Tuesday, 20 February 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
Miss de Valera: It is most unsatisfactory to initiate an Adjournment debate without the Minister being present to hear the views expressed. The absence of a Minister is a gross discourtesy to the House. However, I will proceed in the hope that the Minister, at some stage, will come in.
There should be no need for this debate but, sadly, it is necessary because of increasing frustration at local level. There is also a feeling among parents, teachers and students of being let down. I am sure the Minister is aware that Kilrush Community School is situated on three different sites. You will appreciate, a Cheann Comhairle, the time, safety elements and the disruption of school hours involved.
The various schools got together and agreed to amalgamate. At local level there was goodwill and a willingness to get on with the job. However, those who have taken part in this very successful amalgamation now feel ignored by the Minister, indeed, they feel they are being fobbed off.
Miss de Valera: Yes, it is evident that the Minister does not have the appropriate interest in this matter. The people at local level were willing to get on with the amalgamation and yet this view was not reciprocated by the Minister. They want me to tell the House that the approach adopted by the Minister would not encourage further amalgamations.
I visited the school on 5 February 1996. The refurbishments, to say the least, are disappointing and do not come up to the standards expected. This is  due solely to the lack of financial commitment to this project by the Department of Education. The unsatisfactory position regarding the refurbishment of the CBS secondary school building is as follows: the floors and stairs are in a poor condition, the ceilings were never intended to be exposed in the present manner, there are numerous leaks from radiators and numerous doors have not been replaced. As the blackboards in the rooms are over 25 years old, they should be replaced, with the old notice boards. The overall finish on the double lecture room is also poor with gaping holes for pipes. Many windows have not been replaced, a number of existing windows cannot now be opened properly, due to pipework blocking them, and the hall windows cannot be closed. The chemistry lab needs to be totally refurbished. Pipes at ground level in classrooms should be covered. The boys' and girls' toilets need to be finished and all metal protrusions, which are a danger to health and safety, should be removed. The designated computer room, next to the typing room, lacks proper sockets, etc., and the existing hall and stage floors need sanding and varnishing.
I wish to turn to the recommendations re. stage II of phase II for Kilrush community school, the details of which have already been sent to the Department by the board of management. There is a need for enlargement of the gym to serve the surrounding area of west Clare. There is a need for a language laboratory as this facility is in most new schools. The social studies room should be knocked down and relocated. Greater office space is needed — at least four more offices — and the reception office needs to be enlarged. Photocopying and printing facilities, which are essential for teachers, should be located in the staff room. The facilities for home  economics must be addressed in detail by the Department, 12 individual units are needed and other details have been supplied by the board of management. Safety and fire regulations in regard to the assembly hall must be addressed.
The parents and teachers at the three sites occupied by Kilrush community school are disillusioned as their good faith has not been reciprocated by the Minister. I hope the Minister will respond positively and urgently to the matter of refurbishments in the CBS school to ensure the kind of finish promised by the Department and that the commitment to financing phase II is given unequivocally and gets under way without further delay.
I again stress I am most disappointed, as will my constituents in the Kilrush area, that the Minister did not have the courtesy to come into the House to listen to the debate and to give her view of the matter. This will not go down well, nor does it augur well for the plans for Kilrush community school. It will be noted with sadness in my area.
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Rabbitte): I apologise for the Minister who, unfortunately, because of another commitment, cannot be in the House. I wish to outline for the Deputy and the information of the House the background to Kilrush community school.
The second level schools in Kilrush — the Convent of Mercy, the Christian Brothers' school and the vocational school — have amalgamated to form a new community school. The Department of Education completed the purchase in 1995 of property from the Christian Brothers in Kilrush for the purpose of providing a new community school. The property comprised approximately a six and a half acre site and buildings of the Christian Brothers' primary and secondary schools, Kilrush, and the nine acres playing field nearby.
 Phase I of the project involved refurbishment of the existing buildings. This work was completed in September 1995 and the new school is continuing to use the existing accommodation at the school. Phase II involves the provision of approximately 1,600 square metres of additional accommodation to cater for long-term enrolment of up to 450 pupils. The position regarding phase II of the project is that officials of the post-primary building unit are currently considering revised stage II documentation which relates to the outline sketch scheme for the project. An official of the post-primary building unit will visit the school shortly to discuss the ongoing planning of the school. When stage II documentation has been fully examined by the Department officials, the school will be authorised to proceed to the next stage of architectural planning. At this stage it is not possible to indicate when the construction of the additional accommodation will commence. Kilrush community school is one of a number of schools being considered for funding in the context of the 1996 capital programme for second-level schools.
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