Residents of Athlone were left angry and bewildered this week as news filtered through that the proposal to build a new primary school at Coosan has been left off the schools building list for 2016.
The project, which has been in the planning stage for a decade now, has been left off the list due to a lack of funding, despite the fact that the previous Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, gave it the go-ahead back in 2014.
Disappointed parents, staff, and the wider community gathered at a public meeting on Monday night where they addressed their concerns to Independent Deputy for Longford-Westmeath, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, and Fine Gael Senator, Gabrielle McFadden.
Senator McFadden used her first speech in the Seanad on Tuesday, June 21, to request an update on the progression of the construction of the new school building for Athlone.
“For more than 16 years, Nicky and I worked hard to get Coosan National School on the new school construction list,” she said. “The project was approved and was to go to construction in 2016, however the school has not appeared on the latest list of buildings that will go to construction this year, despite other schools with later approvals appearing on the list. We need transparency in the process of school construction and I look forward to hearing a report on Coosan National School from Minister Richard Bruton.”
Speaking on Wednesday this week, Deputy Moran lamented the news that the project is for now being shelved: “The residents association I met with the other night are annoyed,” he said. “They have written to TDs and local councillors and are asking people to sign a petition to send to the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to outline their frustrations.
“Look, it is really mind-boggling how this happened as commitments were given to the project by the last Government. There is some talk that other schools got in ahead of Coosan which has people even more annoyed. I grew up and went to school in the area, so it is as frustrating for me as it is for anyone else.
“We can blame one thing or another, but the main thing to do at this moment in time is to focus on trying to get the project back on track and to get a date as to when this will happen, so that is what I am working on at the moment to try bring some clarity to the people of Coosan and the wider area. I met with Minister Bruton yesterday and I hope to meet him later on today or tomorrow.”