SOUTH Kildare TD Fiona O’Loughlin has described her reaction as one of cautious delight to the news that, following delays to the tendering for a new school for St Paul’s in Monasterevin, the school is back on track with pre-qualification tendering having been advertised again.
Deputy O’Loughlin explained that earlier this year she visited the school with Micheál Martin and local election candidate Anne Connolly, adding that the Fianna Fáil leader couldn’t believe how well the school was coping given their facilities.
“The school are already waiting 16 years for a new building and there is always one thing after another that delays the development for them,” she said. “It should not have taken this long but it’s good to see some movement in the right direction. I will be continuing to encourage the Department to finalise the project as soon as possible.”
The project hit a speed bump in recent months when a judge ruled that the Department of Education had to go back to the pre-qualification stage, after an unsuccessful contractor won their case having brought proceedings. Concerns were raised in the locality that funds set aside for the project would be distributed elsewhere due to the delays, and the Action Group for St Paul’s Secondary School marched in this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade to highlight the community’s anger and frustration.
According to the latest information available on eTenders, the time limit to receive tenders or requests to participate is 6pm on Monday 27 May 2019, while the estimated date to dispatch invitations to selected candidates to tender or participate is Thursday 27 June 2019. The duration of the “contract, framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system” is listed as 18 months.
“The new school build is now moving forward again, albeit at a far slower pace than desired,” said Rose Beahan, speaking on behalf of the Action Group for St Paul’s.
She noted that it’s not clear how long the tender would last but she would expect the process to be approximately eight months although they hope to fast track it to between four and six. Based on that timeline, she noted, the school would be completed in mid-2021 and that a good target would be September 2021.
“It’s the best we can hope for at the moment. It is the latest target we can accept!” she said.
South Kildare TD Martin Heydon explained that the new pre-qualification procedure documents have been posted on the Department’s website and said that the design team was instructed to re-commence the process on Thursday 18 April.
“I am satisfied that we are back making progress again and I will continue to monitor the process closely along with my colleague, Monasterevin local election candidate Kevin Duffy,” he said. “We remain in close contact with Brian Bergin and Noel Merrick.”
In the meantime, planning permission has been granted by Kildare County Council for the construction of a two-storey prefab to include 12 classrooms, a science lab and seven offices for a “temporary period of five years”.
The decision to grant permission was taken on Tuesday 23 April last.