Deputy Pat the Cope challenges Minister Joe McHugh

Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher Leas – Ceann Comhairle has challenged Minister for Education Joe Mc Hugh, to desist from dragging his heels any further and sanction the immediate tender for St Mary’s National School in Stranorlar. 
Deputy Gallagher said inordinate delays have occurred since pre-qualification stage of contractors and nothing has occurred.
“I have raised the need for a new school at Stranorlar on a continual basis since my election in 2016, and especially because the previous Government of 2011-2016 having removed the school from their capital building programme, the decision of that government has caused major delays to the sanctioning of the school,” he said.
“It is in this context of continual delay and time delays within the Department, that I am forcing a decision on this school. It is a full 12 months since the school was progressed to pre-qualification stage, normally it should move to tender stage within five months maximum,” he added. 
Deputy Gallagher said he has already decided that a motion must be put before the Dáil in order to progress this project.
“The reality is that planning permission will expire on this project by 2022, and bearing in mind the project still has to be fully tendered for, we run the serious risk of letting this project’s planning expire before we get it off the ground.”
The new building will comprise of 24 new mainstream classrooms, PE Hall and a suite of resource rooms and the new school will be situated on a five-acre site. 
The current enrolment of the school stands at 448 pupils and the new school building will allow for further expansion in enrolment up to 720 pupils. The new school building will be state of the art in design and layout and will serve the needs of the school community for many generations ahead.
Directly challenging Minister McHugh to take immediate action on this project,  Deputy Gallagher said: “You have allowed excessive time delays at the current stage notwithstanding the removal previously of the project from the capital programme. 
“Now, is the time to progress this project and allow it to proceed to construction or face the wrath of further scrutiny on the floor of Dáil Éireann and your poor management of this project thus far.
“Our children deserve the best possible opportunities when they are in our educational system and having the necessary school building and facilities is an essential part in insuring they get every possible opportunity in their school going years,” he said. 

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