‘The inescapable fact is that integrated education has been deliberately sidelined by Minister O’Dowd and the Sinn Fein / DUP Coalition’, says North Belfast Workers Party representative Gemma Weir.
While welcoming the Review of Integrated Education announced this week, Ms Weir has blamed Minister O’Dowd for deliberately running down the integrated education sector on his watch. He has been Education Minister since 2011
‘The Minister cannot complain that the ‘growth of the sector has slowed in the last decade’ when he has been the Minister for more than half that period’ said Gemma.
‘Nor can he ignore the fact that his department is specifically required by the Good Friday Agreement to encourage and facilitate the development of integrated education, but he has spectacularly failed to do so’, added Gemma
‘The Sinn Fein /DUP Coalition has deliberately sought to substitute and promote a ‘shared’ education agenda which is little more than a political fig leaf to justify the continued segregation of our children into religious and political tribes and offers no alternative to those parents who want more for their children’, Gemma said.
This Review must clearly prioritise the role of Integrated Education, reject the bogus concept of ‘shared education’ and set out a robust implementation programme. The alternative would be to settle for the meaningless rhetoric of ‘reconciliation and sharing’ rather than setting about implementing radical and meaningful educational change’, Gemma concluded