I thank the Minister of State for coming and congratulate him on his appointment. He will make an excellent Minister of State and it is great for someone so young to rise so quickly. He is a good man and I know he will do good work.
I am bringing this motion before the House in order to be helpful. I have often found the Department of Education and Skills to be lacking in terms of forward planning, although it is improving to some extent, and as such, I do not consider it has got this latest announcement quite right. The Minister announced the establishment of two new second level schools in County Meath, one in Navan and other in Ashbourne, to be established between 2012 and 2017. If the school in Johnstown, Navan is not established this year, we will have a major crisis. I thought we would have one last year when the school had not been established fully. It needs to be built by 2012 at the latest. We will need another secondary school in Navan by 2017. However, this will not do anying to solve the problems in the constitutency of Meath East that I used to represent in Dáil Éireann; it will merely solve the serious problems in Navan. I welcome the announcement of the establishment of a second level school in Ashbourne. There is already a secondary school located there, but it is operating at capacity, as are many schools in surrounding areas.
These are not the only areas in County Meath which have seen substantial increases in population. In my submission I mentioned Stamullen, Duleek, Laytown, Bettystown andMornington. Laytown, Bettystown and Mornington make up the second largest conurbation in County Meath in which a secondary school was recently established. The population of the St. Mary's electoral division of County Meath has increased from 9,044 to 10,772, an increase of 1,700 since the last census. It is situated near Drogheda, where it is proposed to provide a secondary school, but I do not know whether it will be able to cope with this increase. It will be interesting to see what percentage of that figure is made up by children because there are three children in my house and two children in my next door neighbour's, while the couple across the road also have two children. I suggest most of the increase in the population is accounted for by children which will lead to serious problems if we do not deal with the matter soon.
The Julianstown electoral division in County Meath which covers Laytown, Bettystown and Julianstown has seen its population increase from 8,289 to 9,588. I am interested in seeing the final figure and again suggest most of the increase is accounted for by children.
The population of the electoral division of Duleek in which there is no secondary school has risen to 5,177. If we add the population of the electoral division of Ardcath, 1,911, we see there has been another substantial increase in population. This is not the result of new houses being built or people moving in, as there has not been much development since 2006 in these towns. In fact, there are houses in Duleek which have been unoccupied since 2006. In addition, the population of the Stamullen electoral division which covers the town of Stamullen and the villages of Gormanston and Clonalvy has increased from 3,844 to 4,683. There will be a crisis in these towns, none of which is mentioned in the Minister's announcement on the establishment of new secondary schools.
The position on primary school accommodation is probably not as severe, but we are keeping a watching brief in the area. Children living in Stamullen could possibly travel to Balbriggan, but that would not be ideal. Children living in Duleek could possibly travel to Navan, but the problem there is at crisis point. Therefore, we need another secondary school in east County Meath to deal with the severe shortage of spaces.
I would like to make one final point. A school was announced for Kingscourt, County Cavan, on the border with County Meath. It is a very good town and this is a worthy project, but there is a fantastic secondary school in Nobber, only five miles away. In what is a lightly populated area I cannot see why there is a need for two secondary schools. Therefore, I call on the Minister to review the position. My party Whip and colleague in County Cavan will not be too happy when I say this, but I need to speak what I believe to be the truth.