Tuesday, 23 June 1998
Dáil Éireann Debate
381. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps, if any, taken at his Department to give effect to the welcome announcement he made in Galway recently regarding capital funding for non-denominational project schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15246/98]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I am involved in discussions with the Minister for Finance on the question of State ownership of new primary schools. In these discussions, I am drawing on the work of the Commission on School Accommodation Needs. I expect these discussions to be concluded in the near future and my Department will then be in a  position to address the long-term accommodation needs of the Galway school project.
382. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the arrangements in place to meet the increasing demand for non-denominational and multi-denominational education at primary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15247/98]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): There are no non-denominational State recognised primary schools in the State. The position regarding multi-denominational schools is that a parent group wishing to establish such a school is required to submit a formal application to the planning section of my Department. The application should include details of the number of pupils expected to enrol in the proposed new school in the initial and subsequent years and should also indicate how it is proposed to accommodate the school. Successful applicants would be required to nominate a patron and appoint a board of management in accordance with standard procedure.
On receipt of official recognition, schools may apply to my Department for grant aid in respect of teacher salary and towards current operating costs, including the rental of temporary accommodation. Capital grant aid may be claimed when permanent recognition is granted. The staffing  ratio and levels of grant aid are the same as those which apply to denominational schools.
The Commission on School Accommodation Needs is reviewing the criteria for the recognition and resourcing of new primary schools, including multi-denominational schools, as part of its remit. I will review the existing criteria for the recognition of such schools in the light of commission's recommendations.
383. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to developments in the area of multi-denominational and non-denominational education in Northern Ireland; whether he has discussed these developments with his counterpart in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15248/98]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): The Department of Education and Science and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland are in regular contact with a view to examining and promoting opportunities for co-operation in the area of education. In this context, I am aware of the development of schools in Northern Ireland which have been established at both primary and secondary level with the aim of providing education for Roman Catholic and Protestant children together. There have been no specific discussions between both Departments regarding these developments.
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