Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has called on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to make a firm commitment to permanently reinstating the Summer Works Scheme and Minor Works Grant for schools.

Deputy McConalogue has welcomed publication of a list of schools that will benefit from the long-overdue, but temporary, reinstatement of the Summer Works Scheme this year.

“This scheme, along with the Minor Works Grant, was suspended for the last two years. It left many schools that depend on these modest supports for essential maintenance works crippled by debt,” said Deputy McConalogue.

“I welcome the fact that Minister Quinn has finally realised the impact that the two year suspension has had on schools across the country.  It will come as a welcome relief that many cash-strapped schools, who have waited for two years for support from Minister Quinn’s Department, may now get some much needed investment. 

“However I have concerns about the timing of this announcement, just three weeks from polling day in the local and European elections.  It is crucial that this is not purely politically motivated and timed just to salvage some votes for Fine Gael and Labour on May 23rd.   It must be about a new willingness on behalf of this Government to reinstate these vital supports in the long-term.

“Because all schools have been denied access to this scheme for the past two years, there is a major backlog in the number of schools that urgently need investment for essential works.   Reinstating the schemes temporarily to coincide with an election campaign is not good enough.  We need a firm commitment from Minister Quinn that the schemes will be reinstated permanently.

“So far the Minister has refused to commit to keeping the Summer Works Scheme and Minor Works Grant next year.  If this announcement is about more than just electioneering, he must make this commitment now.  Schools that are in serious financial difficulty and won’t receive the full investment they need now deserve to know that the schemes will be open again next year.”