THE Department of Education has confirmed that it “has commenced the site identification process”, with regards to the planned expansion of the post-primary school in the Curragh Camp.
This was revealed in reply to queries from both local TDs – Martin Heydon amd Fiona McLoughlin – in the Dáil recently.
However, “due to commercial sensitivities surrounding site acquisitions” the Minister chose not to comment any further on the issue.
“I can assure the deputy that my department will make every effort to progress the matter. In line with protocols for the use of State property assets my department has written to the Department of Defence regarding the school site requirement and will engage with that department further in this regard in the coming weeks,” said Minister Joe McHugh.
A local pressure group – the South Kildare Educate Together 2nd Level (SKET2L) had its five years of lobbying rewarded at Christmas with an announcement that the the 1,000-capacity school got the green light, but as was reported in a recent edition of the Kildare Nationalist, found themselves no further along six months later, and less than two years from “crisis point”.
Now it looks like SKET2L has got their local deputies lighting the right fires.
“Rest assured that this is a priority for me and I continue to use all the means at my disposal to keep pressure on the Minister and his officials to progress it,” said Deputy Martin Heydon.
“These different means include PQs [parliamentary questions], formal correspondence to the Minister, as well as discussions directly with him and his advisers. I had asked PQs of both Ministers before and will continue to do so,” he added.
“The Minister visited two Kildare secondary schools last month and I emphasized to him again the need for fast progress,” he said.
Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin has sought the data used in the decision be revealed, and if any indication of a start date could be set upon.
She has also asked the Minister for the dates of meetings that have taken place between his Department and the Department of Defence during which the location of the site for a school has been discussed, and to facilitate engagement between the KWETB and Educate Together.
“My department’s review of provision at post-primary level across the school planning areas in the South Kildare area is now complete, and we are satisfied that the needs in the area can be met through the replacement and expansion of the existing Curragh post-primary school with a new 1,000 pupil school building,” said Minister McHugh.
“It is intended that the expansion of the existing Curragh post-primary school – a multi-denominational community college under the patronage of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) – will also cater for demand arising in the adjoining Newbridge and Kildare school planning areas. There is existing capacity in the Curragh Post-Primary school pending delivery of the new school building,” he continued.
“Some initial engagement had taken place in relation to the potential for Educate Together to become a Trustee partner for the school in a similar arrangement to those implemented elsewhere, [and I believe] that it is intended that there will be further engagement on this matter shortly,” he explained.