Curraghmore 'buck passing' not good enough says Clarke

(Above) Curraghmore NS's new home on the Ardmore Road.

There has been too much “passing of the buck” when it comes to the delayed delivery of Curraghmore National School's new €5m home.

That's according to Deputy Sorca Clarke, who raised the issue with Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Dáil yesterday. Deputy Clarke told the Taoiseach that he was the minister for education when the school first applied for a new building in 1999.

“That €5 million project is now 37 months into a 12-month contract and there is no confirmed completion date. The buck-passing between the builder, the local authority and the Department of Education and Skills is not good enough. The rate of progress on the site is not good enough. There are 357 pupils and their families who desperately need this building project to be completed before school returns in September.”

Deputy Clarke said that at present the school has 16 classes but only ten rooms.

“The problem for this school is not social distancing but where the children physically will sit to be educated. Last year, they were educated on three separate sites. One of those sites was in Kinnegad, which is a 40 km round trip for pupils. Since the Taoiseach was Minister for Education and Science in 1999, there have, by my count, been a further ten Ministers with the education portfolio. This is a national shambles, not a local crisis. I am asking the Taoiseach to intervene directly in this matter. If no solution is offered, I ask him to come down and explain to the parents of the children in those six classes what the plan is to educate them next year,” she said.

The Taoiseach said that while he did no know the full history of the school's wait for a new home, “there clearly are issues and there must have been hurdle after hurdle put in the way”.

“The situation is not acceptable for the pupils, families, teachers or the community. I will ask the Minister for Education and Skills to give me a full report on the matter so that we can see what could be done in the short term as we look to the reopening of schools at the end of August,” he said.

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