Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (181)

Billy Timmins

Question:

261 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to St. Catherine’s College of Education for Home Economics; if there are plans to close this college; if so, the situation in relation to the present and future students of home economics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6709/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

The issue of the future of St. Catherine's arose in the context of a decision by the Dominican Trustees of St. Catherine's that, due to personnel and financial considerations, they were no longer in a position to fulfil the role of trustees of the college. Following discussions between the trustees and my Department, it was agreed that a consultant would be appointed who would meet with relevant parties and prepare a report on the options available for consideration by the Minister.

The consultant's report was thoroughly examined in my Department and the options for the future of the college were set out for my consideration. Having carefully considered all of them and having taken into account other factors such as the national spatial strategy, relevant costs in a time of financial constraint, a Government decision to restrict public service numbers, the need to secure value for money and a better allocation of resources, I decided that these considerations are best served by the closure of St. Catherine's and the designation of St. Angela's College, Sligo, as the sole centre for the training of home economics teachers.

The closure of St. Catherine's will be phased over the next four years to facilitate students enrolled in the college in completing their course of training in the college. The supply of home economics teachers will not be affected by the closure as student intake to St. Angela's College will increase. On the issue of location, figures obtained from the CAO for the past number of years indicate that there will not be a problem in filling all of the available places in Sligo.