Two schools in Co Galway - St Teresa's Special School in Ballinasloe and Scoil Chaitríona in Renmore - have been given approval for multi-million euro construction projects.

St Teresa’s Special School has been operating for years in what staff and parents describe as makeshift accommodation in Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre in Creagh.

Now a site has been secured nearby for an eight-classroom building.

Plans are in place to design purpose-built facilities for the 32 children coming from Ballinasloe, east Galway and south Roscommon.

"This is such welcome news. The current school is entirely unsuitable for our children," said Tom McDonagh, whose son Tommie is a pupil at the school.

"My son Tommie is six years old and he has Down’s syndrome. Tommie is pre-verbal and learning sign language, but the facility here is really outdated.

"A lot of the equipment has to left outside tiny classrooms and there are no sinks in the room.

"The toilets are too far away and for someone like my little boy who is being toilet trained at the moment, it is very difficult. That’s why this new school is so badly needed."

"We started ten years ago in a small bungalow with classes on various sites around Ballinasloe," said Anita O'Reilly, the principal of St Teresa's.

"That was no longer sustainable and we hunted for accommodation until we found space in this former sanitorium and tried to make it as bespoke as we could.

"But it's really not fit-for-purpose so this is wonderful news to be finally getting permanent accommodation for these children.

"It will bring an end to shunting and ferrying of equipment and will improve their quality of life and learning going forward. Hopefully plans will proceed quickly from here."

The proposed development for Scoil Chaitríona on the school site will include construction of two 24 classroom schools in addition to special classes.

Speaking in Ballinasloe, the Taoiseach said the new schools for St Teresa’s and Scoil Chaitríona were significant projects for the Galway region.

He said: "Each of these projects place a focus on providing for children with special educational needs which is a crucial element of the Government’s focus on education.

"These state-of-the art facilities will support every child to reach their full potential."

Minister Foley said: "We are committed to providing modern, purpose-built facilities across all of our new school buildings included in the National Development Plan."