Michael Dermody (principal) and Paul Kelly (deputy principal) at the Marist College, Athlone.

Delight at Marist College as new school building gets green light

The Department of Education has given the go-ahead for a new school building to be developed at the Marist College in Athlone.

The secondary school on Retreat Road was notified by the Department yesterday (Thursday) evening that the new school development would be happening on a different part of its existing site.

An upgrade of facilities had been sought by management at the Marist for several years now, and a number of meetings took place with Education Minister Norma Foley and Minister of State Robert Troy on the issue.

In its letter this week, the Department said: "Having assessed the school's current accommodation, it has been determined that the optimum solution to meet the school's needs is the provision of a new school building.

"It is proposed that this building would be constructed within the current school site, but separate from the existing school building which could be subsequently demolished."

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this afternoon, Marist College principal Michael Dermody said this was an important milestone in the history of the school.

"All along, our aim would have been to try to push, and hope, for a new-build," he commented. "We thought that would be the best solution, and with the help of a lot of work from Minister Troy and Minister Foley, we finally got there.

"So it's a great day for the school community, for our students and our future students.

"It's a great day for education in the Midlands to know that there's going to be a significant investment by the Department in a secondary school here, and that our students and staff can look forward to a state-of-the-art building."

Minister of State Troy also welcomed the news today and said he would be aiming to ensure the new school was in place in the not-too-distant future.

"Obviously it's going to take a bit of time to go through the various stages such as planning, tendering and construction, but this is a very significant first step.

"I've pledged to continue to work with the school authorities and the Department of Education to ensure the process moves through the subsequent phases in a timely fashion," he said.

* For more, see next week's Westmeath Independent