Building safety alert at two local primary schools

October 29th, 2018 7:10 AM

By Emma Connolly

St Colman's in Macroom will be examined. (Photo: John Delea)

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TWO West Cork primary schools – one each in both Clonakilty and Macroom – are to be examined for possible structural defects.

Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin in Clonakilty and St Colman’s Boys NS in Macroom were identified as two of the 40 schools built by Western Building Systems (WBS), which may have structural defects.

The Department has ordered a survey of all schools involved, and the two West Cork schools are likely to be examined during the upcoming mid-term break.

The problem first emerged when remediation works were being carried out at a school in Dublin as part of a programme of fire safety assessment of 55 schools. 

This prompted its partial closure, along with two national schools and a community college in Dublin. 

Originally, the checks were to be carried out on schools built by WBS during 2008-2013, but that has since been extended to schools built after 2013. The Clonakilty school was built in 2013 and the Macroom school was completed in 2009.

A Department spokesperson said they were appointing points of contact for the schools in question. 

‘Hopefully, structural assessments will take place in schools over the mid-term and decisions will be made, if needed, regarding temporary accommodation,’ he said. 

‘Structural engineers, project managers, architects and department officials will be in consultation with the schools. We will be getting to them as soon as possible,’ he added. 

Of the assessments already made, he said no imminent danger had been identified. ‘Issues relate to wall ties not being in place – and inner and outer walls not being structurally together,’ he said. 

The principal of Clonakilty’s Gaelscoil, Pádraig Ó hEachthairn, said the Department of Education had been in contact with them, and they were waiting to learn more about the situation. 

There was no comment available from Macroom Boys NS. FG Senator Tim Lombard described the news as incredibly concerning. ‘These schools were part of a rapid-build, and were quickly constructed to meet an urgent educational need, and the potential for similar structural deficiencies to be found is of great concerns for pupils, parents, and staff. 

‘It is critical that we get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible, and in the Seanad this week I will be insisting that the Department of Education open lines of communication with the public.

‘Transparency of the investigative process and findings is important for reinstating confidence in our educational infrastructure,’ he said.






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