Children protest over delay to Ardclough school opening

The scene at Ardclough school during Monday's protest
MORE than 100 parents and children protested outside an empty new school in Ardclough on Monday morning.

MORE than 100 parents and children protested outside an empty new school in Ardclough on Monday morning.

The protest was organised despite statements earlier in the week that repair work on the school would be started and completed by the end of June, hopefully enabling the new €2.7m school building to be occupied next September.

Children prepared protest signs on Friday, and yesterday morning the group made its feeling known – 18 months after the school should have been completed.

Joanna Byrne, a spokesperson for the parents, told the Leader it would be “brilliant” if the comments of Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn in the Dail on 16 April, led to the new school being occupied next September.

However, numerous dashed hopes along the way have left them very sceptical.

On 16 April, Kildare North Fine Gael TD, Bernard Durkan, had asked Minister Ruairi Quinn about the school.

He asked when the school would be completed in line with specifications and open and available for intake of students; and if he (the Minister) would make a statement on the matter.

In a Dail reply, the Minister said that “subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that works will commence on site in early May for the school building project referred to by the Deputy and will be completed in quarter two of 2013.”

Deputy Durkan later commented: “At last, hope for commencement of outstanding works next month – to be completed by mid-summer.”

Parents and staff, who had boxes packed ready to start work at the new building in September 2012, will be holding their breaths.

They had hoped to get into the new school for last Christmas 2012.

School principal, Patricia King, told the Leader on Monday she understood that a meeting is due to be held later this week, but at the time of going to press, neither the name of a builder, the content of an agreement nor a start date for the work was known to the school.

St Anne’s was “completed” in December 2011, but remains vacant as 250 pupils and 18 staff are continuing to use “overcrowded prefabs clustered around a 1949 building,” said the protesters.

However, the new school failed a health and safety inspection by the authorities.

The Department of Education subsequently identified the problems, which did not involve a major infrastructure investment, and announced that it would appoint a builder to rectify them.