Minister urged to find cash for new Islandmagee school

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Local Ulster Unionist representatives have called on the Education minister to get on with building the new primary school for Islandmagee.

Roy Beggs MLA commented: “It is 10 years since Kilcoan, Mullaghdubh and Ballypriormore primary schools on Islandmagee agreed to amalgamate. Ballypriormore PS has closed and the agreed new build Primary School for the children of Islandmagee is long overdue.

“A green field site had been purchased on Low Road and planning permission obtained by the Northern Eastern Education and Library Board. But funding for the new building is still awaited.

“I understand some 111 pupils presently attend Kilcoan PS and Mullaghdubh PS and that 116 pupils are enrolled at the two Islandmagee schools for this coming September. This is well above the 105 sustainable school mark. The local birth statistics show that future prospects are stable.

“I welcome the NEELB’s recognition of the continuing demand for the new school on Islandmagee. I have no doubt that when a new primary school is built, even more local children would available of the new local facilities.

“Given that delay and the news that NEELB has now once more endorsed the original amalgamation plan, I would urge the Minister of Education to ensure that funds to build the new Islandmagee school are provided as a matter of urgency.

“From the published figures on enrolments and birth rates in the wards of Ballycarry and Islandmagee, I am convinced that two schools are sustainable into the future. The most recent NISRA annual survey indicates that some 47 prospective pupils were born in the Ballycarry ward alone, so a significant increase in pupils can be expected.

Cllr Mark McKinty said: “Following the launch of a consultation on the future of primary provision in the local area, I consulted with a wide range of parents and residents in the Ballycarry and Islandmagee areas.

“Firstly, it is unacceptable that a single school for Islandmagee was not built 10 years ago when promised. Since that false hope, almost two cycles of children have passed through both Mullaghdubh and Kilcoan Primary Schools.

“Secondly, it makes sense that Ballycarry Primary remains as a separate entity, being located in a tight-knit village community. The removal of such a rural school would have a detrimental impact on the village for many years to come. I therefore welcome the opportunity which Ballycarry Primary, its leadership, parents and supporters in the community now have to ensure that the School remains a part of Ballycarry.

“I wish to reaffirm my dedication both to the realisation of the Islandmagee school project, and the future of Ballycarry Primary and to that end will continue to liaise with all concerned to ensure that our young people are given the best possible education.”