Adjournment Debate.

Children in Care.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to raise the issue, which has been somewhat truncated from the original matter submitted. My concern is with children known to be at risk and notified to the health board or HSE as being at risk who have lost their lives or children who have lost their lives having already found their way into the care system. On 19 February I asked the Minister of State with responsibility for children to detail the number of children who have died in the past ten years and who had been notified as being at risk. I was astonished to discover that not only did the Minister of State not know the numbers who had died but also it appears the HSE had not even bothered to collate them. The reply stated:

I have asked the Health Service Executive to gather the information requested and to forward this information to the Deputy. The Health Service Executive has advised, that due to the length of the period covered by the question it will of necessity take some time to compile as material will have to be retrieved from the archives.

I would have thought that circumstances in which children lost their lives, having been reported to a health board or the HSE to be at risk would have been properly recorded and the background detail would have been known and properly investigated. That does not seem to have been the case.

Some days after I received the reply to that parliamentary question, Carl O'Brien, the social affairs correspondent of The Irish Times, reported that:

A total of 20 children who were placed in the care of the State have died over a six-year period, new figures show.

Five young people died from drug overdoses, two from traffic accidents, two from assaults and two from suicide according to the Health Service Executive.

Carl O'Brien's source of information is not revealed and this information was apparently leaked to him. Where children taken into our care system lose their lives it should not be a matter of secrecy as to the circumstances in which they lost their lives or as to what action if any could have been taken by a health authority to provide them with protection. We have an excessive amount of secrecy and a total lack of transparency.

To her credit, in April 2007, the Ombudsman for Children recommended to the then Minister for Health and Children, who also happens to be the current Minister, that consideration be given to the establishment of a mechanism to review systematically child deaths in the State. A year ago she held a seminar on the issue. Two years after the recommendation was made by her it seems absolutely nothing has been done despite a decision of the European Court which imposes an obligation on all states to ensure deaths of children — particularly those who should have been taken into care or who were in care — are properly and independently investigated. This requires a sufficient element of public scrutiny for the investigation of its results to ensure accountability.

We are in the extraordinary position of knowing the names of some children taken into care who have lost their lives. There was the tragic case of Tracey Fay in respect of which the HSE received an internal report towards the end of 2008. Tracey Fay died of a fatal drugs overdose in 2002. It apparently took six years for the HSE to receive a review of what had occurred. It is reported that the review found that instead of providing her with stable accommodation, a local health authority provided a "chaotic" response, including 20 different bed and breakfasts, hospital beds, a bench in an accident and emergency unit and two different dedicated services. I do not know whether Tracey Fay's life could have been saved. I do not know how adequate or otherwise the child care interventions were. However, I know that in a democracy it is entirely unacceptable that it took six years to produce this report and the report is apparently a State secret. It has been at least three months since the HSE received it and, for all I know, with the HSE late 2008 could be any time between September and December 2008. The Tracey Fay report has not been published. The same applies to the tragic death of David Foley, who was found dead in a flat off Blackhall Place in Dublin's north inner city on Saturday, 10 September 2005. Three years earlier, he entered the care system as a 14-year old child. David Foley, like Tracy Fay, was totally failed by our child care system.

Apparently, there is some report into the death of David Foley but we do not know what it contains because it is suppressed.

The Deputy should make his concluding remarks.

It is hidden somewhere on the shelves of the HSE. I do not even know if the Minister has received it.

In conclusion, we should have an independent review of the system for all children who die in care or who die after the HSE has been notified they are at risk. We should have transparency. Reports should be published. We should learn the essential lessons from these deaths to ensure the mistakes made are not repeated and other children do not lose their lives.

The Deputy is eating into the Minister of State's time.

Finally, we should ensure we comply with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. We have had so many debates in this State about the right to life of the unborn.

Will the Deputy——

The right to life of the born — children who are taken into care — is asserted in the Constitution and in that convention, and it should be respected.

The Minister of State has just four minutes.

I am taking this matter on behalf of the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Mary Harney, who unfortunately cannot be present to respond.

The Health Service Executive is required under the Child Care Act 1991 to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. Where a child requires care or protection that he or she is unlikely to receive unless the child is taken into care, the Health Service Executive must take the child into its care and provide the most appropriate form of alternative care for that child.

With regard to statistics, there are over 5,300 children in the care of the HSE. Over 92% of these children are placed with foster families, with the remaining children placed in residential settings. During the period 2000 to date, there was a total of 21 deaths of children in the care of the HSE. The causes of death were as follows: three deaths by suicide; two deaths by assault; two deaths by road traffic accident; five drug-related deaths; and nine deaths from medical issues.

In regard to the other statistics sought by Deputy Shatter, the Health Service Executive is in the process of compiling the information requested. The Deputy will appreciate that due to the length of the period covered by the request, it will, of necessity, take some time to compile as material will have to be retrieved from the archives. However, every effort will be made to gather the data requested and to submit it to the Deputy within a reasonable timeframe.

The death of any child in care is a serious matter and requires careful and detailed consideration. Prior to the establishment of the HSE in 2005, individual health boards had procedures in place for dealing with deaths of children in care. I understand that as part of an ongoing process of standardisation the HSE is currently reviewing its procedures for dealing with deaths of children in its care, and a high level group in the HSE has been delegated to oversee the development of standard protocols for this area.

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is in regular contact with the Health Service Executive in regard to the status of any reviews, inquiries or investigations which are currently being undertaken on individual cases. I can assure the Deputy that the Department of Health and Children is monitoring and will continue to monitor the implementation of any recommendations arising from such reviews and inquiries. The Department will also continue to raise these matters at the regular meetings held between senior officials of the Health Service Executive and the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on child welfare and protection issues.

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is participating in an initiative undertaken by the Office of the Ombudsman for Children regarding the possible establishment in this country of a child death review mechanism. A high level seminar was hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman for Children in April 2008. The items considered at the seminar included current practice in Ireland, the objectives of child death review, child death review methodologies and operational considerations.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children has also recently prepared a child death review options paper. As well as providing the background to the process to date, the paper outlines human rights considerations, options around individual reviews of child death and relevant research. The paper notes that "international experience differs on the relative value of individual case review as opposed to an approach to child death which examines broader trends at a demographic level". The paper goes on to state, "it may be that in certain instances child deaths do not give rise to wider systemic concerns and reviewing them will therefore not enhance our understanding of what makes children vulnerable". In its conclusions, the paper states that the impetus for the initiative stems from the belief that the establishment of a system would lead to a deeper understanding of the factors which render children vulnerable. I understand that the Ombudsman for Children has written to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children to inform it of developments in this regard and intends to share the options paper and other documentation with it in the near future.

In conclusion, I reiterate the Government's commitment to address the crucial challenge of protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. When families fail children for whatever reason, the children must be protected by society and the State, which is a complex and difficult task.

National Drugs Strategy.

We live in interesting times and virtually every sector of Government funding has been hard hit by cutbacks, a levy, a budget and, next month, a mini-budget, all of which has happened in the space of six months. It is therefore not surprising that the national drugs strategy has suffered a reduction in its budget from €37 million to €34 million. Every local drugs task force, State agency and community group providing a local drugs service is worried about cutbacks and funding for their services and projects. They are worried about loss of staff through redundancies and the inability to plan for the full financial year.

It is particularly alarming to hear that funding for the Dial to Stop Drug Dealing and Threats initiative is now capped at €300,000 and will be unlikely to be able to proceed after June of this year. This programme has been piloted successfully in a number of rural and urban areas, including the north inner city in my own constituency. It provides a confidential telephone line which can be used in privacy and with absolute security by drug addicts, their families, neighbours and others who are often subjected to intimidation by drug barons to extract money from them or to force them to sell drugs. Gardaí regard this programme as a valuable resource in the fight against drugs. It is not expensive and becomes more and more cost-effective as it is rolled out throughout the country. It would be a shame if it became another casualty of the recession.

It appears that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is using the backdrop and cover of the recession and the budgetary cutbacks to restructure the national drugs strategy without any consultation with its component parts. The national drugs strategy is a complex edifice which has multi-agency and community participation at its heart. If this co-operative and holistic approach is undermined, the entire edifice will collapse, which would be disastrous as the present approach is the only one that can work.

The Garda, with all the legislation in the world, cannot deal with the drugs threat effectively. As the unemployment queues increase alarmingly, regeneration schemes shelved or collapsed and marginalised communities become more marginalised, the ground becomes increasingly fertile for the drugs barons to ply their trade. This is not the time for retrenchment within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It is not the time to abandon the tried and tested multifaceted approach or to centralise the delivery of services to those vulnerable and marginalised people affected by substance abuse the length and breadth of Ireland. I ask the Minister to retain the integrated partnership approach that values community participation in decision making at local, regional and national level in the drugs strategy, and not to jeopardise the real progress made over the past 12 years.

I am taking this matter on behalf of the Minister of State, Deputy John Curran, who is not available.

Details of a new national drugs strategy for the period 2009-16 have not yet been finalised. A steering group comprising representatives of the statutory, community and voluntary sectors, is currently finalising its proposals in regard to the strategy. It is expected that its recommendations will be received by the end of March. Once the Minister of State, Deputy Curran, has considered them, he will then seek Government approval for a new strategy in April, with publication to follow as quickly as possible thereafter. The Minister of State, Deputy Curran, indicated in his statement last week to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs that significant changes have occurred in the pattern of drug use since the current strategy was developed. In particular, the number of drugs being used has increased, polydrug usage occurs to a greater extent and problem drug use has spread across most of the country. It is important that the new strategy addresses problem drug use as it currently manifests itself.

The steering group has reached agreement on the actions necessary regarding supply reduction, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation measures. It is finalising the consideration of actions relating to research, as well as the structures that should be utilised to best facilitate the effective implementation of the strategy.

The development of a new strategy presents an opportunity to examine the structures through which the overall effort to tackle the drugs problem is addressed. The Minister looks forward to the recommendations of the steering group in this regard, and he hopes a framework can be devised that will preserve the best aspects of the current strategy, including partnership across the sectors, while better facilitating governance, management and effectiveness.

Ireland's economic circumstances have changed significantly even since the process of developing the new strategy began last year. The improvement of service provision remains a goal but without significant additional resources this will have to be achieved by promoting efficiency in services, focusing on those that can produce real results and fostering interagency working to the benefit of all.

As with any area of public spending, the policies to tackle the drugs problem must be implemented within the financial parameters faced in any given year. In the current economic climate, the challenge of utilising our resources effectively is even more relevant. Furthermore, it is important to note that the new strategy will cover a period of eight years and the economic circumstances can fluctuate considerably over such a period.

This Government is firmly committed to tackling the problem of drug misuse in our society. This is reflected in the fact that the relative reduction in the 2009 funding allocation to my Department for the drugs initiatives is quite small. In 2008, the budget for community-based initiatives in the local and regional drugs task force areas was nearly €34.8 million. Funding for 2009 will be approximately €34.6 million, of which more than €23 million is being allocated to local drugs task forces and more than €11 million to regional groups.

Unfortunately, no area is immune from cost-cutting measures in the current economic environment. It is in this context that all drugs task forces were asked to identify savings across their areas of responsibility. Although it is appreciated this will involve difficult choices, it is a matter for the drugs task forces to identify measures to enable them to work within their allocated budgets.

Across Government, we are taking a number of difficult decisions, but our approach is to do this in as balanced a way as possible. There is a critical need to ensure resources are directed in a targeted and effective manner and that the maximum benefit is achieved. The Minister of State, Deputy Curran, wishes me to assure the Deputy that his primary concern has been, and continues to be, the protection of front-line services delivering vital programmes and initiatives in areas worst affected by problem drug use.

Projects have been approved funding for the first six months of 2009 and this expenditure will be reviewed before allocating funding for the second six-month period. Work will continue with the drug task forces to ensure this funding is targeted in the most appropriate manner. The Minister of State is confident that the funding in 2009 will continue to facilitate the delivery of meaningful and viable community-based initiatives to address problem drug use.

The drugs strategy is based on a co-ordinated approach across many Departments and agencies and the allocation to the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is part of a much bigger investment programme in drugs services across these bodies. In 2008, it was estimated that total expenditure on drugs programmes was approximately €264 million. The figures for 2009 are being compiled, but preliminary estimates, produced for a meeting today of the inter-departmental group on drugs, indicate that spending across all Departments will be maintained at this level.

The Minister of State, Deputy Curran, awaits the outcome of the steering group's deliberations before finalising proposals on a new national drugs strategy. He wishes to assure the Deputy the new strategy will focus on countering problem drug use in our society and that securing appropriate financing over the coming years, and driving a value for money approach, will be central features of its implementation.

Strategic Development Zones.

Early last Saturday I flew across the Dublin north fringe region, returning from Galway with Aer Arann. From the air, the starkness of the construction closedown in the area is immediately visible. Large cleared areas of fields are marked out with roads and boundary fences but all activity has ceased effectively since early last autumn.

Vital public transport, shopping, health, security and community services remain to be provided for the major districts of the north fringe, such as The Coast, Stapolin, Clongriffin, Beaupark and Belmayne. The long promised new DART station for Baldoyle-Clongriffin has not been delivered and new residents now hope the latest target date of October 2009 will prove to be accurate. In the south of Belmayne, construction seems to have stopped completely over a vast area of apartments. From Clare Hall Avenue, the vast new estate looks uncared for and unfinished.

In the same district four months ago, local residents received the shocking news that the proposed new town square at Belmayne-Clare Hall was not going to proceed as planned. The key Belmayne developers, Stanley Holdings, pulled out of the purchase and development of the 9.3 hectare town square site, agreed under a section 183 agreement with Dublin City Council in August 2006. The Belmayne town square was to be a centrepiece of the north fringe development, linked by a new long urban boulevard to Clongriffin and Stapolin town centre in the east.

The astonishing debacle of the Belmayne town centre is typical of the poor planning and management of the new north fringe by Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council. More than seven years ago, I proposed the local informal stakeholders' body, the North Fringe Forum, which tries to invigilate the vast new north fringe development. The forum is concerned with a development of potentially 25,000 to 30,000 housing units and ancillary commercial development which is easily the largest such development in the history of the State.

However, unlike much smaller areas like Adamstown, Mansfield and Balgaddy, the north fringe is not a strategic development zone. I call on the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley, to give the north fringe strategic development zone status without further delay. Only by placing the north fringe on a statutory SDZ basis and insisting that the Dublin City and Fingal county managers establish a clear five to seven-year scoping and planning timetable can the urgent needs of existing new residents be met and a full sustainable development plan activated for this crucially important new urban quarter of Dublin City and Fingal County.

The Commercial Court in Clonskeagh is currently hearing an action by Menolly Homes, Mansfield Developments and associated companies against three companies in the Lagan Group, including Irish Asphalt, the owners of the Bay Lane quarry in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. The matter is now sub judice and the judgment will have immense consequences for the young constituents I represent in several areas of the north fringe. The issue at stake relates to allegations of serious pyrite contamination of infill used in housing construction in Clongriffin, The Coast, Drynam Hall, and in several other areas of north and west Dublin and east Leinster.

I am disappointed the Minister, Deputy Gormley, is not present, although I acknowledge the good attributes of the Minister of State, Deputy Moloney. For almost two years I have pleaded with the Minister to establish a task force on pyrite contamination of buildings erected during the Celtic tiger period, similar to action taken by the government of Québec province in Canada. I have asked him perhaps 20 times in this House to close Bay Lane quarry immediately and to carry out a full traceability audit of the two million tonnes of infill material taken from it. We have traced only 5% of it. I have asked him repeatedly to invigilate all the other quarries in Leinster for possible pyrite contamination. Why has the Minister and Leader of the Green Party stood helplessly on the sidelines while young householders, whose homes are literally coming apart, are left to fend for themselves? During this time companies such as Killoe Developments refused to take calls for months on end.

Surely this is another great betrayal by the Green Party and a dereliction of duty by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is now abundantly clear that the building regulations were greatly, and deliberately, weakened by this 12-year-old Government. We have a so-called self-regulatory system. In autumn 2007, the Minister, Deputy Gormley, tried to close the stable door when the horse was clearly gone, with his letter to local authorities on regulatory responsibility. The key responsibility is now his alone. I appeal to him, for the umpteenth time, to establish an SDZ for the north fringe and a task force on pyrites.

I apologise for the absence of the Minister, Deputy Gormley, who could not attend.

He is never here when we are here.

He has gone AWOL.

The Deputy will be aware that certain matters relating to the problems which have arisen in relation to the use of pyrite as infill are currently the subject of proceedings before the Commercial Court.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that the Government may, by order, when so proposed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, designate one or more sites for the establishment of a strategic development zone to facilitate development deemed to be of economic or social importance to the State.

The benefit of SDZ designation is the co-ordinated planning and development of undeveloped sites, with a good degree of certainty on the exact type and nature of development, following the determination by An Bord Pleanála of a planning scheme, which is prepared by the nominated development agency. However, the Minister does not believe a strategic development zone would be the appropriate vehicle to deliver on existing development, such as that at the Dublin north fringe, because there is already an existing and formally adopted framework plan applying to that area. This plan has guided considerable development in recent years and continues to be the basis against which planning permissions and all ancillary developments are considered. Moreover, the Deputy will be aware that a broad-based north fringe cross-authority-agency forum is also in place to monitor progress in this area.

The Minister has already had occasion to outline to the House initiatives which have been taken by Fingal County Council, by his Department and by the National Standards Authority of Ireland following from the problems which have occurred regarding pyrite in certain developments. When the issue of pyrite arose and following an intervention from the Department, the NSAI proceeded to publish a new amended standard recommendation on the use of aggregates as infill for civil engineering and road construction work. The new standard recommendation is intended to address the quality standards of new homes and buildings in so far as problems relating to pyrite are concerned. The Department has now incorporated this NSAI standard recommendation into the relevant technical guidance document associated with Part C of the building regulations dealing with site preparation and resistance to moisture. The Department has also notified all key stakeholders of the provisions of the amended TGD-C. In addition, the Minister is aware that HomeBond has included the amended NSAI standard recommendation in their published sixth edition of the House Building Manual.

The Minister, Deputy Gormley is satisfied that these measures represent an appropriate response and there are no proposals to establish a task force or to order a traceability audit of materials in relation to this matter.

The fact remains that problems arising between homeowners and their builders are matters for resolution between the parties concerned — the building owner, the relevant developer and the builder's insurer. Where the construction of a building is the subject of a contract between the client and the builder, enforcement is a civil matter.

Schools Building Projects.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for affording me time to discuss this important matter, namely, the need for the Minister for Education and Science, to provide additional funding for Colehill national school, a rural school, probably the largest in County Longford, for sewerage treatment replacement works, traffic management installations and fire safety certificate requirements, such as access roadway for fire tenders to the rear of school and a 30,000 gallon water storage tank for fire fighting.

Colehill national school is grateful to the Department of Education and Science for the funding it has received to date. However the outstanding works required by this school are essential to the health and safety of its pupils. The burden of these works has been imposed by necessity and by the requirements of Longford County Council. I am aware that the sewerage upgrade has been applied for under the summer works scheme 2009 and I would be much obliged if the Minister could confirm that this scheme will go ahead as planned this year.

However, of particular concern to me is the issue of fire safety requirements. Longford County Council is right to enforce measures for the protection of the pupils of this school in respect of fire regulations. However, the money is simply not there to provide the necessary facilities. The school is currently facing a bill of €189,196.67 for additional infrastructure. The items arising due to fire safety certificate requirements have been costed at €39,725.00 for a 30,000 gallon static tank for fire-fighting due to the inadequacy of the group water scheme in terms of volume and pressure and €16,591.92 for the provision of an access roadway for fire tenders to the rear of the school.

The foul water sewerage treatment system replacement works will require an outlay of €53,345.00. The existing septic tank and percolation area overflows into the playing fields approximately twice a year, which is a significant health and hygiene hazard. The cost of revised bus and car set-down areas, including parking, as required by Longford County Council has been costed at €68,214.75. Such vehicular access provision has a direct impact on pedestrian safety which is of the utmost importance in a school environment.

The overall cost of the works at Colehill school is €680,449.40, with €360,000 already received from the Department and this is much appreciated. The school is left with a deficit, in total of €320,449.40 in funding. Nevertheless the school has proceeded with the project and is actively fund-raising for which I compliment the principal, Bríd Lynn and the other teachers, the board of management and the parents for taking the initiative to go ahead with a project in the interests of safety but the money is not there to pay for it. However given the small local population and current financial climate, Colehill national school would be grateful for any additional funding to meet health and safety requirements. We have all read stories of fires that went rapidly out of control due to inadequate fire-fighting facilities. We cannot afford to put the lives of our children at risk in any way.

I ask the Minister for Education and Science to consider the problems facing this school and to see fit to assist it to meet all of the safety requirements of Longford County Council in regard to safety and health issues. I would appreciate a positive response to this Adjournment matter. The need for health and safety in our schools and in other environments where the public congregate cannot be emphasised often enough. It is important from a health and safety point of view that funding be made available. The principal has taken the initiative but it has to be paid for somehow.

I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, Minister for Education and Science, who could not be in attendance.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter as it gives me an opportunity of outlining to the House the position of the Department of Education and Science regarding the allocation of funding for St. Sinneach's national school, Colehill, County Longford and the operation of the Department's devolved permanent accommodation scheme.

The management authorities of this school applied for and were approved for funding under the 2007 permanent accommodation scheme. A grant of €360,000 was sanctioned to enable the provision of an extension consisting of three classrooms. The school had an enrolment of 167 pupils at September 2008 and a mainstream staffing of a principal and five assistant teachers. The general position is that the Department moved towards a model of devolving funding, responsibility and authority as appropriate for smaller building projects-refurbishments directly to school management authorities in 2003 with the introduction, on a pilot basis, of the devolved small schools and permanent accommodation schemes. Due to the positive feedback from schools the schemes were extended to include additional schools in subsequent years.

The permanent accommodation scheme allows boards of management to address their accommodation and building priorities with a guaranteed amount of funding and gives boards of management control of the building project.

The intention of the scheme is to provide funding to schools to enable them to undertake desired building projects. The scheme is not intended to leave schools with significant fund-raising needs but for the school to tailor the scope of capital works commissioned to the available funding. A central tenet of the scheme is that the schools granted discretion and funding must equally accept responsibility for prioritisation, adherence to statutory regulations, control of costs and ensuring value for money. The decision on whether to continue participating in the scheme or to drop out, if the scope of build is more than the funding envelope permits, is a matter for each school authority.

The authorities of the Colehill school accepted the grant offer and returned a form of undertaking agreeing to comply with the requirements of the scheme. Following the tendering process the school's building proposals would cost over €220,000 in excess of the €360,000 on offer to the school. The school requested that the shortfall be funded by the Department.

This request for significant additional funding was considered in the Department. However, in line with the original intention of the permanent accommodation scheme, it was considered that the school should be encouraged to complete the project within the funding envelope provided and, accordingly, the application for additional grant aid was not granted.

In the current economic climate and with considerable demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to entertain such significant increases in the amounts grant aided to schools. It is the responsibility of the school authorities to manage the resources allocated to them to ensure maximum value for money and to control costs. The board of management should take the necessary steps to ensure that the scope of the works undertaken matches the funding being allowed. The Minister for Education and Science regrets that the response is not more favourable on this occasion, but it is important that the Department ensures that grant aid is managed prudently.

As the Deputy may be aware, a total of €656 million will be spent under the Department's school building programme this year alone. It is important to ensure that costs are kept under control in the construction of school buildings and that those responsible ensure that value for money is achieved for the taxpayer. This will ensure the completion of the maximum number of projects from within the funds available to the Department for the school building programme under the current national development plan.

This school also made an application under the deferred 2008 summer works scheme for funding. The Minister for Education and Science intends to have a summer works scheme this year. The level of funding to be made available for the 2009 scheme is being considered. In the meantime, applications submitted for the summer works scheme in 2008, including the application from Colehill national school, are currently being assessed and the schools will be notified of the outcome of this assessment in due course. The professional and technical reports provided by schools for 2008 can be used again for future projects so that schools will not be at the loss of expenditure on them.

I again thank the Deputy for giving me the opportunity of outlining the current position to the House.

The Dáil adjourned at 5.15 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 March 2009.