While seven Clare schools have been included in the five year schools build programme announcement from Government this week, constituents in Sixmilebridge and school authorities expressed concerns regarding the status of their school given the population increases in the local area.

It is worth noting that in the years ahead, total school enrolment countrywide is expected to grow by around 70,000 students between now and 2018 – by over 45,000 at primary level (currently 509,000 students) and 25,000 at post primary (currently 351,000). Second level enrolment is expected to continue to rise until at least 2024. The substantial investment by Government this week will mean that over 11% of the total school population will benefit from new permanent places delivered during 2012 and that there is now a five year programme in place, which has funding ring-fenced.

The important information in relation to Sixmilebridge is that schools which have not been included in the Five Year Programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will still progress to final planning stages in anticipation of further funds being available to the Department of Education. I welcome this clarification from the Minister’s Office and the job now is for us to continue to work with the school authorities and within Government to make a new school a reality. Minister Quinn has indicated to me today that he will meet with school authorities in the near future.