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St Gabe’s demolition begins

By Kieran Hughes

One of North Belfast’s most iconic school buildings is being forever erased from the landscape although no decision has been made on the future use of the site.

St Gabriel’s Boys Secondary School on the Crumlin Road school closed its doors in 2008 and this week the process of tearing it down began.

When the school closed it left the BT14 area without a Catholic boys’ secondary school and pupils have been travelling to the Antrim Road and Glengormley for their education.

A community-based Education Task Group (ETG) has been campaigning for a new all-ability co-educational school to be built in the area and have identified the Crumlin Road site as an appropriate location for development.

The ETG’s plans, which are financially backed by the Flax Trust, would bring a brand new state-of-the-art school to the area.

That process took a step forward earlier this year when St Gemma’s High School and Our Lady of Mercy Girls’ School announced that from September they will be together known as Mercy College, with a view to formally establishing a new co-educational school of the same name after a period of public consultation.

At this stage however, the Diocese of Down and Connor, whose St MacNissis Trust owns the St Gabriel’s site, say no decision has been taken on what will be done with it.

The building, which became a magnet for vandalism, thefts and destruction since the school’s closure, is being demolished for health and safety reasons.

In 2010 the building was extensively damaged in two separate arson attacks.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor said: “On the grounds of health and safety and insurance a decision has been taken to demolish the former premises of St Gabriel’s Secondary School. No decision has been taken as to the future use of the site at this stage.”

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