29/08/2014

Education Minister Rejects School Expansion Plans

Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has rejected a planning application to expand Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh in Strabane.

The proposals would have seen an 'off-site unit' established and been a conversion of the existing, independent Irish-medium provision in Castlederg, Gaelscoil na Deirge.

Explaining his decision, Minister O'Dowd said: "While my Department has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the development of Irish-medium education, it would not be prudent for me to approve this proposal to expand Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh.

"The proposal as put forward is not financially viable and approval would potentially see the school fall into a deficit position which in turn may threaten the viability of the host school.

"Furthermore, a new-build project for Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh, close to its existing Strabane site, is currently progressing in planning. The new-build project does not factor in the costs or implications associated with establishing an extension of the school in Castlederg and would inevitably need to be reassessed should the new unit be approved."

He added that other "practical issues" would result if the plans were to be approved, such as the school being established as a split-site school with the locations some 13 miles apart.

(JP/MH)

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