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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020
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'A dire situation': Two Dublin schools closed after electricity and heating failures

The two schools’ principals said they have been notifying the department about health and safety concerns since 2017.

Image: Michelle Corry via GoFundMe

TWO SCHOOLS IN south Dublin have been closed for a number of days after electricity failed, leaving their classrooms without light or heat.

The two schools, The Red Door School for children with autism and the Dun Laoghaire Educate Together primary school, are on the same grounds in Monkstown, with all classes in prefabs. 

On Wednesday, one of the parents with children at the Red Door School, Sarah Anderson, revealed that electricity at the school had failed. She said issues at the school had been ongoing for a number of years and described the situation as “dire”.

Anderson said the children and their teachers “deserve so much better”.

In a joint statement to TheJournal.ie, the two schools confirmed they had to close this week “due to emergency circumstances”.

“This is an exceptional school closure,” they said. 

Yesterday [Wednesday] the electricity failed in all prefabs in both schools. As our heating is run from storage heaters, without electricity, we have no heating. For health and safety reasons for both pupils and staff, our schools are not operational without electricity and heat.

Principal of the Red Door School Adeline Wall said the Department of Education was first notified about health and safety concerns in the buildings in November 2017. She said the two schools had raised these issues “consistently since then”. 

“Since 2017, both schools have expanded which has put additional pressure on the electrical and heating systems. Numerous short-term repairs have been done, and in the past, the problems have been managed; this is not the case this time,” Wall said. 

Ann Marie Lillis, principal of Dun Laoghaire Education Together, said the department was contacted on Tuesday and has “responded rapidly to this serious situation”.

“They have approved emergency works and an electrical engineer was on site yesterday morning to evaluate the situation.

“As soon as we have more information, we will update our parents regarding how long the schools will be closed for.”

The two principals acknowledged the significant inconvenience to parents, children and staff. They said it was frustrating “given the historical context”. 

‘Unacceptable’

Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor has also been in contact with the Department of Education in relation to the closure of these schools. She told TheJournal.ie that she had been in touch with Principal Wall on a separate issue when she was notified about the electricity failures. 

“We really want to get this school up and running and we’re doing our very best. It’s unacceptable for children to be in a school with no heat,” she said. 

The Red Door School has been located on this site for over 10 years. Dún Laoghaire ETNS moved onto the site temporarily in September 2017.

The two school principals said “numerous emergency works, beyond heating and electricity”, have been carried out on these prefabs over the years.

Due to the growing demand of both schools, in September 2018 a programme of works to knock and rebuild these old prefabs was agreed by the Department of Education and Skills. The planning application has been submitted and is currently going
through the planning application process with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

In a statement, the Department of Education said it received an application for funding this week under its Emergency Works Scheme to resolve the heating and electricity issues in question, and the application was “approved immediately”.

“Separately, the department is also aware that the relevant additional accommodation project is currently at the planning stage.”

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