The Belfast Telegraph’s Save Our Schools campaign has been praised by Northern Ireland’s Education Minister Barry Gardiner following a £222m funding boost for schools across Northern Ireland this month, writes Sarah Lagan.
The campaign, which began in 2000, has been conducted by the Telegraph’s education correspondent Kathryn Torney, above, and highlights the rundown condition of many schools across the province.
Gardiner said: “The Belfast Telegraph’s campaign to Save Our Schools has regularly highlighted the inadequate state of our school buildings, and rightly so.
“I am acutely aware that years of underinvestment in the Eighties and Nineties have led to a huge backlog in maintenance and capital works.
“I congratulate The Belfast Telegraph for backing Northern Ireland’s children and holding the politicians to account.”
Editor Edmund Curran said: “We are delighted that Mr Gardiner has singled us out for praise. This has been a longrunning campaign and it is very satisfying to know that our efforts have helped direct funds to schools that are in dire need of repairs.”
Cregagh Primary School in east Belfast was a high-profile example of how bad the situation had become. The school building had been crumbling from concrete cancer for years and pupils were unable to use the toilet facilities as they had flooded floors, smashed sink bowls and cracked walls and ceilings.
Head teacher Ronnie Milligan said that their new £2m school – announced in 2000 – was “in no small measure due to The Belfast Telegraph, which kept the dreadful conditions at our school in the public eye”.