Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 6 Feb 1997

Vol. 149 No. 21

Adjournment Matters. - Mallow (Cork) VEC School.

I am glad of the opportunity to make a case for Mallow vocational school and I have no doubt that Minister of State, Deputy Deenihan, will convey to the Minister for Education the strong manner in which I will put this case because, as early as 1987, plans were ready to proceed with the building of a new vocational school at Mallow, County Cork. The plans were finalised, the land was purchased at Summerhill, Mallow, for the project but because there was a slight decline in the numbers, the Minister for Education at that time decided not to proceed with the project. There was a campaign going on in Mallow at the time. Some schools benefited from it and the vocational school lost out.

There are now 450 students enrolled in the school together with 50 apprentices and the new school would provide for about 500 students. The growth in enrolment over the past five years is now causing serious accommodation problems. Under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, each second level student is entitled to the option of completing a transition year programme but space constraints at Davis College do not allow this option to be given to all the students. At present, just one class can be accommodated but, ideally, 75 students should be accommodated. They are deprived of that right.

I appeal to the Minister to give the go ahead for the completion of the plans so that tenders can be invited as soon as possible as it will be some time before the school will be completed. The Cork County chief executive officer publicly announced in 1984 that plans to build a new school were prepared. This is 1997 and the project has not been taken one step further. That is not acceptable and I want to make that clear to the Minister.

On a related topic, I urge her to make provision for a new building for Gaelscoil Tomás Dáibhis in Mallow. The school currently occupies prefabricated buildings which were second-hand when acquired 13 years ago. The structures leak, are infested with unsavoury wildlife — vermin to put it bluntly — and lack an indoor toilet. No child should be expected to learn in such conditions and I hope the Minister will make the matter of suitable accommodation for Gaelscoil Tomás Dáibhis a priority also. Appropriate accommodation is vital to the learning process.

The reason I raise that as a related topic is that the students of the Gaelscoil progress to secondary school at Choláiste Dáibhis and there is no accommodation for them there. It is a very urgent matter and I appeal to the Minister to address it as quickly as possible.

On behalf of the Minister, I thank the Cathaoirleach for giving me the opportunity of responding to this Adjournment debate. A new vocational school to cater for 450 pupils is currently being planned for Summerhill, Mallow, County Cork.

County Cork vocational education committee has submitted its proposed design team and a stage one report for this project. These documents are currently being examined by the Department's technical staff. A response will be conveyed to County Cork vocational education committee as soon as possible and a planning and briefing meeting will then be convened in order to discuss this project.

At this stage, it is not possible to indicate when the project will proceed to construction as this will depend on the availability of funding and the Department's other commitments and priorities. However, every effort is being made to have the planning of the new school completed as soon as possible with a view to being in a position to invite tenders as soon as funding is available.