New planning guidelines will mean little unless funds for new schools are released - Doherty
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has said measures to ensure that approval for new housing developments will hinge on an assessment of educational requirements will mean little unless funds for the provision of schools are released.
Senator Doherty said there are already 1,400 schools on the school building list awaiting funds from the Department and the biggest obstacle to the provision of schools is the Department's refusal to release funds.
He said, "I welcome the new measure to ensure that all new housing developments include an assessment of required educational facilities and provisions for schools to be built. This is a sensible move which Sinn Féin has long called for involving joined up thinking between developers, local authorities and Government Departments.
"However it will mean little unless funds for the provision of schools are released by the Department of Education. This measure will only act to identify future school needs in new developments unless investment in school buildings is forthcoming.
"The biggest obstacle to the building of schools is the Department's refusal to release funds. There are currently 1,400 schools on the school building programme sitting on the Minister's desk and awaiting funds while the Department has no idea how many children are being taught in prefab accommodation.
"At a time of economic downturn education is not an area were we can afford to cut spending. If we are actually to become the knowledge based economy that we so often talk about then we must invest significantly in education.
"Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe must release funds for the so many schools that are so badly needed." ENDS