Go-ahead for Rossmar new build on the cards

An announcement on a new build for Rossmar Special School in Limavady is likely in the next couple of weeks, the ‘Journal’ understands.

The school, which has 85 pupils with mild to profound learning and physical difficulties, was visited by Education Minister, John O’Dowd last month as part of a campaign for a new building. The Sinn Fein man saw for himself the difficulties students face, including those with severe respiratory problems unable to join other students in the dining hall in bad weather for fear of catching infections. Another concern is access for students unable to use certain parts of the school, such as those with steps, because they cannot accommodate a wheelchair.

Limavady councillor, Sean McGlinchey hinted strongly in his speech as outgoing mayor a “favourable” announcement as regards Rossmar was on the cards.

“I am vey confident the minister, after meeting with the staff and pupils of Rossmar, will make a favourable decision.

“Rossmar needs a new build and the presentation from pupils at the school, which the minister saw, left a massive mark on him and I am very confident he will make it happen. A new school has been needed for a long time but, despite the difficult conditions, the staff have done a remarkable job.”

Rossmar Principal, Brian McLaughlin told the ‘Journal’: “I have had nothing official on anything, but we live in hope. We will keep a very positive and optimistic outlook. All we can do is wait.”

A new build school would be “tremendously important”, said Mr. McLaughlin as “it would allow us to integrate all the pupils, allow free access throughout the building for all pupils, and would mean we could be much more proactive in our links with other schools”.

He added: “It would be a perfect way to end the term.”

Education Minister, John O’Dowd told the ‘Journal’ Rossmar Special School is one of many across the North that were previously identified as needing a major capital scheme and that are currently being assessed as part of the area planning process.

“Recommendations from the area planning process will in due course inform priorities for capital investment,” he said. “However, in the short-term I am considering an interim process to identify major school projects, consistent with and supportive of the area planning work, in which capital investment can be made in the coming period. Until then I cannot comment on individual school proposals.”