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Caitriona Ruane defends special school ‘snub’

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has defended her decision not to meet with staff at a special school to discuss their urgent need for a new building.

Ms Ruane refused to meet with representatives of Castle Tower Special School in Ballymena saying that uncertainty over the level of resources available for future development means “it would not be useful at this stage”.

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey is chair of the Assembly’s education committee. He claimed the minister’s refusal to meet with the school was “outrageous and an insult to children with special needs”.

Speaking on BBC’s Talkback programme yesterday, the school’s principal Raymond McFeeters said: “We have a large number of mobiles which are extremely inappropriate for the children that we have.

“Quite a few of our young people are wheelchair users and are getting wet travelling between buildings.

“There were promises made around the time of the amalgamation. We do feel the minister needs to listen to what we have to say. ”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “Currently there is no indication of the level of capital resources that will be available and the reality is that, without significant additional capital funds, the proposals for Castle Tower and many other schools cannot be advanced.”

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