I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach for allowing me to raise this matter and the Minister of State for taking it. I am sure the Minister of State is aware that there are five second level schools in Tuam. Some years ago it was proposed to amalgamate the Presentation Convent and Mercy Convent secondary schools and to amalgamate St. Jarlath's College and St. Patrick's College. The Minister for Education and Science has taken a particular interest in the two amalgamations. She met the four principal teachers of the four schools last autumn when she was in Tuam.
An advertisement for the provision of a site for the amalgamation of the Presentation Convent and Mercy Convent was placed in local and national newspapers this week, in respect of which the closing date for receipt of applications is 26 May. I hope that advertisement will be successful in securing the provision of a site.
It appears the site for St. Jarlath's College and St. Patrick's is already available. There is a question over whether these amalgamations will be dealt with separately or jointly by the Department. I am aware of the location of the site for the amalgamation of the two boys' colleges. I am a past pupil of St. Jarlath's College and I understand the site is the location of the hurling pitches. Some questions have been raised about access to this site. The Minister of State might be able to clarify that aspect. There are also issues about the possibility of the relief road going through some of these lands.
In light of the delay and the lack of progress on the amalgamation, I wish to highlight that the facilities in St. Patrick's College are very poor. Even though the school is not very old, it is in a poor condition and that has an impact on enrolment to it.
It would be a great vote of confidence for the students, hardworking teachers and parents if progress could be made on the proposed amalgamations, about which there has been much talk for a long time. It was a hopeful development when the principals got together and decided to proceed with two amalgamations of four schools in Tuam, which would result in three education centres in the future. That is what everybody would like to happen, but there is frustration about the delay in the decision in this respect. I would like the Minister of State to reply to the points I have raised.