A PARENT of pupils at Immaculate Conception College (ICC) has vowed to continue to campaign for the school’s retention and against the polarisation of education on the east and west of the Foyle on religious grounds. He made the comments as the ICC lobby group posted details of a mooted public meeting (Oct 16) to discuss the future of the site.
The Save ICC group posted details of an apparent ‘Top of the Hill community consultation,’ which they say is due to take place, on Wednesday (October 16) from 11am to 1pm.
The parent - who asked not to be named - said: “We want the wains to go there and hopefully someone’s going to take a U-turn on this.”
He told the paper the campaign to save the former St Brecan’s has garnered a lot of support with 600 people signed up to its Facebook profile.
Equally, a large number of signatures have been gathered and these will be forwarded to the Education Minister and the head of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).
“Again we are still saying as parents. This is the only Catholic secondary school in the Waterside and it has to be kept going. They are going to divide the city further.
“The politicans are talking about a shared society and a shared furture. How can you share something when it’s not there? You are telling people - once again - educate Catholics in the cityside and educate Protestants in the Waterside,” he said.
Meanwhile, Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has asked the Education Minister John O’Dowd for a formal update on the future of the College.
Mr O’Dowd replied: “I understand that the CCMS proposes to publish a development proposal that would see the closure of the Immaculate Conception College in Derry. To date, no such proposal has been published.
“If such a proposal is published, it will be subject to a consultation period of two months, during which time Members of the House, the public and interested parties will be able to put across their views on the matter.”
Mr Ramsey referred to the “absolute worry, concern and anger of the parents of pupils attending the school.”
Mr O’Dowd responded: “I am legally obliged to carry out an effective consultation with everyone in that area. The reason I brought area planning into place is so that we do not see scenarios whereby - as has been said to me before - schools are allowed to die on the vine.
“We want to see schools move forward, in a planned schools estate, providing excellent education for young people in the future. I am not in a position to talk about what has happened in the past, but I will be in the position to do so about the future.
“If I am involved in the decision-making process and if a development proposal is published, my decision will be about ensuring that all the young people in that area have access to high-quality education services.”
You can listen to the concerned parent’s argument above. His voice has been altered.