Northern Ireland

O'Dowd launches independent investigation at De La Salle College

De La Salle College
Image caption The minister wants the investigation to be completed by early summer

The Education Minister John O'Dowd has ordered an independent investigation into events at De La Salle College in Belfast.

There have been ongoing industrial problems at the school over the past few months.

Mr O'Dowd had previously been reluctant to sanction an investigation.

However he says new information received from parents and other sources has led to his decision.

The investigation will look at staff relationships, the role of senior leadership, governance of the school and the impact of the ongoing disputes there on pupils.

"Following a recent meeting with the Concerned Parents of De La Salle Group, further information being provided to me earlier this week, and other important issues that have come to light in recent days from official sources, I have decided to take forward an investigation regarding the current situation at the school," he said.

Image caption No-one has been appointed to carry out the independent investigation yet

"My priority remains the education of these young people, in particular those due to sit examinations soon."

"Work continues to be undertaken by the relevant authorities and Associate Principal Imelda Jordan to address the immediate concerns within the school and this investigation will not impede that important work," he said.

"However, it is important to independently review all the circumstances that gave rise to this serious situation in the school and to come up with recommendations that will ensure the school's success going forward."

No-one has been appointed to carry out the probe yet, but the minister wants it to be completed by early summer.

Teachers' union

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) have said they will "carefully study" the Minister's announcement.

In a statement INTO said they will ensure that, "if and when we decide to engage with this independent inquiry it will be for the benefit of INTO members in De La Salle College and the education of pupils which they have responsibility for.

"In the meantime, INTO will continue to work with the groups established under the agreed process to find a way forward in De La Salle College."

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