Principal in shock at €150k sports grant for fee-paying school
The principal of a public girls' school, which is still waiting for grant funding to fix a leaking sports hall roof, has spoken of her shock on learning that the affluent Wesley College was given €150,000.
Mary Daly, head of St Dominic's College, in Ballyfermot, said the roof has been damaged for years, but despite submitting grant applications, funding to repair it has never been forthcoming.
She questioned how a fee-paying school such as Wesley could receive such a large grant of public money, given they are already well funded.
"They already have fantastic resources," she said.
"I was shocked because they have more than adequate facilities."
The Wesley grant caused controversy after Sports Minister Shane Ross, who represents the constituency where the school is located, welcomed the news.
"Delighted to confirm that Wesley College has been granted €150,000 as part of the Sports Capital Programme.
"The funding will ensure the resurfacing of the hockey pitch, and will benefit the school as well as the YMCA Hockey Club," he wrote.
Mr Ross has denied having any influence in the decision to give the grant the green light.
Some 30 public schools were turned down in the grant process.
Ms Daly said her school applied, under a separate scheme with the Department of Education, for works to the roof over the 2016/2017 summer break but it has not yet been granted.
"It wasn't seen as a priority," she said.
St Dominic's is a DEIS (Delivering Equal Opportunity in Schools) institution and Ms Daly said she felt there wasn't a level playing field.
"We want to promote a holistic education for the girls, which includes an interest in sports," she said.
Speaking yesterday on RTE Radio 1, Mr Ross said that while he was delighted for Wesley College, he wasn't involved in the process.
"What happened in this case was that the application was refused and I signed off on that. I had nothing to do with it apart from signing off on it," he said.
"Then there was an appeal and I signed off on that.
"There was no alteration, no political decision, not one movement of money, sum or individual. I never made a representation to the officials."