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Plans being drawn up for potential closure of more school buildings over structural defects

The results of some assessments are due to be released tomorrow.

St Lukes National School in Dublin.
St Lukes National School in Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE DEPARTMENT OF Education has said it is putting contingency plans in place should more school buildings be forced to closed as a result of structural inspections.

A total of 42 schools built by Western Building Systems are being inspected and the department has said the target is to have all the initial assessments conducted by close of business tomorrow.

The results of some of those inspections will also be released tomorrow.

The outcome of the assessments will be given first to school authorities with the department saying that “the initial feedback appears to indicate that this will be positive in many cases”.

School buildings at Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School, St Luke’s National School and Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan have all been closed as a result of safety concerns.

Education Minister Joe McHugh says that progress has been made to provide “interim accommodation” for these schools and that the department has been speaking with the school principals on practical arrangements. 

McHugh added that plans are also being put in place in case buildings in other schools are forced to close.

“Contingency planning is continuing in the event that, following structural assessments, other schools require some classes to be moved off-site,” McHugh said this afternoon.

The department has received many offers of support and assistance from schools, clubs and community groups in relation to alternative accommodation options, and I would like to express our great appreciation for this support.

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McHugh met with department officials involved in the assessment programme in Tullamore today in which the topic of interim accommodation was discussed.

Western Building Systems has welcomed the progress of the assessments. In a statement, it noted that no more new closures have been announced: 

We welcome that another group of schools examined today passed the assessment, as has been the case with most schools assessed so far. With half the schools now assessed, the number of temporary closures remains at two (as originally announced by the department last Tuesday).

“We appreciate fully that this is an important matter, particularly for pupils, parents and teachers at the schools involved. In accordance with our contractual obligations, we are engaging constructively with the Department. We remain available to meet with the Minister for Education and Skills.”

“We are committed to better understanding why schools previously certified as substantially complete and suitable for occupation and which also had defects certificates subsequently issued by the department’s advisors are now being assessed by the department.”

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Rónán Duffy

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