Confirmation that the Department of Education & Skills have approved an application from Cavan Monaghan ETB to increase enrolment in Breifne College, Cavan and indeed in Cólaiste Dún an Rí, Kingscourt is a great tribute to the management and staff in both schools who are clearly delivering for the students in their region is most welcome. I join with my council colleagues Seán Smith and Patricia Walsh and Deputy Brendan Smith in welcoming these announcements.
Cólaiste Dún an Rí is a particular project for Cllr. Clifford Kelly and I know that he will have been at the very heart of this application as he is at every positive development in that school.
I too acknowledge the work Cavan Monaghan ETB in advancing these projects and hope to see funding announcements follow these approvals in early course, but it is important to note that Cólaiste Dún an Rí is a new building and new buildings have only recently been put in place in Breifne College. The question arises as to how much thought went into those initial projects, how much ‘future proofing’ was actually done by the ETB. This points to me that the schools run by the ETB are successful in spite of and not because of the planning of the ETB.
I also note that there are no announcements regarding St. Mogue’s Bawnboy and St. Bricin’s, Belturbet. Of course, ministers can only approve projects sent up to the Department and despite a lot of talk not much is happening to improve infrastructure in these two schools. It is time that the ETB showed some good faith towards both school communities.
I fear that the ETB Executive are playing a long game, they are obfuscating with reviews that do not seem to be happening, suggestions of a few euro hear and there for both schools and hoping that with time, opposition will dissipate. The reality is that the proposal to close both schools remains the formal policy of the ETB. It is past time that the members of the ETB deal with this issue and make it clear that both schools have a future.
In simple terms, if the ETB invested properly in St. Bricin’s it could cater for many of the students who might otherwise go to schools in Cavan Town. If the ETB were looking at the most recent statistics it is clear that population growth will continue in the Cavan Town Region and that expansion of the schools in the Town would still be needed but part of that demand could be catered for by fully using the infrastructure in St. Bricin’s College, sustaining it and protecting the benefit of the school for the Town.
The same case arises for St. Mogue’s, let us see the ETB act, let us see the plans submitted to the Minister and her Department.