I note I have the only Topical Issue today and the Minister of State is doing her usual Thursday slot dealing with matters of education as well as the health matters she normally addresses. I have spoken on this matter over a number of months and I have had the opportunity to speak about the position of St. Paul's secondary school both here in the Chamber and at a meeting of the education committee. St. Paul's secondary school is an excellent school and the quality of education there is top class. There is a very committed principal and staff of teachers who are also top class. However, the physical structure of the building is in an appalling condition and the school was practically condemned at one stage when it suffered a fire. It was stated at the time that the school building was not fit for purpose but many years later it is still there.
The number of students has doubled over ten years and there are only two toilet cubicles for 207 boys, which is shocking. I have spoken to parents who have said children come home who are afraid to go to the toilet during the school day. Teachers have no staff room and they must mark copies sitting in their cars. There are old and damp prefabs still in use and there are no parking spaces for teachers either. Mr. Brian Bergin, the excellent principal at St. Paul's, has been before the education committee to outline how the school has arrived at this point. He has outlined his frustration, along with that of the board of management, students, parents and teachers, at having waited so long for a new building. There is a high level of anger and frustration in Monasterevin and its surrounding areas because of this.
The school feels incredibly let down. I have visited it a number of times. I was there recently with Deputy Micheál Martin to meet the parents' action group, the students and Brian Bergin. Deputy Martin was shocked by what he witnessed.
The situation is unfortunate and was exacerbated by a legal case that was initiated through the pre-tendering process in November 2018 and only finished this year. This created very significant concerns about the delays in commencing the new school building, and we need some reassurance in this regard. At the end of April we learned that the pre-qualification tendering had been advertised once again. The closing date for tendering requests is Monday, 27 May, and the process can take 18 months to complete fully. This could mean that the school will be completed by mid-2021. However, I was looking at the school's website earlier and I saw that a commitment had been made by a previous Minister for Education and Skills in 2013 that the school would be completed by 2015. If the current tendering is successful, though, we are looking at mid 2021. I will go into a separate issue, the lease and the acquisition of land, in my supplementary contribution.
I appreciate that the Minister of State is not a Minister in the Department of Education and Skills but I want to know when we will have a completion date for this school. I hope she can give us some information or some news in this regard.