In identifying the requirement for new school provision and for additional school places, my Department uses a geographical information system to identify the areas under increased demographic pressure nationwide. The system uses data from the Central Statistics Office, CSO, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and information from my Department's own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic analyses to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and at post-primary level.
Following the 2015 demographic analysis, 13 new schools will open in 2017 and 2018 to cater for increased demographic need nationwide. Regarding the school planning areas in County Meath, my Department's demographic analysis shows these areas are experiencing demographic growth, however, the level of growth and the rate of year-on-year increase are not to an extent that would warrant the provision of additional new schools. My Department is keeping these school planning areas under review to take account of updated child benefit data, enrolment data and the impact of capacity increases in these and adjacent school planning areas. When it is decided that a new school is required to meet demographic need, a separate process is undertaken, as the Deputy knows, to determine patronage. Regarding the specific issues the Deputy raised about pupils who predominantly attend secondary school in Drogheda, a Gaelcholaiste, Coláiste Ghlór na Mara, was opened in Balbriggan in 2014 to provide Irish medium post-primary places for north Dublin, east Meath and south Louth areas, including Drogheda.