'Vested interests' present obstacle to mixed education…

FORMER Secretary of State Mo Mowlam has accused political parties and churches of having “vested interests” in holding back integrated education in Northern Ireland.

Mowlam told PA: “Although the churches and political parties paid lip service to integrated education they are not that keen to move further down the road because without integrated education they have a ready made church population in church schools and the parties have ready made party supporters in the schools too.

“I think it is really important that integrated education is there to stop these vested interests getting their way.”

  • David Vance

    Poor Mo,

    She never did have a clue – and this latest ramble merely proves it. All those bad churches out to corrupt our kids, eh Mo? Not like the kind and good Laboir Party…yeuchhh!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    One might have thought that a good libertarian such as yourself might not see integrated education as a good thing. No?

    Your argument is completely spurious anyway, as integrated schools in NI actually DO have a Christian ethos.


    And no tirade about the Catholic church either… What’s happened to David Vance, you imposter!

  • Michael Shilliday

    i’m not disagreeing with your comments, but wouldn’t life be fantastic with david vance in charge – everybody does everything wrong at the min, so all of a sudden, things would be great!

  • David Vance


    I have never had a tirade at the Catholic Church – you misrepresent me! Oh, and by the way, integrated education makes me sick. An invention of the liberal/NIO axis of evil.


    If you’d like to send a contribution to me, in order that I may bring about the nirvana you seek, I’d happily receive it. Am I right in thinking you are an ardent Trimble supporter..mmm…

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Ok David, I’ll let you off on the church thang, but why does integrated education leave you sick?

  • David Vance


    OK – thanks for the let off on the Church of Rome thang!

    As for IE, my major revulsion at it is caused by the fact that we should not have to fund it. Let it fund itself. My issues are fiscal, not political.

  • Davros

    Church attitudes to education are important, both here and in Scotland.

    from 1988

    At the back of all of this of course is the fact that the Catholic Church throughout the 19th and 20th centuries has consistently pursued the aim of control of schools. In a forgotten chapter of Irish history in 1919-20, one of the reasons the Catholic bishops supported the transfer of power from the Parliamentary Party to [2553] Sinn F

  • Belfast Gonzo


    Who funds the schools your children go to? OK, maybe you went private (I dunno), but who pays for state schools?

    If your objection is merely monetory (and what price a good education, you might ask), then I expect you to be sickened by 90 percent of schools in NI? No? Otherwise, you wouldn’t single out Integrated schools.

    And I thought you believed in supply and demand… the demand is there – and growing every year.


  • David Vance

    I went through the State system. My children go through the State system. The IE is a contrived idelogical big nothing that is a parasite. Not one penny of taxpayers money should be given to it.

  • Henry94

    I notice Mo doesn’t attack Tony Blair for sending his kids to a Catholic school. Either there is a right to choose in education or there is not. She should say what she means and what I think she means is that the state should have a monopoly in education. She should advocate that policy in England where she was elected before trying it on here.

  • Alan


    I’m disappointed in the lack of substance to your arguement. Is *I don’t want to pay for this* a valid reason for not supporting Integration?

    If it’s a fiscal issue, then we should be encourgaging schools across NI to integrate. 45,000 unfilled places in schools is all wrong and a drain on our resources. None of those places are at integrated schools.

    We have a system that promotes segregation, even the minimal attempts to bring schools together using EMU have been stifled through neglect. By promoting integration in existing schools we can promote positive furtures for all our children at little or no cost. Parents and children who want to be educated at an integrated school should not be forced into the segregated system.

    One criticism that I have of the Catholic system, is that there has been no reaching out towards the integrated sector, no deliberate movement to investigate the possible benefits of educating our children together.

  • David Vance

    We have a State school system, which I dislike but which is open to all. The fact that the Roman Catholic community tends to opt out of this is disappointing but their choice. Of course no State funding should go to RC schools either. Along with IE, those who CHOOSE to opt out of the system should be made to pay their way.

  • Davros

    Henry- education is a touchy one for New Labour but more specifically in terms of private education.
    That aside, the ‘trying it on here’ isn’t really appropriate as Integrated education is about trying to tackle a problem that doesn’t exist to ant great extent in Blighty.

    Alan- slightly harsh on the Catholic Church- a lot of their schools have protestant children. From personal experience I can say that they go a long way to try and ensure that the protestant kids are well integrated into the school and not made to feel ‘different’. I would also add that at least one major secondary school has a Protestant Headmaster.

  • Davros


  • Alan

    *Slightly harsh*

    Slightly what? – my point is that the Church is not meeting Integration even part of the way.

    There are protestant kids at catholic schools, indeed St Columbanus in Bangor is, I understand, 45% protestant. On average, however, CCMS schools are 98% Catholic and State schools are 89% Protestant. Integration has to start with the aim of achieving a mix and meeting the needs of all the children.

    The point is that even in the recent Bishop’s report, their response to integration was how their own schools would integrate others, not how to support Integrated schools, nor even support their own catholic children at Integrated schools.

    There is a bubble of sanctimony that needs to be burst here.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    You aren’t convincing me at all. Why is IE “a contrived idelogical big nothing”? It is hardly contrived, if State schools have singularly failed to attract pupils from across the board in the manner in which you would expect them to.

  • Davros

    Gonzo ” State schools have singularly failed to attract pupils from across the board ” is one way of representing the past. However there was more than simple parental choice involved. All sorts of societal and religious pressures have been applied
    in order to keep Catholic kids from being “contaminated” by exposure to protestants.
    Best example, from higher education, I can think of was the Banning by the Archbishop of Dublin of Catholic attendance at TCD in 1944.

    The Archbishop of Dublin, for instance, in 1944 forbade attendance at Trinity College by Catholic students, replacing the Church’s strongly worded advice by fiat.

    TERENCE BROWN IRELAND A Social and Cultural History 1922-1985
    Fontana Press pp 234-235

    The genuine affection in which the late President Erskine Childers was held was sure sign of this open receptivity to Protestant participation in Irish life at the highest level.Also the way in which Trinity College has since 1970 (when the ban on Catholic students attending that university was rescinded by the Hierarchy) been encouraged to play a part in Irish tertiary-level education is evidence of a new readiness to accept the diversity of what the Irish past has bequeathed to the present.

    TERENCE BROWN IRELAND A Social and Cultural History 1922-1985
    Fontana Press p 309

    I’m a fan of Integrated education.In the circumstances in which we find ourselves it has been “contrived” in that it had to be fought for and it goes against the norm here.

  • James

    “At the back of all of this of course is the fact that the Catholic Church throughout the 19th and 20th centuries has consistently pursued the aim of control of schools”

    Spot on.

    Ne Temere and the move of the Catholic church to monopolize the education of the faithful seemed to fall within the same temporal framework.

    Thus it appeared to me that the assorted hierarchies in the church closed ranks toward the end of the nineteenth century but I have been unable to find any discussion of it. What I have had the scant time to uncover, like Ne Temere being directed mainly toward preventing secret marriages, smacks of the specious. Then, again, I could just be paranoid.

    Perhaps I’ve spent too much time on the grassy knoll.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I know the Catholic church has done next to nothing to facilitate integrated education. This seems to please many unionists for some reason…

  • Nathan

    Is it really fair to solely blame the RC church for the North’s divided education system as we see it today?

    Partition was an opportunity to end division in education and Lord Derry’s 1923 Education Act excluded religious instruction from the secular day. All the Churches objected – the ‘Protestant’ Churches most vociferously, protesting: “The Bible is under threat!”

    The Churches also objected to the authorities not being permitted to take into account teachers’ religion when considering them for employment. Lord Craigavon even had a good moan over it, complaining that “The door is thrown open for a Bolshevist or an atheist or a Roman Catholic to become a teacher in a Protestant school.”

    The RC Church, as expected, refused to transfer their schools to the authorities but with the ‘Protestant’ Churches also refusing, pressure on the Government became so intense that, as ever, concessions were made to them and Bible instruction was permitted.

    ‘Protestant’ pressure continued and in 1930 secured the passing of a new Education Act. There was no attempt to disguise its purpose, with Lord Craigavon saying at the time: “You need not have any fears about our educational programme for the future. It will be absolutely certain that in no circumstances will Protestant children ever be in any way interfered with by Roman Catholics.”

    For an interesting read on integrated education, Fionnuala O’Connor’s scholarly study is the book worth reading. At least we can derive some shred of hope from it.

  • willowfield

    Nathan is correct to point out that all the main churches, not just the RC Church, obstructed integration from the outset.

    But today it cannot be denied the primary obstacle is the RC Church. It is the only church which retains its own schools (excepting the tiny number of Free P schools).

    David Vance is correct that state schools are open to all. The reason they are not integrated is because RC parents choose to send their children to RC schools. In that sense, he is correct in pointing out the fact that the “integrated sector” is unnecessary, since integration is already available through the state sector.

    The creation of a separate “integrated sector” – if it were to become significant – would actually result in INCREASED segregation within the state sector, which would become even more Protestant than it already is!