Anamar campaign gathers momentum

March 10, 2009

At a packed public meeting in Crossmaglen Rangers Hall on Wednesday evening, concerned parents, elected representatives and members of the community rallied together in their latest bid to prevent the closure of Anamar Primary School.

It was announced that the original closing date for the receipt of submissions on the future of the school has been extended until 27th March, giving the committee a welcome, albeit brief, reprieve.

Parish Priest Fr McKeever said the extension should be used well, adding, “a collective effort is needed” for the campaign to be successful.  He told those gathered that it was the unanimous view of the parishioners that the school should remain open.

With immense support and backing from the community as a whole, the Anamar Concerned Parents Group has thrown itself whole-heartedly into the campaign to save the school.  

A far-reaching letter writing campaign has been initiated and all members of the community are being urged to write to the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) to appeal for the school to remain open and be allowed to continue providing quality education to the children of the area.

Local councillors Terry Hearty and Geraldine Donnelly joined group members at weekend Masses throughout the parish to highlight the campaign while the homes of all school-going children throughout the area will be contacted in a bid to procure the support of parents for the campaign.  

Members will also petition door-to-door in a bid to drum up community support.

Anyone with an interest in the education of the children in the Crossmaglen, Anamar and wider community is urged to put pen to paper and record their objection to the current proposal to close the school.

All submissions calling for the retention of Anamar School must be received by the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) in writing before March 24th, after which a final decision will be taken on the future of the school.

The address to write to is: Mr Kevin O’Hara, Senior Education Adviser, Diocesan Management Unit, Armagh Diocesan Office, 1 Killyman Rod, Dungannon BT71 6DE.

Anyone requiring guidance on content required for letters of submission should contact the school or any member of the Concerned Parents Group.

‘Lift pen and save school’ says Hearty

Sinn Féin Councillor Terry Hearty has called for everyone in the area concerned about the proposed closure of Anamar Primary to “lift a pen and write to the CCMS and help stop the forced closure” of the rural school.

Mr Hearty described the two options recently put forward regarding the future of the school – amalgamation with St. Patrick’s in Crossmaglen or complete closure – as “short-sighted” and said the only sensible solution is to keep the school open.

He said he, along with MP Conor Murphy, was at a number of very well attended meetings about the proposed closure and said the feeling at each meeting was that the school should remain open.

“Anamar is a very good school working within budget and delivering all aspects of the revised curriculum in an excellent school building,” he said.

“There are plans for three different developments in the Crossmaglen area, one of which has started with over 130 houses from Newry Road to Carron Road. Over the next few years we will see over 250 houses built in the area. These developments would bring more children to the area who would attend Anamar,” Mr Hearty continued.

He pointed out that St. Patrick’s Primary School is already full to capacity and the forced amalgamation of even more pupils would also exacerbate the traffic problems currently experienced around the school

“To close a school can have a serious effect on rural life in areas like Anamar where the school is the hub of the rural community,” he added.  “The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is investing £16.7 million into the rural community in the Southern Region of the Six Counties.  The main aim of that funding is ‘to improve the quality of life for all the people of our rural areas through working in partnership to deliver actions that will build safe, inclusive, equitable, healthy, skilled, sustainable and thriving communities’, Mr Hearty said, adding that the closure of Anamar would run against this objective.

 “With the economic downturn less young people will be going for building trades and the one thing we owe our children is a good education so that they have more choices in their future.  This cannot be achieved in overcrowded classrooms.

“I have recently made a submission to the CCMS calling on them not to close Anamar school.  I am now calling on all constituents with an interest in children’s education and an interest in rural communities and rural life to lift a pen and write to the CCMS and help stop the forced closure of Anamar school.”

Members of the public should record their opposition to the closure of Anamar Primary School by writing to Mr Kevin O’Hara, Senior Education Adviser, Diocesan Management Unit, Armagh Diocesan Office, 1 Killyman Rod, Dungannon BT71 6DE.