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Liam Neeson’s pride as Ballymena’s first integrated primary opens

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Liam Neeson has a special message for the staff and pupils at Braeside Integrated Primary and Nursery School as it officially opened in his home town of Ballymena

Liam Neeson has a special message for the staff and pupils at Braeside Integrated Primary and Nursery School as it officially opened in his home town of Ballymena

Liam Neeson has a special message for the staff and pupils at Braeside Integrated Primary and Nursery School as it officially opened in his home town of Ballymena

Hollywood star Liam Neeson and comedian Tim McGarry have joined forces to hail a new start at Ballymena’s Braidside Integrated Primary School.

While local legend Liam Neeson recorded a message of support for the event, comedian and broadcaster Tim McGarry helped pupils, staff and governors unveil a commemorative plaque to mark the official opening of their new multi-million pound primary and nursery school.

Also in attendance for the ceremony were Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen and integrated education champion, Baroness May Blood.

Ballymena born actor Neeson even recorded a special message for the pupils and parents.

“I want to pay tribute to those founding parents who had the vision, courage and determination to establish Ballymena’s first ever integrated primary school,” said Neeson, star of blockbuster movies like Schindler’s List and Taken.

“And with such a superb new school with first class facilities I know Braidside’s future is going to be even brighter.

“I am so proud of you all for bringing integrated education to my home town of Ballymena and for helping to make it an even better place for everyone.”

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Meanwhile, comedian and broadacaster Tim McGarry, said it was a privilege to help the school celebrate the start of a new era.

“For many years I have been delighted to support the cause of integrated education and help out with many fundraising and profile raising events,” he said.

“Today is what it is all about – enabling children to be able to learn and play together irrespective of their religious and cultural backgrounds, and to form lasting friendships, which hopefully they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Also attending the ceremony, Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen added: “Today is very special day for everyone connected to Braidside and I am delighted to part of the celebrations.

“My department has a statutory duty to ‘encourage and facilitate’ integrated education and this investment is just one example of that. I am sure all the children and staff will enjoy their wonderful new facilities.”

And Principal of Braidside IPS, Julie McAuley, said: “I am so proud to lead this brilliant school and want to recognise all the founding parents and staff who had the vision and commitment to establish Braidside. It has been a taken a long time to get the facilities the children and staff deserves but we got there in the end thanks to the efforts of many people.

“Without the support of organisations like the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, the Integrated Education Fund and the Department of Education, we would no doubt still be in mobile classrooms.

“I also want to thank the Treasury for making integrated education an integral part of Fresh Start Agreement and for making our dreams come true.”


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