29 March 2023
By Tom Collins
Independent TD for Cork South-West, Michael Collins, has called on the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, to provide definitive reassurances to a number of schools in the constituency with respect to funding allocations for 2023 and beyond.
Deputy Collins was speaking during a Dáil debate on an Education and School Building Programme motion.
The debate was prompted following a furious backlash from parents and schools throughout the state after the Department of Education announced to great controversy that it was pausing at least 58 major school projects that were due to go tender this year due to funding constraints:
“At the end of last year Government raked in a €5 billion budget surplus. Where has that money gone and why has it not been redirected, at least in part, to prioritise the delivery of something so fundamental as school buildings and the delivery of education for our children?” asked Deputy Collins.
“I want clear and definitive answers on this matter not Departmental waffle about ‘seeking to minimise delays as much as possible’.”
“That kind of insubstantial political rhetoric is no good to the likes of St. Patrick’s Boys National School in Skibbereen who have a right to clear certainty regarding the future funding of its excellent Early Intervention and ASD Unit.”
“Likewise, Kilbrittain National School which has already been on the receiving end of a ‘re-designation’ by The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) this time last year.”
“Then we have major ongoing difficulties in terms of school transport which is showing every sign of becoming just as big a problem for this September as it was for last September.”
“This is to say nothing about the thousands of students who are being educated in pre-fabs or in schools that require significant upgrades and renovation works. In fact, those numbers have only increased because of growth in the post-primary population within west Cork.”
“The Minister and the Department cannot leave our schools to operate in a funding or policy vacuum. They need certainty and they need it now,” concluded Deputy Collins.