Ulster Unionist Assembly Member for South Belfast Michael McGimpsey has accused the Education Minister of failing the children of Sandy Row, The Village, Lisburn Road and Donegall Pass.
His comments came during ministerial question time at the Assembly when Mr McGimpsey raised the issue of the planned amalgamated primary school for Inner-South Belfast.
In a statement Mr McGimpsey said, “I am disappointed that the Minister has yet again failed to live up to his own commitment of tackling educational underachievement in protestant working class areas. For the past ten years the proposal to amalgamate Fane Street, Donegall Road and Blythefield Primary Schools has been on the agenda. His predecessor and party colleague blocked progress by failing to agree the spend of £16,000 on planning and he has allowed the proposal to sit on his desk with little or no progress.”
“I find it astounding that the Minister has not progressed this proposal given that Belfast Education and Library Board class it as a high priority capital project. It was placed before him almost a year ago by BELB with the request that it be included it in the department’s list of capital priorities, which he and his department failed to do.”
“The communities involved are some of the most socially and economically deprived in the whole of Northern Ireland, educational underachievement is at an unacceptably high level and yet the very department tasked with the job of tackling this is failing to do so. This is utterly unacceptable.”
In conclusion Mr McGimpsey said, “I am calling on the Minister for Education and his department to put their money where their mouth is, invest in the education of our children in Inner-South Belfast and provide the children and communities with the primary school facility they deserve and need. There can be no more delays, prevarication or excuses.”