O’Dowd and council in talks on schools

Cllr Paul Maguire (Editorial Image).

Cllr Paul Maguire (Editorial Image).

The Education Minister has indicated his support for a proposed new primary outside Ballymena during talks with councillors, it has emerged.

Education Minister John O’Dowd met with Mid and East Antrim Council to discuss primary schools in the borough, specifically the new school to be built between Glenravel and Martinstown.

Speaking after the meeting, which was described by a Council spokesperson as “very positive” and which was also attended by local SF MLA Daithi McKay, Councillor Paul Maguire, Chairman of the Council’s Community Planning Committee, said that the Minister was supportive of the new school and had indicated that his Department is keen to ensure the development of the school whilst planning issues are resolved.

Councillor Maguire said: “Minister O’Dowd advised that he hoped to make an announcement regarding primary schools later this month. We remain hopeful that this announcement will include our local schools.”

It was back in February, 2014, that the Education Minister approved a development proposal for the amalgamation of Glenravel Primary School, Martinstown, and St Mary’s Primary School, Cargan.

Commenting on the decision at that time, Mr O’Dowd said: “This proposal aims to consolidate and deliver more sustainable Catholic-maintained primary provision for children in this area of County Antrim in the long term. Having considered all of the available evidence, I am satisfied that approval of the amalgamation is the best way forward.

“The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) as the managing authority will implement the amalgamation upon completion of the new school building.

“The build project is, however, dependent upon completion of an approved economic appraisal and subject to the availability of sufficient funding.”