The recent decision to pause advancement of 58 school projects until after Easter needs to be reversed urgently, especially for shovel-ready projects, a local TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins, TD for Dublin Mid West is calling on the Minister for Education and Minister for Public Expenditure to work on reversing the decision to pause 58 school projects due to inflation-related funding constraints and allow shovel ready projects to move ahead as planned.
Deputy Higgins said: “I’m so disappointed that these 58 school projects, including in my own former school Holy Family Community School in Rathcoole, have been put on pause until Easter. I’m informed that inflationary constraints and the rising cost of construction have created capital funding pressures for advancing these projects until Easter, but my concern is that a delay of even a number of weeks would have much a bigger impact on schools like Holy Family Community School,l which are shovel-ready, because their construction plans may be impacted.
“There are multiple schools in my constituency affected by this pause, and if this pause is lifted by Easter that won’t result in much upheaval for most projects, but it has the potential to create significant delays to schools which are ready to break ground. That’s why I’m calling on the Minister for Education and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to give that clarity to schools who are ready now to begin work on their projects,” Deputy Higgins added.
“All 58 schools, some of whom are in our area, are school projects that have been promised for a very long time, decades in some cases, and to pause them now is causing huge upset. This is particularly true for the projects which are so close to starting construction. For them this decision is a huge blow.
“In some cases contractors are in place and ready to start construction tomorrow and if projects are put on hold, the risk is that contractors will pull out, leading to even longer delays and creating the need to go through the retendering process again at which point the capital spend for these projects will likely come in at higher than there’s currently authorisation for and many schools will be back to the drawing board again. We need the Taoiseach to intervene to avoid that,” Deputy Higgins said.
“I’ve spoken with the Taoiseach directly on this and asked him, the Minister for Education and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to consider my proposal for shovel ready projects to be allowed to move ahead as planned while others wait for the negotiations between the two Departments to continue.
“We can’t have these shovel ready projects going back a stage in the process to retender, especially while so many areas are experiencing school place shortages and working out of temporary accommodation or poor-standard facilities.
“There are multiple schools in my constituency affected by this pause, but an Easter decision won’t impact hugely on most projects but has the potential to be big for schools ready to break ground and I’m calling on the Minister for Education and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to give that clarity to schools who are ready now to begin work on their projects,” concluded Deputy Higgins.