Education: a real stick to beat unionists with?

Owen Bowcott in the Guardian yesterday notes that Maria Eagle, “revealed that the long-promised curtailment of academic selection would not come into force if local politicians agreed to restore a fully functioning Stormont assembly and executive by the deadline of November 24″. Aha. That looks to be a more convincing stick than vague muttering about joint authority. As Mitchell Reiss noted at the weekend:

“…there’s a larger sense that decisions will be taken by people other than Sinn Féin or any of the political parties in Northern Ireland, and I can’t see how that’s anything but uncomfortable for leaderships that have staked their reputations and careers on being the stewards of their own people.”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • joeCanuck

    I grew uo in N.I. and went to grammar school.. It was a positive experience.
    Back in the late sixties, however, Comprehensive schools started offering the ability for their pupils to study for GCEs. Quite a few of my neices and nephews took advantage and have gone on to successful careers.
    When I emigrated to Canada in 1981, I was a little surprised that there was no selection; all of the kids went to the same high school and, those that were academically inclined went on to become the professional class, doctors, lawyers, engineers etc.
    It works great and you aren’t seperated from your pals.
    No need for selection.
    Just well run high schools and quality teachers.

  • Crataegus

    Playing politics with children’s education, how low do we sink? Close a few hospitals perhaps, end winter heating allowance perhaps? How do you ratchet up the pressure?

  • Greenflag

    ‘How do you ratchet up the pressure? ‘

    You don’t have to . Just keep electing the same dead end clerical collared politicians whose fundamentalist mind set is firmly focused on an etarnal pleasant sojourn for their followers in heaven while they accumulate the readies here on earth.

  • Markkus

    Expect more of the same. The policy is now “if you don’t like the decisions coming from Westminster, do your job and make your own decisions”. Playing politics with the kids? The authorities would argue that they’re only implementing what England has already – if it’s good enough for them…

    I must admit to a sneaking admiration for these tactics – it’s underhand and devious but maybe exactly what is required.

    The long-term question: – is the electorate sufficiently intelligent to realise that this is a direct result of their voting habits? Can they ever hold their political representatives to account for the results of their inaction? I’m not holding my breath…

  • Crataegus


    I don’t think this is going to work because local politicians will simple blame Westminster and go and collect their pay cheque.

    I would have thought the better way to approach this was do nothing, yes absolutely nothing. Don’t pay them as they are not doing the job they were elected to do, and remove all allowances. Tell them the job is there when they wise up and don’t come near NI, don’t try to run the place let it go to pot. Don’t replace staff who have left (except essential services) don’t make any policy decisions, don’t invest, no stadium, no new roads schemes no policy on houses in the country, no new social housing, no Mournes national park etc etc. Let the whole lot grind to a standstill. Any fines from Europe pay them out of existing budgets. If there is no building programme the fines won’t be a problem. It would take a few years to bite but eventually it would hit home.

    Alternatively drastically reduce the role of the politicians and widen the debate. Set up a system that is going to be democratic, get rid of some of the constraints in the existing agreement and hold an election. People standing for election should be required to sign a contract. Even so make sure there is a strong fall back position.

  • Joe Someoneelse

    Yet another Hain haims!

  • joeCanuck

    There is no doubt that comprehensives work – for some. There is equally no doubt that comprehensives differ, and that the wealthy are more able to get into the better ones. The less privileged do not have that option.

    I might also say that having gone to an Ulster grammar school, I would be extremely reluctant to put my children through the English state system.

    Going back to the thread, education is of course an obvious stick to prise the DUP into sharing power with Sinn Fein. But another way to look at it is that the anti-selection Sinn Fein now have an incentive to sit tight.

  • McGrath

    Is the threat of elimination of academic selection enough to get our wonderful politicians to talk to each other? Only if the electorate start beating the politicians on their stupid heads?

    Whats next on the Plan B agenda? Anything with real leverage? When anything with real leverage comes along, the unionists will try to call a general strike, the nationalists will want to hold civil rights marches.

    Sounds like a 30 year time warp.