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 Header Item Schools Amalgamation (Continued)
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2013: Messages from Select Committees
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item  Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 810 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan] The important point is that we make sure there is a timeline in place, that there is a full commitment from the Department of Education and Skills and that the OPW is fully engaged to ensure the application to the county council for further planning permission is proper and will ensure the outcome of having an amalgamated primary school in Kanturk, County Cork.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciaran Cannon Zoom on Ciaran Cannon I thank the Deputy for raising this matter as it gives me an opportunity to outline to the House my Department's position on the construction of a new school building for St. Colman's boys' national school and convent girls' national school in Kanturk, County Cork. As the Deputy is aware and as he has outlined, my Department is endeavouring to maximise the efficient use of all available capacity in the public sector to assist in the delivery of the schools programme. In this context, the new school building in Kanturk referred to by the Deputy is one of 15 schools where responsibility for the delivery of the projects was devolved to the Office of Public Works. A service level agreement is in place between my Department and the Office of Public Works which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each of the parties in the delivery of education projects. It is a central tenet of devolution that responsibility for the delivery of projects, within certain agreed timeframes and parameters as laid down in the service level agreement, rests with the Office of Public Works.

In August 2012 a planning application for the construction of a new 24 classroom national school in Kanturk was lodged with Cork County Council by the Office of Public Works. In September 2012 a request for further information was received from Cork County Council covering access, drainage issues and landscaping. The Office of Public Works submitted a response to the issues raised in March 2013. Subsequently, in April 2013 Cork County Council notified the Office of Public Works that planning permission for the new school had been refused. Cork County Council stated it was willing to work with the Office of Public Works and my Department to endeavour to deliver the proposed school within a reasonable timeframe and that senior officials would be available to arrange pre-planning meetings to consider a revised planning application.

Officials in the building unit of my Department are examining the reasons given by the local authority as to why planning was refused and whether these reasons can be addressed from a value for money perspective. The Department will continue to liaise with the Office of Public Works, Cork County Council and other relevant stakeholders to establish if a solution can be found that is satisfactory to all concerned. Separately, my Department, in consultation with the patron and school authorities, has undertaken a recent review of demographic needs in Kanturk. The outcome of this review is that a 16-classroom new school building is sufficient to meet the long-term needs of the area. My Department has received written agreement from the patron's office and the school authorities to this change to the brief.

Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan I thank the Minister of State. The one concern I have relates to the phrase in the second last paragraph "the value for money perspective", but we will leave that issue to one side. Time is passing. I know that requests were made that the officials from the OPW, the Department of Education and Skills and Cork County Council meet the local stakeholders, the patrons and members of the boards of management. Is the Department absolutely and completely committed to this project? Without further delay will the Minister of State give a commitment, on behalf of the Department, that departmental officials with their colleagues in the OPW will commit to having an immediate meeting with officials in Cork County Council, the local stakeholders and the boards of management of the two schools within the shortest possible timeframe? Months are slipping by. There was a problem, on which Cork County Council deliberated very hard. I would like direct and straight answers from the Minister of State because this has been a long-running issue. Is the Department fully committed to the project and will the Minister of State instruct his officials to meet the OPW officials who will take the instruction to sit down with officials of Cork County Council? The county council has given me and others a commitment that it will meet at a moment's notice with the Department and the OPW and representatives of the boards of management to advance the project in order that everybody will know where they are at, what the issues are and how they can be dealt with.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: Information on Ciaran Cannon Zoom on Ciaran Cannon I have indicated that officials in the building unit of my Department are examining the reasons given by the local authority for the refusal of planning permission and whether these reasons can be addressed, taking into account a value for money perspective, which is important. The Department would not be engaging in this assessment of the outcome of the planning process if it was not committed to the project. It has also undertaken a review of demographics in Kanturk and its hinterland, the area to be served by the new school. The review was part of the ongoing process to deliver the school. I glean from this response that the Department remains, and shall remain, committed to delivery of the project. Cork County Council raised one issue in the planning process. It was not satisfied with the access road to the school proposed by the OPW and required the road to continue past the school site to link with the town centre. The cost of providing the link outside the school site on third party lands has and should raise serious value for money issues for the Department. This is and should be the primary subject of any subsequent meeting between OPW officials, officials of the county council and officials of my Department. I will endeavour to have that meeting arranged as soon as possible. It needs to take place and I am confident that, with the collective expertise of those sitting around the table from the Department, the OPW and Cork County Council, a satisfactory conclusion can be reached soon.

Estimates for Public Services 2013: Messages from Select Committees

Acting Chairman (Deputy Olivia Mitchell): Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell The Select Sub-Committee on Health has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimates for public services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2013: Vote 38 - Department of Health and Vote 39 - Health Service Executive.

The Select Sub-Committee on Children and Youth Affairs has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimates for public services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2013: Vote 40 - Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Business of Dáil

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I call on the Chief Whip, Deputy Paul Kehoe, Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, to present a proposal.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Following the Order of Business this morning and notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the order of the Dáil today, the sitting shall be suspended for 30 minutes from 7 p.m. until 7.30 p.m.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Is the proposal that the sitting be suspended from 7 p.m. until 7.30 p.m. agreed to? Agreed.

Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed)

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins I move amendment No. 2:

    In page 5, line 5, after "pregnancy;" to insert "to make provision for lawful abortion where there is a risk to maternal life;"

  Amendment put and declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendment No. 3 in the name of Deputy Mattie McGrath has been ruled out of order and cannot be moved because it depends on other amendments. I think the Ceann Comhairle has written to the Deputy about this.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I wish to seek clarification.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy will have to be brief.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath This morning I received a letter in which the Ceann Comhairle stated he regretted he had to inform me that amendment No. 3 would have to be ruled out of order as it was declaratory in nature. Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle explain what that means?


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