McQuillan presses Minister on Irish School with only 17 pupils

DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan

DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan, has questioned the outgoing Minister for Education, John O’Dowd, over the value for money in sustaining an Irish-Medium School, after ait was revealed that only 17 pupils attend the school in Dungiven.

The pupil number was revealed in an answer to a question in the Assembly.

Speaking to The Coleraine Times, MLA McQuillan said: “I fail to see the value for money in keeping a School open with only 17 pupils.

“When the Minister was questioned on this, he defended it on the basis of equality and respect for the Irish language.

“This is besides the point when the Minister for Education and his Department have over seen the closure of Primary and Secondary Schools in the Controlled Sector with less than 500 pupils. Where is the equality in this?

“When pushed for a breakdown of cost per head the Minister could not answer. Why? Because the cost will be higher per head than any other Educational Sector in Northern Ireland.

“This is unsustainable and reeks of hypocrisy when Schools in the East Londonderry area have been closed or amalgamated, take for example Garvagh High School or Coleraine Inst. There are many other examples across NI also. Parents have little choice when it comes to the Minister closing these Schools.

“Ten years on since the Bain Report into the sustainability of Schools in NI, which called for rationalisation, to close the majority of Schools on the basis of the recommendations of the Bain Report, but not others makes no sense whatsoever. This is about taxpayers’ money which could be otherwise utilised by the Ministers Department in promoting educational benefits for all, not some.” the DUP MLA said.