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Dept of Education guilty of ‘missing an open goal’ with planned Ennistymon school

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*Scoil Mhuire in Ennistymon. Photograph: John Mangan

North Clare representatives have said the Department of Education missed “an open goal” by not including an astro-turf in their plans to build a new secondary school in Ennistymon.

Three secondary schools currently exist in Ennistymon with plans underway to amalgamate the CBS, Vocational School and Scoil Mhuire, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) told a recent meeting of the West Clare Municipal District.

In a motion to the meeting, he and Cllr Shane Talty (FF) requested that the County Council commence engagements with the Department of Education to provide an all-weather pitch and walking track at the amalgamated secondary school site. They stressed that the facility would not only benefit the students but also the wider community and it would act as a valuable asset to local clubs and organisations.

Discussions on the matter have been held with the Social Directorate of the local authority on the motion, acting senior executive John O’Malley confirmed with further engagements scheduled.

“I can’t understand for the life of me how you would build a secondary school for 800 pupils without this type of space. Astro turfs are seen as a luxury, they are not, they are a basic necessity that all communities should have,” Cllr Garrihy commented. “It seems too obvious an open goal for Department to not just tap it in,” the Lisdoonvarna native added as he highlighted the facility could be open for the multiple sports clubs in the area to utilise in the evenings. “It is ridiculous to have to make such an obvious point”.

Absence of sporting amenities in the plans were described as “an obvious deficiency” by Cllr Talty. He was adamant that the ground was there to construct an astro-turf and urged Council officials to follow through with subsequent meetings. “The community cannot be left waiting for ten to twenty years for this facility”.

Former President of the INTO, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) stated “It is hard to believe the Department could be so short-sighted”. He outlined that “one of the big selling points” of St Flannan’s College down through the years was the big playing areas on the school property. He insisted such facilities were “necessary for social and physical development” of secondary school students. “I cannot believe they would not ensure those features would be in use. It is something that needs to be sorted and it should be in place before the new school is up and running”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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