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St Joseph's Decision flawed and short-sighted - Doherty

27 September, 2006

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has described the announcement by Education Minister Maria Eagle that she is going to close St Joseph's High School in Plumbridge as a flawed and short-sighted decision which will have a devastating affect on not only the children attending the school and their parents but on the wider community in Glenelly who will lose their main social and cultural hub.

The local MP said,

"The mood in Glenelly today over this decision matches the bleak weather. The decision was supposed to be made last month but given the delay there was increasing hope among campaigners that the Department of Education was giving serious consideration to the many submissions that were made during the consultation process. These submissions proved the evidential basis on which the CCMS made their original proposal to close the school to be flawed as it was based on incomplete and outdated information.

"Alas, the Department has ignored the new information that was brought forward during the consultation including evidence of increasing not decreasing enrolment figure projections and the pending development of a further 200 homes in the catchments area of the school.

"Also, the Minister has chosen to ignore the fact that St Joseph's is the social and cultural hub of this large rural area and, as I said in my own submission, any decision to close the school would run contrary to the education policy of using schools not just as places of education from 9am-3pm but as a resource to be used to engender stronger and more cohesive communities.

"The Parent Action Group galvanised the entire community and elected representatives from across the political spectrum in the fight to keep the school open and I‚m sure that in the coming days they will be sitting down and planning their next step to fight this decision." ENDS

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