On replying to the second Adjournment matter, I said I had provided two out of two. I am hoping to satisfy the House by giving it three out of three.
I thank Senator McHugh for raising the matter of St. Eunan's College, Letterkenny, and for providing me with the opportunity to respond without using a script to some of his points. The list of summer work schemes has been published. These are the works which are possible and which can be accommodated within the finite resources and timeframe available. I did not come to the House with information on Ballyraine as the school was not mentioned in the notice of this Adjournment matter. While I do not know what stage of advanced architectural planning it is at, I undertake to ensure that my officials, who are listening to the debate, will respond directly to the Senator over the next seven to ten days. I hope their response will be positive.
A full design team has been appointed and architectural planning of the major project at St. Eunan's College, Letterkenny, is progressing well. The school is listed in section 9 of the 2004 school building programme, which is published on the website of the Department of Education and Science. The proposed project is at stage one of architectural planning, which relates to site suitability and the site survey. The project has been assigned a band three rating by the Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large-scale projects. I will obtain for the Senator the detail of the published criteria to allow him to inform himself of the way in which the band rating was assigned.
The Senator is correct to indicate that service providers in education and other sectors have been somewhat frustrated about the mechanism in place for large-scale projects. Rather than provide annual budgets, it is considered that a better mechanism involving multi-annual budget allocations or envelopes is required. Such a mechanism would inform service providers of exactly what money was available for a project. One of the achievements of our brilliant Minister for Finance has been the implementation of a mechanism to respond positively to the frustrations outlined by Senator McHugh. The people involved in service provision in whatever area are the ones who know what is required to develop necessary infrastructure and large-scale projects. They know those requirements cannot be met over a short duration and that it is best to proceed through a planned process which allows them to tap into a system of multi-annual allocations.
In the case of St. Eunan's College, the key strategy going forward will involve the budget 2004 announcement of multi-annual allocations for capital investment in education projects. All projects not moving to construction stage as part of the 2004 school building programme, including St. Eunan's College, will be re-evaluated with a view to including them in the multi-annual building programme from 2005. The Department of Education and Science will make a further announcement on this matter during the year.
I hope my reply addresses some of the issues quite rightly and forcefully raised by Senator McHugh in relation to St. Eunan's College. I hope Senator McHugh has an opportunity to consider and digest our current status in the context of the need for multi-annual envelopes for projects of this nature. I will discuss the matter with my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey. If I receive any further information, I will let Senator McHugh know what progress is being made on projects which require multi-annual envelopes.