Structural defects in schools a huge cause for concern

by Padraig Conlon

Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe says the level of structural defects in schools raises questions that need to be answered.

The Sinn Féin TD was commenting after the recent announcement that engineers have identified structural flaws in 17 more school buildings, including three in his own constituency Dublin South West – Scoil Aoife Community National School (Citywest); Gaelscoil na Giúise; and Firhouse Educate Together.

These schools require temporary works to be carried out in coming weeks in order to ensure that they are safe for pupils and staff to return to in September.

Deputy Seán Crowe said: “The priority in all of these instances needs to be the safety and welfare of children, staff and the wider school community. 

“This appears to be an escalating problem, with schools which had previously passed an initial examination now having structural defects discovered, and it is a cause of huge concern.

“It was announced that engineers have identified structural flaws in 17 additional school buildings, including 3 in Dublin South West – Scoil Aoife Community National School (Citywest); Gaelscoil na Giúise; and Firhouse Educate Together.

“This is on top of the 22 schools that were last year found to have serious structural defects, including Scoil Chaitlín Maude in Tallaght.

“It is quite extraordinary that some of these schools that were completed as recently as 2016 and 2017, and even last year, are defective.

“There are huge questions that need be answered as to why there are such apparent defects in schools which have only just been opened and had their ribbons cut.

“I am calling for the Department’s independent review of Design and Build Procurement Model to be published as soon as possible, so that any future contracts for construction can be watertight, that there will be no defects, and no pupil or school has to lose school days due to inadequate safety standards.”

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh said “good progress” was being made on the remediation works.

“I want to thank the principals, patrons, boards of management, teachers, parents and pupils in these schools. It is with their support and cooperation while the work is carried out that we can restore their schools to normality,” Minister McHugh said last week.

“I am deeply conscious of the disruption and difficulties that this issue has caused since last autumn. It is a complex problem that has required intensive analysis and tailored solutions following detailed assessment by engineers.”

Western Building Systems said it will continue to engage with the Department of Education.

In a statement released on Friday they said they had “serious concerns” over how long it has taken for an independent review into the defects issues and called for “independent, expert answers”. 

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