SDLP Launches Petition For Restoration Of Integrated Schools Funding

The SDLP has launched a petition calling for the restoration of funding for new buildings at ten integrated schools across NI.

The petition follows the recent announcement of the withdrawal of this funding as part of the financial package agreed between Executive parties and the UK Government.

At a session of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Integrated Education on Tuesday, the SDLP's Claire Hanna called for clarity from Education Minister Paul Givan about when he and his Executive colleagues found out when this funding was no longer available.

Claire Hanna MP said: "An announcement of this significance should have warranted a Ministerial statement as soon as he became aware that the funding would be withdrawn from these schools, not quietly pushed out on a Friday afternoon.

"I have urged the Education Minister to work with the Finance Minister to ensure that this work goes ahead. Schools should not have to pay the price of the failure to nail down details of the financial package and in Millenium's case in particular work is already substantially underway. This is also an issue of faith in politics and not pulling the rug out from schools in such a direct way.

"We would encourage as many people as possibly to sign our petition to restore this funding to integrated schools as a matter of priority."

Leader of the Opposition Matthew O'Toole MLA added: "We cannot simply allow funding for integrated and shared education to be slashed by stealth. This represents a blow to integrated and shared education here as well as significant financial wastage, given the advanced stage of some of the projects including Millenium Integrated Primary School and Forge Integrated Primary School in South Belfast.

"The SDLP Opposition has repeatedly asked Ministers to outline exactly what they knew about the removal of this funding and when. As a parent of a child at one of the affected schools I know how much this means to the entire school community and without these new buildings these schools will be unable to provide children and young people with the best education possible, despite the efforts of their tireless staff."

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