06 Jul 2022

Education Minister commits two options to address dire conditions at Laois primary school

Minister Foley hears first hand about leaking roof, broken sewerage and heating from Abbeyleix


Scoil Mhuire is riddled with damp due to a leaking roof

The Minister for Education has committed to two options that could end the dire situation faced by children and staff of the main primary school in Abbeyleix.

Minister Norma Foley met virtually on Thursday, March 25 with Scoil Mhuire representatives and staff and local public representatives at a meeting chaired by Laois Offaly TD and Minister of State Sean Fleming.

Speaking afterwards, Minister Fleming outlined what his colleague in Government had committed to after hearing first-hand accounts of what it is like to attend and teach at the building which has a leaking roof, broken sewerage and a host of other problems.

The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Board of Management William Swayne, Principal Aidan McEvoy, a teacher who represented the children and a parent's representative.

Minister Fleming said the Minister felt the strongest messages at the meeting were those of the children which were delivered in a report by a teacher.

"The Minister was very taken by the voice of the children...The children said they were freezing, had to wear their coats, are afraid the ceiling is going to fall, and are afraid to go to the toilet because of the smell," he said.

After the representatives spoke, Minister Fleming said Minister Foley, who was accompanied by two officials, outlined her next steps.

"The Minister has given a guarantee that the Department will contact the school in the coming weeks to arrange a full audit of the building. There are two options: a complete retrofit or a new building," she said.

She said a decision on what to do next would be based on the assessment. 

Minister Fleming said he was absolutely satisfied with what was put on the table by the Minister.

"It is real progress, she has put two options on the table. She used the phrase: 'I can't contradict anything that has been said today'. She has got the seriousness of it so it is a positive good sign," said Minister Fleming.

He added retrofit is being considered as an option as part of complying with climate change work and commitments in all Government departments to consider green alternatives in the construction of public buildings. 

The meeting was also attended by Minister of State Pippa Hackett, Charlie Flanagan TD, Brian Stanley TD, Carol Nolan TD and Cllr John Joe Fennelly.

It is more than a year since parents and teachers made the case for the school at an INTO pre-general election meeting in 2020. The local TDs were also given a tour of the building in October 2019.

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