Loss of 55 pre-school places in Stoneybatter in September – Government cannot stand back and just let this happen

22 July 2022

Senator Marie Sherlock has said the Government cannot just stand by and allow the loss of 55 pre-school places in one community from this September.

“Dublin 7 already has a major shortage of early years provision and this September, there will be a shocking loss of 55 pre-school places in just Stoneybatter alone. Within the 55, a number of places were occupied by children with special needs and it is a very distressing prospect that they have nowhere to go from September.”

Senator Sherlock said it is shocking that because no state agency is willing to take responsibility for ensuring the provision of pre school education.

“The Department of Children have told us that the city and county childcare committees should be able to help but the City and County Childcare Committees have indicated they are not resourced to help providers source a location.

“At the heart of all of this is that communities depend wholly on either community groups or private providers to find a location, yet they have to meet exacting and very necessary regulatory requirements. One provider has said that the key issue now doesn’t even relate to cost but trying to find an appropriate location.

“Crucially, this situation has arisen because of a complete failure by the Department of Education to consider pre-school education in their planning and a failure to have any joined up thinking with the Department of Children. One local preschool provider has to close because the primary school building where they operated out of needs to suddenly take that space for an ASD unit whereas another local pre-school provider has to halve her service because of similar reasons.”

Imelda Doyle of the Dunard Community Playgroup said “After almost 20 years of being in operation and 11 years of being located in the school, we are devastated that we are being forced to close.”

She added:

“There is an awful irony here that the children with additional needs who were relying on us now have nowhere to go for a whole year, yet they’ll have a fantastic ASD unit when they start primary school September 2023. We know that weeks and months matter in a child’s life and it is appalling they have nowhere to go from this September.”

Local Labour Party Councillor Joe Costello said:

“It is simply unacceptable that there would be this massive loss of pre-school education in the Stoneybatter area. This week, I ensured that a motion was passed by fellow councillors in Dublin City Council’s Central Area committee calling for DCC to do all it can to find a suitable and sustainable location for pre-school education in the area.”

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