Judicial challenge to senior high proposal

Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.
Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.

Judicial Review proceedings have been launched to challenge the Education Authority’s proposals on the future of Craigavon Senior High School.

News of the move was released by lobby group Education Equality for Lurgan who said the legal team involved were determined “to put a stop to the one sided process we are currently witnessing”.

The Education Authority (EA) has proposed closing the Lurgan campus of the school and bussing the children to Portadown.

The proceedings have been issued by lawyer Claire McKeegan of Phoenix Law solicitors in Belfast against the EA.

Education Equality for Lurgan stated: “The family of an effected child have lodged papers in the High Court to challenge the flawed consultation process which was initiated by the Education Authority which will only result in the removal of education provisions from Lurgan.

“Our case will be listed for the first stage of this application very shortly.”

They went on: “Many thanks to our wonderful legal team who have prepared the groundwork and put in the miles to get us to the stage we are currently at and make no mistake they are determined as we are to put a stop to the one sided process we are currently witnessing in the EA rush to end KS4 education for half of the children in the controlled sector in Lurgan.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “I made it clear to the EA in early January that the Consultation was not balanced and it deliberately dismissed other options without due cause. Indeed it was so unbalanced that it made it near impossible for many who did not support the EA option to respond.

“Many, including myself, have warned for a number of years that the EA decision to bus Lurgan children to Portadown was not based on what was best for the children. Instead it was purely about saving money.

“Even when a Lurgan option was offered that also saved money and produced a better system for the children of Lurgan the EA dismissed it. Indeed they tied to the plan with ‘it will undermine the Dickson Plan through stealth’ reopening an old wound within the community.

“This has been found to be untrue and I will now work with Phoenix Law to help them prosecute their Judicial Review on behalf of a child from the Lurgan campus.”

Councillor David Jones welcomed the challenge: “At a time when figures continue to show children from Protestant working class areas are leaving Education with below average attainment this suggested move, I believe, will do little to encourage young people to continue their education and will remove an important education facility from Lurgan town.

“I wish to give my full support to the parents and young people who will be affected if the move goes ahead in the future and Education Equality For Lurgan who are taking the case on their behalf.”