TD alarmed by evidence revealing slow progress on Laois Offaly school project

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Coláiste Éosagáin

Packed hall at Coláiste Íosagáin

A local TD has revealed evidence which she claims represents a lack of progress in the urgently needed redevelopment of a secondary school which is bulging in the accommodation of about 1,000 pupils in Laois and Offaly.

Fianna Fáil Fiona O’Loughlin TD says she is frustrated by the situation involving Coláiste Íosagáin in Portarlington. She pointed to issues that have already arisen which she claims reveal a delay.

"It is extremely disappointing that the Department has not actively engaged with the design team to agree on professional fees for their future works on this and the quantity surveyor has not been paid for his work to date," he said.

Dep O'Loughlin said she has written to the Minister for Education Joe McHugh.

"I hope that he can encourage the department to progress this project,” she said.

A TD for South Kildare which takes in Portarlington at the next General Election says she has been working with the school's Principal and Board of Management to ensure that the school finally gets its new school building.

Under a plan, most of the existing school will be knocked and prefabs removed. New buildings will be built on a phased basis.

The work is required because of a shortage of space in the school which has had to accommodate a big rise in pupil numbers in recent years due to rapid population growth.

Apart from serving the town, the school also enrols pupils from a big hinterland that includes areas northeast Offaly and north Laois.

The first phase of redevelopment involves the construction of a two-storey extension. After pupils move in, the oldest part of the school, a 40-year-old one storey building, will be knocked.

A two storey building will replace the old building. Once completed, all 16 prefabs will then be removed and grounds and pitches reinstated.

The redeveloped school will have a capacity for 1,200 pupils.

School Principal Seamus Bennett told the Leinster Express in January 2017 that the school was 'bulgin' but he hoped work would begin that year.

Deputy O'Louglin said Fianna Fáil's party leader, Micheal Martin has visited the school to see the situation first hand.