Donegal TD Thomas Pringle has questioned Education Minister Norma Foley on why a list of delayed school projects is not being published.
Deputy Pringle said it was “completely unacceptable” that the 58 affected schools and the total costs of the projects are being kept under wraps.
A reported 16 school projects in Donegal may be affected by the halt, which has been blamed on rising costs.
“There is absolutely no excuse for this secrecy towards members of parliament or towards the public. The public has the right to know where public money is being spent and where it is being pulled,” Deputy Pringle told the Minister yesterday.
Minister Foley said that communications are taking place directly with schools. The Department has prioritised engagement with boards of management and principals before publishing wider information.
The discussion took place during a Labour Party Motion on Education and the School Building Programme.
Sinn Féin’s Donegal TD Pearse Doherty also pleaded with the government to let school construction projects proceed.
Deputy Doherty said the delays will cost more in the long run.
“I’ve raised the question before in relation to my own local school, Scoil Chonaill in Bunbeg, a school that my own children attended. They have an autism unit there and they need an extension. The extension has been approved and their plans now have been thrown into disarray,” he said.
“They also haven’t had clarity from the department or the Minister in relation to what is happening.
“Another school that I have raised is Gael Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí.
“I spoke to the principal at the weekend, as well as some of the teachers and parents who have been campaigning in relation to this. They have been waiting 24 years.
“Teachers teaching day in and day out in prefabs. No permanent building. Prefab after prefab after prefab.
“Young kids are pointing out the damp in the roof and walls.
“They finally got on the school building programme in 2016. They were finally allowed to proceed. They finally got the contractor appointed. They got a tender approved 180 days ago.
“But the tender only lasts 180 days and is now up, which means that the contractor can go in and retender at a higher price because of inflation.
“24 years they have been waiting for a school and they have been left in limbo by this government.
“Show them some respect. Let this school go ahead. Let the other schools go ahead.”
Deputy Pringle called on the Minister for Education to visit Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí and to engage with the Board of Management on the issues.
The deputy also said he supported the motion’s call to ensure that no child be left without a place through the School Transport Scheme.
Deputy Pringle said: “Going forward, the concession ticket holders need to be included in the school bus numbers so that adequate space can be arranged before the school year begins and all children can be catered for.”
He also supported the call for the return of the publication of Leaving Cert results in August.
Deputy Pringle said: “The delayed release of results puts massive strain on students and universities and makes it difficult for applicants to secure places in other jurisdictions if needed. This particularly affects my constituency of Donegal, where many students go to the North for college.
“The proportion of students from the Republic going to college in the North is down from more than 4,000 in 2010 to just over 2,000 in 2021. The housing crisis has meant that students are under enough stress to secure accommodation as it is.
“This stress is only heightened when results are published so late, causing a frenzy to secure accommodation in such a short timeframe,” he said.