Carol Nolan TD
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan has said that the Government could build more schools if they availed of the flexibility within the fiscal rules for capital spend. Deputy Nolan raised the point with the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton this afternoon when he appeared before the Education Committee.
Teachta Nolan said, “I welcome the fact that an additional €100 million has been invested in school building projects for 2016. This is very much needed.
“However, the Minister confirmed that the additional capital spend in education for 2017 will be €95 million, €51 million of which has been allocated to Public Private Partnership costs.
“Under the Minister’s projections there will be 42 building projects commenced next year in comparison with the 60 currently on site for 2016.
“The Minister’s brief states that the construction programme will provide for a further 62,000 additional places despite the fact that 104,000 pupils are expected to enter the system across first and second level education up to 2019.
“The brief also warns that projects may need to be rescheduled due to funding constraints, which may lead to the continuance of temporary accommodation and approval of additional temporary accommodation.
“The fiscal rules allow for capital spend to be smoothed over four years, meaning that there is flexibility there to increase capital investment in schools.
“The Minister has confirmed that this is something that the Government will be considering within the Capital Review for 2017 but many of the schools and communities that are in dire straits will find little comfort in this.
“They are crying out for investment now and the government should have utilised the flexibility that is available to them in order to invest in vital education infrastructure.
“Sinn Féin put forward an additional investment of €179 million capital in Education, which would include provision for the replacement of prefabs and additional classroom accommodation.”