Children behind viral school art project come face to face with ministers

The portraits by pupils from St Brigid’s Primary School in Mayogall, took social media by storm last year

Pictures of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers
Pictures of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers

School pupils who hit the headlines last year with their portraits of Stormont leaders have been given the chance to meet their subjects face to face.

The portraits by pupils from St Brigid’s Primary School, in Mayogall, took social media by storm last year after former education minister Peter Weir posed next to a photograph of the artwork during a visit.

At the time, Finance Minister Conor Murphy was so impressed that he invited the children and their teachers to visit the Stormont estate when Covid restrictions allowed it.

Pictures of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers
Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots with (left to right) Callum, Cathal and Johnny, from St Brigid’s (Liam McBurney/PA)

On Tuesday, under brilliant sunshine in Belfast, the pupils visited the Mo Mowlam playpark at Stormont, where they were met by Mr Murphy, First Minister Paul Givan, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

The children chatted to the Executive Ministers about their artwork and plans for the future.

Mr Murphy said: “The creative pupils of St Brigid’s Primary School lifted all our spirits during a challenging year.

Pictures of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill speaking with schoolchildren from St Brigid’s (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I wrote to them in November to congratulate them and told them when circumstances permitted they would have to come up to Stormont.

“It’s great that today has arrived and it is lovely to meet the children and the teachers behind the project.

“This has been a tough year for school children, especially for Primary 7 pupils, so I’m delighted to welcome the pupils and teachers here to enjoy everything that the Stormont Estate has to offer.”

Pictures of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers
Minister for Finance Conor Murphy with (left to right) Molly, Anna and Rian (Liam McBurney/PA)

The P7 pupils were treated to a guided tour of the Stormont Estate, taking part in the Woodland and Bug Trails before making the most of the Mo Mowlam playpark.

Mary O’Kane, principal at St Brigid’s Primary School, said: “This visit has been a highlight in our P7 calendar.

“Our art project certainly captured the Executive’s attention and it is great to see our ministers taking the time to engage with the pupils.

Pictures of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers
First Minister Paul Givan speaking with children from St Brigid’s (Liam McBurney/PA)

“The art project has certainly sparked our P7’s interest in local politics and I hope this visit inspires them further as they move to post primary school.”

P7 pupil Emily, who worked on the Michelle McIlveen portrait, said the project came about after the class had been learning about Stormont.

She said: “We were doing art a couple of days later and the teachers decided to let us draw all the ministers inside Stormont who work there. That’s really how it came about and then they went kind of famous.

Fellow P7 pupil Isla said: “We just thought it was going to be a fun wee project and then it just got famous.”

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