Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Victory for pupils as arson-hit primary to be rebuilt

Whitehouse PS pupils protesting outside Stormont

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has caved into public pressure and given approval for a new build project for a school destroyed by arsonists.

Ms Ruane announced the go-ahead for the £3.6m project at Whitehouse Primary in Newtownabbey yesterday following weeks of campaigning by staff, parents, pupils and the community. Work is due to start within weeks.

The school was burned to the ground last July and the minister was strongly criticised after she suspended plans for a new build as part of a review of all school capital building projects.

This is despite just days after the blaze Ms Ruane saying that plans to construct the new school were being fast-tracked. Members of the North Eastern Education and Library Board also issued a statement to say they were “frustrated and disappointed” at Ms Ruane's stance. A delegation took their campaign to Stormont on Wednesday.

The school’s principal David McConkey said he was “absolutely delighted” by the minister’s announcement.

Meanwhile, Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, an Irish-medium school in Castlewellan also destroyed by arsonists a month after the Whitehouse attack, was given partial Government funding for a new build.

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