The school at the Marshes in Dundalk has been a long time in the making. Picture: Arthur Kinahan
Coláiste Chú Chulainn principal Deirdre Uí Liatháin has issued a brief statement in response to a report in the Dundalk Democrat this week in which doubts were cast over the school's readiness for the new academic year in September.
At Monday's Louth County Council meeting, attended by the Democrat, Director of Services Frank Pentony confirmed that while the judicial review being sought by resident of Bishops Court in relation to the building of an ESB station near homes in the area was rejected, the school was still unlikely to be available in September.
In a letter issued to parents and published on the school's website, the principal said, "We appreciate that recent newspaper reports regarding a delayed handover of our new school building are worrying for our parents, students and indeed for our whole school community.
"Discussions are underway between Louth County Council, who is delivering the project, and the contractor to ensure that the building is completed in the shortest time frame possible.
"We will issue a further update as soon as this comes to hand."
The new Coláiste Chú Chulainn and Coláiste Lú building has been plagued by delays since it's inception, initially being earmarked for opening way back on 2014. Contractors Ganson and Louth County Council had originally agreed on a June handover date, but with legal issues delaying matters, the school is unlikely to be ready by September now.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat this week, 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 referring to Pentony's comments, 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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