FERMANAGH and Omagh District Council has voted unanimously to facilitate a meeting for all stakeholders in respect of the strenuously opposed closure of St. Mary’s High School in Brollagh, despite those at the top of the education chain dismissing further engagement.

During a recent meeting, Chief Executive Alison McCullagh drew members’s attention to correspondence from both the Department for Education and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) in response to requests from the Council to hold a meeting in relation to options.

Both, however, concluded a meeting would not be appropriate.

Sinn Fein’s Councillor Siobhan Currie told members: “The responses are incredible. CCMS and, in particular, the Department are entirely missing the point.

“It’s not about a school or a building any more – this is about the children and families in the area who have had their local secondary education removed.

“It is about the complete lack of any credible effort [to keep St. Mary’s open].

“The CCMS and Department have done more writing on paper lately than the effort they put in to look for sustainable solutions.”

She continued: “The idea they have engaged with the community or elected representatives in any meaningful way is laughable, or it would be if this wasn’t such a serious issue.

“I’m not in the habit of using words like ‘demand’, but we should be demanding they engage on our terms, not theirs, and not in the closed-shop, pre-determined way they have been,” claimed Councillor Currie.

She proposed the Council proceed to facilitate a meeting and invite CCMS, the Education Authority and the Department for Education, and highlight the matter at the Assembly’s Education Committee.

“If they want to snub the local community then let them, but we’re about trying to find solutions. There is an issue here. This isn’t sustainable.

“We’re moving forward and if they don’t want to be part of that, it’s up to them,” she concluded.

This was seconded by party colleague, Councillor Anthony Feely, who remarked: “The letter from CCMS is disappointing, as usual. We shouldn’t be shocked any more.”

He also queried a section within the letter which contended all staff have transferred, claiming: “That’s not right – some staff don’t know what’s going to happen, and won’t know until the end of August.”

The proposal to set up a meeting passed without dissent.