The former president of St. Eunan’s College in Letterkenny said he believes there has been a lack of political will to grant the secondary school the building that school management say their students need.
Speaking at a ceremony on Thursday to mark the reopening of the refurbished school pitch, Father Michael Carney, former St. Eunan’s president, said school management has sought a new building for nearly 20 years.
“It's high time the Department of Education and Skills backed up its promises and seriously addressed the needs of this school and indeed the community,” Father Carney said, adding, “Very few schools of this size have been as studiously ignored for so long by so many in government.”
Speaking later, Father Carney said the first attempt to persuade the department of the need for a new building came in 1997, during his tenure as college president. In the years since, “there have been so many false starts,” he said.
“Nobody seems to have taken the needs of the school with the seriousness with which they are warranted,” he said.
Father Carney said St. Eunan’s College campus today is largely the same as when he was a student there.
“So that’s 40 years ago, and it’s catering for twice the amount of students,” he said.
“Okay there are a few prefabs, but essentially it’s the same campus,” Father Carney said. “So we are crying out for new facilities here and I just wonder about who’s listening - whether politicians are listening or certainly the Department of Education and Skills.”
He said, “It’s a long time and a very frustrating journey for everybody in the college.”
Father Carney he believed the delay stemmed from a lack of political will and “a failure to acknowledge the real needs of a community”.
“Something must give for the welfare of the kids here,” he said, adding, “They are very fine young people and they deserve the best and they’re not being given the best.
“When you consider that there's well over 800 kids here – and in my tenure it was exactly the same – and they're being educated in less than perfect facilities. I don't think it's fair to them,” Father Carney said.
The main building at St. Eunan’s dates back to 1904.