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Pupils forced to use mobile classroom 'covered in damp'

The mobile classroom at St Scire's Primary School in Trillick, Co Tyrone
Brendan Hughes

PUPILS at a Co Tyrone primary school are being taught in a crumbling mobile classroom with an "overwhelming smell of damp", a councillor has said.

The claim comes after The Irish News revealed yesterday that around 250 schools across the north have had to stall essential repairs due to a multi-million pound budget shortfall.

Thousands of pupils have returned from their holidays to sub-standard classrooms because a cash crisis means there's no money for repairs.

SDLP councillor Mary Garrity said a nearly 30-year-old mobile unit used by P5 and P6 pupils at St Scire's Primary School in Trillick desperately needs replaced.

Ms Garrity, who is on the school's board of governors, said the mobile is in "bad repair the whole way round" and you can "practically put your hand through the walls".

"In the winter it's like an ice box. Where the water gets in it forms a peak like an icicle in the back of the room," she said.

"You smell the damp as soon as you go in. The toilets are not fit for purpose and it's all damp up the wall.

"It can't be healthy to be in that environment."

She called on Sinn Féin education minister John O'Dowd to provide funding to replace the mobile classroom.

Savings of almost £200m are being made across the education system in 2015/16 and there have already been repeated blows to schools as Stormont budget pressures bite.

New buildings are on hold, classroom jobs are at risk and reading schemes are being slashed.

And now the Department of Education has said 'minor works' applications from around 250 schools cannot be progressed.

A Department of Education spokesman last night said: "Minor works applications are prioritised by order of need with projects proceeding as funding becomes available.

"An application to replace modular accommodation at St Scire's Primary School, Trillick, has been considered and the scheme is ready to proceed when further funding becomes available."

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