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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 12:49 GMT
Bishop hits out over school delay
Maria Eagle, Dr Hegarty at school
Education Minister Maria Eagle visits the school site
A senior Catholic bishop has criticised the government over the delay in building a new 31m school in Strabane.

Dr Seamus Hegarty said he wanted to see no more difficulties because there had been enough of them.

Holy Cross College was supposed to be up and running by now but has been dogged by controversy.

On Monday, Education Minister Maria Eagle publicly apologised for the delay and said she hoped the project would now run smoothly.

Holy Cross has been described as a flagship project for the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland - the merger of three schools - two secondary and one grammar.

They currently operate on three separate sites awaiting the building of the new school.

The delay in constructing the school drew sharp criticism from Dr Hegarty, the most senior trustee.

"This is either the sixth or seventh education minister who I have dealt with in progressing it," Dr Hegarty said.

"It certainly has been extremely long and it's been grossly unfair."

The education minister was shown around the site - 31m is being spent on the new school.

She apologised for the delay.

"I think five years to get to where we are is too long and I'm sorry that it's taken so long," Ms Eagle said.

The school is being built as a partnership between the public and private sectors known as a PPP.

The hope now is that Holy Cross will be officially opened by October 2008.

Keiron Tourish reports from Strabane

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