10 Nov 2014

Meeting with Minister, Jan O’Sullivan

On Thursday 6th November 2014, an opportunity was given to speak briefly to Jan O’Sullivan who has been the minister for Education since July 2014. Jan was in the county to open a new school and we had basically a 15 min time slot to state our case with her. Daithi De Paor, John Wall and myself Claire Ogilvie went to Dungarvan to meet with the minister to ask why are we being continuously overlooked for a permanent building despite meeting all the criteria set out by the ministers office.

Daithi spoke with knowledge and conviction in regards to the past communications with her offices and the current state of the pre-fabs and the battering they received last winter. Daithi gave a good run down of other schools that have been built in the past year including some which never appeared on any of the “pre-approved” lists that we have laboured to be included on. The Minister was unaware of this but obviously if this can happen for others then why not for us?

Minister O’Sullivan did state that although she was new to the role,and that “she did not funds available to her at present”, the schools plight had been highlighted to her already by Ciara Conway who was also in attendance. She is aware that we have been waiting an unacceptable length of time and asked the group questions about demographic criteria, style of building etc. It would be fair to say that she listened diligently to the many points that were made to her:

  • Lack of hall facilities.
  • Children having to stay in their classrooms at lunchtime when it rains.
  • The amount of taxpayers funds that have been spent on the existing prefab would now equal what that cost is of a new build.
  • The numbers wanting to attend the school are high and the school is almost at full capacity.
  • The population of the town has doubled in recent years.
  • The school is in a prominent sight line of all who enter the town and although the department has built new schools in the town over the past 5 years they are certainly not getting any “positive publicity” like what was campaigned for in the last local elections.

We also brought up the fact that an educate together school has been established in Tramore in the past year. We made the point that in the future it would not be unrealistic to assume that existing religious schools nationwide would either merge with educate together facilities or convert to the system. However the Gaelscoil is a language school primarily and will always be stand alone whether secular or not, and will therefore always need its own permanent place in the community. Ciara Conway also highlighted at this stage that for the size of the Gaelscoil it was the most inclusive school in the town.

Possibly the one point of positivity that I took from the meeting was that although the party line is for the next list of “new build schools” to be announced in bulk later next year (closer to the election year of 2016), it is her wish that a handful of priority school’s be announced early in 2015. And as she said we have made it very clear to her that we are wish to be on that priority list.

Claire Ogilvie,
Chairperson, Parents Association.