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Judge to rule 'soon' on closure of school

By Alan Erwin

Published 06/08/2015

With Avoniel Primary set to shut at the end of the month, Mr Justice Stephens pledged to deliver his verdict as soon as possible.
With Avoniel Primary set to shut at the end of the month, Mr Justice Stephens pledged to deliver his verdict as soon as possible.

Judgment has been reserved in a legal challenge to Education Minister John O'Dowd approving closure of an east Belfast school.

With Avoniel Primary set to shut at the end of the month, Mr Justice Stephens pledged to deliver his verdict as soon as possible.

Judicial review proceedings have been brought by an unidentified pupil at the school.

Mr O'Dowd announced in May that he was approving the closure of Avoniel and increasing admissions and enrolment at nearby Elmgrove Primary.

At the time he said the proposals were the first phase in plans to reshape controlled primary provision in east Belfast.

Parents of pupils at Avoniel reacted with anger, claiming they had been left with little time to find a new school by September.

Lawyers for the pupil say the decision should be quashed because of flaws in a consultation process by the Belfast Education and Library Board.

They alleged it was not properly or fairly conducted.

The parents believe that when this exercise was carried out, in 2014, the board's proposals were already at an advanced stage.

It was claimed that education authorities dismissed a potential alternative of amalgamating Avoniel and Elmgrove.

Belfast Telegraph

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