Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described breaches found in fire safety at a number of new primary schools across the State as unacceptable and bordering on criminal neglect. A recent fire safety audit commissioned by the Department of Education found breaches of fire safety standards at five newly built primary schools in Dublin, Wicklow, and in Mullingar in Westmeath.
The Sinn Féin TD said that it was inconceivable that a new school should be in breach of fire regulations and blamed the breaches on a ‘cheap is better’ approach by the Department of Education.
Deputy Seán Crowe:
“It is simply inconceivable and deeply worrying that parents and their children are facing into a new school year against a backdrop of breaches in fire safety regulations at schools. Five new primary schools located in Dublin, Wicklow and Westmeath were found to have been in breach of fire regulations and now require significant structural improvements just to make them safe.
“Significant improvements we are told must now be made to fire safety standards in the primary schools with a row breaking out between the Department of Education and some of the developers who claim they were to be built purely on a temporary basis.
“Many critics of the Education Department have suggested that a significant part of problem with their new building programme has been its tendering policy, were legitimate builders are overlooked when it comes to new schools and were a ‘cheap is better’ approach seems to dominate. The mounting criticism is that they seem to favour a cheap and quick delivery model that comes with sharp working practices, including non-union, low wage workers being forced to adopt the self-employed model, as well as poor poor working conditions.
“This latest scandal should act as a wakeup call for the Minister for the Education and his Department. We need to be building schools that will stand the test of time not temporary unsafe thrown up imitations.
“It is absolutely crucial that standards are set high and adequately met. Renovation works to make these schools safe must begin as a matter of urgency. The pupils and staff of all schools need to be fully protected and their safety ensured at whatever cost.
“The Department of Education needs to change its head in the sand approach and clarify the extent of their knowledge regarding poor quality building standards in schools and centres of education built across the State.
“The cheap, quick and poorly built model needs to be scrapped and a new approach enacted when it comes to building new schools.”