The Government has been slammed for underinvestment in schools that are in need. St Tiernan’s Community School in Balally has been asking for a PE hall for nearly 40 years.
Their planning applications to build an indoor sports facility have been refused, with the last application turned down by the roads department.
The co-educational school also applied to be part of a pilot project of 80 schools to take on PE as a Leaving Certificate subject from next year, but was turned down, partly due to its lack of facilities.
Principal Declan Hughes said they have been campaigning for a PE Hall “since its establishment in 1980”.
Principal Hughes said that it is having a negative impact on the students.
“Our students can’t help but feel neglected in terms of PE facilities. This is exacerbated by the facilities they see provided to students of competing schools.”
Chair of St Tiernan’s Board of Management, Cllr Lettie Mc Carthy said their patience is wearing thin on the matter.
“We desperately need a PE Hall. There is an onus on the Department of Education to ensure every school in Ireland has suitable facilities for the benefit of their students.”
Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin, who worked at St Tiernan’s Community School for 16 years prior to becoming a TD, said it is very frustrating and disheartening for the staff and students.
She said: “Teachers and pupils in schools like St Tiernan’s feel demoralised and rightfully draw the conclusion that at best they are not getting a fair chance, and at worst they are being neglected by a Government that appears not to care.
“The overarching priority for this or any other government should be to support our most disadvantaged schools and vulnerable students as education is key to striving to achieve equality of opportunity.
“With the roll-out of the new PE curriculum at Leaving Cert level, it is of immediate importance that schools like St Tiernan’s are fully equipped to run the course.”
Sinn Fein councillor for Glencullen/Sandyford, Chris Curran, has criticised local politicians who celebrated local private fee-paying school Wesley College been given a sports grant of €150,000.
Cllr Curran said: “It is astonishing that a private, fee-paying school could receive this amount of taxpayers’ money while the local community school, just a matter of yards away from Wesley College has not been able to secure funding for an indoor sports hall for nearly 40 years.
“The Sports Capital Grant, under which the €150,000 was awarded to Wesley College, is administered by the Sports Department under our own locally elected TD, Minister Shane Ross who said publicly that he was delighted to confirm this grant but has yet to comment on the issue of the sports hall for St Tiernan’s.
“We even had the spectacle of local Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond publicly claiming credit for helping to secure the Wesley College grant, but again no mention of St Tiernan’s.
“This has gone on for way too long. All local politicians must get behind that campaign.”
In reaction to Cllr Curran’s comments, Senator Neale Richmond said: “I note Cllr Curran’s comments and commend his enthusiasm for increased sports facilities in our area, something I have dedicated myself to for the past nine years as a public representative including three years as a member of the board of management of St Tiernan’s Community School.
“The application from YMCA HC and Wesley College was for a Sports Capital Grant from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to assist in building sports facilities in Ballinteer, while St Tiernan’s are seeking capital funding from the Department of Education and Skills.
“These are two separate funding streams from two different Departments. It is not about pitting one school against the other, it is about trying to deliver for everyone in our area.
“I will continue to support St Tiernan’s in their efforts to construct a PE Hall which I hope will occur along with the construction of Ballinteer Educate Together National School as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, it has also been reported that Wesley College threatened the state with legal action after being refused the grant.
According to information obtained under a freedom of information request by the Sunday Business Post, the Ballinteer school were furious after a grant of €150,000 was denied on grounds that it is privately owned, and following an appeal, the college was successful in overturning the decision for funding.