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Education Minister asked for St Brigid’s High buildings update

Education Minister John O’Dowd is to be asked to ensure that the St Brigid’s High buildings in Armagh are “put to good use” when the school closes.

Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan is writing to the Minister seeking an update on the school’s estate.

The merger between St Brigid’s High and St Patrick’s Grammar will be completed by September, but the school facilities at St Brigid’s will officially no longer be in use from August.

Mr Boylan said: “The rationale for the merger was sound as, for various reasons, St Brigid’s were not getting the numbers required to keep it sustainable, but that does not take away from the fact that a perfectly good school building is going to be left unused.

“I and council colleagues at the time hoped for a two site school strategy, with 1st, 2nd and 3rd years in St Brigid’s and the higher forms in St Patrick’s.

“I am not aware if this was given any serious thought as St Patrick’s were talking of a new build at the time.”St Brigid's High School, Armagh

Indeed, Armagh I exclusively revealed in April that St Patrick’s Grammar was preparing to go out to tender for a major £3 million extension and refurbishment programme as part of a phased expansion plan ahead of the closure of St Brigid’s, which was formally approved by Education Minister John O’Dowd in March last year.

The school enhancement programme will include alterations and extensions to facilities at the Cathedral Road site.

It will see the provision and refurbishment of Home Economics, Science and general classroom, as well as pupil toilets, a new lift, school meals accommodation, gymnasium, dining area, library, staff room and associated facilities. The contract also includes the provision of two temporary mobile classrooms.

Mr Boylan added: “Regardless of how that particular scenario plays out, I know there are concerns at this building and grounds being left unused to fall into disrepair.

“I am writing to the Minister to try and get an update on any future plans he may be aware of and to start a conversation around future educational or community use for the facilities.

“It is important that these buildings and grounds in the heart of the city are put to good use.”

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