05/01/2015 Irish Examiner

An Foras Pátrúnachta / Press / 05/01/2015 Irish Examiner

Building to start on 51 schools

Construction should start on 51 school buildings next year as part of a €450m capital programme announced yesterday.

The projects are a mix of replacement facilities for existing schools and accommodation for start-up primary and second-level schools, as well as two new special schools in Carrigaline, Co Cork, and Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

The new Sonas facility is one of five new-build projects in the Cork town on a list of 70 major projects going to construction in 2015, published by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan. The others are three second-level schools and a new building for Gaelscoil Charraig Uí Leighinn.

A gaelscoil that has been the subject of local political controversy is also listed to move to construction, even though a planning application has yet to be lodged. A campaign group in Fermoy, Co Cork, has been targeting Minister of State Seán Sherlock about commitments for a new building for Gaelscoil de hÍde, which is scheduled by Ms O’Sullivan to proceed next year.

Its inclusion received a cautious welcome from principal at the 410-pupil school, Seán McGearrailt.

“We’re delighted to be finally on this list after a long campaign by parents, staff and management, but there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully it will happen next year, but the site has yet to be acquired, design work done and planning permission got,” he said.

The schools capital outlay for next year is €20m less than the €470m budget in 2014, although Ms O’Sullivan revealed last week that €35.5m targeted at large building projects was not spent due to a range of delays.

The 70 projects announced over a year ago to begin construction in 2014 included 22 primary and 12 second-level buildings. Planning appeals delayed 14 projects this year but three have been cleared and started construction, and another five are set to see work begin next year.

Under the 2015 programme, work should start on 44 new primary schools and five new builds at second-level, with 19 major extensions set to begin. Dublin projects make up 18 of those on the list, followed by Cork with 11, six in Galway, and three each in Clare, Louth, Meath and Wexford.

More than 40 major projects were completed or occupied during the past year, and the Department of Education expects almost 200 to be in progress during 2015, when those with work already started are added to those on the new list. Projects for future years will be assessed as 2015 progresses, to see if they are ready to go to construction and if there is financial scope to do so.