€50m EIB loan to pay for eight new schools
A €50 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) will allow construction of eight new schools to begin shortly.
The schools will be delivered using the controversial Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
They will provide accommodation for about 5,700 students. Six of the eight are second-level schools; the other two schools, in Doughiska, Co Galway, will be a primary and a secondary school sharing a single campus.
The schools are the first public sector projects to be funded under the PPP model since June 2010. Construction is expected to begin immediately. The project financing includes EIB, Bank of Ireland and the National Pensions Reserve Fund.
The Comptroller Auditor General has been critical of the PPP model for schools. In some cases, he found PPPs were more expensive than the traditional model of State construction.
The new schools – in counties Westmeath, Leitrim, Limerick, Galway, Donegal, Wexford and Waterford – are the third group to be built under the Department of Education and Skills school PPP programme.
They form part of the five-year school building programme announced by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn earlier this year.
Last night Mr Quinn said: “This is very good news for the communities in counties stretching from Donegal to Waterford who have been waiting for their school building projects to be given the green light.
“I am particularly pleased that the EIB has again decided to support the department’s schools capital investment programme with a loan of €50 million, which will assist in funding this investment. It is a further signal of the bank’s renewed confidence in the Irish State and our recovery programme.”
President of the EIB, Werner Hoyer, said: “The landmark agreement to support construction of eight new schools marks the reopening of the PPP sector in Ireland.
“The EIB is committed to enabling education investment in Ireland. This project complements EIB support provided in July to build 550 new classrooms and backing to redevelop University College Dublin a year ago.”
Last March, Mr Quinn unveiled a five-year Schools Capital Programme worth €1.5 billion.
This will see 275 building projects started between now and 2016. Since 2008 the EIB has provided nearly €350 million for investment in schools and universities in Ireland.
The eight schools are expected to be finished by 2014, bringing the total number of schools delivered under the PPP model in the State to 23.