Dáil Éireann - Volume 434 - 13 October, 1993
Adjournment Debate. - Dunleer (Louth) School Project.
Mr. Kirk Mr. Kirk
Mr. Kirk: I would like at the outset to thank you for giving me the opportunity to raise this matter. The extension of Scoil Uí Mhuirí has been long awaited. At present the school has 372 pupils, that number having increased from 170 in ten years. The building unit in the Department  of Education originally received the application for the extension about ten years ago. Needless to say, much water has passed under the bridge since then and, unfortunately, the expenditure on the provision of prefabricated equipment has increased greatly, particularly in the last three years. I understand a total of six prefabricated buildings have been provided on the school site since 1990 leaving a grant total of 15 prefabricated school classrooms in Scoil Uí Mhuirí. That illustrates the urgency of getting this building project under way in the coming year.
The school is an excellent one by any standards. Its record of academic achievement stands comparison with any secondary school around the country. I know the principal, Paul Nolan, and his excellent teaching staff are very proud of the achievements of the school and are anxious to improve the facilities for the pupils there. On the basis of the figures I have just quoted the parents in the school's catchment area are conscious and appreciative of what the school is doing for their area. I would be delighted if the Minister for Education could tell me tonight that she will be in a position to provide finance for the building project in the forthcoming Estimates.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach) Niamh Bhreathnach
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to the matter raised by the Deputy regarding Scoil Uí Mhuirí, Dunleer, County Louth. I am well aware of the accommodation problems affecting the school and the application for an extension it has with my Department. I would like to give some brief background information.
Scoil Uí Mhuirí, Dunleer is the sole provider of post primary education in the  catchment area. It had an enrolment of 358 pupils — 184 boys and 174 girls — in the last school year 1992-93. The accommodation at the school consists of some traditional permanent structures and a number of prefabricated rooms.
A project to provide an additional 845 sq. metres of new accommodation, at an estimated cost of £600,000, was approved in the mid-eighties. However, having regard to the long term, an in-depth evaluation of the project was undertaken in May 1990 and a modified phased development was agreed with County Louth Vocational Education Committee. Phase I of this development is estimated to cost £380,000 and will provide the following additional accommodation: science laboratory and preparation area; metalwork room and store; GP/dining/ social area, including kitchenette; staff toilets.
The planning process is now complete and the project is ready for the invitation of tenders.
Having regard to the huge demands on my Department's post primary capital in the current year, it was, unfortunately, not possible to include the Dunleer vocational school project in the building programme for 1993.
The Deputy will be aware that discussions are ongoing with the Department of Finance regarding the 1994 budget. Until I know what capital will be available in 1994 for the post primary building programme I am not in a position to say when tenders will be invited for the project. As I have said I am fully aware of the situation at the school and I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to include this project in the 1994 programme.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.10 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 14 October 1993.
Dáil Éireann 434 Adjournment Debate. Dunleer (Louth) School Project.