UUP education spokesman, Danny Kinahan, has called for a complete rethink on the proposed closure of Immaculate Conception College (ICC) - the only Catholic maintained post-primary on the Eastbank.
The Education Committee chair has backed concerned parents of children at the school who feel they have been treated as second class citizens due to a lack of investment in the Catholic school estate in the Waterside.
Mr Kinahan told the Sentinel: “ICC is the only Catholic maintained secondary school on the Waterside in Londonderry, and is being considered for closure under development proposal 248.
“This, despite there being no available places at other suitable nearby schools. Closure will mean pupils will have to travel well away from their homes at a time when transport costs are high.
“It will cost either the families, or the Education Board.”
Catholic parents of children at the College have previously pointed to huge investment in Catholic schools on the Westbank with St Mary’s, St Cecilia’s and St Joseph’s all recently enjoying major improvements.
They feel the closure of ICC - coupled with Foyle College’s move across the river - will result in Protestant schooling in the Waterside and Catholic schooling in the Cityside.
Mr Kinahan pinned the blame on an “ill thought out” Area Planning Process.
He said: “There appears to be no thought of better solutions - like integrated or some other form of shared education which could be considered as an alternative to closure.
“Schools are the centre of a community and all change needs to build around the community’s wishes. This development plan seems to be running contrary to their wishes.”
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.