Stalled school building projects

The situation remains chronic

Sir, – Minister of Education Norma Foley’s pledge that her department is “100 per cent committed” to almost 60 stalled building projects will ring very hollow to parents, teachers and school patrons across the country (News, March 10th).

If the past performance of the Department of Education is to be an indicator of future trends, the future of these projects will remain uncertain indefinitely, with even the Minister herself unable to say when they will proceed.

I expect that many parents, including the parents of children attending Gaelscoil Pádraig in Ballybrack in Dublin, which has operated out of a prefabricated building since it was established 27 years ago, will be among those hugely unimpressed by the Minister’s pledge.

The stated justification for the postponement being that high construction costs and inflation is resulting in difficulties among contractors in standing over tendered costs has not to date affected any other planned State-funded capital projects (the National Children’s Hospital comes to mind).


While some progress has been made in the construction of schools in recent years, the reality is that the situation remains chronic, with thousands of children being educated in wholly substandard accommodation.

Many children have difficulty in simply getting a place in a school, while most children are denied a choice of the kind of school they attend, as provided for in our Constitution.

How does the Government seriously expect to meet its own targets – say, for example, increased multidenominational school places – when it is the Department of Education itself that is stalling progress toward its own objectives by short-sighted moves such as this? The bigger picture shows that thousands of children, some in special schools, including the Kolbe special school for children with profound intellectual disabilities, are currently being accommodated in temporary, prefabricated classrooms which are costly to rent, heat and maintain, and the vast amounts of money being wasted annually on this type of accommodation could, should and must be diverted to the capital building programme sooner rather than later.

We are all acutely aware of pressure on the national finances, but opting for the construction of permanent schools over the provision of temporary accommodation will save taxpayers money, so I am at a loss to understand the Department of Education’s action.

Furthermore, and in terms of national priorities, it must be asked why the education of the nation’s children is now subject to this drastic cut at a time when no other significant cuts have been signalled or announced. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.