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Hundreds protest for St Mary's College

By Rebecca Black

Hundreds of students, teachers, school principals and politicians turned out at a rally at St Mary's University College in west Belfast yesterday to express their support for it remaining in operation.

Its future has been thrown into doubt after Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry announced the removal of the "premia" payment of £1.1m. Both St Mary's and Stranmillis received the payment.

St Mary's principal Peter Finn said Mr Farry had been invited and said he regretted that he had not turned up to explain his position. Among the supporters were West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell, Fr Tim Bartlett for the Catholic bishops and Jarlath Burns, a former GAA star and principal of St Paul's High School in Bessbrook.

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