The Government has definitively ruled out funding a gym or technology room for the amalgamated Mercy and Presentation school, putting the onus firmly back on the patron to cough up for the facilities.
During a debate in the Seanad, the junior minister in the Department of Education, Damien English, said there was a policy in place to prioritise funding for teaching facilities.
He suggested that money raised from either the sale or rent of the Mercy building once it is empty could be used to fund resources such as gyms and computer suites.
“It is difficult to see how the Department could give a commitment on the gym. Resources are tight and the majority is being used to try to fund additional accommodation for new pupils so as to meet demographic demands throughout the country. This is the policy currently,” he told the Seanad.
“The Department has been trying to maximise accommodation for new pupils throughout the country. The majority of funding, which is taxpayers’ money, is being used to build new classrooms as opposed to other facilities.”
When pushed by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames on the importance of not leaving the pupils without a gym, Deputy English said now was the time to have a conversation about whether the other site can release resources to fund a gym.
“I presume that when the two schools are being amalgamated, there might be an opportunity to realise some finance from the site that will not be used. It is a local issue, but this possibility should be considered. There will be an opportunity to use the site for something else that could generate an income that could contribute to a gym.”
The Presentation site has been chosen by the patron of the two schools, CEIST (Catholic Education, an Irish Schools Trust) as the site where the new amalgamated school will be located.
However, that has angered some parents and students from the Mercy, who insist their facilities are superior to those in the Presentation, which has no gym, hot food kitchen, performance hall or modern technology room. The school uses the pool in NUIG, the rowing club and a local hall for its sporting needs.
Dr Marie Griffin, CEO of Ceist, said last week that students could be assured that facilities will be provided in the Presentation site to ensure they can access the full curriculum.
“CEIST, as patron, will engage with the Department of Education and Skills in relation to the provision of any identified deficits in the site.”
The Presentation site was recommended by independent consultants as it “requires the least amount of re-modelling of the existing structure and has the potential for expansion to accommodate a combined curriculum and additional teaching spaces”.
Senator Healy Eames said the department must re-evaluate its policy of not funding gyms, which was forcing schools like the Presentation and Salerno in Salthill to “beg and scrape” for sporting facilities outside of the school grounds.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.