An estimated €35,000 plus will be needed to repair two rooms in Oaklands College following a fire at the school in the early hours of Tuesday, July 4.
Cllr Noel Bourke, chairman of the Board of Management at Oaklands says extensive fire damage was caused to the home economics room, as well as an adjoining room used as storage for Home Economics utensils.
There is also smoke damage right throughout the building and all of this will need to be repaired ahead of the new school term starting in September. “The two rooms the fire was are in a terrible condition.
The whole school will have to be treated in some way because the smell of smoke is quite bad. According to my estimate, it will cost at least €35,000 to repair,” he told the Offaly Independent this week.
“It's an emergency situation at the moment because it has to be got right before the return of the students in September,” continued Cllr Bourke. “The only saving grace is the time of year it happened - there were no students in the school as thankfully it did not happen during school term. If it had have happened during term, the school would undoubtedly have to closed down for a number of weeks to undergo repairs.”
The school board chairman went on to say that funding for the repairs will come from the Department of Education.
“It's not the funding that's the problem, it's time that's against us,” he said, adding that 75 new students will start in September, bring the total number in attendance at Oaklands to 775.
“Temporary accommodation will have to be put in place as the school is already at maximum capacity and we have to go through the planning process for the temporary accommodation, which the Council have assured me will be done with the utmost urgency.”
And there was more bad news for the school according to Cllr Bourke, who said that the school's caretaker, Michael Cummins, suffered a severe injury to his arm during the replacement of windows at the school during the aftermath of the fire.
“I understand that a piece of glass fell on his arm and he had to be taken to hospital. He was transferred to Dublin where he is undergoing specialist treatment, so we wish Michael a speedy recovery.”
A 20-year-old male was arrested in relation to a number of criminal damage incidents that occurred in the early hours of Tuesday morning, July 4 in Edenderry, including windows being damaged in Edenderry Garda Station, damage to a filling station on the Tullamore Road and damage caused to Oaklands College. He was later released without charge and a file is being prepared for the DPP.
Gardai are appealing for witnesses to come forward.