Sir George Bain, will he take his hatchet to state funded religious indoctrination?

George Bain, the man who pushed through a series of significant reforms at what was an ailing Queen’s University, has been given the task of planning Ulster’s education system for the decades ahead. Will he be as radical with the rest of the education system?

The type and quality of education is a key economic driver in the global economy and essential if Northern Ireland is to develop a more dynamic and less dependent economy. Our education sector is also the finest demonstration of wasteful sectarian duplication. As a whole, sectarian duplication costs the taxpayers hundreds of millions if not billions each year. Yet last week, government announed an investment of nearly £400m in maintaining division.

The controlled sector is managing to attract increasing numbers of Catholics (especially at secondary level) so it shows it can cope with a religious diverse pupil base. The integrated sector always has. Increasing numbers in the census do not put down a religious identity. Falling pupil numbers are making new integrated schools a less viable option so is it time to think bigger?

More rural schools could survice if maintained and controlled schools combined. The potential for savings is substantial which could ensure greater pupil to teacher ratios, better facilities and more diverse approaches. At the very least could the Scottish model of shared campuses not be introduced ?

John Taylor says that there was one rule told to all Stormont Ministers “Don’t annoy the Catholic Church”, in the 21st century does it still apply? Government has already announced its intention to reduce the role of CCMS why not go all the way, the provision of one system of state funded secular high quality education for all? Will Hain’s lecture about the unsustainability of the present arrangements apply to education?

Ultimately what is more important, a good education for our children or division?

  • Pete Baker

    Perhaps, at some point, someone will ask NIO Minister Angela Smith, or even Peter Hain himself.. what their, previously announced, proposed changes to the post-primary education system were all about?

  • RmcC

    Phew, Fair Deal, ‘indoctrination’?

    A loaded term but yes technically speaking that’s exactly what it is.

    And it should stop at once. Integrate or disintegrate.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Integrate or disintegrate.’

    Not quite as catchy as, ‘Resistance is futile’.

  • abucs

    Pay those Borg no mind smcgiff !!! :o)

  • RmcC


    “Not quite as catchy as, ‘Resistance is futile’.”

    Hehe, best I could come up with in my hungover state.

  • Pete Baker

    Welcome to The Collective.

  • Double en taundra

    Silly question but who actually will be on Georges new group will they be cvilians or borgs. Honestly who will form the committee? Answers on postcard

  • RmcC

    Hehe, and another question is: who’ll be the first to call him George Bane?

    Oh golly, looks like it’s me. LOL

  • George

    I think you are going over the top with your religious indoctrination.

    I know it’s a different country but not to many of your compatriots. Article 42.3.1 of the Irish Constitution:

    “The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.”

    Northern Ireland should be able to deliver on this fundamental right.

  • ID Lottery

    Ultonian Scottis American says,

    George, I agree. But only as long as the State is not financing the non-State school.

  • willis


    Well over 50% of this cash is going to the Voluntary/Controlled sector. By your analysis this money is funding a kind of integration. Although until I see a Methody Camogie team I won’t believe it.


  • fair_deal


    “religious indoctrination”

    Not going to die in a ditch defending one word. Maybe it was maybe it wasn’t. It was Malachi O’Doherty’s book that covered his period of education that had me in mind of indoctrination, can’t remember what it was called though.

    “Northern Ireland should be able to deliver on this fundamental right.”

    There is no fundamental right to a state funded religious education e.g. Article 13 Framework Convention of National Minorities.

  • kensei

    Of course, no one has to send their children to an “indoctrinating” school if they don’t want to. The evil, evil CCMS.

  • George

    I disagree.

    I think it better to allow parents to educate their children as they see fit, according to their moral and religious outlook. Why should the state interfere?

    Naturally any such school would have to meet certain education standards and not act in an unconstitutional manner – like preaching the overthrow of the state or inciting to hatred.

    If a school meets these criteria, then it should receive the same funding as a state school.
    The State should provide for education not provide education.

    Pete Baker 2,
    I don’t know this Article 13 you’re citing but there is a fundamental right under the Irish Constitution via Article 42.4.

    “The State shall provide FOR free primary education and shall endeavour to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative and, when the public good requires it, provide other educational facilities or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious and moral formation.”

    Ireland was the first country in Europe to have a state-funded Muslim school for example.

  • fair_deal

    “moral and religious outlook”

    Can this not be achieved outside of a state funded school environment?
    Is the dependence of a religion or church on state subsidy unhealthy in how the religion/church propagates its message and a cosy relationship between a religion and a state not a risk?

  • RmcC

    “Ireland was the first country in Europe to have a state-funded Muslim school for example.”

    Christ, keep it to yourself will you. Now they’ll ALL want one.

  • George

    Pete Baker2,
    it’s the duty of parents to look after and decide what’s best for their children’s welfare.

    The State is there to, where possible, provide for this welfare.

    If you don’t have a right to bring up your children as you wish, then the state, as the organisation holding the purse strings will decide.

    Hence, you will get a lowest common denominator school where there is no religion or specific value sets lest someone is “offended”.

    It isn’t a case of dependence of a religion or church on state subsidy, it is a case of the State providing for the education needs of its citizens.

    This is different than simply providing education.

    It doesn’t lead to a cosy relationship between State and Church. These are simply fundamental rights granted to parents under the Constitution.

  • ulick magee

    just when i thought the multi coloured bob dylan tree hugging workers party unionised anally rententive lecturer types had faded away they have resurfaced on here

  • Jill Robinson

    “multi coloured bob dylan tree hugging workers party unionised anally rententive lecturer types”

    Excuse me, you left out the white punks on dope! Don’t we count any more? Sheesh!