‘Frustration’ felt over new build delays for Poyntzpass school

St Joseph's and St James's PS, Poyntzpass.St Joseph's and St James's PS, Poyntzpass.
St Joseph's and St James's PS, Poyntzpass.
The school community at St Joseph’s and St James’s PS in Poyntzpass feel as though they are “being led up the garden path” in relation to a proposed new school build, an MLA has said.

Newry & Armagh MLA, Justin McNulty, was speaking after he wrote to Education Minister Paul Givan on behalf of frustrated parents and school leaders, who have been waiting for a new school build for over 10 years.

The SDLP representative asked the minister for an update on the progress of the new build for the school and when the project would be scheduled for completion.

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In response the Minister said: “Since the project was announced under the Major Capital Programme in 2013 a number of site options have been considered for this five-class base primary school.

"Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure an alternative site within the school’s catchment area and as a result the Integrated Consultant Team (ICT) is currently preparing a Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) which will examine feasible options based on the school’s existing site.

"It is anticipated that the TFR will be lodged with the Department for consideration in Autumn 2024. A business case will be drafted thereafter which will identify the preferred option to be progressed.

“Until the preferred option is identified and approved it is not possible to provide further details of the project or provide a project programme.”

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Mr McNulty said he shared “the sense of frustration amongst the St. Joseph and James’s school community in Poyntzpass, who feel like they are being led up the garden path in relation to a new school build”.

He added: “In writing to the Minister, I asked for a clear indication of when work would begin, and indeed when it would be completed, on the new school build. Unfortunately, the Minister has not yet been able to provide clarity and confirmation around the timeline.

“In his response, the Education Minister has said he anticipates there will be a progress update in autumn of this year. It is important to have this commitment from the Minister, and I will be holding him to his word.

“After a number of false starts, I am determined to ensure that the community in Poyntzpass are not let down again, and that they get what was promised to them.”

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