Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Dublin Sports Complex.


asked the Minister for Education why the board of management of the Cabinteely Community School, Cabinteely, County Dublin have been informed that, contrary to previous undertakings, it is now not intended to provide a sports complex as part of the new community school complex; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Provision is not being made at present for a sports complex in the plans for the new extension to the school which is in course of erection. In this and other cases it has been found necessary to give priority to urgent demands for school accommodation.

Is there, in fact, provision being made in the complex being built at the moment for the addition at some future date of some sporting facilities?

The building is being erected in such a way that sporting facilities can be added later.

How many times has this undertaking in relation to the provision of a sports complex been given to the board of management of this particular school?

It is the intention to provide gymnasium facilities in this school. The situation is that such facilities cannot be provided immediately on the completion of the school. It was felt more judicious to go ahead and build the basic facilities, such as classrooms and improved teaching facilities for academic and practical subjects, and defer the provision of sports facilities to a later date when finances will be available. The policy adopted in the recent past has been to concentrate resources exclusively on the provision of basic educational facilities and, in the light of the present situation in regard to the availability of capital, that is the correct decision.

The Parliamentary Secretary will agree that every day we are reading about extensions here and extensions there. There seem to be large dollops of money available for propaganda purposes but we are told now that there is no money available for this sports complex. The Parliamentary Secretary must agree that there was a definite undertaking given to these people and now they are being disappointed on this spurious information about lack of finance. Will the Parliamentary Secretary say how many times this undertaking was given to those concerned?

I can assure the Deputy that there are several places in the country where the same situation arises. It is the intention of the Department to provide sports facilities at the earliest possible date but, in view of the availability of resources at the moment, it is felt wiser to go ahead and provide classroom facilities which are very necessary. In Cabinteely these classrooms will be a definite improvement on what exists there at the moment and it is the intention to provide gymnasium facilities later when money is available. There is no breach of the undertaking but the execution of the undertaking cannot be implemented straightaway.

Of course there is a breach.

A final supplementary question, Deputy Andrews, please. We have dwelt long enough on this question.

The undertaking given to the board of management has been reneged on by the Parliamentary Secretary and the Department. There was a definite undertaking to provide this sports complex. Can the Parliamentary Secretary say when finances will become available?

That will depend on the improvement in the economic situation. The facilities being provided now are a very significant improvement and there has been a substantial investment in education in that area. As soon as finances become available it is the intention to provide sports facilities, but it must be appreciated that basic academic needs must get priority and it is Government policy to give priority to such needs.

The Parliamentary Secretary should consult with the Minister for Finance because almost daily he is telling us that everything in the economic garden is blooming. Can the Parliamentary Secretary give some hope to the people in regard to this sports complex? Will he consult with the Minister for Finance?

We must pass on now to the next question.

I have already indicated it is the intention to provide gymnasium facilities in due course.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the idea of community schools was to involve the local community in the facilities available and would he not agree that community school is a misnomer if such schools are deprived of these basic community facilities?

The Deputy is now extending the scope of the question and I want to dissuade Members from that particular exercise.

There are facilities, including facilities for adult education, provided in these schools and it is the intention to provide gymnasium facilities later.