Education news

New York hotelier John Fitzpatrick talks of hope for more integrated education as he donates $100,000

John Fitzpatrick with Omagh IPS children Ailise, Jake, Sophie and Daniel

AN Irish hotelier and philanthropist has spoken of his hope for more integrated schools after donating $100,000 for a new children's centre.

Dublin-born John Fitzpatrick, owner of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group in New York, helped support Omagh Integrated Primary School.

He donated almost half the cost of the new facility through the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).

The centre will provide a playgroup, breakfast club and after school services. It complements a 14-classroom building, which opened last year through Fresh Start Agreement funding.

The money came from the Eithne and Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund, which was set up in honour of his late parents.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he was committed to helping the IEF.

"I do a lot of projects through the foundation but I think the Integrated Education Fund is my favourite. When you see all the kids together it is very special. It's special to me because I want to do more and it's frustrating for us from the outside looking in to see integrated education not being able to expand quicker. It's easy for us on the outside to ask why," he said.

"I say it around the country at dinners in Chicago and San Francisco and Washington, isn't it sad that after all the work in Northern Ireland that only 8 per cent of schools are integrated?"

Omagh IPS principal Anthony Bradley said the centre, set within the grounds of Drumragh Integrated College, now offered a "creche to career" facility.

"We are very grateful to everyone whose help and generosity have brought us to this stage," he said.

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