Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has approved the closure of Devenish College and Lisnaskea High School to form a new amalgamated post-primary school in Enniskillen.

Commenting on the decision, Mr O'Dowd said: "I have considered very carefully all aspects of these proposals and have decided to approve the amalgamation of the two schools.

"In making my decision I was mindful that there has been a significant level of opposition to the closure of Lisnaskea High School. I appreciate that the school has support from the community which it has served for over 50 years and that its closure will be a disappointment to those who have been closely associated with the school during this time.

"However, I must consider the long-term interests of not only the pupils currently attending the schools, but also those of local children in the area who have yet to move to post-primary education. With strong evidence that Lisnaskea High School is no longer sustainable, I cannot allow the standard of education there to gradually diminish over time. In order for children in the area to have the best possible opportunities and choices available to them, I see no alternative but to amalgamate Lisnaskea High School with nearby Devenish College.

"During the consultation process I did meet with residents who sought an alternative to closure. Their proposal was based on a shared education model which, while commendable, was too late to reverse years of falling numbers at Lisnaskea High School.

"The Boards of Governors and Principals of both schools are supportive of this way forward. They recognise that a new school environment will lead to the available resources being better used and enable all pupils to have access to a broad and balanced curriculum and enhanced educational and social learning experiences.

"I appreciate that this decision brings with it the prospect of some upheaval for families within the local area but I would like to assure everyone involved that the local authorities will do all they can to make the transition to the new school a smooth one.

"I thank and pay tribute to everyone connected with the two schools for all their hard work and dedication over many years and wish them the very best for the future as they look to an exciting new chapter for education in Enniskillen and the surrounding area."