Pupils, staff and governors at Hazelwood Integrated College in North Belfast were proud to welcome the Rt Hon David Lidington MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he toured the school during a visit to Belfast today (Thursday 26 April).

Mr Lidington, a former Shadow Secretary of State for NI, was greeted at the College by Head Boy James Brown and Year 14 student, Rachel Fitzsimons, Principal Kathleen O’Hare, Trevor Parkhill, who is Chair of the Board of Governors, and Baroness May Blood, Campaign Chair of the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).

Welcoming Mr Lidington, Mrs O’Hare said

“We are delighted to welcome Mr Lidington CBE and MP for Aylesbury to Hazelwood Integrated College.  Mr Lidington will witness the passion our students have for integrated education as they share their own personal stories with him.  We are aware of his keen interest in Northern Ireland and will be impressing on him the need for government- sponsored programmes to support the growth of integrated education, as well as the particular needs of Hazelwood as an expanding college”.

Baroness Blood commented

“It’s a pleasure to welcome the Minister and have the opportunity to show him how this school is promoting social, cultural and religious integration through the pursuit of education excellence.”

Mr Lidington viewed the school’s facilities and met post-16 students to hear about their recent engagement with the Electoral Office to explore the polling process and the importance of participation in democracy.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Lidington said

“It has been marvellous to see first-hand the benefits that integrated education is bringing to the young people of Northern Ireland. The staff and students of Hazelwood College can be proud of what they have created together. If they are typical of young people in Northern Ireland, then the future is in safe hands. This visit has inspired me to do even more to work with Karen Bradley and the parties in Northern Ireland to restore devolved power and get back to building a Northern Ireland that works for everyone.”