Senator Aisling Dolan pictured in the Seanad.

Local Senator calls on Dept of Education to provide date for the new Scoil An Chroí Naofa build

Senator Aisling Dolan has called on the Department of Education to provide a date for the new Scoil An Chroí Naofa build in Ballinasloe and to arrange an urgent meeting of all stakeholders.

Senator Dolan stated:

“Scoil An Chroí Naofa in Ballinasloe was created in 1996, an amalgamation of St Grellans and Girls School with an understanding from the Department of Education of a new school build. Families, teaching staff, board, now waiting over 28 years for a new school build for over 300 children.

“This is a shocking indictment of delays in the system where we have a fantastic teaching support however children and teachers are freezing every winter in classrooms not fit for purpose. Buildings date back to the 1930s and the 1960s.

“The school’s heating bill is through the roof which is a nightmare financial situation for the school.

Senator Dolan continued: “Since I was elected a councillor for the Ballinasloe municipal district area in 2019 and now as a Senator I’ve raised capacity issues for schools in this town. My first commencement matter for Scoil An Chroi Naofa in 2021 led to follow up meetings with Department of Education and all stakeholders together with Galway County Council and a new impetus to drive this project forward with a new design plan from 13 to 16 classrooms which has planning permission approved.

“I’ve raised this on multiple occasions and will continue to do so however it is clear that we need a TD in our town to drive major projects forward.”

“We have challenges especially around primary school capacity in Ballinasloe which I raised in November 2023 as a Seanad commencment. Over 130 new families with new local authority homes in Ballinasloe, 64 families welcomed to Ballinasloe from the Ukraine. Why is this new school build delayed?”

“As an Oireachtas member, I’ve worked with my colleague former Minister of State Josepha Madigan for two additional classrooms for Creagh NS with 440 students. We also opened two classrooms for St Teresa’s Special School with two more underway.

I’ve also worked closely to ensure more schools could avail of DEIS, Delivering Equality in Schools supports and Gaelscoil Uí Cheithearnaigh with 200 pupils and Ardscoil Mhuire now have additional DEIS funding which means the grounds to support children. We have over 1,000 children at primary school going age and another 1,000 post-primary works planned for a new amalgamated Ard Scoil Mhuire and Garbally College in the new Clonfert College which will also need a new build and capacity.

“The Department of Education have indicated that the most significant project for planned additional capacity is a new 16-classroom school building for Scoil an Chroí Naofa, which will also provide three classrooms for pupils with special educational needs in my commencement from Nov 2023.

"This new two-storey school build will have a new access road to the side beside the library with safe new pick up and drop off at the back of the building. There will be a new playing pitch and play areas. It really is going to be a fantastic new primary school building for Ballinasloe.

“However there is immense frustration with the lag and delays and obstacles in moving this project forward. We are still at design Stage 2B with statutory approvals and this needs to move to tender with all documents prepared.

“It is 2024 and with each delay or failure to make a decision, the building section and Department have somehow pushed this project off the priority list.

“I want a clear date outlined on the submission of tender documents from the Design team to the Minister for Education. I’ve also highlighted challenges around communication and I’m calling for an urgent meeting with all stakeholders. This is a priority project for the town of Ballinasloe and surrounding region and I want resources allocated to ensure we move this forward through the Design team. The Department of Education is responsible to ensure that we have buildings fit for purpose to give our children the best start in life.

“Each challenge and delay is an obstacle to having a school in place, there is no more time for children to wait," concluded Senator Dolan.