First Minister goes back to school - in Garryduff!

IT'S OFFICIAL. First Minister Peter Robinson unveils a plaque to mark the official opening of Garryduff PS on Thursday. Looking on are MP Ian Paisley (Jun), Principal Irene McKenzie and Chair of Board of Governors Dr David Hutchinson.INBM22-12 006SC.
IT'S OFFICIAL. First Minister Peter Robinson unveils a plaque to mark the official opening of Garryduff PS on Thursday. Looking on are MP Ian Paisley (Jun), Principal Irene McKenzie and Chair of Board of Governors Dr David Hutchinson.INBM22-12 006SC.

Garryduff Primary School welcomed a new face - albeit a very famous one - on Thursday - Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson.

And like all new starts to school Mr Robinson bore the brunt of some gentle ribbing from the pupils!

During a play by the youngsters on the life of the Queen to mark the upcoming Jubilee anniversary Mr Robinson was asked to stand to be inspected by ‘Her Majesty’. Mr Robinson duly obliged to applause from guests in the school’s main hall.

“Very handsome,” commented the pint-sized ‘Elizabeth’.

Also visiting were North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr and MLAs Paul Frew and David McIlveen.

Mr Paisley was also summoned for a ‘Royal’ inspection.

The ‘Queen’s’ verdict?

“Not as well-built as your father, but handsome all the same!”

The jovial mood summed up what was a historic day for everyone connected with the school after a 25 year-long campaign for the large-scale redevelopment of the premises which cost in the region of £500,000.

Mr Robinson was the special guest for the official opening of the new school building and facilities.

He cut a ribbon as part of the ceremony as well as unveiling a plaque to mark the special occasion.

Principal Irene McKenzie said she was extending “a very, very special welcome to a very special school in Garryduff”.

Mr Robinson told the audience of school govenors, staff and parents:

“It’s a massive pleasure to be here this morning for this special day for Garryduff.

“Rural schools are the centrepiece of a local community.

“If I had a blackboard behind me I think the word I would be putting on it would be ‘vision’.

“When you look at the children you could say what do we have here? “You have a primary school but in effect you have much more than that.

“You have a facility where the future is moulded.

“You’ve got the doctors, nurses. solicitors, barristers, farmers...all up there.

“It isn’t simply the case of collating statistics...you are shaping human beings, producing the future of Northern Ireland.

“You have to come to a place like this where you can see the value of having a local rural school in the community.

“I am really delighted to be here today to see what you are producing.

“Congratulations for all you have done.”

Mr Paisley also praised everyone connected with the project and thanked Mr Robinson for visiting north Antrim to attend the event.

Mr Robinson paid tribute to Ms McKenzie who is stepping down as the principal of Garryduff after 36 years.