Laois County Councillors back plea for new school building

Abbeyleix: Damp, mould, smell, sewage leaks in school

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

abbeyleix

The ceiling in one of the classrooms at Scoil Mhuire in Abbeyleix

A Laois primary school in poor condition has reapplied for a new building from the Department of Education after being turned down.

Scoil Mhuire NS in Abbeyleix with 320 children has four classrooms that are unusable, leaky roofs, dampness, and leaking sewage.

Last winter the department turned down an application for a new building. A public meeting followed with many parents pleading for a new building. The school’s Board of Management then appealed the decision and is awaiting a response.

Portlaoise Municipal District councillors agreed to write in support of the application at their May council meeting.

Cllr John Joe Fennelly had tabled a motion asking for the council’s support back in March, but as meetings were suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions it was not heard until May 20.

He asked “that this council support the Principal, staff, board of management, parents and students of Scoil Mhuire Abbeyleix in their application for a new school”.

“The school is in a terrible situation. They are all looking for support from Laois County Council when the application goes forward,” he said.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley had a similar motion. She asks the council to call on the department to “immediately approve adequate funding for works on the roof, sewage system, plumbing and electrical system”.

“Seeing is believing. Four classrooms are abandoned. Children will be back to school in September and have to socially distance, but there is huge health and safety issues. The roof leaks constantly. There is a bucket in the secretary’s office over her head. The sewerage system is broken down,” she said.

A toilet in a classroom is causing “damp, mould and a smell”, Cllr Dwane Stanley said.

“It is not all negative. They built an extension and an ASD unit from money gathered in the community. There is adequate space at the back for a new building,” she said.

She said that the Department of Education has recently requested an engineer’s report, but this is only for temporary roof repairs.

“It is crazy. We all know it could take years for a new building. They need funding to refurbish what’s there,” she said.

Cllr Fennelly added that he was on the Board of management for years.

“The minute you open the front door you get the smell,” he said.