Following news that the national school in Cornafulla has not been approved to go to construction, local TD Denis Naughten has expressed shock that the local community may have been deceived by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s visit to the school on the eve of last year’s general election.
“In February 2007, after a lot of lobbying of the Minister for Education as the local TD, the board of management received a letter from the Department of Education stating that there was an approved budget for the project of €2.57m,” explained Denis Naughten.
“Both the board of management and I felt that we had the major work done to bring the refurbishment and extension project to completion. Our opinion was copper-fastened when An Taoiseach flew in by helicopter to visit the school for himself on the eve of the general election.”
Deputy Naughten, who again raised the matter in the Dáil this week, said, “it now looks like this has just been a terrible example of playing politics with people’s emotions and needs before the election”. He added: “The board of management of the school has gone through the tender process, selected the contractor and submitted all outstanding documentation to the Department of Education, awaiting their go ahead by the end of last year.
“One can only imagine their shock when they were not on the Minister’s approval list last week, especially given the visit of An Taoiseach and the consistent line from the Department that the money for the project was ring fenced as per the letter of February 2007.
“The school is in one of the fastest growing population areas in the county and the children, staff and parents of Cornafulla NS have endured cramped conditions because the new rooms were in sight but instead of moving in to the extension in January it is now likely that it will be September 2009.
“This will have a knock-on effect on both the existing pupils and the ability of the school to cater for all local pupils next September,” concluded Denis Naughten.