Tuesday, 27 May 1986
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: asked the Minister for Education if he will provide gymnasium facilities at Grange Community College, Dublin 13, as the students of this college will not be able to avail of the facilities at the adjacent sports complex; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the complex is receiving substantial financial assistance from the recreation and financial section of the Department of Labour and from the county council, it is considered that it should serve both school and community needs. The committee for the complex have indicated that they are prepared to discuss its usage by the school.
I am satisfied that the complex would be suitable for the school's programme  of physical education and I believe that satisfactory arrangements can be worked out for its use during the school day.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: I have to put it to the Minister that there is a very obvious problem of logistics here. I would ask the Department to reconsider this matter. The case has been put to his Department by the school authorities on a number of occasions. Would the Minister agree that if a community are to fully utilise a sports complex — and I accept that there has been a great deal of State investment in it — a number of second level classes which would hope to utilise a facility of this kind on a daily basis simply cannot work out a satisfactory sporting and physical education programme, given the very obvious constraints?
Mr. Kenny: I am aware that Grange Community School opened in 1982 with a capacity for 1,000 pupils and that the current number is about 679. The facilities to be provided at the leisure centre include a large sports hall, squash courts, swimming pool, lounge, meeting rooms and changing rooms. The tender price of the project was over £1 million. The recreation and financial section of the Department of Labour have provided £226,000. I might add that the Department were anxious that the council and the committee would site the complex on the school site, but this has not proved successful. The complex is only 100 yards away from the school and to consider providing a second complex in the school itself would be merely duplication of substantial financial resources.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: There is a serious problem here. Is the Minister aware of the case made by the school authorities? Is he also aware of their concern that, despite the willingness of the community council to talk, which I detect from his answer, no realistic programme can be  worked out to ensure adequate PE facilities for the school? Fundamentally, the case made is that a class or two here and there might be accommodated but, in general, the school cannot be accommodated in a satisfactory way with regard to PE facilities, given the enormous commitment that this centre will have to make to a very large and young population.
Mr. Kenny: I accept that it would be preferable if the complex were sited on the school site but I do not accept that a programme cannot be arranged. There are schools in towns all over the country where pupils are using facilities that are not sited on school grounds and programmes for physical education are being adequately dealt with by the PE teachers concerned.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: I do not intend to, a Cheann Comhairle. I accept the Minister's reply that it could be relevant in a number of rural areas or small towns throughout the country. I am not saying that I am too familiar with that. In this instance, however, would the Minister again review the case and consider the following facts: in this area the centre will serve a whole plethora of organisations, all of which will be applying and will have legitimate entitlement to use the sporting, leisure and recreational facilities. This is a huge densely populated catchment area with a very young population.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: Would the Minister look again at this problem and at the needs of this school? They are far too important to be written off in terms of the provision of what could be regarded as a very impressive structure next door.
Mr. Kenny: I am not clear if the Deputy wants another £1 million spent on a site 100 yards away from the existing complex. He may take it that officials of the Department of Education are more than willing to participate in discussions with the community in order that a proper programme will be worked out for the school pupils to avail of the facilities in the complex. These officials are available for discussions in that regard.
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