victory for school in legal battle

Clintyclay PS in Clonmore
Clintyclay PS in Clonmore

The board of governors of a Tyrone school at the centre of a lengthy legal battle challenging its closure, have expressed their delight at what they describe as the “successful outcome” of the case on Friday.

Gerard Cunningham, chairperson of the board of governors at Clintyclay Primary, Dungannon, said the parents of the child initiating the action were “extremely satisfied with the outcome”.

Mr Cunninghan said the decisions of the then Education Minister John O’Dowd were successfully challenged in court and quashed.

“The Department (of Education) has failed in their attempt to overturn that judgement through appeal and the legal process has now ended,” he said on Monday.

“Our understanding is that in the absence of a Minister for Education, the Permanent Secretary in the Department will be required to retake new decisions on the two development proposals, namely DP312 to close the school and DP315 to transform the school.

“It is our opinion that as the information contained in and leading toward the development of both proposals is now significantly out of date, and in the case of DP312 shown to be inaccurate, the Permanent Secretary will be unable to approve either proposal.

“I expect the Permanent Secretary to provide clarity as soon as possible by rejecting both outdated Development Proposals clearing the way for any new proposals regarding the school to be brought forward.

“I am delighted to add that we will also be asking the Permanent Secretary for a temporary variance in our Primary 1 intake for September 2018 due to the increasing numbers of children coming to the school.”

Continuing, Mr Cunningham said they wanted to thank everyone who supported them over the last few years. He pointed out that the school has grown in both numbers and diversity since 2013, while maintaining a healthy financial position and providing an excellent education to pupils.

“It has been a difficult few years but ultimately worthwhile and in the best interest of the children of this area,” he added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The Department of Education is pleased that these proceedings have now been concluded following the Court of Appeal’s referral back to the hearing Judge. The two Development Proposals for closure and transformation remain extant and, as agreed between the parties, up to date information will be sought and considered before any recommendations on the outstanding Development Proposals are made to the Permanent Secretary.”

Meanwhile, Dungannon Parish Priest and member of the Council of CCMS, Very Reverend Dean Kevin Donaghy has informed the school and local community that he will recommend that the school is given every support and encouragement in continuing to deliver an outstanding educational experience to the children of today and tomorrow.

Dean Donaghy emphasised the positive attitude toward the school, the significant number of new houses recently constructed in the Clonmore area and proposed future developments, all of which will lead to steady growth in the school population. He also highlighted that with the other Catholic primary schools in the parish full and an anticipated growth in the Catholic school-going population, further provision for Catholic school children will be essential in the area.

This new positivity has led to a 30% increase in the pupil numbers in this academic year alone and the school is expected to require a temporary variance to their primary one intake for 2018 to allow them to accept the number of pupils wishing to join the school next year.