Gaelscoil waits twenty years in prefabs for permanent school

By Mary Dennehy

A TWO-decade wait for a promised permanent building for Gaelscoil Chnoc Liamhna continues as land ownership issues with South Dublin County Council halt development.

This week, The Echo visited the Knocklyon-based Gaelscoil which, established since 1996, has 236 pupils learning out of a ‘temporary’ school campus made up of 16 prefabs.

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While the prefabs and grounds and well maintained by staff, Gaelscoil Chnoc Liamhna does not have the capacity to grow and has to turn away potential pupils each year.

Principal Máire Ní Ghallchóir told The Echo: “We keep the prefabs well maintained, which is a lot of work and costs both the school and the Department of Education a lot of money as there’s always something that needs fixing.

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“The prefabs just swallow funds that could be put to better use elsewhere.”

Ms Ní Ghallchóir explained how students and teachers have to venture outside every time they need to visit the office or another classroom, with physical education being weather dependant, as all sports take place in the yard or the nearby field due to the lack of a proper hall.

There’s no shelter for parents coming to collect kids, no storage space and, due to the age of some of the prefabs, growing concerns for the health and safety of kids.

“There is a great sense of community to the school despite the lack of space”, Ms Ní Ghallchoir said.  “However, we do feel forgotten about.

“Over the years we have always tried to negotiate, meet, discuss and talk with both the Department of Education and the council.

“We had faith in the system and always tried to follow due procedure, but that has done us no favours.”

A meeting, attended by staff, parents and public representatives, was held last Thursday, with plans in place to elevate the campaign for a permanent home.

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The school did succeed in getting onto the Department’s school building list before Christmas.

However, the Department is unable to purchase the site for development until the owner of a piece of land that runs through the school yard is established.

A section of the old Knocklyon Road, which was closed when the M50 was built, runs through the school grounds – but there’s no title on it.

“Over the years we have had endless communication with South Dublin County Council over this issue, but nothing has been done”, Ms Ní Ghallchoir said.

“We need the council to stop dragging its heels and allow Scoil Chnoc Liamha to move forward to a bright future.”

When contacted by The Echo, Stephen Deegan, senior executive officer with the council, said: “The council previously agreed to dispose of this site to the Department of Education and Skills, to enable permanent school accommodation to be provided on the site.

“Difficulties arose in transferring good title to the overall site to the Department, as part of the old Knocklyon Road which traverses the site is unregistered title.

“The council has endeavoured for several years to register title to this strip of land, but the Property Registration Authority has rejected the application for first registration.

“Therefore in this instance the standard of title is not to the satisfaction of the Chief State solicitor’s office.”

He added: “The council is currently in discussion with the Law Agent as to the empowering legislation to allow us to make a further CPO [compulsory purchase order on the lands and a further meeting will be arranged to try and progress matters accordingly.

“The disposal of the site to the Department of Education and Skills remains a priority for the council and every effort is being made to resolve the title issues associated with the site.”

 

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