McBrearty at odds with Labour Party's Education spokesman
By Matt britton
The Labour Party's candidate in Donegal South West, Cllr. Frank McBrearty is at odds with his party's Education spokesman, Ruari Quinn TD on the recent announcement by Tanaiste and Education Minister Mary Coughlan on school extensions and improvements throughout the county and the country.
Cllr. Mc Brearty told this newspaper, "I welcome this announcement from the Tanaiste - any funding for Donegal is good news no matter where it comes from and it is now time that we, as politicians should all be working together for the betterment of this county and country.
"The situation is just too serious."
Tanaiste Coughlan had been accused earlier this week of a "cynical political exercise" by announcing nearly 400 school building projects throughout the country with a significant number of these located in Donegal by Labour's Ruari Quinn.
The Tnaiste had given her approval to a number of major school developments to go ahead in her own constituency with Stranorlar, Raphoe and Ballyshannon the big winners while other schools throughout the county are also earmarked for further development and enhancement.
A new 24 mainstream classroom school and ancillary accommodation is to be provided for Scoil Mhuire in Stranorlar while a substantial extension and refurbishment has been approved for Deele College in Raphoe which will allow the school to increase enrolment to 550 students.
Approval has also been given for an extension at Holy Family National School in Ballyshannon to go to tender. The extension project will include four new classrooms, a general purpose room and ancillary accommodation, in addition to some refurbishment of the existing accommodation with planning permission having been applied for last July.
"This is in addition to work which is either underway or largely completed at Creevy National School in Ballyshannon, Scoil Chonaill Naofa and the Pobailscoil in Gaoth Dobhair as well as the Finn Valley College. This Government has made a huge investment and transformed the educational infrastructure from Bundoran to Falcarragh with schools in all towns in the constituency having been upgraded beyond recognition," The Tanaiste stated.
But Labour education spokesman Ruairi Quinn said the announcement represented the first cynical campaign promise in an election that had not even been called yet.
Deputy Quinn said, "The days of making such grandiose promises to hundreds of communities around the country, in the run-up to an election, is the politics of yesteryear, and should, like the political culture of a morally bankrupt Fianna Fail, be consigned to the dustbin of history," he said.
However, Cllr. McBrearty reiterated his support for the announcement and said, "I have learnt a lot from my campaign in the recent by-election and I can assure you that there are areas that I will be focusing on for the betterment of this county.
"I am not going to play party politics with this issue - Mary Coughlan is a mother and understands the educational needs of the younger people.
"I am on the board of management in both Deele College and the Finn Valley College and it is in all our interests to work together in the interests of the common good and provide a solid education base for the future.
"I am the candidate for the Labour Party in Donegal south west and I fully realise the depth of the problem that this country is experiencing at present - I hear it and see it with my own eyes and ears every day.
"It is now time for whatever Government is in power and the opposition to sit down and work together for the overall good of this country."
A spokesman for Minister Coughlan denied that the announcement was related to recent political developments and said that she had fully intended announcing her school building programme in January.
"It is testament to the wide-ranging and progressive nature of the programme that she has outlined that political opponents are attempting to dampen the enthusiasm with which this announcement is being greeted across the country," the spokesman said.
"It represents a considerable investment in education at a time when falling construction prices mean that a great deal more can be achieved for less," he added.