Scoil Mochua Special School building out-of-date, unsuitable and not mobility friendly

By Mary Dennehy

EVERYDAY the students of Scoil Mochua Special School are faced with the difficult challenge of navigating their school in wheelchairs or on walking canes due to an out-of-date and unsuitable building that is not mobility friendly.

Scoil Mochua currently has 72 students, aged between three and 18 years-of-age, who have a primary physical disability and travel to school from communities including Clondalkin, Tallaght, Lucan and Ballyfermot.

Scoil Mochua 07 05102017

The Clondalkin-based school, which is run by the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), is on the Government’s school building programme for 2019 to 2021 – with a site beside the current school identified for development.

However, due to the unsuitability of the current building for students, a number of cross-party TDs have called on the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to fast track the development.

The Echo under-stands that narrow door frames pose a problem for wheelchair users, some of the toilets are too small and that corridors are a challenging place for anybody with mobility issues.

The school also lacks a proper hall space and recently lost its music/library room, which had to be turned into a classroom due to space constraints.

Acting Principal Suzanne Byrne told The Echo: “The situation is so bad that we are actually looking for our school building to be fast-tracked.

“The school and its facilities are not appropriate to the needs of students, with the school very disconnected across rented prefabs.”

She added: “These students deserve proper facilities like their peers, they deserve a proper school that they can have access too.

“School should be a place where they can get around, these kids have enough battles in their lives than school being one of them.”

A number of Dublin South West and Dublin Mid-West TDs debated the issue in the Dail recently including Deputy John Curran (Fianna Fáil), Deputy Gino Kenny (People Before Profit), Deputy Eoin Ó Broin (Sinn Féin) and Deputy Sean Crowe (Sinn Féin).

Speaking to the Minister, Deputy Ó Broin said: “These are remarkable children who are overcoming all sorts of obstacles placed in their way in their everyday lives.

“In addition to that, they are in a school in which the conditions are frankly Dickensian.

“Not only is there not enough room for the facilities; there are not adequate toilet facilities, cooking or eating facilities or facilities for children to exercise.”

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Curran said: “I recently visited the school to meet with management, staff and pupils, and it was during this visit that I had the opportunity to take a first-hand look at the poor condition of the premises.

“While staff has indicated that the Department of Education has assured them that a new school build will be explored in the future, these children and the pupils who will enrol in the next school year, simply cannot wait.”

Deputy Crowe added: “The school covers four constituencies, including my own, with 12 children coming from the Tallaght area.

“There is plenty of land and there is agreement with South Dublin County Council.

“We are not just looking to serve our own constituencies here.

“We are asking the Minister to fast-track the work because of the profound challenges facing these children.”

In his reply, the Minister said that the Department is “committed” to a rebuild on the site, but he believes that additional information is required on the project.

However, he did say that he would “explore” the issues raised by the Deputies to see if progress can be made.

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