07 Jul 2022

Pragmatic welcome for school overhaul in Laois trumps decade wait for new building

Laois TD demands repairs at school with damp, leaks, electrical dangers

Scoil Mhuire NS in Abbeyleix needs a range of urgent repairs say engineers

The principal and management of Scoil Mhuire in Abbeyleix have pragmatically backed plans for the overhaul of the building or face a decade wait for a new building to replace the outdated property that needs extensive renovations.

The statement from the Principal Aidan McEvoy also expresses relief that Scoil Mhuire is to be included in the pilot School Energy Pathfinder Programme.

“The Board of Management (BOM) of Scoil Mhuire has unanimously welcomed the schools inclusion in this programme and we hope it will finally signal an end to the significant building infrastructure defects in the original school building as highlighted by the BOM and the previous BOM going back to 2017 and our campaign for these defects to be comprehensively addressed by the Department of Education since this time,” it said.

Mr McEvoy outlined what to expect for the school which has more than 300 children on the roll book.

“The Programme as presented to the school will address in a complete and comprehensive manner the various defects in the building in a manner that is all inclusive and simultaneous . This is a pilot programme being rolled out in 2022 and we are one of only six schools across the country to be included in the programme.

“The School Energy Pathfinder Programme will be be the first of its kind and will have a basis of sustainability, green renewable energy , proper insulation and the need for an integrated approach based on a balance between addressing the physical infrastructure defects in the building with a view to long term sustainability re energy sourcing and renewable materials being used in the process of renovation,” he said.

He believes it will be transformative.

“It has the potential to transform our school and make it fit for purpose for the years ahead. The works will be extensive and comprehensive and will be led by the Department of Education , who will bring forward a design and then make the changes and improvements as required to make our school building fit for purpose , a true green energy school , for the present and for decades ahead,” he said.

After having had to put up with leaks, sewerage and other problems Mr McEvoy said the plan comes as a relief.

“We as a school community are excited and relieved that we finally have a solution that will give the pupils and staff a building that will be warm, insulated, leak free and sustainable in harmony with the environment. It will be a period of intense change for the school and will involve a complete revamp of the building, which no doubt will bring its own logistical challenges but which will be worth the upheaval given the huge benefits it will bring to all in our school community.

"The definite commitment from the Department of Education that this work will commence in the second quarter of 2022 is most welcome and we will do all in our power to cooperate with the Department of Education Team to make this programme a reality.

“The decision of the Department of Education to include our school in the programme, is most welcome and shows that all that we as a school community have been campaigning for since 2017 was valid and based on facts,” he said.
Mr McEvoy signalled the change in the Department's stance.

“ It also puts in context the less than adequate responses received previously in 2019 and 2020 from the Department of Education and validates our ongoing concerns to date,” he said.

Mr McEvoy, who has been a strong public voice for action, said a pragmatic approach has had to be adopted in relation to a new home.

“The first preference of the BOM was a new build but faced with the reality that a new build would not even be considered for at least another decade, this project as offered by the Department of Education was accepted by the Board of Management as a credible alternative in the interests of all in our school community especially the pupils , whose welfare have at all times been to the fore in our considerations and for whom we have been campaigning relentlessly,” he said.

He thanked all who have supported the campaign so far.

“We would like to thank all our local representatives for all their support in this campaign - all political views united behind our campaign and we are most grateful for all of their support over the last five years.

“The meeting, as organised with Minister for Education Ms Norma Foley TD in early 2021 by local TD and Minister Sean Fleming , with the support of all local representatives Carol Nolan TD, Brian Stanley TD, Charlie Flanagan TD and Senator / Minister Pippa Hackett proved decisive and we are most grateful to all for their active support of our cause.

“We as a school community are now looking forward to getting back to what we do best in the years ahead, academic and sporting excellence, pionering inclusiveness for all pupils and to being a truly Green School , in a building that is fit for purpose, that will allow our school to grow and thrive in the years ahead,” he said.

“Finally we as a BOM would like to thank the pupils parents and staff of Scoil Mhuire, our engineer Mr Billy Kirwan (BK Engineering) as well as all in the local community for their ongoing support for our campaign over the last five years - your patience and support has been invaluable,” concluded the principal.


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