Need for new Galway city primary school is uncertain – Healy Eames

Fine Gael Senator for Galway West, Fidelma Healy Eames, has called on the Department of Education to re-assess the need for a new primary Gaelscoil in Knocnacarra. The Senator’s request comes on foot of the findings of a survey about the capacity of the 12 primary schools on the west side of the city.

“There is confusion among parents and school boards on the west side of the city as to why a new primary Gaelscoil for the Knocknacarra area has got the green light in the Department of Education's five year building programme. The area appears to have adequate primary school capacity as things stand.

“A recent survey carried out by 12 local primary schools on the west side of the city indicates that the schools currently have capacity for 225 extra pupils. Furthermore, according to the survey, 989 extra pupils could be accommodated if 24 classrooms which are currently empty were utilised.

“Some of these schools are in need of refurbishment and many teachers and parents are making the case that, instead of providing for a brand new school for which there appears little demand, the money should be spent on providing improvements to existing schools.

“The main school that such a move would benefit in the area is Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh. The school has eight prefab classrooms housing over 200 children and has planning permission in place for a new extension. At a 600 strong meeting of parents last week, parents and teachers expressed fears that the clearance for a new school in the area would put their long-awaited building programme on the back burner.

“There are currently twelve primary schools serving the area including five primary schools providing Irish-medium education, namely: Scoil Fhursa, Scoil Iognaid, Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh, Boleybeg NS and Bearna NS. In light of this situation, it is difficult to see how the need arises for another primary Gaelscoil in the area.

“It is not clear where the evidence has come from to substantiate the need for a new Gaelscoil. Notwithstanding, it is the view of the principals and board members I've met with that there is existing capacity for growth in some of these schools. Furthermore, no section 29 appeals have been taken by parents seeking a school place for their children in any of the schools I've met with. Neither have any been notified to me by parents seeking representational support for their child's case. I have written to Minister Quinn outlining the urgency of this developing situation and have sought a joint meeting of public representatives to resolve the problem.”