The local radio bulletin this morning heralded the depressing news that just under 1,000 children at Strandtown Primary School in East Belfast have been told to stay at home today after 17 classrooms were wrecked by vandals over the weekend.
Drunken youths are reckoned to have broken into an art classroom around 10.30pm on Saturday night, with damage caused to computers, books and pictures. Condemnation from across the local political spectrum. With shrinking budgets across Northern Ireland’s education boards, extra security and unnecessary repairs are the last thing that schools need right now.
East Belfast struggles to find it’s positive voice, and struggles to find things to be proud off.
- Only a month ago, racist slogans along with excrement was daubed inside St Colmcille's Church, just around the corner from Strandtown Primary.
- George Best became the hero and son of the area, yet seemingly comes complete with more downs than ups in his life. Though with the renaming of Belfast City Airport in May, George Best will soon have as many ups as downs!
- The Titanic is famous – but for all the wrong reasons.
- The Stormont Assembly has been suspended longer than it has been sitting, and the latest proposals aren’t too hopeful.
- The Narmia Lattern parade through the streets of East Belfast as part of Belfast's CS Lewis festival was pretty successful. Credit were credit's due.
The Department for Social Development recently announced £33million of funding to be pumped into deprived loyalist areas in Northern Ireland, including East Belfast (Lower Newtownards Road), as part of the Renewing Communities Action Plan.
To quote from the press release:
[Minister of State David] Hanson explained that the Action Plan placed priority on improving educational attainment. “I have agreed with Angela Smith that we establish targets to ensure that no child leaves school without basic literary and numeracy skills.”
Drunks vandalising classrooms and pulling apart the fabric of their local community won’t help meet this target.