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Plan to admit boys at Mercy College still stands

Mercy College, Ballysillan, Belfast..

A PLAN to admit boys into an all girls' school from September still stands, parents have been told.

Parents had voiced anger at an apparent last minute u-turn by Mercy College in north Belfast.

It was due to begin accepting boys later this year as part of a wider area plan involving four post-primary schools.

The trustees - the Mercy order - have asked governors for a deferral for 12 months.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) has now written to parents to tell them the original ministerial decision, taken by John O'Dowd, remains.

Parents, who are completing transfer forms and interviews with schools, told the Irish News that they were still unsure whether their boys could join Year 8.

While the Mercy order wants a deferral, any change would require another ministerial decision - and that could take months.

"The original ministerial decision, announced in March 2016, to implement a co-educational model from September 2017, remains in place," CCMS said.

Any request to amend a development proposal would require a business case from Trustees - and it is understood that one has not yet been received by CCMS.

The council's education provision committee would then consider that business case, which would be followed by a period of consideration and approval by the education minister before it could be implemented.

"Until such time, the original decision remains in place," CCMS added.

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