I thank the Minister for coming to the House to respond personally to what I have to say about the difficult situation at St. Patrick's national school in the Diswellstown area of Castleknock, Dublin 15. Unfortunately, this successful and much-loved school in Dublin West, which was built at the height of the Celtic tiger era and has 808 pupils in 28 classes, is riddled in construction terms with pyrite. As a consequence, the children, staff and parents have to endure a building that is no longer fit for purpose. The school community, including the staff and the parents, has suffered enough. It has waited patiently for the Department of Education and Skills to address the problems which are causing the floors to buckle, the doors to go out of kilter and the roof to have multiple problems. I could go on and on. The Minister probably needs to visit the school. If he does, he will be shocked to see the condition it is in. The Department needs to have an immediate plan to provide for temporary replacement accommodation on the grounds of the school while a complete refit is attended to. Rather than merely monitoring the position, as the Department is doing at present, it needs to ensure all of the pyrite is removed from the buildings and grounds.
I have known St. Patrick's national school well from the day it opened. When parents and staff brought me around the school the other evening, I was shocked and appalled to see that the situation has become dramatically worse. Unfortunately, several schools in Dublin 15 have encountered problems of this nature in the last year. The Department has taken action at two schools, namely, St. Luke's and Tyrrelstown. St. Luke's has been completely restored and Tyrrelstown is pretty much restored as well. In the meantime, the people of Diswellstown are looking on as their school deteriorates and buckles before their eyes. Some of the newer houses that are being built in this area are straight across from the school. Builders are telling the families that are buying these family homes that this school will be their children's school. I have been told by the principal that this summer, applications for enrolment in respect of 20 children who are living in the area - their families have come into the area - had to be turned down.
St. Patrick's national school hosts 25 pupils with complex needs, including 14 pupils who are affected by ASD. The school has no sensory room. At the moment, it is using all the rooms it can use to accommodate the existing 808 pupils. The school was recently asked by the Minister to provide an additional ASD-specific room. There is absolutely no difficulty with that. This school, like all the schools in Dublin 15, has always catered for a wide variety of children, including children with complex needs. Where are those children supposed to go? The special resource room is up in a kind of attic room, with one little window at the bottom. It is over the school hall, which is shared with Fingal County Council. The school hall's beautiful sprung beech floor is buckling as well. I am not a builder, but it is clear to my untrained eye that the whole building is in an absolute state. I ask the Minister to prioritise the school in the interests of the children, the parents and the staff and to address these issues. I think he needs to make provision for a temporary building on the grounds of the school while the existing building is completely redone.