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Deputy First Minister visits former Lisanelly army base

13 June, 2008

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA has paid a visit to the former Lisanelly Army base in Omagh to receive a briefing on the potential the 160 acre site might hold for future development.

Mr McGuinness was accompanied on his visit by Education Minister Caitriona Ruane, MLA and local MP Pat Doherty. Local councillors Tom Buchanan, Bert Wilson, Josephine Deehan, Seamus Shields, Sean Begley, Declan McAleer and Johnny McLaughlin participated in the tour with Council Chairman Martin McColgan.

Following the tour ministers heard a presentation from representatives of Omagh District Council and the Western Education and Library Board, who are developing plans for the site.

Commenting on his visit Mr McGuinness said:

"The gifting of former military bases is an issue high on the political agenda.

"Aside from the obvious economic benefits it would also send out the clear message that we are a society moving from conflict to peace where all our people, particularly the young, can be brought together in a way that would be of benefit to all.

"Sites such as Lisanelly, previously a symbol of division, now have the potential to be transformed into beacons of hope for this and future generations and I can think of no sphere more appropriate than that of education as a means of achieving this goal."

Minister Ruane said:

"It is refreshing to see that schools from a wide range of sectors are supporting the proposal to create a shared educational campus which will service the whole community and benefit the children and young people attending the schools.

"The creation of an educational village here would provide excellent educational facilities for more than 3,000 pupils in a more co-ordinated and effective way than is possible now. I would like to pay tribute to Reverend Robert Heron and Monsignor Joseph Donnelly for their hard work and determination to try and bring this project to fruition and make it a reality." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Ministers also met representatives from Omagh Chamber of Commerce and a number of local community groups. Following the meetings in Omagh both ministers visited St Patrick's Primary School, Creggan, Carrickmore which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

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