Dáil Éireann - Volume 438 - 01 February, 1994

Adjournment Debate. - Knocklyon (Dublin) Proposed School Project.

Ms O'Donnell: This matter has been raised on many occasions in the past. In fact, the present Minister for Education, Deputy Bhreathnach, is the seventh Minister on whose desk this matter has been put. The matter refers to the long awaited post-primary school in Knocklyon, Dublin 16. The previous incumbent, the present Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Brennan, who is a TD in that area, following a series of meetings in March, July and November of 1992 officially sanctioned the building of the first phase of a 400 pupil postprimary school in Knocklyon. A committee dealing with the issue of the post primary school has been in existence since 1978. One can imagine the delight of the members of that committee when the provision of the school was eventually sanctioned by the previous Minister. One can also imagine their horror, disappointment and sense of betrayal, particularly by the Labour Party, when a Labour Minister took over the portfolio of Minister for Education and rescinded the decision on the grounds of a changed ideology in the book of the Minister for Education. In March last she maintained in this House that the emphasis for the Department in relation to the building of secondary schools would be to target disadvantaged areas. The obvious corollary of that is that she views Knocklyon as an advantaged area. One can imagine the horror of my constituents at being disadvantaged because they were seen to be contented or advantaged by way of income.

This matter is a source of real concern in the constituency. I remind the Minister that the area surrounding Knocklyon has been the victim of blanket rezoning and [257] planning permission for approximately 1,000 houses was granted recently. Knocklyon national school is the biggest national school in the country. It is bursting at the seams and the only option for children leaving that school is to disperse to secondary schools outside their community. That is having a demoralising effect on that new and developing community. A secondary school is a fundamental unit of any community and the demographic information for the provision of such a school exists. The school was sanctioned by a previous Minister for Education; the only thing that has changed is the ideology of the present Labour Party Minister for Education.

Members of the committee and I have been trying to arrange a meeting with the Minister for Education to discuss the possibility of including this project in the 1994 Estimates. I see a window of opportunity now because £5 million was allocated in the budget to the Minister for Education for capital spending on secondary schools. Perhaps she might reconsider the plight and concerns of the developing community in Knocklyon. The people there are hard-working, they own their own homes, are compliant taxpayers and are now being threatened with a property tax. They feel completely betrayed. They believe they pay through the nose for everything and get nothing in return. They are living in a limbo which has been created by bad planning and rezoning. The Southern Cross route is hanging over them like a pendulum causing traffic chaos in the area. The people believe they get nothing in return for the taxes they pay. They have a legitimate gripe and that is why I am raising this matter on the Adjournment. I hope the Minister for Education will show compassion and decency for the demands of the people of Knocklyon for their long awaited secondary school. Surveys show that there is a growing population and that greater numbers are attending the primary schools. Indeed, they are full. It is not only a matter of services, but of helping to build the community. I hope the Minister for Education will have good [258] news in the Estimates this year for the people of Knocklyon.

Mr. O'Shea: I thank Deputy O'Donnell for raising this matter. The Department of Education purchased a site of more than 11 acres in the Knocklyon area in 1982 when it was considered that the demand for post-primary places in the area would require the provision of a new post-primary school.

Throughout the 1980s the question of providing a school at Knocklyon was reviewed on a regular basis. In 1984 the then Minister, Gemma Hussey, decided to defer the opening of the school until 1988. In 1988, following a further review, the then Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke, decided not to proceed with the proposed school for Knocklyon but to retain the site in Department ownership.

The Department has, since 1988, been regularly reviewing the present and future post-primary needs of the Knocklyon area. In 1992 the then Minister for Education, Deputy Brennan, having received a number of submissions from the Knocklyon Post-Primary Committee, decided that the school for Knocklyon should be proceeded with.

It was envisaged that construction of the school building would commence in 1993, with the school taking its first intake of pupils in September 1994. Regrettably, however, it was not possible to include the project in the 1993 capital programme within the allocation available and having regard to other commitments and priorities, including the needs for disadvantaged areas.

In view of the protracted history of this project, and of the major demographic implications of recent and proposed housing developments for Knocklyon and adjoining areas, it is considered that the short and long term requirements of the area at post-primary level need to be assessed in the light of the most up-todate statistical data available for primary and post-primary levels and for housing and other demographic indicators. The completion of this assessment will enable the Department to decide where the Knocklyon project stands in relation to [259] the post-primary capital programme and to the many other building projects at present proceeding through the various stages of architectural planning. It is [260] hoped to have this assessment completed as soon as possible.

The Dáil adjourned at 9.10 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 February 1994.