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Tuesday was hailed as a “lá spesialta” in the history of Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosog as the Minister for Education announced a new general purpose halla and two early intervention units for the school.

Fifth class students sang a rendition of ‘Samhradh Samhradh’ by The Gloaming while pupils from second class completed a hurling session to welcome Minister for Education, Norma Foley (FF) to the county town on Tuesday morning.

Principal of the Gaelscoil, Donal Ó hÁiniféin hailed the occasion as a “lá spesialta” in the history of the school and believed the commitment from the Department of Education would futureproof its place in the county. He also quipped that Minister Foley was welcome to return when the work had concluded, by which stage she could have elevated to the role of Taoiseach or Tanáiste.

Speaking in Ennis, Minister Foley outlined, “We’re announcing a general purpose room halla and two additional SEN early intervention rooms and the conditionality that comes with that such as play rooms, mats in addition to the seven classrooms which have also been provided for, it’s a very positive day for the school and certainly an endorsement of the excellent work that goes on in the school on an ongoing basis. It is a good news story”.

Clare Echo Planning

Ó hÁiniféin welcomed the announcement which was on top of the school getting the green light for a seven classroom extension with two special education rooms. “This intervention by the Minister in announcing the halla and the double early intervention ASD unit is really positive”. He was hopeful work would commence for the school year of 2022/23 and noted the facilities would see Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosog become the first mainstream primary school in Ennis to have early intervention units.

During her visit to Co Clare, Minister Foley also visited Clonmoney NS in Newmarket-on-Fergus. The growing school which attracts pupils from Newmarket, Sixmilebridge, Shannon and Cratloe projected that their current enrolment numbers of 186 will pass 200 by September of next year.

Clonmoney NS principal David McCormack told Minister Foley and Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) that the school requires two further mainstream classrooms, a general purpose hall, all weather playing facilities, a staff room plus a playground and safe playing area.

Extensive fundraising has been carried out by the school to support the construction of a GP hall for the pupils, planning permission for which was granted by Clare County Council in 2018 along with the addition of two mainstream classrooms and SET rooms which also included an ASD class with a sensory room.

McCormack highlighted that two of the mainstream classrooms have an area which is half the current recommended size by the Department and are too small for in excess of 26 pupils. This is particularly challenging due to public health guidelines and the requirement to maintain social distancing between pupils due to Covid-19, the Newmarket-on-Fergus native highlighted.

Both Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) and Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) were present alongside the Minister for her visit to Ennis and Newmarket-on-Fergus. “We had some very good news for the Gaelscoil and, fingers crossed, something can also be done for Clonmoney,” Crowe stated.

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