17 schools require works to reopen after midterm

The number of schools that require protective works prior to reopening after the midterm break has risen to 17, while question marks remain over a further 13.

17 schools require works to reopen after midterm

By Elaine Loughlin and Catherine Shanahan

The number of schools that require protective works prior to reopening after the midterm break has risen to 17, while question marks remain over a further 13.

Figures released by the Department of Education last night show only a quarter (11) of the 42 schools being assessed for structural defects are currently in a position to reopen next Monday without further intervention.

Thirteen schools will learn today whether emergency works are required before children can go back to school.

The number of schools around which structural safety issues have arisen has grown significantly since the problem first came to light following an inspection of Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Dublin, almost two weeks ago.

One section of Ardgillan, built in 2009 by Western Building Systems (WBS), remains closed with temporary accommodation organised for at least 200 pupils.

Three other Dublin schools are restricted to the ground floor — Gaelscoil Eiscir Ríada in Lucan, Tyrrelstown Educate Together, and St Luke’s National School, Tyrrelstown.

All three required internal and external work to enable the ground floor to be made safe for use by pupils and staff.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said he had been advised that “no other building has presented the same severity of structural issues as those identified in Phase 1 of Ardgillan Community College”.

Fourteen schools have been cleared to open in full but only after external protective works in the form of a fence around the building and protective decking.

Among the Cork schools where structural analysis is ongoing are Carrigaline Educate Together NS and St Colman’s Boys National School, Macroom.

Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Rochestown, is clear to open following external protective works.

All of the schools were built over the past decade by WBS. In a statement last night, WBS said schools “previously certified for completion as being free from defects by the department... are now being deemed to require remedial works”.

“This includes schools where the department’s own appointed clerk of works had a full-time presence on site.

“The same projects were also inspected and approved as compliant in line with the new building regulation control process,” read the statement.

The Department of Education is working with all schools impacted to find alternative accommodation and transport for students and staff who will have to move while work is carried out.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland general secretary John MacGabhann said moving pupils, even for a short period, causes significant disruption. “In general terms we are looking on aghast at the manner in which this has happened.”

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