Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers. - Mayo School.

24.

asked the Minister for Education whether he will make a statement on his proposals for the Stella Maris Secondary School, Ballycastle, County Mayo.

There are only 83 pupils in this school. The first year intake last September was 16 pupils. Whatever arguments there may be about whether the 400 to 800 size school favoured by my Department is the right one, no reputable educationalist would agree that a post-primary school with 83 on roll can provide an adequate service up to leaving certificate level. The Lacken Cross/Ballycastle area cannot support two post-primary schools and this fact should be faced by all the interests concerned. The Vocational school at Lacken Cross has 242 pupils on roll and is, therefore, quite obviously the school which is being supported by the great majority of the people in the area. Any plan for the area must accordingly be based on the development of the latter school, and that is why it is proposed to concentrate senior cycle facilities there.

Is the Minister aware that a meeting took place of all the County Mayo public representatives and the teachers and parents in Ballycastle, last Sunday week? Is he aware that they are determined to fight the closure of the school there and the taking of the senior cycle facilities from them? This has been a very depressed area. Is the West to survive? Are we ever to get a population there? I am quite certain it was not the Minister who made this decision. It seems to be a bureaucratic decision geared to kill another town in the west of Ireland. I would ask the Minister seriously to consider the position. This school has a widely based curriculum. The people in the area are completely satisfied with it. They are determined to fight the closure of the school. I would ask the Minister to reconsider the decision having regard to the fact that it means that another small town in County Mayo will be wiped out.

I would suggest that the Deputy should read the reply I have given to the question.