Work on new school to begin as soon as possible - O’Dowd

Education Minister John O’Dowd pledged yesterday to make available £6.4 million funding for a new build for Rossmar Special School as soon as the project is ready to proceed.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, he said the Executive had a responsibility to assist the “most vulnerable”.

Referring to his visit to Rossmar last month, he said: “The condition of Rossmar School is unacceptable, and I said that when I visited the school.”

During his visit, the minister was shown a moving presentation by two students highlighting the inadequate conditions pupils face daily. The minister said he was moved by the boys and their confidence, but said as minister he had to be more than moved and take action to assist schools like Rossmar.

Praising Rossmar staff, he said that despite their dedication and hard work, he didn’t believe the school was delivering to full capacity, something a new school would help achieve.

“It’s a case of Government having to do better,” he said.

The minister also noted the many advocates the school had, including local MLAs and councillors who’d campaigned on behalf of Rossmar.

He added there would be significant pieces of bureaucracy to be worked through, but vowed as soon as the project was ready to proceed, which he hoped would be as soon as possible, the money for it would be made available.