Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1974::21 April, 1977::Appendix



1. This additional statement is submitted for the purpose of further clarifying the relationship between the Training Colleges and the Department of Education with particular reference to the questions of public tendering for capital works and of security for State investment in such works.

2. It is desired to advert in the first instance to the basis on which the three denominational Training Colleges, St. Patrick’s, Drumcondra, Our Lady of Mercy, Carysfort, and Church of Ireland, Rathmines, came to be endowed from State funds in 1883 and further endowed in 1890.

3. The arrangements were made in direct correspondence between the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Commissioners of National Education. The Colleges were private institutions in their own premises. The arrangement of 1883 provided only for grants for current expenses, that of 1890 provided for increased grants for current expenses and a capital grant also, over a period of 35 years, to secure each College a “free home”. These latter grants were assessed in sums of, approximately, £28,000, £23,000 and £21,000 respectively in the case of the three Colleges after evaluation of their buildings, premises, etc. by the Commissioner of Valuation. A sum of £302 was provided in the annual estimates to reimburse the managers of St. Patrick’s and Church of Ireland Training Colleges the amount of ground rents payable for the buildings and premises. Our Lady of Mercy Training College was provided by the Sisters of Mercy with buildings and premises free of any ground rent.

4. These arrangements are reflected in the current Rules for National Schools from which the following sections are quoted—

Rule 153:

(1) For the purposes of obtaining a sufficient supply of trained teachers for service in national schools, aid is granted to approved Training Colleges for the maintenance and instruction of students who are preparing to become trained national teachers or who are already serving as untrained teachers in national schools.

(2) Before aid is granted to a Training College the Minister must be satisfied that the premises are suitable, that the arrangements for the general control, management and administration are satisfactory, and that adequate provision is made whereby the students may obtain, as part of their training, practice in teaching under supervision in national schools.

(3) The bishop of the diocese in which the Training College is situated is recognised as manager of that college.

(4) The principal or other officer in charge of the administration of a Training College shall be a person competent to control and manage the college in accordance with the regulations and requirements of the Minister.

(5) The authorities of a Training College appoint their own staffs of professors and other officers and, subject to the approval of the Minister, arrange the salaries of these officers.

Rule 154:

(3) In addition to the ordinary annual expenditure on the upkeep and maintenance of the Training College, the Minister may authorise expenditure from the college funds on the extension or improvement of the college buildings, the purchase of educational apparatus and appliances, or such other suitable purpose as may be approved by the Minister.

5. Pursuant to the original arrangements as embodied in the Rules public tendering had not been a requirement for works of enlargement. In the case of Our Lady of Mercy Training College, in particular, substantial enlargements had been effected down the years on an extremely economical basis by prudent domestic methods. The College was originally licensed for 100 students but had been enlarged to accommodate 150 before 1890. By the 1950’s it had grown to 340 students. In 1954 when the Government had decided that additional teachers were urgently required and it had been decided to provide a new Training College for 120-150 students, an alternative arrangement was suggested by the manager of Our Lady of Mercy Training College. The result of this, on approval in principle by the Government, was that for the sum of £40,000, borrowed by the College Authorities and redeemed over a period out of increased current grants, works of enlargement were effected by the College Authorities which enabled 55 extra students to be enrolled in September 1954 with a further 65 students the next year bringing the total number of students resident in the College up to 460 from September 1955. The planning and execution of these works were managed entirely by the College Authorities. It is in this context of swift execution coupled with extreme economy that enlargements of this College continued to be effected without public tendering.

6. In 1971, before the capital works now in question were undertaken, the number of students in the College had reached the level of 520 of whom 460 were resident. What was envisaged by the works to be undertaken over the period 1972-77 was that a total number of about 750 students pursuing a three-year course might be accommodated from 1977 on the basis of reducing the number in residence to about 250 students. The College Authorities and the Primary Branch of the Department were proceeding on the traditional basis that, once approval in principle had been given for the total capital allocation the preliminary estimate for which in 1972 was £918,250 spread over a five-year period, execution of the works would be effected by the College Authorities “subject to the scrutiny of the Post-Primary Building Unit of the Department in relation to cost-control”. The works commenced in January 1972 and terminated in October 1976 although there had been an interruption from October 1974 owing to the change made from the original proposal for the enlargement and adaptation of the existing kitchen and dining room to a new building housing a new kitchen and dining room. In relation to this change it may be noted that, as indicated by the President of the College in November 1974, they then found themselves in the position of having to provide daily meals for 665 students in a kitchen/dining room unit designed 75 years earlier for 200 students.

7. Cost-control by the Building Unit was effected from the stoppage of work in October 1974. It is important to note in this connection that such control would at all times in connection with these works have had to be carried out in the context of a scheme of works planned for execution without public tendering. Recourse to such tendering for part of a project already in progress would have caused serious delay and any estimate of possible resultant financial saving should, it is considered, be regarded as entirely speculative. In the case of the new kitchen/dining room building the original 1973 figure of £201,000 had become £243,000 by June 1975 owing to price variation. The final account is now (March 1977) estimated at £244,000 and is with the builder for examination and agreement by him. The total amount paid to 31 December 1976 is approximately £226,000 and, as indicated above, the balance outstanding is estimated at £18,000. In relation to the project as a whole, estimated at £918,000 in 1972, the total amount paid up to 28 February, 1977, is £983,130 inclusive of the kitchen/dining room building, and it is estimated that the final account will be closed within a further payment of £65,000, inclusive of the £18,000 estimated to be outstanding on the kitchen/dining room building. These figures are inclusive of all professional fees.

8. It is desired to add that it is intended with the agreement of the College Authorities, that all future capital works at this College will be subject to public tendering and, further, that in relation to the works already carried out, an indenture will be executed to secure that the College continues to be used exclusively for the trainings of National School teachers or for some other educational purpose approved by the Minister and that suitable provision be included in this indenture for the repayment of State capital grants in the event of the College ceasing to be used accordingly.


Accounting Officer,

Department of Education.

11 Márta 1977.