The principal of St Ronan’s College has described delays over the procurement process for a £25 million new-build as a “bump on the road” but it confident it will go ahead.
Mrs Fiona Kane spoke out after Armagh I reported this week that the project – first mooted in 2018 – had run into difficulties.
The Lurgan-based school describes itself as an all-ability grammar school, a non-selective, inclusive school, promoting, developing and celebrating the individual strengths and talents of all students.
To that end, the need for the development is essential, according to the college, with work having already started.
The planned new-build is to accommodate upwards of 1,750 pupils and was due to open in 2023 before these difficulties arose.
This afternoon (Friday), the principal set out the views of herself and those of the staff and all connected with St Ronan’s College, who are confident it will proceed.
Mrs Kane said: “Due to unprecedented external circumstances on procurement and the construction market affecting every sector in Northern Ireland, it has not been possible to appoint an IST/Main contractor within our original timeframe.
“Whilst we are disappointed by this short delay, on behalf of the College, I wish to reassure everyone associated with St Ronan’s College that the Project Board, the Education Authority and the Department of Education continue to work extremely hard as a team, supporting the college to ensure that the vision for the new campus for St Ronan’s College becomes a reality as soon as possible.
“We are currently working with our professional teams to readjust our construction programme to take account of the delay in awarding the main contract and we are finalising an approach to allow us to re-run the tender competition under a different model to minimise the impact of this unfortunate delay in our programme.
“Whilst our project may have lost a beat, our work is proceeding at pace and is being taken forward at the highest level both within the EA and the Department of Education.
“The Project Board and the Board of Governors are confident that everything that can be done is being done. Everyone is working hard to minimise any further delay and to ensure that there is no compromise to the quality of the building.
“I would re-iterate again that this bump on the road of our timeframe was totally beyond the control or influence of the Project Board and the Department of Education.
“I am confident that together we can deliver a fantastic college campus for the young people in our care, a school environment of which they can be extremely proud and that will communicate to them in a very tangible way how valued their education is by their community.
“In the meantime, we continue to deliver a first class educational experience for every pupil at St Ronan’s College and we are exceptionally proud of the achievements and destinations of our pupils. They deserve us all to continue to work hard as a team to provide them with a first class learning and sporting environment at the earliest opportunity.
“We are blessed at St Ronan’s College to enjoy the full and committed support of our community and I wish to assure them that together we will deliver this college campus and we will make the vision of our school at the heart of the community and community at the heart of our school a reality.”