Urgent inspections needed to give certainty on school buildings
Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called for urgent inspections to be carried out at all recently built schools, during the mid-term break if possible, to ensure they are compliant with building regulations.
A similar problem in Scotland in 2016 and 2017 affected nearly 90 schools that were found to have structural wall defects.
Senator Ó Ríordáin said:
“It is essential that parents, staff and children have certainty that recently built schools are safe.
“The revelations about 40 schools built by Western Building Systems are deeply concerning. The State has committed millions to building what should be state of the art facilities. Instead there are concerns about fire safety and the integrity of external walls. While this may only affect three story buildings, it isn’t clear how widespread or serious the defects are.
“A similar situation arose in Scotland in 2016, when a wall collapsed at the Oxgangs primary school due to high winds. Bricks weighing nine tonnes fell down and the problem was due to defects in the ties between external and internal walls. Following that 88 schools were found to have similar defects.
“I am calling for an urgent response from the Minister and the Department of Education to ensure that school communities can be assured their buildings are safe.
“There is also a question mark now over how the school building programme is carried out, and whether the state should now consider having a body such as the OPW which has the skills to hand, to certify the compliance of all buildings works carried out for the state by private contractors.
“We should have learned lessons from the debacle of Priory Hall and other residential schemes that were not up to scratch.
“The Government must ensure public buildings are up to scratch, and the mid-term break provides the chance for those inspections now to take place.”