Minister for Education Norma Foley said her department was committed to an “ambitious”

capital programme. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Construction delays linked to high inflation had sparked protests from schools affected

Work is set to resume on almost 60 school building projects that were stalled due to concerns over rising costs.

The Department of Education last month said the projects were “paused” on foot of high construction inflation which had made it difficult for contractors to stick to tendered costs for many of the planned buildings.

This prompted protests from many schools, who said the delays would lead to overcrowding and students being educated in temporary or inappropriate conditions.

Minister for Education Norma Foley confirmed on Wednesday that an agreement has been secured to guarantee and support the roll-out and continuation of her department’s school building programme. Sources did not indicate how much additional funding will be needed to advance the projects this year.

Last year, construction inflation and other pressures resulted in the department’s initial capital budget of almost €800 million rising by about €300 million. A total of €860 million has been allocated for school building projects for this year.

The department will update each of the 58 schools in relation to the formal arrangements and next steps in respect of the delivery of their individual projects.

A full list of the schools affected has not been provided. However, it is understood that it includes six new Educate Together school buildings in Dublin and Louth; and at least five Gaelscoileanna under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, including Gaelscoil an Inbhir Mhóir in Arklow; Gaelscoil na gCeithre Máistrí in Donegal town; Gaelscoil Lir in Saggart; Gaelscoil Phádraig in Ballybrack; and Gaelscoil Eois in Clones.

In addition, a number of schools under the patronage of Education and Training Boards had been warned of delays including Enfield Community College and O’Carolan College, Co Meath; Gaelscoil Eois in Monaghan; Davitt College, Castlebar, Co Mayo; and Greystones Community College in Co Wicklow.

Schools for vulnerable pupils are also affected, including Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise, which caters for children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities.

In a statement Ms Foley said her department was committed to an “ambitious” capital programme that delivers new and modernised facilities in school communities.

“This will include provision for all of the 58 schools that were temporarily paused to progress to tender and construction stage and Department officials will contact those schools directly,” she said. “These projects will provide new and modernised facilities for our school communities and are an important aspect of the department’s overall delivery under the Government’s National Development Plan.”

She expressed thanks to Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe who, she said, worked “tirelessly” with her and department officials to facilitate the delivery of these school building projects.

The department said it delivered more than 180 projects last year in a challenging environment, while this year more than 300 school building projects are under construction, including 40 new buildings and 260 at existing schools.

There are also more than 1,000 other school building projects in the department’s pipeline at various stages of development.

Source: Irish Times

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