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Minister fails to provide answers in Dáil over new school building in Greystones

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore raised the ongoing issue of the new school building left idle in Charlesland and which is to accommodate Greystones Community National School (GCNS) and Greystones Community College (GCC).

Deputy Whitmore raised the issue during Topical Issues with the Minister for Education Norma Foley. However, according to Deputy Whitmore, the Minister refused to answer crucial questions as to when the new school building in Charlesland can finally be opened.

“I asked very specific questions about the new school building which the Minister refused to answer. These included when exactly a decision will be made on when the school will open up to students from GCNS and GCC, when was the last time the Department had been on site and if the Government had met with Western Buildings to discuss the outstanding issues preventing the school from opening.  

“I also raised the fact that schools are not able to plan ahead without knowing when the school will open up to them, and their enrolment numbers are being aggressively curbed due to a lack of uncertainty regarding their future accommodation.

“This is simply not good enough coming from the Department. There has been no effort to date to communicate with the school communities about progress on the opening date of the new school build. The Minister also outlined inaccuracies in relation to Western Buildings correspondence recently sent to local representative, however it is my belief that regardless of these so-called inaccuracies, the Department needs to make a decision as to when to open up the building so that GCNS and GCC can work towards finding a solution to their short and medium-term accommodation needs.

“I am in constant touch with these schools and with parents who are also extremely frustrated at the slow pace and lack of communication from the Department. They all deserve better than this.

“We have been getting the same information for months and months now and it is completely unacceptable. It is really frustrating that as former chair of GCNS, to see how hard both schools have fought to get a new school in the first place, then lobbying and fight for temporary accommodation only to be refused entry into a brand new school left idle around the corner.

“Staff have better priorities than chasing the Department for information. The amount of energy spent doing this could be better spent on the school, especially in the case of COVID 19 which has put a lot of pressure on staff in the daily management of their schools. I commend them and the students for their patience to date but they shouldn’t have to be patient” concludes Whitmore. 

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