Various local politicians have called on the government to give assurances to Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí in Donegal town.
The Gaelscoil was one of 16 school construction projects in Donegal affected by the government’s decision to stall funding. Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí has just one day left until the contract for tender for the new school expires.
Sinn Féin’s Donegal TD Pearse Doherty and Cllr Noel Jordan have demanded the Department of Education provide assurances to the Donegal town school.
Speaking today in the Dáil, Deputy Doherty said Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí has been waiting on the school building programme for 12 years.
“They are finished with architects, the contractor has been appointed, materials have been sourced. They now have 24 hours before there is a significant, massive delay in terms of their project,” he said.
Deputy Doherty said the entire school community is in prefabs (pictured), which he described as ‘not acceptable.’
“Can the Minister for Education give any assurances that within the next 24 hours, that positive news can flow to the board of management and allow the contractor to build the school for the pupils and teachers of that community,” he asked.
“Also, does one end of government know what the other end is doing? As Minister for Education, why can you not echo the Taoseach’s words when he said construction on the schools will continue this year. This is particularly important in relation to Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí who are ready to begin construction now”.
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Noel Jordan added that Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí is a ‘fantastic Gaelscoil’ that has been in prefabs since 1999.
“The teachers and parents have fought for this new building for a long time. To see a halt to the project at this point is absolutely heart-breaking. I will be doing all I can to help the school achieve its potential.”
Meanwhile, Independent TD Thomas Pringle, says the government’s decision to put school construction on hold will ‘cost a fortune.’
Addressing the Tánaiste in the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “It’s three weeks now since your government’s latest mismanagement of the state’s finances resulted in the halting of 58 school building projects.
“Yesterday, I received an unfortunately pathetic reply to a simple question to the Minister for Education asking her to list the projects and the costs.
“She couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Why the secrecy? Why not tell people what you have done?
“I know you should be ashamed, but what are you trying to hide from the opposition on this?” he said.
Deputy Pringle said the reality on the ground in Donegal is that these ‘knee-jerk, badly thought-out delays’ are going to cost a fortune.
“I’ll give you an example of the Gaelscoil in Donegal town. They have been told to stop, after having appointed a clerk of works, contractor appointed, shovels are about to go into the ground,” he explained.
“If the delay continues, the contracted price will wither, and the school will be faced with retendering in an inflation-driven market. You couldn’t make this farce up.
“That’s what parents, teachers and children in Donegal now want to know: When will this project be sorted?” he said.
In his response, the Tánaiste, Micheál Martin, said it will be resolved and resolved quickly.