Despite the blustery weather, there were smiles all round earlier today, when the first sod was cut at the site of what will soon be the new Foyle College and Ebrington Primary School complex off Limavady Road.
The Boards of Governors members, principals and elected representatives stoody proudly by as the Minister for Education John O’Dowd, performed the official ceremony.
Guests at the ceremony included the master of the Merchant Taylors’ livery company and representatives from the Honourable The Irish Society.
Durkan welcomes ‘sod cut’ on Derry’s new £35m schools
Among those to attend was SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan, who welcomed today’s event at the former army barracks on the Clooney Road, saying it paved the way for expansion options at the Magee campus of Ulster University.
“We are all delighted and relieved that both schools are now at this definitive stage of building commencing. The Foyle College project has taken many years and had become a slow ‘snakes and ladders’ experience for the patient but persistent governors.
“I know it felt like an obstacle course at times as process issues, bureaucratic procedures, budget rigours and cycles, interdepartmental preciousness, site considerations and funding sign-off all made for a varied and variable tale of years of work and wait.
“Ebrington Primary School have experienced that frustration too as they awaited their overdue new-build on this new Clooney school campus.
“Today marks achievement and opportunity for both the college and the primary school, and also highlights the signal advantage for the city for new uses for former military lands.
“This key stage also highlights the opportunity not just for the city but the region that comes with the Foyle College lands now being available for Ulster University and the expansion options which need to be advanced.”
See the attached slideshow for images of the historic day.