Discussions have been ongoing today between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Education with a view to securing additional funding to allow 58 school building projects that were 'paused' this week to proceed.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said this morning she wanted to absolutely assure those schools that her department was 100% committed to building them.
"These schools will be delivered", she said.
School patron bodies have said they are "bitterly disappointed" by the decision to put on hold the construction of the school buildings across the country.
They were due to proceed to tender and construction stage, but the schools involved have been informed in recent days by the department that the projects have been stalled.
The Taoiseach told the Dáil on Tuesday that the delay was due to a rise in construction costs. He said a few other departments were "in a similar boat" and the Government intended to have the matter resolved before Easter.
The Department of Education has said it is assessing its work programme and priorities in the context of its available funding and that it is engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure in relation to capital funding pressures in order to continue to be able to adequately support the operation of the school system and minimise project delays "to the greatest extent possible".
It has said that "currently" 58 projects are affected.
However, it has declined to provide a list of the schools affected or other details to patron bodies who are deeply concerned about the potential impact of the delay on school communities.
A total of €860m has been allocated for school building projects for this year. In 2022 €792m was initially allocated but that was later augmented by an additional circa €300m, bringing the total for 2022 to €1.12m.
Leo Varadkar said that sorting out the problem "may involve some additional capital" or "the reallocation of capital across departments".
Responding to a question from Sinn Féin TD Johnny Guirke, he said: "We are working on this and we will have a solution by Easter. I want people to know these schools will get the go-ahead."
The Department of Education has said that high inflation "remains a continuing feature of the construction sector for 2023".
Mr Varadkar said schools in his own constituency were among those affected. Deputy Guirke told the Dáil that Enfield Community College in his Meath West constituency was also impacted.
The paused projects also include six new school buildings for Educate Together schools in Dublin and Louth: the primary and secondary schools Shellybanks ET National School and Sandymount ET Secondary School, Harold's Cross ETNS and ETSS, the second phase of Malahide Portmarnock ETSS's accommodation and Ardee ETNS.
Ardee ETNS has been waiting 12 years for a purpose-built school building. The primary school is currently divided between temporary buildings on two separate sites.
A number of Gaelscoileanna have also been told that their new school buildings have been paused.
But patron body An Foras Pátrúnachta had not received a definitive list of its schools affected by yesterday evening.
Patron body Educate Together has described news of the delay as "a huge blow to these school communities".
CEO Emer Nowlan said they were "very concerned about the impact this will have on schools that are already under considerable pressure".
She said: "If this is a question of funding, then it is a false economy – any delays in construction will simply increase temporary accommodation costs, as well as limiting the development of these new schools."
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra of An Forás Pátrúnachta said they were "bitterly disappointed for the school communities involved".
"These are all new schools and some of them have been in temporary accommodation for more than 20 years". He said schools had been breaking the difficult news to parents this week.
Mr Ó hEaghra said the pausing of these school building projects would have a knock-on effect on other schools too.
He said he knew of one new Gaelscoil that had been due to move into accommodation that was due to be vacated by another Gaelscoil once it got its new building.
The Harold’s Cross and Sandymount Educate Together schools face another problem according to their patron.
They are currently housed in temporary accommodation but on their permanent sites.
Opened to cater for a growing population in their areas the schools are expanding rapidly and will, according to Educate Together run out of space on the site if construction does not commence as soon as possible.
Educate Together has called for the school building projects to proceed to tender and construction as a matter of urgency.
The Department of Education has said its key priorities are supporting the operation of the school system and adding necessary capacity to cater for special education needs provision, mainstream demographics and to catering for students from Ukraine and other countries under the International Protection system.