As news broke last week that Coosan National School is to receive its long-awaited development this year, Senator Gabrielle McFadden was one person feeling incredibly satisfied.
Not only has the former Fine Gael Deputy worked to push the project at every opportunity during the last few years, the issue was also one incredibly close to the heart of her dear departed sister, Deputy Nicky McFadden.
The McFadden clan have close ties to the Coosan area, and this gave the project even more importance in the eyes of both Nicky and Gabrielle.
“My father is from Coosan,” Senator McFadden said this week. “He went to the old primary school, so we always had a connection to Coosan and still have family out there. The project was first talked about 15 or 20 years ago. I am not sure what year it was, but Nicky got involved way back. At some point around 2011 she was getting really fed up of all the lobbying she was doing as it wasn’t getting her anywhere.
“She invited down Ciaran Cannon, who was Junior Minister for Education at the time. She originally invited the Minister himself, Ruairí Quinn, but he would not come, so Ciaran came instead. He met with the Board of Management and he went back and lobbied very hard for progress on the issue.”
When Nicky was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2012, and as her health gradually deteriorated, Gabrielle became more involved with lobbying for the project.
“We continued to lobby and in 2014 Ruairí Quinn eventually moved the project up the list to 2016,” Senator McFadden said. “Nicky was delighted because it was a project that really did mean the world to her. When she was sick and her voice gone, when she was unable to even go into the office any more, nearly every week at some point she would write via the iPad - ‘What have you done about Coosan school?’ So she would be delighted to see the project come to fruition.”
Senator McFadden expressed anger regarding the manner in which Coosan NS was removed from this year’s schools building list. “There were 66 schools on the list this year and Coosan was one of them, but for some reason it was taken off,” she said. “A few months ago in the Seanad, I asked that the Minister for Education come in and explain why it was taken off the list, but I am yet to get a proper explanation.
“I had spoken to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education at our think-in in September. I told them I wasn’t happy and that I wanted the school put back on the list when estimates were done for the Budget, and both of them agreed to that. The money came through in the Budget, and I am delighted it has.”