Government restores €70m building grant to schools

Thursday 07 November 2013 22.24
Schools have welcomed the restoration of the grants
Schools have welcomed the restoration of the grants

The Department of Education has restored two building grants worth nearly €70m to schools that had previously been suspended.

The funds are to be made available to schools to enable them to carry out small repairs and infrastructural work. 

Schools say the two grants were vital to fund essential maintenance and the upkeep of school buildings.

€28m is being made available as a once-off payment to allow schools carry out minor works.

€40m will be allocated to the improvement and upgrading of existing school buildings.

School principals have welcomed the restoration of the grants and called on the Government to give a commitment that the grants are back permanently.

Enda McGorman, of the Irish Primary Principals' Network, said he hoped that the grants were not just restored for one year, but were "back for good".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr McGorman said the money is vital to school budgets.

He said: "It's money that we would use in our schools for the ongoing repairs to school buildings; maintenance and essential works such as replacement of windows and doors; meeting our health and safety commitments which increase all the time; servicing heating systems, alarm systems.

"Schools have invested huge amounts in recent years in ICT and the replacement of that equipment is quite expensive.

"So there's a wide range of uses we have for it, and the money is spent by schools very carefully and wisely."

Meanwhile, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) said that while there was significant pressure to provide additional school spaces over the coming years to deal with the increased population, work could not be done at the cost of leaving existing schools to fall into disrepair.

INTO General Secretary Sheila Nunan said it did not make economic sense to build schools while at the same time allowing others to deteriorate.

She said: "Much recent investment was simply making up for years of failing to upkeep buildings.

"Cutting out regular upkeep and maintenance is a false economy."