Belfast Telegraph

MLA slams 'disrespectful' Bradley for snubbing politicians on Omagh visit

Karen Bradley with Arvalee School and Resource Centre principal Jonathan Gray and head girl Shannon Kelly
Karen Bradley with Arvalee School and Resource Centre principal Jonathan Gray and head girl Shannon Kelly
Daniel McCrossan
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

An SDLP MLA is to make an official complaint after the Secretary of State failed to inform elected representatives about a visit to their constituency.

Karen Bradley was at Strule Shared Education Campus in West Tyrone, where she announced a £140m investment in the project - but also a further hold-up to its completion.

Daniel McCrossan hit out at her failure to inform him and his counterparts of the visit.

More than 4,000 pupils from six different local schools will get their education on the 140-acre site at the former Lisanelly Army base in Omagh.

Arvalee School and Resource Centre is already on site, while work on the remaining schools - Loreto Grammar, Omagh High, Sacred Heart College, Omagh Academy and Christian Brothers Grammar - is yet to get under way.

The original completion date was 2020, but this was pushed back to 2021 over "procurement issues".

However, Ms Bradley announced during her visit that the entire project will now not be finished until 2022/23.

Mr McCrossan told the Belfast Telegraph he was furious that he had been robbed of the opportunity to quiz Ms Bradley about the reasons for the new delays.

He said: "I do welcome the announcement of £140m from the British Government, but the manner in which it was made was very disrespectful to the elected representatives of the area.

"The Secretary of State's visit was all very cloak and dagger.

"She whisked into and out of the constituency leaving me with no opportunity to ask legitimate questions about the ongoing delays to this project.

"This seems to be the way Conservative MPs do business.

"Karen Bradley's party colleague in charge of the Brexit negotiations, David Davis, behaved in the same way during a visit to the Irish border.

"Three times I have lodged written questions to her about these delays and not once have I had a response. That shows a certain level of contempt not only to me but to the teachers, pupils and parents at the schools waiting to relocate to the campus.

"I intend to lodge a letter of complaint with the Northern Ireland Office about Karen Bradley's disregard of protocol, which I believe was her attempt to avoid difficult questions about Strule Campus."

The NIO did not respond to a request for comment.

Belfast Telegraph


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