By Joe Leogue
The principal of a Co Cork secondary school has gone on leave amid ongoing tensions with the Education and Training Board (ETB) over unfinished building work following the liquidation of the Sammon Contracting Group.
Work on a multimillion-euro extension to Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy began in November 2015, with a completion date set for February 2016.
Work on the project, which was to accommodate an extra 850 pupils, was beset by delays and subsequently ground to a halt when the Sammon Group, which had won the contract for a number of school builds, went into liquidation during the summer.
The contract has since been re-tendered.
Last week, it emerged that the school’s principal, Christy Healy, has temporarily gone on leave.
The Irish Examiner understands there has been a disagreement between Coláiste an Chraoibhín and Cork ETB over plans for the future enrolment policy at the school, and a difference of opinion over the numbers the school can accommodate next September.
Mr Healy could not be contacted for comment. The school’s board of management declined to comment.
Cork ETB chief executive Ted Owens issued a statement stating the board has kept parents abreast of timelines all along.
“We can confirm that principal Healy is on sick leave and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further on this matter,” reads the statement.
It goes on to say that a meeting was held on Thursday night by the board of management of the school and an admissions policy was adopted.
“Parents, teachers, community, and ETB nominees are represented on the school board,” said Mr Owens, adding that Cork ETB is “working diligently to deliver this project”.
“At all times we have worked closely with the Department of Education and Skills on this issue.
“We are also trying to expedite this project as much as possible by endeavouring to cut timeframes but are confined by public tenders and processes,” he said.
Jean O’Regan, chairwoman of the school’s Parents Association, said there is “huge frustration” at the ongoing delays.
She claimed a press release has been the only communication the parents have seen on the matter since a contentious meeting with Cork ETB last August.
Ms O’Regan said Mr Healy is very popular and well- respected in the community and is credited with the school’s growth in recent years.
Ms O’Regan said the extension is “90% complete”, to the point that cookers have been installed in the home economics classrooms, but that the project, which was supposed to take 70 weeks, is now ongoing for more than 200 weeks.