The brand new school has been years in the making. The picture above, showing the progress to date, was taken this Monday afternoon. PICTURE: Arthur Kinahan
Residents of Bishop’s Court, the housing estate which backs onto the new Coláiste Chú Chulainn school at the Marshes, have had their hopes of stopping the installation of a new ESB substation near their homes dashed.
The decision means that work on the new educational facility which will home Coláiste Chú Chulainn post-primary and Coláiste Lú primary school can recommence.
However, councillors at Louth County Council’s April meeting on Monday heard that the school will still not be open for the new academic year in September.
The decision to reject the potential judicial review, taken last Friday, means work relative to the electricity substation can now begin.
But, the local authority still do not expect the new build to be fully complete by September.
“The hearing took place in March. On Friday, the court decided that the judicial review would be rejected,” Frank Pentony said. “In theory, we can continue with the building of the school as approved by the Part 8.”
Bishop’s Court residents took their case to court late last year, with the local authority taking the decision not to progress with any work in relation to the substation located near the residential properties until the court had made a decision.
Mr Pentony told the meeting on Monday that despite the positive news, the school still won’t be ready for some time.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat, chair of the Louth Meath Education & Training Board Tomas Sharkey said: “I want the parents and the students and the staff to stick with us, bear with us. It will be ready in a couple of months time.
“We’re going to do everything in our power from the LMETB to make sure we get the students in as soon as possible.
“September wasn’t a solid commitment,” he said, adding: “I'm not happy about that.”
“But the students from Coláiste Lú and Coláiste Chú Chulainn deserve the best building, the best school in Co. Louth. That’s what they’re going to get.”
"The roadblock of a potential judicial review is now cleared off. The builders have a clear run to continue the work without having to use a generator from here on in.
"But it is bad news because the children and the parents and the staff had expected that the building would be ready for June - and it's not. I'm not happy about that but I want to be balanced in this.
The Sinn Féin councillor also remarked that he felt this delay - further prolonging years of waiting for the new school build - demonstrates the local authority should not be in charge of such projects.
"We're learning a lesson here as well. Going forward, I would not be comfortable with a county council being the lead provider of school buildings.
"I do believe the Education & Training and the Department of Education are better placed to provide schools quicker, more efficiently, more effectively and to get the students to school on time.
When it came to Pentony's suggestion that some parts of the school may be ready for classes in September, Sharkey said it was something to consider going forward while admitting there would be viable concerns over safety.
"It's something I want to consider," he stated. "I'm not too sure how we could go forward with putting students in one part of the building while the rest of the building is in construction.
"There'll be child safety to consider. Can you have one part of a building electrified without the rest of it being fused? I don't know how it's going to pan out."
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