| 7.6°C Dublin

City's Muslim school is eyeing up new site as waiting list swells

Dublin City Council is considering possible expansion and relocation of one of the capital's State-funded religious schools.

Dublin's two Muslim schools have struggled to cope with pupil intake in the last few years, as the country's Muslim community grew from an estimated 32,500 in 2006 to almost 50,000 this year, according to the Islamic Foundation of Ireland.

While the process of expansion has been put on hold for one of the schools, the Muslim National School in Clonskeagh, the other, the North Dublin Muslim School , is currently in talks with Dublin City Council regarding planning permission.

"We're expecting The North Dublin Muslim School to lodge in due time a temporary application to be housed in another one of the buildings of St Joseph's School for Boys," a spokesperson for Dublin City Council told the Herald.

"The building which it currently uses will be partly demolished to create new facilities for St Joseph's school.

"The school will eventually be re-located to a bigger permanent site but until it is opened, it will need other facilities in Cabra," she said.

The spokesperson for the Planning and Economic Development Department of Dublin City Council said that the primary school took part in a pre- planning application consultation last week.

A source close to the school told the Herald: "There have been talks about moving the school to a permanent site in the south of Dublin, although the location is not definite.

"There is quite a long waiting list for the school especially for lower classes, it's inevitable that the school will eventually expand or relocate."

The insider also revealed that talks of expansion had been somewhat held back by the publication of a controversial report last year as well as cuts in departmental funding.

An inspection report from the Department of Education caused considerable embarrassment when it was issued last summer, observing what it described as poor teaching standards, lax accounting and inadequate child protection policies.

"The North Dublin Muslim School has had to face criticism and that impacted the whole process, but new management has given a new life to the application," the insider added.

The Muslim National School, opened 20 years ago on the South Circular Road , and was moved three years later to Clonskeagh with the financial support of a Dubai Sheik.

Despite its relocation to a bigger site, the Clonskeagh School has also been forced to turn hundreds of pupils away as the department of Education fails to deliver on its promises.

"There will be nearly 300 children in the school from September compared to 40 pupils 20 years ago, there's a huge waiting list and we just don't have enough room," Principal Colm McGlade said.

"We're turning away more people than we're taking in.

"During our evaluation, the inspectors did recommend that we apply for permission to expand and we got permission two years ago in principle.

"Unfortunately, we still don't have the go ahead for the next stage -- which would involve actual planning with a design team, it could take years now with the state of the economy," he added.

hnews@herald.ie