I am concerned about the geographical distribution of post-leaving certificate places throughout the country. One place per 1,000 people is provided in counties Offaly, Roscommon and Donegal and two places per 1,000 people are provided in counties Kildare and Meath. By contrast, 17 places per 1,000 people are provided in County Carlow, 19 places per 1,000 people are provided in County Cavan, 11 places per 1,000 people are provided in County Cork and ten places per 1,000 people are provided in counties Longford, Louth and Sligo. Can the Department examine the geographical spread of places throughout the country? Although it should not matter that one lives in Longford rather than Donegal, or in Meath rather than Louth, the reality is that one's chances of getting a place on a post-leaving certificate course can be ten times greater if one lives in one county rather than the other.
I refer to the figures mentioned, with specific reference to one college. Of the 290 places allocated to County Meath VEC, 250 are allocated to a post-leaving certificate college in Dunboyne. I am concerned that there is no college to cater for people from places like Mulhuddart, which are immediately to the west of the M50. Such a college is needed to cater for the overspill from County Dublin VEC. The college in Dunboyne has to cater for students from parts of the greater Dublin area that have spread into County Meath, as well as the area west of the M50. County Dublin VEC cannot envisage the establishment of a post-leaving certificate college west of the M50 because it does not have sufficient places per head of population. I am asking about the manner in which decisions on numbers of places are made.
I would like to pick up on the question asked by Deputy Brian Hayes about applicants. Although we are not yet in August when the leaving certificate results are published, approximately 850 students have already applied for the 250 places in the post-leaving certificate college in Dunboyne. It is expected, on the basis of previous years, that a further 400 applications will be received. It is likely that 1,250 students will apply for 250 places in this part of the greater Dublin area, which comprises part of County Dublin and almost all of County Meath. If one is unfortunate enough to live in the west Dublin-south Meath catchment area, which has experienced the highest population explosion in the country, one suffers from an historical system of allocating places across the country. How can that be justified? It does not make sense to me that if one is living in counties Longford, Louth or Sligo, one's possibility of getting a place on a post-leaving certificate course is ten times greater than it would be if one were living in certain other counties. I accept that the officials cannot reallocate the places in question today, but I ask them to consider this committee's proposal that the geographical spread be examined by the Department.