Minister accepts invitation to visit Holy Family School in Cootehill
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has received confirmation from the Minister for Disablities Finian McGrath that he will visit the Holy Family School in Cootehill in the coming weeks.
“I am delighted to have secured this visit by the Minister with responsibilities Finian McGrath so he can see first-hand the unacceptable conditions staff and pupils are expected to work in. I have repeatedly expressed my frustration with the lack of progress by the Department of Education on the Holy Family School building project. More than 2 years after funding for the works was approved, we are still waiting on the design team to complete its pre-qualification assessment. According to Minister Bruton, this process will be completed “shortly” but he failed to give any concrete deadlines”, said Deputy Smyth.
Deputy Smyth outlined, “Around 160 students attend The Holy Family School. The Holy Family Special School is a special national school for pupils aged four to eighteen years located in Cootehill, Co Cavan. The pupils are from the catchment area of the Counties of Cavan and Monaghan. The school caters for pupils with severe/profound learning disabilities, moderate/multiple learning disabilities and for pupils with autism. In 2015, The Department for Education and Skills gave the Holy Family School in Cootehill full approval for funding under the school building programme 2016 – 2021. The long-awaited news, almost 30-years coming – was delivered by Minister Jan O’Sullivan at noon on Tuesday, November 17th 2015, after proposals to alter previous plans and increase capacity to a 25-room school were approved by the Department. The students and their parents breathed a sigh of relief – that finally this day had come. However, we are still no further on!”
Deputy Smyth continued, “Classes are being taught in converted storages spaces. The building is cramped and dilapidated and is in urgent need of an overhaul. I am extremely frustrated by the lack of progress on this project and have been raising it with Minister Bruton over the past number of months. His latest reply is less than encouraging. If the current pace of the project is maintained, it will be another two years before the new building is anywhere near the construction phase. This is not good enough.
“This school is so important for the children who attend it, and their families. The existing conditions are simply not acceptable and I would like to see some sense of urgency from the Minister and his Department to ensure this project proceeds without any further delays”, concluded Deputy Smyth.