Students at Cork college being treated like ‘second-class citizens’

A vermin infestation, broken showers, a leaking roof, and unsecured ceiling fittings are just some of the alleged problems with a Cork sports hall, leading to claims that Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa (CSN) students are being treated like “second-class citizens”.

CSN, a College of Further Education under the patronage of Cork Education and Training Board, offers some sports-related courses including Personal Training & Leisure Management and Coaching & Physical Education. 

Around 130 students a year avail of these courses.

However, while CSN was the recent winner of the Best Further Education Provider award at the 2019 Education Awards, the Irish Examiner has seen a litany of complaints about the conditions at its sports hall. 

The allegations seen by this newspaper include:

  • A vermin infestation and mouse faeces found in work areas;
  • Broken tiles in the changing facilities;
  • Showers that lack temperature control;
  • A lack of separate showering facilities for staff and students;
  • Broken heating;
  • A leaking roof that causes water to collect on the sports hall floor.

The hall was built by Cork County Council in the mid-1970s and is managed by CSN on behalf of the local authority. 

A council spokesperson said each year the local authority “spends over €100,000 on the facility towards operating and maintenance costs”.

“The facility is in good decorative order and very clean,” the spokesperson said.

“There is a need for an upgrade of the mechanical and electrical fittings. 

"The Council did apply for a sports capital grant to the Department but were not deemed eligible as the lands on which the facility is built are owned by another party (Cork ETB) and not the applicant (Cork City Council). 

"The Council is looking at alternative management and funding options at present which would enable upgrade works, and it is expected to conclude this process in the coming months. 

"Any necessary repairs continue to be carried out by the Council, a small roof leak recently repaired and all internal lighting upgraded to LED in the past week at a cost of €6,000,” the Council said.

However, while the Council said the “facility is in good decorative order and very clean”, a Cork ETB spokesperson said it is “aware of the conditions in the Sports Hall in CSN College”.

“We are currently in negotiations regarding the funding of works to upgrade these facilities,” they said.

Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock said he has received complaints about the sports hall: “This college has made major strides in developing world-class courses. 

"The rate of progression into the world of sport is very high. 

"Why should they be treated like second-class citizens? 

"If this was UCC or CIT such structural problems would have been dealt with a long time ago.”

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