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22 April 2010 Edition

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Summer works scheme no substitute for investment in school buildings

Pearse Doherty

Pearse Doherty

Sinn FÉin Dáil spokesperson on education, Senator Pearse Doherty, welcomed Wednesday’s announcement by Minister Mary Coughlan of the summer works programme for summer 2010 but said that this is no substitute for full investment into new school buildings.
He demanded real and proper investment into a school buildings programme that allows for new schools and extensions to be constructed. “Such an investment would not only give much needed improvement to school buildings but would also create much needed employment, especially in areas such as Donegal, where unemployment continues to rise,” he said.
“The Summer Works Scheme is important for small works such as roof replacement and repairs, window replacement and toilet upgrades; however without proper investment into a school buildings programme such a programme, in many cases, can never be anything more than painting over the cracks.
“It is significant that Mary Coughlan has made this announcement today in Donegal Town, given that she was only a stone’s throw away from a school based entirely in prefabs which has to date spent up to half a million euro in the rental of prefabs over the last ten years.
“However this is not unique. There are hundreds of schools across the state in a similar position that are paying phenomenal rents for these prefabs – something which would be entirely unnecessary should a proper school buildings programme be in place.
“Figures released to Sinn Féin in December 2009 show that there are 79 rented prefabs being used as classrooms in Donegal, this of course doesn’t include those prefabs which have been purchased. A number of schools are renting prefabs at a cost in excess of €100,000 per year, while one school in particular was spending in excess of €150,000 in annual rent. All this amounts to a yearly cost of around €1.136 million on the rental of prefabs.
“This is a shameful abuse of taxpayers’ money at a time when ordinary people are being asked to tighten their belts.”
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