Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Welcome for news that work on new-build school is imminent

News that construction work is imminent on the new St. Joseph’s High School premises in Crossmaglen has been warmly welcomed by local politicians.

Sinn Féin Councillor Terry Hearty is a member of the school’s Board of Governors and he expressed his delight at the news.

Congratulating those involved in the campaign for a new school, he said: “This has been a long, hard but united and ultimately fruitful campaign.  I am proud to be a member of the school’s Board of Governors and also a member of the project build team that was established to oversee and deliver the new school.

His party colleague and Westminster election candidate, Mickey Brady, says the new state-of-the-art facility “will further enhance the educational experience of those attending this exemplary school” and he praised all involved for their resilience and commitment to the project.

“The project has been a key priority for my colleague Megan Fearon MLA  since she entered the Assembly in 2012 and local councillor Terry Hearty has for many years passionately pursued the project.  We have all visited the school on numerous occasions to discuss progress on the issue,” Mr Brady said.

“There was great excitement when in June 2014 the then Education Minister John O’Dowd confirmed the financial investment for 16 schools, which included this much needed St Joseph’s build. Planning permission was granted in 2018, and now we see the final stage for the vision of a new school becoming a reality.

 “I also believe that a new school build will help solve the dilemma faced by many parents in south Armagh who understandably want the best standard of education and facilities for their children,” he added.

SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne, who will contest the upcoming Westminster election in the Newry & Armagh constituency, also welcomed news that work on the new school is set to commence and he praised former Crossmaglen councillor and party colleague, the late Geraldine Donnelly, for her “relentless efforts” regarding the project.

He said: “I want to acknowledge the contribution of the late Geraldine Donnelly whose relentless efforts in 2014 saw that the right pressure was applied to the then Education Minister John O’Dowd through our MLAs Dominic Bradley and Alex Attwood. Geraldine valued her position on the Board of Governors and was passionate about seeing this project come to fruition. She was always critical of the delay and lack progress, particularly in 2013 when the Minister linked the prospect of a new build to the planning process in Newry, something which eventually proved to be nonsense. 

“It was said recently that Geraldine was a gentle political warrior and this is true. She was passionate about our young people and was dedicated to improving the lives of local people in her own quiet persuasive way,” he added.

Principal of St. Joseph’s, Marie Millar, also welcomed the news but stopped short of commenting until she receives concrete confirmation that the project will progress at this time.

Mooted more than five years ago, the promised multi-million pound new-build school for St. Joseph’s has been beset with delays, however, this time, it is hoped the dream will finally become a reality for its patient staff and 600+ pupils.