The Campaign Chair of the IEF, Baroness May Blood, was joined by a high-flying Irish American VIP at the site of the future Omagh Integrated Primary School and Children’s Centre on Friday (24 February). John Fitzpatrick, hotelier and chair of the Ireland Funds, flew in especially to join May and help officially open building work on the site which is next to Drumragh Integrated College. The project will comprise not only a new 14-classroom school and nursery but also a children’s centre, which is being developed thanks to generous integrated education supporters. The work signals the beginning of the end of the mobile classrooms which have been home to Omagh IPS since it was opened, more than a quarter of a century ago.
The Omagh IPS community is looking forward to making the most of their new resource area, sports hall, catering and dining facilities and staff areas when they move in during 2018. The new children’s centre will accommodate a voluntary pre-school playgroup as well as a breakfast club and after-school service, and will be provided thanks to donations through the IEF and from the Eithne and Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund, established in memory of John Fitzpatrick’s parents. The primary school and nursery buildings are funded by the Department of Education.
Acting Principal Siobhán Taggart was accompanied by pupils, parents, staff and governors (past and present) to welcome May and John and thank them for their help in making their plans for a new build become reality.
“We are so pleased to welcome May and John to help us celebrate the start of a bright new era for Omagh IPS and the local community. The school has grown and flourished in spite of spending decades in our inadequate “temporary” accommodation and we are all delighted that the buildings our children deserve are at last in the pipeline. We are very grateful to everyone whose help and generosity have brought us to this stage and it’s also right to pay tribute to all those parents, staff, pupils and supporters over the years who have been committed to making Omagh IPS the successful, popular school it has become.”
Baroness May Blood responded
“I am delighted to be here at the spot where one day soon we will see the brand new Omagh Integrated Primary School and Children’s Centre. The friends of the IEF, including John Fitzpatrick and the Ireland Funds, make a real difference to communities who are seeking integrated education for their children and I’m proud to be here today to officially mark the beginning of a project which has benefitted from their generosity. It’s very exciting to imagine what the new buildings and play areas will look like, built next to Drumragh Integrated College and creating a full integrated education campus for Omagh. ”
Omagh IPS opened in 1990, thanks to a group of pioneering parents, with 32 pupils and a further 24 children in the nursery. The school now has an enrolment of more than 300 pupils.
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