Accommodation crisis hits Limerick school

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

As the new school years gets underway, there are fears hundreds of pupils at Gaelscoil Sairseal might be left without a school to attend after fire safety concerns.

As the new school years gets underway, there are fears hundreds of pupils at Gaelscoil Sairseal might be left without a school to attend after fire safety concerns.

The school’s board of management is in intense negotiations with the Department of Education with a view to finding a new premises as soon as possible.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan says he has made contact with both sides in the hope that a solution can be found.

The city’s fire service has indicated it is ready to initiate proceedings agains the school to enforce a Fire Safety Notice it issued last year, which could force the school to close.

The notice highlighted a number of shortcomings in the facilities at the current school building at Bridge Street

Although Philip Leahy, fire safety enforcement officer, would not go into any further specifics, the shortcomings with the current building have been highlighted on many occasions in the past.

Since the school was established in 1995, it has operated at a number of different buildings, including the old Gerald Griffin Memorial School, as well as St Mary’s Prize Band Hall. It has been claimed that the classroom sizes are one third of their recommended size.

It is understood this is what caused the fire service to act when issuing the notice last year. The matter was raised in the Dail by Jan O’Sullivan when she was in opposition.

Crunch meetings took place between the school and government officials on Friday and over the weekend but without resolution.

It has been confirmed the Board of Management put forward a number of solutions to the accommodation crisis, which the department have agreed to consider.

Fine Gael councillor Michael Hourigan confirmed he has also arranged a further meeting with Mr Noonan on the issue.

Mr Leahy confirmed the notice was issued in 2011, and said if the situation is not resolved, they would examine court proceedings.

Representatives of the school have not been available for comment.