Public and School Community walk in support of the Development of our Secondary School Thursday 9/2/2017

Public and School Community walk in support of the Development of our Secondary School  Thursday 9/2/2017

Monasterevin Secondary School Action Committee 2017

 Ladies and Gentlemen, all Members of our Community, The Principal and Staff of St Paul’s Secondary School Monasterevin, Pupils of our School past, present and future, Public Representatives and all of you who have gathered here today to support and promote the development of our new secondary school within the proposed site located here in Moore Abbey Demesne.

I welcome you on behalf of our Committee, Monasterevin Secondary School Action Committee 2017. It is with heartfelt gratitude we thank you for your commitment and moral support of this worthy project.

If I can first appeal to everyone present to please be aware of your personal safety and stand in from the public road, be aware of the dangers from moving traffic beside us here. We thank our Gardai for their presence and services here today and please co-operate with them as you cross the road. To the students and pupils present and all minors, please take the guidance of our Marshalls as you return to your school and please do so in an orderly and safe manner.

We have come out here today in numbers to highlight the plight of our New Secondary School and the need for it to be constructed and opened  as soon as is practically possible. I mean that it should be open within the time frames which were promised and not in another nine or ten years which has already passed since we first started to seek the provision of a new school which was then so badly needed and here we are today with our current school facilities in a state of overcrowding and crisis.

Nine or ten years is a long time in school life, most children complete secondary cycle education in 5 – 6 years. If it takes a possible 3 more years to bring this project to fruition, that is 13 years we will have waited, or to put it another way, 2 generations of secondary school children who have had to endure the sub standards of our current school building. These conditions have also had to be endured by the wonderful and dedicated teaching and support staff of our school.

I believe we are a proud and caring community who want a decent place in which our children are educated. At a time which has passed recently where we have seen much waste and squandering of public money, hard earned taxpayers money and with little return to communities such as this, is the provision of a badly needed school too much to ask for?

We as parents nourish and cherish our children and present them to school for their education, we support the school in our community and do the best that we can for them, and then we ask the bodies of the state in return for our labours to provide an appropriate facility for the learning and development of these fine young people. We have been denied that basic privilege for too long now.

We are told not to envy our neighbour but when you drive North, South,  East or West form this town I see the fine secondary schools which are situated in all communities and you have to question why we have been so poorly treated.

The site here has been identified by the Department of Education and Kildare County Council as the preferred site since approximately 2008. This is the optimum site as described by them, which they have recommended to us, “Build your school here” we were told. I do not doubt that it is indeed a fine location for a school, however, who was to know of the delays and roadblocks and costs which the location was to present. Least of all it seems, the two advising bodies Kildare Co. Council and the Department of Education.

The delays have been as a result of a long, protracted and frustrating process for our community, to date, great work we must say has been carried out by our Principal, the Board of Management, Parents’ Council and a number of our local Public Representatives to progress to this stage.

Our first delay was the negotiation and purchase of the site and then the argument as to who would provide an access road to the new site and its surrounds and who would pay for the construction cost of this road.

Sewerage works and their provision from the school and the distance to a suitable point of connection to our sewerage mains works presented another obstacle and a considerable delay at an estimated cost of 400,000 Euro.

Surface Drain water and the ensuing debate with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (NRA) and finally the provision of an independent pipeline to the river Barrow to carry same, cost us more time and money, 300,000 Euro.

Lastly the impediment of the construction of Traffic Control Systems and Pedestrian Safety Provisions and associated road works which have developed from our planning application will cause a further delay and cost an estimated 400,000 euro which is the figure which is being suggested before costs can be fully confirmed.

These have been described by our officials as “abnormal costs”

The last point here which I have spoken of in relation to the provision of road traffic management and pedestrian safety is most recent and ongoing. It is in effect what brought us out here today or to put it more clearly “The straw which would have broken the camel’s back”. It has raised the question as to who will pay for this and how quickly can yet another obstacle be resolved. Since our formation and decision to highlight this most recent obstacle, Mr Niall Morrissey Of Kildare County Council , Director of Planning with Responsibility for Roads has as recently as this Monday 6th of February given us a written undertaking by way of email that the Department of Education has now informed him that “they will pay for the cost of installation of the lights and will not send an appeal to An Bord Pleanala.”-this is indeed good news. We hope that this commitment will be held to and no further delay will be brought on our new school. We hold Kildare Co. Council and the Department accountable in the light of this recent communication.

The request from Kildare Co Council for “Further Information” on foot of our planning application has raised 18 points to be answered and addressed before they can finalise our application that is inclusive of the Traffic Issue I have already highlighted here.

We have been told that this is nothing less than “normal practice”. Well I agree that a lot of these points of Further Information may be somewhat valid however the question I put is, have Kildare County Council in their Pre Planning Meetings with “De Blacam and Meagher “ the architectural private company  appointed by the Department, consulted upon any of these issues raised now, did they have the vision to foresee these obstacles and did they agree and honour perhaps the commitments made at the preplanning stage on how to resolve and overcome these issues before perhaps a prolonged and costly planning process ensued ?

Of course we want the pedestrian lights and traffic control measures which Kildare Co. Council requests, we want the best possible outcomes for our children and their safety, but please, I ask our authorities to do this in a competent, responsible and timely manner.

Please, I ask Kildare Co. Council and the Department of Education, help us to close these 18 points now and lets not waste any more time!

Our Children do not have the time to wait while our authorities argue and deliberate, they need a new school now, do we let another generation pass through our hands without the facilities which they need?

We are here today to say enough is enough, to tell the Department of Education and Kildare County Council to do the right thing by our children. We have waited too long, I do not think we can wait any longer, time is not on our side as our existing secondary school slowly falls in around us. We are not angry or frustrated, we are desperate!

We do not need to be back here again to make this appeal , however let Kildare Co Council and the Department of Education  be in no doubt that if further obstacles and delays are placed in our way we will be back here and stand testimony next month and the month after until this school is completed.

I am sorry to have kept you on a February day but let’s hope the next time we assemble like this it will be to celebrate the completion of our new secondary school. No more false dawns for our new secondary school and please watch vigilantly the progress of our new secondary school.

One final point, we are cancelling the Public Meeting planned for in our Community Hall this coming Monday night as we await the outcome of current developments.

Thank you on behalf of our Committee and the good people of our community, please return safely to our School.

*Photograph coutesy of the Leinster Leader

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