UUP education spokesman Danny Kinahan has this week backed the campaign to save Immaculate Conception College (ICC) from closure.
Mr Kinahan also referred to ‘rumours’ the site was to be sold for community development.
“I am aware of rumours that the site is to be sold for ‘community development.’ This is where the local community need clarity and honesty,” he commented.
He said the Catholic Church and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) needed to fully explain the rationale behind the proposed closure.
Mr Kinahan’s comments follow the launch of a new ‘Save Immaculate Conception College’ campaign website: www.saveiccyolasite.com, which has published an open letter to Waterside Parish Priest and school board member, Fr Michael Canny.
The letter, which was given in person to Fr Canny on Wednesday (February 19), states: “We believe this move will serve to further polarise the communities, which are already perceived to be divided by the River Foyle.
“If this closure proceeds children choosing a Catholic education in line with their religious faith will be placed on one side of the city and those choosing a Protestant or integrated education placed in the Waterside area of the city.”
The letter also invokes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, pointing out its teaching that: “Parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions.”
The letter appeals for Fr Canny to use his “influence and that of the Catholic Church to have this decision overturned as our children should not be forced to bear the brunt of this cost saving measure.”
The Sentinel contacted Fr Canny, who said he had received an unaddressed letter but would not be commenting on it or the development proposal at this stage.
The Sentinel asked CCMS for the current status of the ICC proposal.
“CCMS has consulted on the recommendation for phased closure for ICC with parents, staff and governors in May and June 2013,” a spokesperson explained.
“This was followed by the publication of a development proposal and a statutory two month consultation period, which ended on February 10.
“This process allowed for all interested parties who wished to put forward their views to do so.”
The spokesperson for the Council said it intended awaiting a decision from the Education Minister John O’Dowd in relation to the proposal before taking any further action.
“Once we are informed as to the decision made by the Minister CCMS will then start discussions with the school community in terms of taking forward the out-workings of any decisions that the Minister makes,” the spokesperons said.
The open letter on the ‘Save ICC’ site claims the proposed closure of ICC would be a ‘regressive’ move.