Last week I met with the new Minister for Education Joe McHugh, at the Department of Education offices in Tullamore. I requested the meeting to raise a number of issues regarding schools in North Cork. These included the ongoing work to the extension at Coláiste an Chraoibhín (Fermoy), the need for a new PE Hall in St Colman’s College (Fermoy), and the need for an extension to Coláiste Pobail Naomh Mhuire (Buttevant).
The extension to Coláiste an Chraoibhín began in September 2015. Four years later it has not been completed, and the construction company contracted for the project has gone into liquidation. A survey of the work undertaken so far is being completed, to draw up a list of what needs to be done for the extension to be ready for the new school year in September 2019. The Board of Management, Parents’ Association, staff and students, are rightly concerned that any delays in the survey or future work could result in the extension not being ready for September 2019. I emphasised the importance of not allowing unnecessary delays in the process over the next few months, and the need for the Department to provide any extra resources to expedite the work.
St Colman’s College has invested heavily in the provision of enhanced sporting and recreational facilities over the last few years. This includes new dressing-rooms, the refurbishment of the tennis courts, and the development of a walking route around the GAA fields. This walking route has been very successful, especially for the local community. As we move towards the winter and PE classes move indoors, the students and staff of St Colman’s must resort to using a PE Hall that is no longer fit for purpose. Constructed in the 1980s using funds from the Past-Pupils Union, the PE Hall has served generations of students, but is in need of a complete refurbishment. The Department of Education and Skills has a long-term plan for investment in schools, but the investment in PE Halls will not begin for a number of years. I urged Minister McHugh to read the engineering reports done by the Department, and provide for a plan for a new PE Hall for St Colman’s.
A new building was completed for Coláiste Pobail Naomh Mhuire in December 2015. Built for a student population of 325, it is now in need of an extension as the number of students are expected to reach 460 in September 2019. The Board of Management have been supported by Cork ETB in their appeal for an extension. I asked Minister McHugh to respond positively to the request from Coláiste Mhuire, to ensure that students in the area are not forced to leave Buttevant to attend a post-primary school.