THE NORTH WEST EDUCATION ACTION group will meet with Education Minister John O’Dowd on June 10 to press the final case for the retention of St Mary’s High School Brollagh.
The Herald can exclusively reveal that the group will meet with Mr O’Dowd at Stormont in less than two weeks to present their plans for the future of education in north-west Fermanagh.
The group will argue the merits for a cross-border five year pilot model when they meet with the Minister and members of the Education Committee, in what is understood to be the last chance for the group to state their case before a formal decision is made.
In a further boost to the Brollagh cause it has also been revealed that Mr O’Dowd will seek a meeting with his Irish counterpart Ruairi Quinn to discuss the potential for cross-border education collaboration.
Two weeks ago local Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan pressed the issue of Brollagh with Mr O’Dowd in Stormont, asking how he and his Dublin counterpart intended to work together to bring forward innovative solutions in regards to cross-border education in areas such as north-west Fermanagh and south Donegal. The Minister explained that he had raised the issue about north-west Fermanagh with Minister Quinn and stated that officials from both sides should sit down and discuss the potential of cross-border cooperation and how this might work.
Vice-chair of the North West Education Action Group Francis Maguire explained the contentment within the group at securing a concrete time and date for the meeting with Mr O’Dowd.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to meet with the minister and discuss our situation and the plans we envisage for the school. We are hoping he will look favourably on them. It is about presenting him with what we want from a group perspective in regards to the retention of education in the area and a cross-border learning community.”
The group are encouraged by the recent developments and Minister O’Dowd’s comments at a INTO (Irish National Teachers’ Organisation) conference in Kilkenny where he spoke about the need for cross-border education to be given serious consideration.
As Francis noted though, while there has been movement on the ground, the future of education in the area must be sorted out sooner, rather than later to ensure students know where they will continuing their education in the new term.
“The decision has to come relatively quickly in regards to where children are going in September.”
He added: “We’re quite positive, quite upbeat, we just hope the minister looks upon our proposals favourably and we can turn our plans for the future of local education into reality.”
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