Dáil Éireann - Volume 464 - 24 April, 1996
Adjournment Debate. - Convoy (Donegal) School Extension.
Miss Coughlan Miss Coughlan
Miss Coughlan: I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me raise this matter, which is of extreme importance to my constituency. At present, there are 222 pupils at St. Brigid's national school, Convoy, with eight classes in five classrooms. Since 1978, parents, pupils and teachers of the school have been awaiting an extension to the school. Unfortunately they have encountered set back after set back.
The project went to tender in 1986 but did not proceed any further. In May 1995 we were delighted that the Minister sanctioned the extension once more. However, the project has fallen once more when it was almost at the last hurdle. The school is awaiting sanction from the Department to provide funding for the proposed extension.
 My real concern is for the safety of the pupils and teachers. When the Drumkeen national school was being built, a prefabricated building was taken to Convoy to try to alleviate overcrowding. This prefab is dangerous. It is a fire hazard and there is also a problem with rodents. The remedial class is being taught in the cloakroom and senior pupils do not have any cloakroom facilities. The nine members of staff have nowhere to go. There was a general purposes or assembly room, but that is also being used as a classroom. There is a chronic problem and the extension which has been sanctioned will be totally inadequate because Donegal County Concil intends to build 40 new family houses in Convoy. If there are two children in each house, another school will almost be required.
This is a serious matter. I realise there are constraints on the Minister's budget but the funding made available to County Donegal through the primary building programme has been paltry. The need is perhaps not as great as in other counties, but one of the schools in greatest need is St. Brigid's national school in Convoy. Given that people have been disappointed since 1978, it is time they received what they deserve. An extension is urgently required and the people need the Department to sanction the funding immediately, otherwise costs will increase — the needs have already increased — and we will be left with nothing. People in the area have put money into an account to provide the local contribution and their donations, commitment and tolerance should be rewarded. I ask the Minister to sanction the tendering process immediately.
Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen) Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen)
Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Allen): I am glad the Deputy has given me the opportunity of outlining to the House my Department's position in relation to the provision of improved accommodation at St. Brigid's national school, Convoy, County Donegal. This has been a problem for many years.
 I am aware that the school has a staffing level of seven assistant teachers in addition to the principal along with a shared remedial teacher. The current accommodation consists of five permanent classrooms, a general purposes room divided for use as two classrooms, plus a prefab which is reported to be in poor condition. I appreciate that the accommodation available is less than satisfactory.
In recognition of the school's accommodation needs, a building project at this school was included in a phased national building programme for 1995. I am pleased that this project has progressed through the various planning stages. However, I am not in a position to indicate when the project is likely to commence.
This project is reviewed on an ongoing basis against a set of objective criteria and a priority listing which governs the order in which projects proceed. Due to the current level of contractual commitments on the primary building programme, it is not possible for me to state at this point when funds will be available to allow the proposed extension to St. Brigid's national school to proceed to tender. A decision on the timing of the tender process will be taken later in the year in the light of expenditure on existing contractual commitments and the financial resources available.
I assure the Deputy that my Department appreciates the concerns expressed by the school authorities, the parents and the Deputy in relation to the need for improved accommodation at St. Brigid's. Every effort will be made to ensure that this project proceeds to construction at the earliest opportunity. I again thank the Deputy for giving me this opportunity to outline the current position.
Dáil Éireann 464 Adjournment Debate. Convoy (Donegal) School Extension.