November.
This unforeseen delay has resulted in the present difficulties referred to by Deputy Walsh. It was necessary to commence school operations in temporary premises last September. The local primary school authorities kindly made accommodation available in the national schools. Because the enrolment will have increased from 130 this year to approximately 350 next September, this arrangement cannot be continued. Classrooms will simply not be available for them. Apart from this reality, there is another paramount consideration. It is this. The pupils who have enrolled this year in the Killinarden community school will from September next be in their second year of post-primary education. Accordingly, if their education is not to be seriously impeded they must have access to workshops and laboratories — woodwork, metalwork rooms, home economics and science laboratories.
I and my Department have been addressing ourselves for something now to this problem of providing suitable alternative accommodation for the pupils of the Killinarden area, pending the completion of their own school building in 1984. A new school with accommodation for 1,000 pupils will be completed this year at Killininny near Firhouse. This building is to house the Firhouse Community College under the aegis of the County Dublin Vocational Education Committee. It is reasonably convenient to Killinarden. The enrolment in the community college will, it is estimated, be of the order of 150. This means that the college will have some 850 surplus places in 1983-84.
 Officials of my Department have had meetings recently with representatives of the board of management of the Killinarden school and with the chairman and chief executive officer of County Dublin Vocational Education Committee. A joint meeting with representatives of the Killinarden Board, County Dublin VEC and the board of Firhouse Community College was held also. The purpose of these meetings was to reach agreement on the use by the Killinarden pupils of some of the surplus accommodation in Firhouse Community College next year.
Unfortunately, these meetings failed to resolve the impasse. The County Dublin Vocational Education Committee at their meeting last month decided not to accede to the Department's request to allow the pupils of Killinarden to use the surplus accommodation for one year only. I regret very much this decision. Up to this I was hoping and seeking that the right decision would be taken by the interested parties. I am indeed sorry that the co-operation of the vocational education committee and the board of management of Killininny school has not been forthcoming.
It is my responsibility as Minister for Education to ensure that adequate places are made available in post-primary schools for pupils seeking places. I would be shirking in my duty if I were to take no action on behalf of the pupils of Killinarden. In this regard I would remind the House that the State has purchased the site and is defraying the full cost of the Killininny school building. The site has been purchased in the name of the Minister for Education. Therefore, I will be taking action in the next few days to resolve this problem in consultation with the relevant interests.
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