Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
Deputy Finian McGrath: I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to raise this important issue regarding a proper water supply for St. Brigid’s girls’ national school in Killester, Dublin 5. I am here tonight to support the parents, pupils and teachers on this urgent matter. The school needs support and I call on the Minister to provide the funding to St. Brigid’s to deal with the water issue, the tanks issue and above all to ensure that the school has a safe and regular supply of water so that the teachers and pupils can get on with their work. The background to this issue is the recent water crisis in the Killester area. The residents in the area suffered major problems with water supply and many people had to go without water for days, which is unacceptable. The Minister needs to ensure that the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Dublin City Council get their act together and provide for a long-term solution for the water issue in the Killester area.
Were it not for people like Independent Councillor Damian O’Farrell and his team who did an excellent job going around Killester with his trailer and 25-litre containers of water, many more would have suffered. The long-term water issue in Killester must be resolved as well as the school issue.
St. Brigid’s girls’ national school was forced to close because of lack of water. Its tanks are outdated and it urgently needs a new water system to ensure the smooth running of the school. The principal and the board of management has applied to the Department for the funding to resolve this issue. I urge the Minister to release the funding to St. Brigid’s. This is an urgent appeal and now is the time to act.
This would be of major assistance to the pupils and the school. It would remove the uncertainty of not knowing whether they will have water and all the toilets, wash-hand basins and sinks would be working properly. This would have a positive impact on the school and above all, ensure the smooth running of the educational service there. I again urge the Minister to support the school with the funding. It is ready to roll at the moment. I am here tonight representing the people of Killester and hundreds of families in the area. I urge the Minister to listen to their request for funding to ensure a constant and safe water supply to St. Brigid’s.
This is not a major educational issue alone, but also a major health and safety issue. Funding from the Department is the solution in helping this school. It needs proper tanks and a safe supply of water to ensure it is run on a proper professional basis. A school cannot be run without water.
Deputy Tony Killeen: Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta as ucht deis a thabhairt dom freagra a thabhairt ar an ábhar tabhachtach ar chionn oideachais. I am taking this adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe, Minister for Education and Science.
I am happy to outline to the House the Department’s position regarding a proposed application for capital grant aid for emergency works by St. Brigid’s girls’ national school, Killester. The main purpose of the emergency works scheme is to ensure the availability of funding for urgent works to those schools most in need of resources as a result of an unforeseen event of a capital nature that can arise during the course of a school year. The application process requires the provision to the Department of specific relevant information to enable a verifiable, speedy and equitable assessment and decision.
Primary and post-primary schools requiring capital grant aid for emergency works in the current year must apply under this scheme. The purpose of the scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies which cannot be funded by the school’s own resources. All relevant and supporting information in regard to an application must be provided in order to support a claim for grant-aid under this scheme. All applications are dealt with on an individual basis.
I understand that the school authority has been in telephone contact with the building unit of the Department concerning a problem with the water tanks. I further understand that an application for emergency funding will be submitted in the near future. When this application is received it will be assessed without delay and the school authorities will be notified of the outcome. I can confirm to the Deputy that the school has applied for funding for water conservation measures. This application was made under the terms of the summer works scheme for 2010.
When the Minister announced details of this scheme last year, he said that he was anxious to help schools to conserve water and keep their water bills as low as possible now that full water charges are on the way. He introduced a new category under the 2010 summer works scheme to address this issue.
The most appropriate water conservation design approaches have been identified by the Department for many years and form part of the standard low energy school designs that are used when new schools or major extensions are being built. The Minister now wants to focus on existing buildings to minimise, as far as possible, the impact of water charges on all school budgets. Specific simple and straightforward measures have been identified by the Department which should minimise excess consumption of water and reduce wastage. These measures will also contribute to the Government’s national targets on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The water conservation measures will be funded as part of the usual broader summer works scheme to make structural and other improvements to school buildings while pupils are on their holidays. The closing date for the receipt of applications under the summer works scheme for 2010 was 27 November 2009. The applications received, including that from the school in question, are now being assessed.
In keeping with the timetable published with the governing circular letter for the scheme, the Minister expects to be in a position to publish the list of successful applicants in the spring. I again thank the Deputy for giving me the opportunity to outline the current position to the House.
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