Northern Ireland

DUP's Mervyn Storey criticism over school build

The DUP's Mervyn Storey has criticised the education minister over what he described as her refusal to meet with governors of a Ballymena school.

He said the meeting was in relation to a new build for Castle Tower Special school in Ballymena.

A department spokesperson said "The minister has previously visited the school and has also met representatives of the school."

"A further meeting would not be useful at this stage."

On Tuesday, Mr Storey, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee said: "The children in these schools have been waiting for six years for the commencement of the promised new build.

"It is totally unacceptable that the minister continues to ignore the needs of these children and continues to hide behind funding issues as an excuse for not addressing the needs of this extremely necessary new build for this excellent school."


The spokesperson said that during a recent assembly debate Education Minister Caitriona Ruane "clearly stated that she would like to see a new school for Castle Tower".

"Currently there is no indication of the level of capital resources that will be available in coming years."

"And the reality is that without significant additional capital funds the proposals for Castle Tower and many other schools cannot be advanced."

The spokesperson added: "The minister has shown that all recent capital funding has been fully utilised and has said she will continue to seek the support of Executive colleagues to renew the schools estate."

In September 2007, the three special schools in the Ballymena, amalgamated to form Castle Tower School.

Speaking on Tuesday, Headmaster Raymond McFeeters said conditions across the three campuses were "very difficult for all of our young people".

"We have some of the most vulnerable young people in Northern Ireland who have very complex needs."

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