Assurances by the Minister for Education that all school buildings have been built to the highest standards in recent years don’t stack up in the light of the announcement this week that another 30 schools are to undergo fire safety audits, Social Democrats Cllr Cian O’Callaghan said today.

The Fingal Councillor, who is the party’s spokesperson on building standards, said:

“The announcement by the Minister for Education that another 30 schools built in recent years will be subject to fire safety audits is welcome – however these audits should have been carried out more than three years ago. This brings the total of school fire safety audits underway or completed to 60.

“Since June 2014 the Department of Education was aware that there was a significant problem of fire safety defects in some newly built schools when they were in possession of a fire safety audit of Rush and Lusk Educate Together.”

“This audit revealed a number of serious fire safety defects with a new modular type of school building that the Department of Education had commissioned and a deficit in the supervision of construction of these new schools. It is inexplicable that it has taken the Department of Education and Minister Bruton such a long time to act on foot of this June 2014 audit.”

Cllr O’Callaghan added:

“Once the Department was aware of this problem in June 2014 a fire safety audit of all recently built schools should have been ordered and any defects discovered urgently addressed. Instead the announcement of this widespread audit has only occurred since the Information Commissioner ruled last August that five school fire safety audits, which the Department had sat on for a year and a half, had to be made public.

“The recent statement by Minister Bruton that all school buildings had been built to the highest standards shows that the Minister still has not grasped the issues at stake. How can he possibly stand over such a statement when all six fire safety audits published to date have revealed serious fire safety defects?”

ENDS

27th September 2017