Adjournment Matters. - Security Fencing for Dublin Schools.

I would have preferred if the Minister for Education or the Minister of State at the Department of Education had been been available to discuss this matter. However, I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Stagg, will do an excellent job.

This matter concerns the necessity for the Department of Education to provide funding for a security fence around Bishop Galvin and Bishop Shanahan schools in Templeogue. These are two fine primary schools but every week they are subject to vandalism. Last week five windows were smashed, six windows were smashed the week before and seven windows were smashed during the previous week. The Department of Education has a scheme to deal with this problem. Planning permission has been obtained for the proposed security fence and a formal application was submitted to the Department in January, along with tenders from two construction companies for its erection. Under the scheme the Department will supply 85 per cent of the required funding, with the 15 per cent balance being provided by the school. I strongly urge the Minister to provide finance for the immediate construction of the fence around these two schools.

Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of vandalism in this area. Crime and vandalism in housing estates in Templeogue will have to be addressed as a matter of urgency not just by the Department of Education but also by the Garda Síochána. I have made many representations to the gardaí about this matter and recently had a meeting with them about vandalism in Rossmore Park. The tyres of cars in the area were slashed recently.

This is an important issue. There is no reason the Department should withhold funding for the fence. The schools play a vital role in the local community and I call on the Minister to provide the necessary funding forthwith.

I am glad the Senator has given me the opportunity of outlining to the House the Department of Education's current position regarding the proposal to erect a fence around Bishop Galvin and Bishop Shanahan national schools, Rossmore Road, Willington, Templeogue, Dublin 6.

The Minister for Education is aware that both schools currently have a staffing of a principal, 15 assistants and a remedial teacher. Both schools had an enrolment of 474 pupils on 30 September 1996. The two school buildings are located on the same campus. In September 1995, the manager of Bishop Shanahan school, on behalf of both schools, submitted an application to the Department for grant aid towards the cost of a perimeter fence. The Department requested the Office of Public Works to investigate the proposal and to furnish a report and recommendation.

Subsequently, the schools decided to appoint a private consultant architect to handle the proposed project. This architect prepared a report for the school in March 1996 and a copy was forwarded to the Department in September 1996. The school also advised at this stage that they had already sought and obtained planning permission for the scheme. The schools' private architect estimated the cost of the scheme at £95,000.

On receipt of the private architect's report the Department again contacted the Office of Public Works seeking its recommendations in the matter. In October 1996, the Office of Public Works submitted a report and recommendation to the Department. On receipt of this report and in light of the fact that the scheme was ready to go to tender, the proposed scheme was considered for grant aid. However, due to budgetary constraints the Department was not in a position to sanction grant aid for the scheme and the school manager was informed of the position in October 1996.

The Minister knows the erection of the proposed fence around the Bishop Galvin and Bishop Shanahan schools is urgent in the light of the repeated acts of vandalism on the buildings. However, the House will appreciate that a decision on the timing of the tender and contract processes must be taken in the light of existing contractual commitments and the funds available this year. I assure the Senator that every effort is being made by the Department to ensure the project is progressed at the earliest opportunity.