School deserves level playing field
A 700-pupil integrated school serving South and west Belfast must be prioritised in the allocation of educational resources.
That’s the message from Sinn Féin Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who wrote to Education Minister John O’Dowd this week asking that the integrated Malone College be allocated a sports hall which has been in the works for over ten years now.
“I am deeply impressed by the work of Malone College and believe it has a pivotal role in the overall educational provision picture in southwest Belfast,” said the Balmoral Councillor, who visited the school last Tuesday.
“With over 700 pupils, the majority from the South and West of the city, Malone is working with the very young people on whom the future of Belfast depends. These are often young people who have been denied chances in life but Malone is now opening up many opportunities to them through education. It’s unfortunate therefore that the school doesn’t have the facilities it needs to provide the 21st century facilities these children deserve — most notably a proper sports hall.”
Cllr Ó Muilleoir says the Finaghy Road North school first applied for a sports hall in 2003.
“Since then, the request has been effectively long-fingered despite the fact that we have seen massive investment in sports and recreational facilities in other schools. Malone College requires – literally – a level playing field so that it can provide a first-class, rounded education to its pupils. And that has to mean an end to bussing children to Lisburn for PE and instead providing the long-awaited sports facility on its southwest Belfast campus.
“Diversity and respect are at the heart of the Malone College proposition – an amazing 27 languages are spoken in the home by pupils – and its intake are the very young people government policies are intended to target.
“I am hopeful, therefore, that the Minister can help to expedite this £1.7m sports hall development – even in a period of tight budgets and rising demand. Those parents and children who chose the integrated education path should expect to enjoy facilities equal to those of other sectors.”