North Down Alliance Councillor, Stephen Farry, has expressed his regret over the decision of the Department of Education to turn Strangford Integrated College for funding for a third time but called for the campaign to continue.
Stephen Farry said:
“This decision by the Department of Education is triply disappointing. First, this is now a school that is now in operation fighting to secure its future. Second, it is somewhat ironic given that the Prime Minister so publicly endorsed integrated education on his recent visit to Northern Ireland. Third, it is a blow coming so close to Christmas.
“Opinion Polls show that parents throughout Northern Ireland want the option of integrated education – yet, only 2% of children attend such schools. No integrated school has failed so far.
“The choice of integrated education should be a right for parents. There is no yet sufficient provision in this area. The implication of DENI’s rejection of Strangford is that integrated schools are only going to a privilege in certain areas not the norm.
“The successful opening of Strangford College shows that there is sufficient demand for it in the greater North Down and Ards area, notwithstanding the decision of other local schools to transform to integrated status. The local population is sufficiently diverse; according to the 1991 census is about 70% Protestant, 10% Catholic & 20% others/none/refused.
“The Government will not be able to withstand a public campaign forever. I hope that the campaign does not cease, but in fact intensifies. I myself will do anything I can to help.”