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Breda Academy: New Build

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Michael McGimpsey Michael McGimpsey UUP 3:15 pm, 19th January 2016

T2. Mr McGimpsey asked the Minister of Education, in reference to the last state secondary school in south Belfast, Breda Academy, for which he announced, in July 2014, a new build once its amalgamation went through, whether there has been any further progress. (AQT 3352/11-16)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

There have been projects across a range of our capital building programmes. As I said to a Member earlier, I cannot carry around the information on all the capital build programmes. However, progress is being made on every capital build programme that I have announced. Unfortunately, to spend tens of millions of pounds of public funds, it takes time to get all the approvals in place, get the business case in place, get the planning approval in place and ensure that the design of the school etc is what will be required moving forward. All of that takes time before diggers are seen on site.

Photo of Michael McGimpsey Michael McGimpsey UUP

I am disappointed with that answer. I would be surprised if, when my name appeared to ask a topical question, the Minister's officials did not come forward with a suggested list of topics that I was liable to ask about. That is the whole point of topical questions. I remind the Minister that Breda is a school designed for 850 pupils. It is now sitting at 1,000 pupils. Is there not now urgency to provide an appropriate building?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

My understanding of topical questions is that it is about policy issues and news stories that have come to light in recent times. It is not to do with the constituency needs of each individual MLA. That is my understanding, but I may be wrong. My officials did come forward with a list of questions that you may ask. However, the one that was opted for was in relation to the amalgamation of three primary schools in south Belfast. So, congratulations, you have caught us out on that one.