Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 5 Jun 1996

Vol. 466 No. 4

Adjournment Debate. - Dungarvan (Waterford) School.

I am glad to have the opportunity to raise this important matter on the Adjournment as I feel there was a deliberate policy on the part of the Department of Education to frustrate this project. It is laughable that three different sets of drawings had to be submitted to the Department within the past nine months. The only person who can be happy with developments is the architect involved who is laughing all the way to the bank.

Dungarvan Technical College was built in 1938 to cater for approximately 100 pupils. At that time it comprised a woodwork room, a metalwork room, a domestic science room and four general classrooms. These seven classrooms have not been modernised. The vocational education committee rents accommodation at the Presentation Convent primary school to house 56 VTOS students. Rooms have been taken from the county council to house an adult learning centre. This school which was built for 100 pupils now accommodates 370. The school has had an addition of 11 prefabs in the meantime. First two prefabricated buildings were built and a mathematics room was provisionally adapted as a science room. In the 1970s a typewriting room was updated and in the 1970s and 1980s further prefabs were added. Some of the prefabs are in a deplorable condition and evidence of this has already been supplied to the Department of Education. The teachers have refused to occupy two of them. This will become a problem for the next school year. I do not want the Minister to suggest we should waste additional money on new prefabs to get over this temporary crisis. Other leaking prefabs have buckets strategically placed around them and tend to be extremely cold.

The Department's building unit is aware of the urgency of this project but it is obvious there is not the political will to deliver on promises made. As regards costs incurred, approximately £200,000 has been spent on prefabs since 1985. It would be a total waste of money to continue to build them. Approximately £100,000 has been spent on various fees and yet the initial first option of an extension to the present school was turned down because the Department would not pay £20,000 for a field beside the school to allow an orderly development there.

In September 1995 a plan was submitted to the Department, at its request, for the proposed extension to the school. When a problem arose about the purchase of the additional land the Department decided it would move to another area in the town at Rinnasellgue which was previously purchased by the vocational education committee. Approximately £40,000 was paid to acquire this site.

Drawings were requested from the design team for a two storey school at this location. Everyone assumed progress would be made but it was not. Following this submission in February 1996 the Department, in March 1996 changed its mind and wanted a design for a single storey building. These new plans should have arrived in the Department yesterday. The Minister is now spoilt for choice in that she has three plans from which to work. I presume there is now enough information to make a decision or is a fourth set of drawings required?

In 1985 the project was ready to go to tender but at that time an embargo was imposed by the Government. We have now reached a stage where we have to tender for the fourth time. Will the Minister give the go ahead for this project in order to proceed to planning permission?

In regard to replies given to earlier parliamentary questions we were told the matter would be considered in the context of the 1995 Estimates, but it was not. The vocational education committee persisted and hoped it would be included in the 1996 building programme but again it was omitted. Hope has been renewed that provision will be made in the 1997 Estimates which should be finalised later in the year.

The Minister has messed around the people of Dungarvan for long enough and it is time for action. I am not aware of the type of response I will get. If a positive response is not forthcoming I ask the Government Chief Whip to pass on a request to the Minister that she meet a deputation comprised of the four TDs in Waterford and representatives of the vocational education committee.

It is no wonder she did not come in.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this adjournment debate. I will outline the background to this matter for the information of the House. Originally, it was hoped the accommodation requirements of Dungarvan Vocational School could be met by providing additional accommodation on the existing school site.

The school's design team was requested to carry out a feasibility study in respect of this option. Their findings indicated the proposed extension was not a cost efficient option and concluded it would be more advantageous if a new school was built on a green field site.

County Waterford vocational education committee accepted this and proposed that the new school should be sited at Rinnasellgue. The new school will cater for 350 pupils and will have accommodation of 1,870 square metres. A physical education hall is not included in the schedule of accommodation as this facility will be available in the adjacent sports centre.

At a planning and briefing meeting held in the building unit, the school's design team was instructed to proceed with the Stage 2 submission for the project as a full site report has already been made on the proposed Rinnasellgue site. This submission was received by the Department and examined by the building unit's professional staff. The Department has responded to this submission with a number of technical queries. When the necessary revisions to this stage of the architectural planning have been made, County Waterford Vocational Education Committee will be authorised to proceed with the next stage of the planning process.

They have been made.

Architectural planning for this project is at a relatively early stage. Accordingly, the question of starting construction will not arise until planning has been completed and tenders have been invited and examined by the Department. Further progress to the building stage will depend on the availability of funding at that time.

Nevertheless, I assure Deputy Kenneally the Minister for Education is fully conscious of the accommodation requirements of the school. I assure the House and the Deputy that ever effort will be made by the Department to expedite the planning of the project.

It was a pity the Deputy did not apply a little of his political clout in 1992, 1993 or 1994 when Deputy O'Rourke, Deputy Davern and Deputy Seamus Brennan were Ministers for Education and we would have much more progress to report tonight.

At least we did not go around making promises we could not stand over.

I will certainly convey the Deputy's request regarding a deputation to the Minister.