Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (201)

Micheál Martin


201. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a multi-denominational school in the Palmerstown, Ballyfermot, Chapelizod and Cherry Orchard areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29075/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The requirement for new schools in this area is being kept under ongoing review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. 

Palmerstown/Ballyfermot/Chapelizod/Cherryorchard was one of 43 areas surveyed as part of the patronage divesting process in 2013.  The outcome was that there was sufficient parental demand for a multi-denominational school in this area. 

A number of years ago (c. 2013) there were proposals in relation to re-organisation of four of the Catholic schools in the area by the Dublin Archdiocese, largely to bring about co-educational provision.  These proposals met with resistance from some of the local community at the time and there was much discussion between the patron of the schools and the school community in this regard.  I understand that the outcome of this interaction undertaken by the patron is that three of the four schools, have changed to co-educational status, following consultation with their parents, staff and Boards of Management. The other school closed on 30 June 2019, when the last group of pupils completed sixth class.  From the outset it was clear that the Trustees of the school, the De La Salle Brothers, planned to sell the school property in which the latter school was located and accordingly the property would not be made available under the patronage divesting process.  According to Department records, my Department does not hold any legal interest, such a charging lease, over the property.     

The Programme for Government commits to increasing the number of multi-/non-denominational schools to 400 such schools by 2030. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has developed the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process to deliver on this commitment through patronage transfer, in line with the choices of local parents and school communities.  The process involves the transfer of live schools and has the potential to significantly increase patronage diversity in our school system.

In addition to the main provisions of this process, the “early movers” provision enables school communities which have already decided to seek a transfer of patronage (independent of the survey process) to request that their existing patron makes an application to the Minister for a direct transfer of patronage under section 8 of the Education Act.  I encourage any school community which is seeking a transfer of patronage to make contact with their school patron in this regard.

While the new structures to support the schools reconfiguration for diversity process are being introduced, my Department will continue to work to progress delivery of diversity in areas already identified, including the areas referred to by the Deputy.