Mayfield school project on hold over site

Work on a new building for a gaelscoil on Cork’s northside is still awaiting the transfer of the controversial site for its construction from the city council.

Planning permission was granted in 2011 for a 16-classroom school for Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn at the Tank Field in Mayfield.

The plans had been the subject of significant local opposition to the loss of public access to part of the open space to facilitate the project.

The school has been in temporary accommodation since opening in 1993 and its 313 pupils are currently taught in mostly prefab classrooms on the grounds of Brian Dillon’s GAA club, which also uses part of the Tank Field.

In March, the Department of Education began a tendering process for the work with a pre-qualification exercise for contractors that precedes tendering for construction.

“As soon as the transfer of the site from Cork City Council to the Department of Education has been completed, construction on the project will commence following the tender process, assuming no issues arise,” a department spokesperson said.

The local authority said it is committed to assisting the department in its planned delivery of the new gaelscoil.

“Cork City Council is working with all relevant parties to achieve this objective in as short a timeframe as possible. Discussions as to how to best accommodate the requirements of the several interested parties are ongoing,” a spokesperson said.

However, the council said it could not give a definitive timeframe for completion of the land transfer process until those discussions are concluded.

The issues mean it would be September 2016 at the earliest before classes can happen in the new school, as the department says construction will take a year to 15 months after the tendering process is fully completed. The project has been on a department list of building projects set to proceed to construction since late 2012.

In October 2012, some local residents claimed that a right of way existed at the Tank Field and should rule out the project. But the Circuit Court ruled the council could go ahead and sell two of the field’s 10-plus acres to allow construction.

The other element of the plan at the time was to give the GAA club a 99-year lease on two acres and change the layout of pitches, leaving six remaining acres accessible to the public.

Residents against the project have said they support the provision of modern facilities for the gaelscoil, but that other suitable sites for its relocation had not been given proper consideration.

The school, the country’s first multi-denominational gaelscoil, opened under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, and is an Educate Together affiliate.

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