Liam Neeson hails ‘positive step’ after first Catholic school in NI switches to integrated status

Hollywood star Liam Neeson has sent a special video message of support marking the first Catholic school in Northern Ireland to switch to integrated status.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 6:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 7:02 pm
Hollywood star Liam Neeson congratulates Northern Ireland’s first Catholic school to convert to integrated status, Seaview Primary School in Glenarm.

The Ballymena-born actor was speaking after Seaview Primary School in Glenarm was approved for integrated status earlier this month.

The actor has been an advocate of integrated education in NI for many years and has worked with the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) as an ambassador to champion the process of conversion.

He fronted the charity’s ‘Integrate My School’ campaign four years ago in a bid to promote integration.

“I am delighted that so many parents across Northern Ireland are choosing an integrated future for their children,” he said.

“The recent news that Seaview Primary School in Glenarm is set to become the first Catholic school to become integrated is a positive step forward on the journey to an inclusive society.

“I’m delighted to say that Seaview is just one of a number of schools that has conducted a democratic ballot of its parents since the ‘Integrate My School Campaign’ was launched just a few years ago.

“I want to congratulate all of the parents, staff and governors in schools right across Northern Ireland, who are taking courageous steps to ensure children from different traditions will get to learn and play together, every day, in the same school. You are actively helping to build inclusive communities. Well done. I am so proud of you all.”

The IEF says its ‘Integrate My School’ campaign contributed to a surge in interest in integrated schooling with Seaview Primary being just one of eight schools where parental ballots have been held in support of the formal integration move.

Among the other schools which have undergone the process are Glengormley High School, two oversubscribed nursery schools in Belfast and Bangor, Brefne and Bangor Central, two sustainable primary schools in Belfast and Carrickfergus, Harding Memorial and Carrickfergus Central, St Mary’s Brollagh in Fermanagh and a small rural Catholic primary school, Ballyhackett Primary School near Coleraine.

DUP Education Minister Peter Weir did not approve the proposal from St Mary’s in Brollagh but has approved the move at Seaview. He is expected to make decisions shortly on whether to approve a number of remaining proposals.

Baroness May Blood, campaign chairof the Integrated Education Fund, said: “It is so encouraging to see that the ‘Integrate My School’ campaign has had such a tangible impact in terms of parents and schools supporting integrated education.

“I hope it will turn their aspiration into reality. Liam has played a crucial role in raising awareness of the campaign.

“It is so important that parents, schools and indeed the wider community not only have information on how they can access an integrated education but be supported in their exploration.”

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