Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has described this afternoon’s announcement from the Education Authority that Ardnabannon Outdoor Education Centre is scheduled for closure as “devastating news for local staff and young people alike”.
The South Down MP said:
“My office has been inundated with calls from staff members and service users who are angry at this announcement from the Education Authority (EA). The whole community is genuinely in shock at this terrible decision.
“In recent months, Sinn Fein representatives have worked hard to impress upon the EA that these proposals were counterproductive. it is a blow for local people that the centre at Ardnabannon has been marked for closure.
“Whilst I’m delighted that other local centres such as Killowen and Killyleagh have been saved, it is disheartening that the EA have not included Ardnabannon in its plans for the future.
“Situated in the centre of the Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ardnabannon is a mainstay in first class outdoor education activities. The centre should be at the heart of plans going forward, instead of being targeted for closure.
“I’m afraid that this decision is yet another example of poor policy making on behalf of the EA; and it is the staff and young people who may yet again pay the price.”
Mr Hazzard added:
“I have tonight requested an urgent meeting with the Education Authority, and I hope given the severe impact of this decision they will afford local representatives the opportunity to make their case.”