“All affected schools need to know with certainty that these assessments will be carried out within the coming week, so that they will be in a position to advise pupils, parents and teachers exactly where they stand.”

Social Democrats’ Spokesperson for Children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, has said the Department of Education must ensure that structural inspections on all 42 schools built by Western Building Systems will be concluded before the end of the mid-term break.

The Wicklow Councillor said:

“The Department of Education is very belatedly getting to grips with safety issues related to schools built by Western Building Systems using a steel frame and timber in-fill construction method.

“But as far back as three years ago, fire safety concerns were raised at Rush-Lusk Educate Together primary school, which was built by Western Building Systems and is on the list of 42 schools published by the Department that are being examined for structural safety.

“Even now, the Department is just not treating the issue with the urgency needed. I am aware that the Department has written to the principals of affected schools today, saying that next week’s mid-term break will be a key opportunity to get many of the structural assessments completed.

“For anxious parents and teachers alike, this is just not good enough. All affected schools need to know with certainty that these assessments will be carried out within the coming week, so that they will be in a position to advise pupils, parents and teachers exactly where they stand.

“At the moment it appears that the problems identified may only affect three story buildings. But until a full picture emerges of how widespread and serious the defects are, thousands of teachers, parents and pupils are in limbo. If interim accommodation is needed, schools will need a decent lead in time to source it and ensure it is equipped for teaching.”

ENDS

24th October 2018