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BBC's Maggie Taggart: "Concern over integrated schools has sparked misinformation and rumour"
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Friday, 7 January, 2000, 10:17 GMT
Funding announced for integrated schools

Education minister Martin McGuinness Education minister Martin McGuinness announced funding for new schools

The government is funding two more integrated schools in Northern Ireland which bring together Protestant and Catholic children.

Ulidia Integrated College in Carrickfergus, County Antrim and the Millennium Integrated Primary School, which is earmarked for Carryduff in County Down, are both receiving the funding.

The announcement was made by Education Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to the offices of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) on Friday.

It was welcomed by NICIE chief executive Michael Wardlow who said it was a significant development at the start of the new millennium.

"Mr McGuinness has confirmed in practice his guiding principles of equality, choice, accessibility and excellence," he said.

He said the endeavours of the parents, governors and teachers involved in the development of Ulidia College had been rewarded.

Bangor Central primary is changing to become an integrated school
"The approval is an affirmation of the determination of the parents to develop a planned integrated school in the area."

The school, which began in temporary accommodation in nearby Whitehead, has been in existence for three years and now has 220 pupils.

It submitted eight different development proposals in a bid to get funding from the department of education.

However, Conservative and Labour Governments both said there were not enough Catholics enrolled, to show a balance on both sides of the religious divide.

There could be no better start to the New Year than the school finally getting the government funding and recognition that it so justly deserves
Eugene Martin Principal of Ulidia Integrated College
Since it opened, the school has operated with financial support from local business and trust funds, including major contributions from the Integrated Education Fund, All Children Together and European Peace Funds.

Principal Eugene Martin said he was delighted at the news.

"There could be no better start to the New Year than the school finally getting the government recognition and funding that it so justly deserves.

"Ulidia College is playing a vital role in helping to develop a sense of tolerance, respect and understanding between the children and parents of East Antrim," he said.

New school being built

Meanwhile, a new integrated primary school is being built in Carryduff.

It comes after a row erupted a few months ago when the local state primary school thought it was going to be transformed into an integrated school.

But a brand new integrated school is going to be built on a greenfield site a few miles from Carryduff on the Saintfield Road.

Mr Wardlow said this was the first planned integrated primary school in the area.

It due to open with 30 year one pupils and more than 100 pre-enrolments for September 2000.

"We believe that demand for integrated education in this area of north Down is high. We know that such decisions are not taken lightly as they involve a heavy capital expenditure," he said.

He said the approval of funding for the two schools would give additional places to a "considerable number of pupils" over the coming years.

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See also:
22 Jul 99 |  Northern Ireland
Hostility claim over integrated schools

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