Mica testing to be carried out in schools

TESTING for mica is to be carried out at four Donegal schools with a fifth under advisement to get examined.
The Department of Education has approved funding under its Emergency Works scheme for Scoil Eoin Baiste, Carrigart, Scoil Náisiúnta Naomh Colmcille in Kilmacrennan, Drumfad National School, Kerrykeel and St Johnston’s Scoil Náisiúnta Baile an Caislean.
A fifth school, Craigtown National School in Carndonagh, has been advised to apply for funding but to date that has not happened.
Mica has already been detected in one Donegal school, Urbalreagh in Malin Head. Remediation works are to be carried out there as part of an Additional Schools Accommodation project.
The applications are being handled by a section within the Department set up by former Education Minister Joe McHugh after non-mica related flaws were detected in a number of schools.
The Donegal News has learnt that of the four schools, some contacted the Department due to cracking in the fabric of their building. Others applied for funding purely on the basis that they have had an extension built in the past 20 years.
It is not thought that any of the buildings are in need of immediate repair or pose any risk to safety.
The response from the Department has been swift. Scoil Náisiúnta Baile an Caislean in St Johnston said it only lodged its application a few weeks ago and was granted funding almost immediately.
Sampling, which has yet to be conducted, will confirm whether each school has the mineral responsible for defects in up to 7,000 Donegal homes.
Joe McHugh TD revealed yesterday that he has been working closely with some of the schools on their applications for funding.
Deputy McHugh said, “I spoke with a number of principals and I worked with them to get their funding over the line.
“I set up a group when I was in there so there was a ready made section to go to. And I have nothing but praise for the officials because they have been so pro-active in assessing and funding the applications.”
Deputy McHugh said that if testing showed that schools did have mica, he was confident that the Department would step up to pay for the remediation work.
“We wait now to see what the report says but whatever the engineering report recommends, there is a responsibility on the Department to make sure that the schools are fit for purpose not only for the current generation but for future generations.
“But I would be confident that the Department will be pro-active in providing funding and following through on this because they have taken the bull by the horns on the issue so far. And at the end of the day whether it is a private house or a State-owned building, the onus is on the State to fund this work.”
On the wider issue of mica, he described it as the “biggest issue in the country” at present.
“It is about doing the right thing and hopefully we will have a satisfactory outcome at the end of the month. But if we don’t I believe we are headed for trouble.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland