HOPES are high that some of the “appalling” conditions at Meelick National School can be rectified after the Department of Education sanctioned €45,000 for replacement of foul and surface waterlines and roof repairs.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn recently requested a report from a departmental official about the “appalling conditions” at Meelick National School.
Minister Quinn made the request after local Dáil deputies highlighted serious health and safety concerns for pupils and teachers at the school.
The request for a detailed report on the state of conditions at the school was confirmed during the minister’s official visit to a number of Clare national schools recently.
Questioned by The Clare Champion as to why successive governments had neglected to sanction a major investment in accommodation facilities, the minister declined to comment any further until he had an opportunity to read the report.
The school has eight teachers and 150 pupils, with 23 children due to enrol in September.
Deputy Pat Breen recently arranged a meeting with a local deputation and Minister of State Ciarán Cannon to discuss what he has described in the Dáil as “appalling conditions” at the school.
It was attended by school principal, Marie O’Looney; board of management chairperson, Nuala Frost and Deputy Michael McNamara, who made representations to the minister last March.
Describing the school as the “worst in the county” in terms of facilities, Deputy Breen stressed it needed a major investment in the roof, windows, doors and sewerage during the summer holidays to allow pupils and teachers return to proper facilities next September.
Deputy McNamara admitted he was “shocked” to witness school children playing near overflowing sewerage in the school yard.
The Labour deputy told The Clare Champion he had made numerous representations to the minister complaining about the refusal of funding under the Emergency Works Scheme.
Stating the sewerage system is inadequate, he noted the toilets in the prefabs and gullies around the school yard overflowed.
The decision by the Department of Education to provide emergency funding to alleviate some of the more serious defects at Meelick National School has been described as a step in the right direction by McNamara.
“This decision to improve the sewerage system and roof will come as a welcome relief to pupils and teachers who have suffered an unacceptable situation for far too long,” said Deputy McNamara.
“Minister Ruarí Quinn was fully briefed by me on the very difficult situation arising from prefabs and general sub-standard conditions at the school before and during his visit to Clare. There are serious health and safety issues involved here and I am delighted the minister has moved so rapidly to address the worst aspects of the situation,” he added.
The Labour TD said the school should not have been let fall into such a state when the country was awash with money.
“I will not rest until Meelick receives a full-scale upgrade including replacement of the prefabs. This is a considerable challenge to achieve in times when money is so scarce,” he concluded.