Progress in finishing Covid-19 delayed new Portlaoise school but St Francis opening could be postponed further

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


St. Francis School, Portlaoise.

Work towards getting the opening of a new Portlaoise school back on track after a Covid-19 delay is signalled with the offer of a contract to supply environmentally friendly classroom equipment.

Tenderers are being sought from companies to supply and deliver 'sustainable' loose special school classroom furniture and equipment appropriate the primary school environment St Francis Special School.

The tender specifies that the furniture should be easy to re-use, repair and recycle. It should incorporate as much recycled material as possible instead of primary materials. Apart from desks and chairs, the tender also includes whiteboards and library equipment.

It remains to be seen if this means the building on the Borris Road will be ready for students under a revised timeframe as promised earlier this year. 

The first Covid-19 lockdown brought construction to a standstill. Work did not recommence when the restrictions allowed builders to go back to work. 

St Francis is being built as part of a multi-million contract awarded for two new schools. The other school was a mainstream primary school in Kildare. It took priority after lockdown. A new completion date for St Frances was set for January 2021.

Companies bidding for the furniture contract for the Portlaoise school have until January 11 to respond to the tender invite.  

MEIC won the contract to build the two new school projects to the value of €12.3 million. It says these projects come under the Department of Education national Rapid Build Schools Programme 2017-2019.

MEIC says the St Francis Special School Community College and Community Facility aspect of the contract involved the demolition of existing two-storey St Paul's CBS school building.

It will be replaced by a new two-storey 12-classroom special needs school, including staff and pupil facilities and ancillary spaces, floor area 2912m3. New vehicular and pedestrian access point and associated set down for 44 car parking spaces are also planned.

The other school is Maynooth Educate Together National School.