BARRY PREDICTS A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR ROWANDALE
by STACEY HEANEY
Barry McGuigan speaks
with children at the opening of
Rowandale Integrated Primary School on
BOXING legend Barry McGuigan proved to be a
knock out when he visited Moira this week to officially open
Rowandale Integrated Primary School.
And the former World Featherweight Champion, a
patron of Integrated Education, said he was delighted the school
had won its own battle to open.
The winner of Hell's Kitchen 2007 said: "I'm
thrilled to bits Rowandale has provided an integrated school in
Moira. There are 18 pupils already and we'll see what they can
do in the next few years. It will grow and grow, just like
Integrated Education itself since its inception in the 80s."
He continued, "There are now 19,000 pupils in
Integrated Education, it is one of the biggest success stories
in Northern's Ireland's history. It is all about people power,
it is the parents who have driven it forward. They want their
children to properly understand other religions and have mutual
respect for each other. We live in a multi-cultural society, we
have to learn to respect each other.
with pupil Andrew Huff at the opening ceremony.
Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography.
"The message is getting across, but there
have been obstacles. The 'boys on the hill' could make it much
easier instead of putting obstacles in the way. It should be
compulsory to offer Integrated Education; at the minute parents
are going to the government and being told they have to increase
the numbers of pupils, and that numbers have to be perfectly
mixed, there are a whole load of obstacles in the way and I'm
frustrated and angered by that.
"The government are talking about a shared
future, but how can we understand each other and learn together
when children are segregated at three or four years old until
they are 18 when they go to university? They are already tainted
"To co-exist is one thing but to really
understand each other and learn together is another. We have to
have a completely better understanding for the 21st century; we
all have to be tolerant. It is better to teach young children
together, it makes sense to me, I wish the government would stop
dragging their heels."
Barry continued, "With Integrated Education
you are not leaving religions at the gate, you are taking them
into school and celebrating them."
Praising the Rowandale parents steering group
for their hard work during their fight to open the school, Barry
said, "They'd a long struggle but if something is worth fighting
for, you fight for it. Rowandale is a wonderful school of
learning with fabulous pupils and a wonderful principal -
Frances Hughes is a wonderful woman. Look at that place in five
years, it will be a magnificent success producing wonderful
children; the sort of children that Northern Ireland can be
Mrs Hughes said they were 'delighted and
honoured' to have Barry with them.
"Barry will be an inspiration to our children
not only because of his personal achievements but also as
someone who genuinely shares the ethos and values of Integrated
Education," she said.