South Dublin secondary school to get PE hall after 40-year campaign

Ballinteer Educate Together National School also gets go-ahead for new Dundrum home

PE teacher Agata Suszczynska (left), principal Declan Hughes and chairwoman of St Tiernan’s board of management Labour Cllr Lettie McCarthy. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

PE teacher Agata Suszczynska (left), principal Declan Hughes and chairwoman of St Tiernan’s board of management Labour Cllr Lettie McCarthy. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

A disadvantaged secondary school in south Dublin is to finally get a PE hall for its students after almost 40 years of campaigning.

St Tiernan’s Community School in Parkvale, Balally, Dublin 16, has been seeking an indoor sports facility since it first opened its doors in 1980.

The lack of showers or changing facilities has forced the school to turn toilets into makeshift changing rooms for pupils.

However, An Bord Pléanala announced on Tuesday that it has given the go-ahead for the construction of a new PE hall as part of a wider development of Ballinteer Educate Together National School on the grounds of St Tiernan’s.

“We’re delighted at the news,” said Declan Hughes, principal of St Tiernan’s Community School, which has disadvantaged – or Deis – status.

“It’s great for the students, it’s great for our two PE teachers who’ve done fantastic work. We’re planning to provide PE as a Leaving Cert subject, so it’s a great opportunity for the students.”

The green light for the construction of Ballinteer Educate Together National School has also been warmly welcomed locally following a long-running campaign to provide a permanent home for the school.

The school, opened in 2012, has been housed in temporary accommodation at various stages on the ground of St Tiernan’s and Notre Dame school in Churchtown.

The school community led a noisy protest outside Leinster House in 2017 over the lack of certainty over the school’s future.

A tendering process for the construction project is set to get under way shortly and work is likely to begin in the new year.

The planning permission is subject to a number of conditions such as staggered opening and closing times for the schools and the retention of trees displayed on the plans.

This is likely to result in the new primary school opening earlier – possibly 8.30am – than the secondary school.

Planning conditions also state that use of the sports hall outside school term and school hours shall be made available to the wider community.

A proposed pedestrian access on to the River slang greenery shall be provided before the proposed school is opened for use.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin said she is delighted that campaigning by both schools has paid off.

“It has been a long and a hard campaign for both school communities. We’re delighted. But I have the question why St Tiernan’s was built without a PE hall in the first place, as well as the process of announcing new schools without a site being identified,” she said.

Local Labour Cllr Lettie McCarthy, chairwoman of St Tiernan’s board of management, also welcomed the news.

“ I welcome the fact that all trees showing on submitted drawings will be retained and the use of the sports hall outside school term and school hours shall be made available to the wider community,” she said.

“Residents in surrounding areas have legitimate concerns regarding extra traffic and I hope both schools, the Department of Education and adjoining estates can enter into productive dialogue to help ease the burden on all concerned.”