Schools Building Projects.

I raise this matter in regard to funding for the purchase of a site, under the award winning Fingal schools initiative scheme, for the first secondary school in Lusk which is badly needed. Lusk is a small village that has transformed itself into a town of 7,000 people. According to a recent Lusk local area plan, it is projected that the population will reach 10,000 plus. I appreciate the Minister of State, Deputy Kelleher, coming to the House to respond on his colleague's behalf.

There is no secondary school in Lusk and the secondary school situation in Dublin North is at breaking point. The secondary schools in Swords are completely full and can no longer take referrals from Lusk. The same applies to Balbriggan. Skerries is bursting at the seams with more than 1,000 pupils while Rush is the same. The capacity of the other secondary schools in the area to take up the slack is gone. There are also the outlying areas of Garristown, Naul, Ballyboughal and Oldtown. I do not know from where they will get a secondary school.

What is really bothering people in Dublin North and in Fingal is that this initiative won an award. The council approached local landlords, in conjunction with the overall development plan, and got land at extremely attractive prices. So successful was it that the former Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, gave an award to Fingal County Council for its schools initiative.

There are four primary schools in Lusk. There is Lusk national school, which has 649 pupils, Hedgestown school, which has 86 pupils and is to rise to 106 to 111 in the next couple of years, Corduff, which has 92 pupils, and Educate Together, which has more than 100 pupils and the number is rising. There is a glaring need for a secondary school and I know this is one of the priority areas and a priority school.

Fingal County Council has identified a site which it got at very good value even by today's depressed standards and it is anxious to move ahead. It is waiting for direction from the Department to do so.

Like Fingal, Lusk would like to keep its identity and its residents would like the children of Lusk to keep their identity and not to have to travel to other secondary schools and leave many of the friends they made during their primary school years. Fingal County Council has been very successful in supporting Sporting Fingal soccer club which, in its first two years, has managed to get to the cup final which will be on 22 November. It is also playing in the play-offs to get to the premier league. It sees the value in giving Fingal an identity. Likewise, I see the value in the people of Lusk identifying with Lusk and not having to travel, not to mention the environmental impact and the impact on our trains and infrastructure, which are already under serious pressure.

I plead with the Minister of State to give us some good news on behalf of his colleague and to give some hope to the people of Lusk who wonder to where their children will go to secondary school. Lusk is a lovely place to live but it needs the other ancillaries like schools. We fought hard to get our primary schools and we need a secondary school. There is no other place for our children to go in Lusk.

The Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, sends his apologies. He was anxious to take this matter but unfortunately, he was called away. I would look forward to Sporting Fingal travelling to Turner's Cross if it managed to get into the premier league, although it is a tough place to be.

I thank the Deputy for raising the matter as it affords me the opportunity to outline the process being utilised to ensure there will be adequate accommodation in schools at primary and post-primary level in all parts of the country.

In response to the rapid pace of social and demographic change in Ireland, a forward planning section was established in the Department. This section utilises the latest in GIS technology to help in planning the location of schools in the future. The section has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at both primary and post-primary levels over the coming years.

This study has been conducted using data from the Central Statistics Office, the General Register Office and the Department of Social and Family Affairs in addition to recent schools' enrolment data. The study indicates that the requirement for additional primary provision in 2010, 2011 and 2012 is likely to be greatest in more than 40 identified locations across the country, including the area referred to by the Deputy, based on significant changes to the demographics of those areas. This information has been circulated to all existing school patrons who have been invited to bring forward proposals for the expansion of existing schools or to put themselves forward as patron for any new primary school should it be required. The requirement for the establishment of new schools will be lessened where it is possible to expand and extend existing schools in those areas.

The forward planning section is in the process of carrying out detailed analysis of each of these locations in order to identify the school accommodation requirements up to and including the school year 2014-15. Following on from this analysis of the primary needs, the forward planning section will be in a position to determine the accommodation need at post-primary level.

The forward planning section is in the process of implementing this technology for the entire country and when this has been completed, a full set of data on priority areas will be available. As a matter of course, there is ongoing liaison between the Department and local authorities to establish the location, scale and pace of any major proposed developments and their possible implications for the provision of school infrastructure.

I point out that an extensive study on educational requirements for the Rush-Lusk area in the medium term to long-term was undertaken by the Commission on School Accommodation. This study was formalised and included in the draft area development plan for north Dublin, east Meath and south Louth which was published in January 2007.

That was two and a half years ago.

The Commission on School Accommodation completed a public consultation process on foot of this draft plan and its final report was published in September 2007 in regard to north Dublin. The recommendations in the report, together with the information obtained from the GIS analysis will be used to inform capital investment decisions in the Lusk area for the foreseeable future.

The Commission on School Accommodation report and the GIS data indicate that up to between 800 and 1,000 additional post-primary pupil places may well be required in the coming years in the area concerned. The Department is already taking action to ensure that these places will be delivered commensurate with the need. The progression of the acquisition of a site and the accompanying building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to the Department for school buildings generally.

I assure the Deputy we are taking all the views into account and I am delighted to outline where we are in the context of future plans for the first secondary school in Lusk.

The need is there; action is required.