Ruane invites children to lobby for library at Stormont

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CHILDREN have been invited to Stormont next week to press the case for retention of Carnlough library.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane extended the invitation to P7 pupils from both Carnlough and Glenarm when she visited the under-threat branch last week.

The Sinn Fein member of the Executive suggested the move on Thursday, when she met Save Carnlough Library campaigners at the request of the party’s East Antrim representative, Oliver McMullan.

Lobby group chairman Adam Wilkinson explained that Ms Ruane had offered to host children from the controlled integrated and St John’s primary schools in Carnlough along with children from Glenarm’s Seaview Primary School on Monday (March 21).

“The children will have a guided tour of Parliament Buildings and I understand they will be able to take campaign flyers with them,” said Adam.

All three primary schools have been informed of the invitation and the campaign group has said that “arrangements are in hand with the support of the community development association”.

“It’s a boost for the campaign to save the library, which is cross-community, and an opportunity to help to integrate the community,” Adam said.

Oliver McMullan revealed that Ms Ruane had offered her support for the library campaign, saying she could understand why local people wanted to keep such an important amenity.

“The minister was in the area for an official function and I asked her to spend some time at the library and see it for herself,” he said.

“She was very impressed with the facilities and after meeting with some campaign group members she said she was very impressed by the way it was being conducted,” he added.

Libraries NI, which is accountable to the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure, has identified the Carnlough branch as one of nine which it considers not to be “viable”. A public consultation exercise is ongoing and Libraries NI has engaged in discussions with Larne Borough Council, which owns the library building, about the possibility of an extension that could help to make the branch more user-friendly.