The Department of Education has said it is unlikely that a grant used by schools to maintain their buildings will be restored.

The Minor Works grant, which is worth between €5,000 and €12,000 to many schools, was cancelled this year. Schools say they are finding it impossible to cope with the cost of essential repairs as a result.

In a statement the Department said constraints on capital funding and the need to provide new school places made it unlikely the grant would be restored in the coming years.

It said emergency grant aid was available to schools for emergencies that were unforeseen, required immediate action, and would otherwise prevent a school from opening.

Almost half of all primary schools here are not getting enough funding to make ends meet, according to a survey carried out on behalf of managers of Catholic schools.

The study found that 46% of primary schools are in deficit, while 22% are barely breaking even.

It also found that over half of schools in disadvantaged areas are unable to fund maintenance and repair works in deteriorating buildings.

The survey of 540 schools was carried out by Amárach Research.

Calling primary schools "the poor relation", the General Secreary of the Catholic Primary School Manager's Association, Eileen Flynn said any further cuts to their budgets would be devastating.

Ms Flynn also said any increase to the pupil teacher ratio in next week's budget would hit those most in need disproportionately.

Ms Flynn said if the Minor Works grant was not reinstated half of all primary schools would not be able to fund essential maintenance work.