Closure of rural Catholic schools causing imbalance with state sector says Mid Ulster MP

Sinn Fein's Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy wants the Department of Education to review CCMS proposals to close a number of rural schools

Sinn Fein's Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy wants the Department of Education to review CCMS proposals to close a number of rural schools

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Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy is calling on the Education Minister to review proposals that have led to the closure of some rural Catholic schools.

The Sinn Fein man, who is re-standing for his current role, said that while on the election trail he became increasingly concerned that closures proposed by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools [CCMS] have led to “an imbalance between the Maintained sector and the state sector”.

Sinn Fein's Education Minister John O'Dowd

Sinn Fein's Education Minister John O'Dowd

“I fail to understand why the CCMS are proposing to close so many rural Catholic schools when the state sector is not following the same path,” he said.

“Is it that CCMS are trying to prove themselves more ruthless or bureaucratic than the state?

“Schools like Creivagh, Alteyaskey, and Clintyclay have all provided a high standard of education over the years.

“In the case of Clintyclay a judge found basic errors in the CCMS decision making process raising concerns that they intended to close it regardless of the evidence.”

Is it that CCMS are trying to prove themselves more ruthless or bureaucratic than the state? - Molloy

Mr Molloy went on to say that he has written to party colleague, Minister John O’Dowd urging him to review recent CCMS recommendations as some schools earmarked for closure have proved themselves to be viable.

He added: “I am calling on the Minister, John O’Dowd, to review the recommendations made by CCMS over the past two years. I am asking him to give these rural schools the chance to increase their enrolment and in the meantime to put a moratorium on the closure of further rural schools.

“Furthermore I am calling on him to investigate the role of CCMS in the closure of these rural schools as I believe conflicts of interests exist when dealing with various schools in a parish.”

“These schools have often proved themselves over the years to be viable, they are within budgets, they produce good educational standards and they have the support of their local communities.

Clintyclay PS in Clonmore

Clintyclay PS in Clonmore

“Whatever happened to the child attending their nearest school?”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said it will give full consideration to the points raised and then respond fully to Mr Molloy.