COUNCILLOR Cathal Crowe has admitted he wasn’t aware of all the major infrastructural problems at his local national school, where he was a former pupil and teacher for a 12-month period.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has 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 about conditions for pupils and teachers at the school.
The school currently has eight teachers and 150 pupils, with a further 23 children due to enrol in September.
Describing the school as the “worst in the county” in terms of facilities, Deputy Pat Breen stressed it needed an emergency 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 schoolchildren playing near overflowing sewerage in the school yard in 2012.
Councillor Crowe, who taught in the school for a year from 2006 to 2007, was one of the senior infants accommodated in a prefabricated building in 1988.
He told The Clare Champion he was in contact with the principal and the board of management in relation to two issues, one of which was resolved and the other was still ongoing. However, he declined to outline what these issues involved.
He hopes to visit the school before the summer holidays to acquaint himself of some of the “headline” issues raised by Deputy Breen and McNamara, which he wasn’t aware of.
Asked why he hadn’t raised conditions at the school publicly, Councillor Crowe insisted he had raised the need to replace the old prefab with former Education Minister Mary Hanafin and former Fianna Fáil leader, Bertie Ahern when he visited Clare in 2007.
Acknowledging the infrastructure at Meelick National School is not state-of-the-art, he pointed out facilities were not as bad when he was a teacher back in 2007.
He stressed there was a need for Education Minister Quinn to come up with a scheme to replace prefabs like the one owned by school authorities in Meelick, which was 24 years old and in a state of disrepair.
He said he has made representations to Minister Quinn to introduce a new scheme to purchase old prefabs owned by schools.