Local school caught in the midst of structural crisis

by Padraig Conlon
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Local parents affected by the school safety crisis were told they would have to wait “a day or two” to find out if their child’s school is safe.

Eight schools in south Dublin built by Western Building Services, were among the 42 nationwide facing structural inspections this week.

Initial plans to have all 42 inspections completed by Tuesday evening did not work out, with only 21 inspections done by then.

Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, Lucan required “internal and external intervention to facilitate the reopening of the ground floor area after the mid-term break” with the other floor to remain closed.

At the time of going to press no announcement had made regarding the relocation of pupils.

Local Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald told Dublin Gazette the ongoing issue is being dealt with.

“This is very frustrating and upsetting for local school children and their parents.

“I have been in contact with the Department of Education to ensure every effort is being made in terms of transport and safety measures to allow local students to continue their education.”

Solidarity–People Before Profit TD for Dublin Mid-West Gino Kenny blasted former Minister for Education Richard Bruton.

He said: “Obviously everybody hopes that when the inspections are completed they are safe for pupils and staff.

“My party colleague Richard Boyd Barrett TD raised this issue over a year ago to then Minister for Education Richard Bruton on the floor of the Dail.

“The minister gave very evasive answers to serious questions regarding fire certification and structural issues in other schools which Western Building Systems have built.

“If the inspections finds any structural issues with any of the Lucan schools this could have enormous and detrimental effect on the academic year and in terms of alternative schooling locations for staff and pupils.”

The Department of Education has appointed a contractor to “mobilise in the event of internal and/or external interventions being required” in more schools over the coming days.

They said, however, even if no more problems are identified, “displaced classes” in affected schools will have to be sent to other facilities next week, with the department now arranging space and travel for those affected before the mid-term break ends.

In a statement on Tuesday night, Western Building Systems, again claimed they are not responsible for safety errors at the schools it built for the State.

“We welcome the ongoing progress in the department’s assessment of the 42 schools identified.

“It is crucial for everyone that we better understand why schools previously certified as substantially complete and suitable for occupation and which also had defects certificates subsequently issued by the department’s advisors, are now being assessed by the department.”

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