“THE Collegiate is worth fighting for,” was the message that resounded loud and clear at a public meeting on Friday night.

Held to drum up support to save the grammar school from a proposed amalgamation with Portora Royal, the meeting was attended by almost 500 people, including parents and pupils past and present, and staff and public representatives in the area.

A past pupil of the school herself, Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, Arlene Foster told those present that the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) should “hang their heads in shame” for signing off on a development proposal to merge the two schools in September 2015.

“I am passionate about retaining this school, you bet I am,” she said, “I am with you all the way.” Along with Mrs. Foster, the public meeting heard from fellow Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, Tom Elliott, Neville Hale – a parent of the school, Florence Brunt, chair of the school's Board of Governors, Elizabeth Armstrong, the school's principal and Bob McCartney, the chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association.

In her speech Miss. Armstrong said the proposal asked the community “to swap proven reality for vague promises”.

And in a feisty address, Mr. McCartney critical of the current Education Minister, John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein.

He accused the Minister's party of “waging a war against grammar schools”.

Determined to keep up the fight to save the Collegiate, the meeting heard a petition had to date accrued over 4,000 signatures of support.

For more on this story and pictures from the public meeting, see Thursday's Impartial Reporter.