Up to 30 schools close in Dublin over structural problems

Ellen Fitzpatrick

A number of schools in Dublin have closed after infrastructural problems, sending dozens of students home or to temporary buildings.

Western Building Systems are at the fore of the controversy after safety checks were carried out in schools built by them in the last number of years.

“We fully recognise that this is a very important matter, not least for the pupils, parents and teachers of the schools involved,” said a spokesperson for Western Building Systems.

The company insist that the Department of Education and Skills had signed off on the schools initial construction and had undergone many safety inspections.

“Until now, our integrity has never been questioned. Each of our Department of Education and Skills’ projects, both before and since the amendments to building regulations in 2014, were subjected to inspections during construction. Every time, each was certified as meeting compliance standards,” the spokesperson said.

Twenty schools in Dublin, with many others nationwide, have faced closures due to this problem. The safety checks conducted saw an 80 per cent chance of walls falling due to storm force winds.

This first emerged in 2015 when it was discovered in Rush-Lusk Educate Together had fire safety defects. It then led an investigation of 30 more schools where structural problems were found.

90 transition year students in Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan, a school that is at the centre of the scandal, were told not to attend school for a week as they searched for temporary accommodation.

“School management is now making immediate arrangements to accommodate up to 200 students who will be discommoded and the school will communicate the details of the arrangements to parents/guardians once finalised,” said the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board in a statement.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh believes that more schools may be ordered to close in the near future once further inspections are conducted.

“This is a big problem, we don’t necessarily know the scale of it yet, but we do know that we will fix it, we are going to make sure that everything is put right,” said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Image credit: SchoolDays.ie