A CROSS-PARTY group of MLAs has met with the senior management of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) to press them to give proper consideration to the proposal put forward by the local community cross-border area learning community.
Local MLA Phil Flanagan joined SDLP MLA Sean Rogers (South Down), UUP MLA Danny Kinahan (South Antrim) & Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn (Lagan Valley) in the meeting, which took place in Stormont.
The outcome of the meeting was described as ‘disappointing’ by Flanagan with a clear indication from the chief executive and deputy chief executive of CCMS that they could not explore the cross-border approach.
However, Mr Flanagan subsequently raised the issue with the Education Minister John O’ Dowd in the Assembly Chamber on Monday in an effort to establish whether CCMS could engage with schools and managing authorities in Donegal.
Mr Flanagan asked the Minister of Education for an assurance that CCMS is free to approach either the Donegal vocational education committee or local schools to explore a cross-border learning community for that area, ‘given that, last week, along with MLAs from other political parties, I met the chief executive and deputy chief executive of CCMS to discuss the future of Brollagh and they informed us that they have procedural difficulties in approaching schools or managing authorities in the South to explore possible partnerships’.
Mr O’ Dowd responded: “I am not aware of any power that I have to stop them carrying out such exploratory work and engaging with schools across the border.
“If they require my permission to do so, I assure you that I will give it. If it is a case of me having to go through protocols and inform Minister Quinn or, indeed, the Department of Education and Skills in Dublin, I am more than happy to do so.
“My main interest in this is to ensure that we have a viable, sustainable educational facility or facilities in that area.”
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