Written Answers. - School Accommodation.

Tuesday, 16 December 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 577 No. 3

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  94.  Mr. Morgan  Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   if his attention has been drawn to the poor conditions of Gortahork national school, County Donegal, which led to parents withdrawing their children from classes; and if he will prioritise funding for this school in the building programme in January 2004. [31085/03]

  305.  Mr. Blaney  Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   his plans to intervene in the case of Gortahork national school, Gortahork, Letterkenny, County Donegal, in which pupils have been withdrawn from midday on 10 December 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31213/03]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 305 together.

The chairperson of the board of management of Gortahork national school, County Donegal, advised my Department on Wednesday, 10 December, that parents of pupils attending the school intended withdrawing the children from school that day, and indefinitely, as a protest at conditions in the school. The chairperson also confirmed that all the teachers were present at the school.

It would appear that the current difficulties at the school are as a result of the location of the community sewage tank in close proximity to the school. The core issue, which is the location of the community sewage tank, is not amenable to an immediate solution and must be looked at in the longer term. While my Department has asked the school management to press this issue with the local authority, it should be understood that there is no quick-fix solution and that a plan for the longer term is required.

In this regard, a technical inspection at this school was completed recently and the report is being examined in my Department. This report, which includes consideration of the appropriate location of the school, will influence consideration of how best to provide for long-term accommodation needs. My Department will continue to liaise with the board of management in this regard.

I regret that parents have taken a decision to deprive their children of education in this manner but I am pleased that a number of children have returned to school and I commend their parents. I urge all parents to return their children to school to continue their education.

It is quite clear that the core issue in this case is not amenable to an early solution. My Department is willing however, to engage with the [503]patron and the board of management to secure the future education of the children in appropriate accommodation. In the meantime, it is my strongly-held view that the children should be allowed to return to school to continue their education.


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