This week’s letters

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Letters to the Editor

September 5, 2013

Education

Worrying times

for the future of education

We are entering a new academic year in our schools and there is no room for optimism that children in the controlled sector will be any better served than they were last year. We will continue to witness the undignified squabble in the Protestant community over Options A and B, options foisted on us by the SELB because we failed to come up with a strategic plan of our own. We lack vision and are ill-served by “leaders” who are too arrogant to feel embarrassed.

Justa Prod

Mayor’s Visit

A great reception for the Mayor

I wish to put on record my immense pride as a citizen of North Lurgan at the reception given to Cllr Mark Baxter, DUP Mayor of Craigavon, by all those present at the recent North Lurgan Community Festival.

North Lurgan is often portrayed in the media as a troubled place, however huge credit has to be given to the young people who organised such a successful event in Lord Lurgan Park. Those young people truly represent North Lurgan as did all those who so warmly welcomed the Mayor into our community.

I watched in pride as the Mayor moved freely among the people of North Lurgan, young and old, and as the Mayor had his photo taken with Education Minister John O’Dowd, local Sinn Fein Cllr Noel McGeown and young people.

I have always been proud to be from North Lurgan, the festival and the reception given to the Mayor only once again proved to me why.

North Lurgan resident

Master McGrath

Location of iconic statue

The issue of where the Master McGrath statue was positioned attracted some debate on our Facebook page.

Local historian Dermot McCabe told the Mail he was unhappy at its current location and why in a video interview. These are some of your views:

Whitney McCullough said: “What’s he trying to say? That with his obvious bitterness he wouldn’t be up high street because its seen as a Protestant part of town? At the end of the day, it’s a dog statue one which shall be ridden with great drunken skill on a Saturday night no matter where it’s placed. It’s 2013... He’s living in the sectarian Stone Age. I don’t even know why the local paper is giving this story the time of day. Now, does anyone want to get back to the important issues?

Pete White said: “Is this actually for real? Lol.”

Andy Graham wrote: “I can’t believe that guy - why is he trying to bring politics and religion into something like that? Some people will always find something to moan about and always be bitter minded about.

Amanda Cullen said: “He is not being one bit bitter. If you listen to the video properly. Open your ears.”

Paul Mac Mccallion said: “I know Dermot Mc Cabe personally and one thing he is not is a bitter man . What he is saying though is that after all his years of campaigning to bring Master McGrath back to a central part of the town for all to enjoy he wasn’t even asked his opinion on where it should be placed. Top of Castle Lane pointing down to the castle is a perfect place for it and not Whitney McCullough at the Protestant end of the town (you called it that not Dermot) ... Come into the 21st century Whitney and realise not everything revolves around Protestant and Catholic politics.”

Gareth Wylie said: “Looks well where it is now.”

Paul Stewartsaid: “Should be back at Brownlow House where it belongs

Joan Gray said: “He is looking the wrong way.”

Sean Murray said: “This towns away to the dogs. Front page is a row over a dog plaque Would rather give the £1.40 to the wee man that plays the harmonica if he puts a bit of effort in.

Jacqueline Hill said: “Why the heck are they complaining about the statue now? Did they prefer it to be stuck out the back of the castle with no-one seeing it??

Paul Careless said: “There would be a row no matter where the Dog was put, the people in Lurgan just like moaning at no matter what.”

Ben Nelson said: “I think he looks great where he is.”

Andrew Thompson said: “Here’s a wild idea just get another dog !”

Master McGrath

Statue couldn’t be closer to centre of town

Master McGrath is in his rightful place in the town centre. There is a milestone outside Richard Redmond’s office opposite the Master McGrath statue. It was carefully reinstated during the public realm works because of its historial significance. Put simply, Master McGrath couldn’t be much closer to the town centre.

Dog lover

Dickson Plan

Grave threats to system

In recent weeks more information has become public knowledge regarding the very grave threats to the survival of the Dickson Plan Two Tier System.

It was discovered in a Freedom of Information Request from the SELB that ONLY four members of the Craigavon and Tandragee areas wrote or emailed the SELB expressing their desire to see Option A or in other words a comprehensive education system introduced in the area. Meanwhile, almost 4,000 people expressed their desire for Option B to be the way forward for post-primary provision in the Craigavon area. Despite, huge numbers of people expressing their opposition to Option A the SELB decided to ignore the community and went ahead with Option A.

The final decision regarding post-primary education in the area rests with Minister O’Dowd who has long sought after the destruction of grammar schools not only in our area, but across the whole of the province. If Mr O’Dowd gets his way and Option A is approved, this will be against a backdrop of massive public hostility. In April in the Assembly Mr O’Dowd spoke about not seeking to impose educational solutions upon communities. If he does decide to enforce Option A/ comprehensive education on the people he will have gone against his own statement.

Also I find it deeply regrettable that the chairman of the Board of Governors of Lurgan Junior High School has sent out letters trying to dress up his support for Option A as a retention of the Dickson Plan which it is clearly not. The Dickson Plan involves two free standing grammar schools in the form of Lurgan and Portadown Colleges and also Craigavon Senior High School. Option A as such proposes bilateral post 14 schools which are undoubtedly steeping stones to the introduction of comprehensive schools in the area.

Throughout this crisis manipulated by Mr O’Dowd and his assistants in the SELB and in the Junior High Schools and Craigavon Senior High School there has been only one party who have sought to tell people the truth and will no doubt continue to fight for the retention of the Dickson Plan at Stormont. That party is the DUP and while others have sought to mislead the DUP has sought to lead.

Anonymous

Helicopter mystery

Were aliens flying over Lurgan?

A helicopter seen flying over Lurgan recently has still exercised the thoughts of our readers on Facebook.

Andrew Thompson wrote: “Am not saying it was aliens .. But it was aliens !” While Ally Gordon said: “HELI!!!!”

James Mac Giolla Muireadhaigh said: “That looks like a McDonnell Douglas MD600, the PSNI primarily use the Eurocopter EC145. To my knowledge they have only ever used Eurocopters.

And Michelle McCullough said: “It was a flying saucer,, or so they would have us believe”

Former Lurgan Mail editor Clint Aiken also joined the debate and said: “James, you have it right. That’s not the police helicopter. Think they only have two and both Eurocopters. That said police press office have been rather cagey at times about use of helicopters. On one occasion the chopper (and they only had one at that stage) had spent about an hour over Lurgan. When a reporter asked why the response was ‘performing policing duties’.”