Northern Ireland centenary trees are ‘on schedule’ for east Antrim schools
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has offered assurances to east Antrim schools that trees to mark the Northern Ireland centenary will be supplied to all those who applied.
It was responding to concerns from a Larne school governor over the timetable for the delivery of the trees promised in May.
Tommy Robinson was particularly concerned at the time that Carnalbanagh Primary School - of which he was vice-chairman of the governors - would not have a tree to plant before it closed for last time at the end of the summer term.
However, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council stepped in and provided a tree which the mayor planted.
Mr Robinson wrote to the Prime Minister to voice his upset that the EU Protocol appeared to be impacting adversely on trees being shipped to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Now he says he is “extremely disappointed that he did not even receive an acknowledgement from Downing Street”.
In a statement, Mr Robinson, a former Unionist Mayor of Larne, added: “In May the Northern Ireland Office said that they were on schedule to offer trees in September to schools, which could be planted in October. They said that an offer letter and details of supply would be sent to schools last month (September).
“I would challenge the Secretary of State to say publicly where this project is now at, and to be robust in ensuring that trees are brought from within the UK to allow schools who wish to participate to do so during this centenary year.”
In response, an NIO spokesperson said: “Every school in Northern Ireland has been offered a native tree to plant as part of the centenary year.
“Delivery of these trees remains on schedule and they are currently being supplied to all 456 schools who have responded to our offer. We are supplying additional trees to some of these schools, to support a range of wellbeing and environmental initiatives.”
By way of background the NIO went on to explain that autumn is widely considered the optimum time to plant trees as this gives them time to establish and develop over the winter to support active growth through spring and summer.
Deliveries and planting, it added, will continue up until December, as planned.
Click here to read: Larne’s NI centenary tree ‘a living and lasting legacy’
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