Tuesday, 17 May 1983
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. B. Desmond: I am not in a position to say at present when building on a new residence for the multi-handicapped children at St. Mary's School, Dominican Convent, Cabra, Dublin, will commence. I am at present examining the health capital programme having regard to the resources being made available, the levels of existing contractual commitments and the priorities of the various health agencies.
Dr. O'Hanlon: Is the Minister aware that this building is in a very serious state and that there have been numerous occasions when the classrooms and the dining room were flooded? There are 25 boarders in the multi-handicapped school and does the Minister accept he has responsibility to ensure that there is proper residential accommodation for these people?
Mr. B. Desmond: I am concerned about the matter and priority of capital allocations will go towards deaf and disabled children. The proposed project would cost about £1 million and the accommodation will provide residential  places for 39 multi-handicapped children, including accommodation for four staff members. I will consider the matter in the light of the Deputy's observations but our capital programme this year is very restricted.
Mrs. Lemass: Would the Minister not agree that there are priorities and priorities and that multi-handicapped children should be given top priority? The residence in which these children live at present is in a deplorable condition. The multi-handicapped children have to be carried up and down flights of stairs——
Mr. B. Desmond: I share the Deputy's concern but I have a problem, which I inherited, contractual commitments of about £45 million of capital expenditure on that side of the city. If we are spending £45 million on Beaumont and the Mater we cannot have money for other projects. I will try to re-direct resources as I have been trying desperately to do over the last couple of months. This is going to be painful for some of the big spenders.
Mr. De Rossa: The agreement to provide this residence goes back to 1975. I understand all the various procedures have already been gone through and that it is just waiting for the Minister's agreement to provide the money to get it off the ground. Could the Minister give any indication as to when it might be possible to make this money available? As other Deputies have already said, there are 25 multi-handicapped boarders from all over the country, not just from the Dublin area, there at present.
Mr. B. Desmond: At present I am preparing a five-year capital programme. The tender proposals were examined by my Department's technical advisers who considered them to be in order. The tenders have been recommended for acceptance  and now it is a question of providing the money but the school will be considered in the context of what Deputies have indicated and the priorities of the Government in this area.
Dr. O'Hanlon: As the Minister recognises that he has a number of serious problems which need to be dealt with urgently, would he ask the Government to restore the £2 million of capital moneys that they removed from the Estimate prepared by the previous Government?
Mr. B. Desmond: If the previous Government had directed their capital resources in a manner which would have ensured projects for the handicapped and disabled, especially those with multihandicaps and had not spent money on major dramatic structures to the tune of about £65 million——
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