Sports hall falls victim to cuts

Integrated college
Integrated college

A state-of-the-art sports hall for a Dungannon secondary school has become the latest victim of severe budget cuts in the Department of Education.

Plans for the new sports facility at Integrated College Dungannon, estimated at costing between £3million and £4million, have been ‘parked’ until future funding becomes available.

The announcement, which was made at the Northern Ireland Assembly by the Department of Education, has led to fears that local pupils will have to continue their education with sub-standard facilities.

The project is the only one to be shelved in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone area.

However, the new shared campus project for Moy Regional PS and St John’s PS, which has an estimated £3 million cost, might also be subject to budget cuts.

“This project will also be released to construction procurement based on the capital budget available at that time”, said Minister John O’Dowd.

“I can assure you that I will be taking every opportunity to bid for additional funds and have already made substantial capital bids to support this and other similar projects during the June 2015 monitoring round.”

A total of ten schools in the area have submitted plans for major and minor works to their buildings.

Work on five of the projects, four of which are in Fermanagh, has commenced or is due to begin soon.

The new St Patrick’s Academy building, which had suffered delays for more than ten years, is the only local new school building to be given the go-ahead.

The details were released after local UUP MLA Neil Somerville asked the Minister of Education what projects had been affected by the increased pressures on public expenditure.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that the budget cuts would have an impact on school building projects throughout the Fermanagh and South Tyrone area.

“The Executive’s Budget was reduced by the Westminster Government by £1.5bn over the last 5 years. As a direct result of this reduction there are significantly reduced resources to spend on frontline services such as Education funding and those frontline services within the Department of Education’s remit.”