The granting of planning permission to Galway City VEC to buy land at Ballyburke, Barna from the city council to provide a permanent home for Colaiste na Coiribe represents the clearing of an important hurdle for the city second level school.
That is the view of Knocknacarra councillor Donal Lyons. He says as a member of the school’s board of management and the City of Galway VEC, he is aware of the urgent need for a permanent location for the school.
“It has a long waiting list for pupils and because of accommodation problems has had to limit the annual intake of students. I, together with other members of the board of management, teaching staff, parents’ representatives and members of the city VEC, have been to the forefront in progressing the need for a new school building.”
The school is based in temporary buildings on the Tuam Road. Since 1999 a site was earmarked for the school’s relocation in Ballyburke and was purchased by the Galway City Council following a compulsory purchase order.
Cllr Lyons says it is very important that the next stage in the school planning process is advanced so there are no further delays in providing a permanent home for this “excellent school”.
Deputy mayor of Galway city and chairperson of the Galway City VEC Cllr Colette Connolly says she welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Education to allow the VEC to buy the 5.89 acre Ballyburke site. The decision to dispose of the site to the VEC was made at the July meeting of the city council.
She says the VEC was subsequently granted outline planning permission by the city council in March 2008. However, this was appealed to An Bord Pleanala which upheld the council’s decision with a number of conditions attached in September 2008.
“Unfortunately, despite having acquired outline planning permission and mounting bank interest accumulating on the council loan the department indicated to the VEC prior to Christmas not to proceed with the purchase of the site until further notice. All members of the VEC committee were extremely concerned at this advice and sought representations to be made on a regular basis to the department by the CEO on their behalf.”
Cllr Connolly says the next hurdle is to ensure the school is built. She has put an emergency motion on the council agenda calling on the government to honour its commitment and provide funding immediately to build the school.
“This will alleviate the pressure on students and staff alike and will accommodate between 800 and 1,000 students.”