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03 Dec 2021

Watch: This vacant Portlaoise school has been totally smashed up by vandals

An empty school in the centre of Portlaoise has been ransacked by vandals, with windows and doors smashed, drinking and reported drug use, fire, dumping and anti-social behaviour.

St Paul's National School was vacated just last June 2017, when the new Holy Family parish schools opened.

The large school on the Borris Road is owned by Portlaoise Parish, and holds special memories  for thousands of Portlaoise boys and girls who were educated there.

It has been made available to the Department of Education to build a new 12 classroom building for St Francis Special School, due to start construction between April and June, to open in September.  Prefabs were removed last November after their leases expired. 

Since then, vandals have broken nearly every window and the front doors in the 3 storey building, and the gates and security fencing now lie open.

Parish Priest Monsignor John Byrne said he is urging the Dept of Education not to wait until a contract for construction is complete, but to do a separate contract for demolition now.

"I have asked that they bring forward that part of the project. I can't be spending parishioners money on boarding up a building that is going to be knocked. If I was building it I would knock it now," he said.

He said there is anti-social behaviour taking place including trespassing inside the school, and "evidence of drug use".

The Department of Education did not comment.

A Laois County Council official said "this is a building in the ownership of other parties so it would inappropriate for us to comment" but did not rule out action being taken on the building. 

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