Government needs to place needs and interests of Greystones Community College first – – John Brady TD

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady speaking after his address to a packed meeting of concerned parents and stakeholders from Greystones Community College who fear that once again they will be left in a state of anxiety and confusion as they wait to see if there are sufficient places for new students this coming September.

He has called on Minister for Education Norma Foley to prioritise the welfare of students in Greystones and immediately cut through the red tape which is strangling all attempts to progress towards the building of the urgently needed new school in the area, and meet with the five Wicklow TDs to find a way through the unnecessary roadblocks which the department of Education appear intent on placing in the way of progress for the school.

Brady said: “The crux of the situation in respect of Greystones Community College is that Minister Norma Foley through her hands off approach to the situation has failed the school, the students, the teachers, and parents.

Planning permission for the school was granted twenty months ago on a new 11.5-acre site, but progress has become mired in an overly bureaucratic process, which means that once again, in the new school year in September students on the waiting list cannot be sure of a place in the secondary school.

The delays in progressing the building of the new school are also resulting in substantial and unnecessary costs to the taxpayer. With over €1 million already having paid out for the lease of prefabs for temporary accommodation, and land rental.

The current process as defined by the Minister and her department’s insistence that the Greystones Community College building project be lumped in with nine other schools. Which are further subdivided into two groups of five.

This is having the effect of slowing down progress in the process to a snail’s pace.

Last September tenders were sought for all ten schools on the list. The department is currently working their way through the tenders which are valid for 180 days. This will expire in mid-March.

There is a scheduled project turnaround time of 65 weeks from commencement to completion for the new school. If the Department of Education continues to place roadblocks in front of the school, it will not be able to complete construction in time to cope with the anticipated influx of students in September 2025.

This must become a priority for the Minister.

Greystones is an area that has witnessed huge growth over the last number of years, with thousands of new homes built in the area. And while the construction of new homes is something that we all want to see, it cannot happen in a vacuum. Development must be accompanied by the necessary levels of infrastructure and services required to support it.

This has not happened in Greystones. With the result that there are currently 22 pupils in the area who simply don’t know where they will be attending secondary school in September.

I have spoken to a lot of the parents and the students, and who are experiencing huge levels of stress and anxiety, and who are watching their friends’ securing places and attending induction days in schools, while they don’t know where they are going to be in September, or even if they will have a school place at all.

Not only is this unacceptable, but failure to act will also see the situation repeated. But it is within the Minister’s power to act, to ensure that by September 2025 that the new school is completed and that no other students will be faced with the same levels of anxiety and anguish.”

Brady concluded: “Minister Norma Foley must end her hands off approach and agree to meet with the five Wicklow TDs. She must commit to cutting through the red tape and roadblocks, and to clear the way forward for the completion of the school. The welfare and wellbeing of pupils and staff must take precedence over all else.”

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