The Irish Independent has reported that the planning approval has been granted for Northern Ireland’s first ever shared campus for Catholics and Protestants.
Stormont's power-sharing government announced plans to reform former Lisanelly and St Lucia Army barracks in Omagh, Co. Tyrone to hold six integrated schools. The planning documents mention Christian Brothers Grammar School, Loreto Grammar, Omagh High, Omagh Academy and Sacred Heart College.
According to the Ministerial Advisory Group on Shared Education, as of now, 92% of children in Northern Ireland attend Catholic schools or mainly Protestant schools. The far too dated but current religious segregation in education has Peter Robinson, Democratic Unionist First Minister, even using the word “apartheid” in description.
Social Democratic and Labour Party Planning Minister Alex Attwood hopes, "The new campus will be at the forefront of shared education in Omagh and the North. This is a huge redevelopment scheme which will benefit all of Omagh and the surrounding areas for many years.”
The grand scale reconstruction will also stimulate the local economy, creating a number of jobs.
Mr. Attwood went on to say, "It will create much-needed employment during the development of the site and the construction of the new buildings, and become a model for education for the future."
Sinn Fein Education Minister John O'Dowd affirmed, "It will be the largest single investment project ever undertaken in the education sector here and will be a massive boost to the economy and in particular the local construction industry."