Beggs in sectarian jibe row over integrated school location

Controversy has been sparked after a meeting of the NEELB decided to overturn its decision to locate a new integrated school for the predominantly catholic village of Carnlough and instead vote to site the school in the predominanly protestant Glenarm village.
The decision was taken after the former MP and vice-Chair of the NEELB, Roy Beggs, declared to the meeting that Carnlough was a “cold house for unionism”, an intervention that, in the opinion of Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan, seems to have swayed votes in favour of Glenarm.

  • The “predominantly Protestant Glenarm village”

    From yor own link
    “Carrickfergus DUP Councillor, Louise Marsden, initiated a question-and-answer session with the delegates by taking issue with Mr. McMullan’s assertion that Glenarm was ‘predominantly Protestant’.
    Mrs. Marsden produced Census figures which, she maintained, showed the population divide was roughly 50-50.

  • seabhac siulach

    Only in the six counties could there be a sectarian row over an integrated school! It is beyond satire…

  • Just your normal anti Taig discriination by the god fearing Protestants of North east Ulster. Integrated education means integrated into the sash, the Somme and the mighty Huns.

  • Levi

    and how is an intergrated school ‘anti taig’?

  • Dave

    There is no such thing as a “Protestant school” There are Roman Catholic schools and there are state schools. Integrated schools are a must, lets hope that religious education will taught out of school hours and not form part of the curriculum.

  • Rapunsel


    I totally agree with you — however as much as we might all wish that there are neither Roman Catholic Schools nor protestant schools, there are and the majority of state schools would be percieved as protestant schools. The question might be whether or not it is easier to get ” state” schools or catholic schools to move to integrated status. What is interesting to me is that people in both of these villages ( or the politicians at least) seem to wnat an integrated school there in the first place!

  • harpo

    Where did he say anything sectarian? Isn’t it a cold house for unionists?

    That’s fact, not a sectarian opinion.

    Nationalists on this forum and on many others think nothing of calling Ballymena every name under the sun, yet have a unionist call a nominally nationalist village a cold place and the complaints rain down.

    The phrase ‘able to hand it out but not able to take it’ comes to mind again.

  • harpo

    ‘there are and the majority of state schools would be percieved as protestant schools.’


    You left out the words ‘by nationalists’.

    The only solution to the education nonsense is to declare that from some point in the future (say 2011) there will no more RC schools, and that all schools will become state schools. At these schools there will be no religious education. And then let everyone spend those 5 years sorting out how this is going to happen.

    State schools are only considered to be Prod schools because nationalists have their own schools to send their kids to. The RC schools are nationalist schools, thus the state schools must be the unionist ones. Or Prod ones if you believe that there are only Prods and Catholics.

    I went to state schools and was educated along with muslims, Catholics and 1 Sikh. Of course the Catholics were the wrong sort of Catholics in the eyes of the rabid nationalist sort of Catholics who went to the local RC school. And they let their ‘co-religionists’ know all about it. Prod-lovers and collabarators were some of the milder accusations levelled at my Catholic school mates.

    Only an elimination of the RC schools can solve this.

  • dave

    Schooling on a sectarian platform seems to be a problem in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and this reminds me of a great little film called (a divided love) which portrays perfectly what can/did and most probably still takes place when a community decides (or when people of standing within a community decide) one school for them and one for us?

    Religious education should by law be taught outside the school curriculum and this would be a great step forward. As for political history being taught at school? that is fine by me, provided the reference books are authenticated and true and not some (teacher version of political history)

  • Comrade Stalin

    You can tell a lot about a person’s innate sectarianism through their use of the terms “predominantly Catholic” and “predominantly Protestant” to justify their opinions. Shame on you, Chris. Why do you care so much about the prod/taig sectarian headcount in two villages ?

  • Nevin

    PoI: Carnlough (15.1/84.3) and Glenarm (52.2/46.6).

  • k

    State schools are considered to be ‘Prod’ schools because of what they teach. Usually, no Gaelic football or Hurling, no Irish language and very little Irish history. I remember talking to state educated, intelligent non-sectarian protestants who had never been taught about an ghorta mhor! State education teaches the myth that we are all citizens of a modern western democracy! In reality British state education equals assimilation. I believe in integrated, non-religous education but it must recognise the reality, not the myth.

  • PaddyReilly

    Only an elimination of the RC schools can solve this.

    Unfortunately the right to religious education is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights/ Human Rights Act so this is not an option.

    You can tell a lot about a person’s innate sectarianism through their use of the terms “predominantly Catholic” and “predominantly Protestant” to justify their opinions

    While in an ideal world we would not care whether a village was predominantly one thing or another, in the current situation this is extremely important information which can be used to calculate your chances of ending up with a petrol bomb through your window. For this reason data on the religious makeup of NI towns is extremely valuable, and frequently exchanged by natives. As a Pole in Carrickfergus found to his cost recently. So forgive me if say I find the “non-sectarian” brigade a little bit wet.

  • Yokel

    Chris Donnelly, you poor lad, you can’t live without being a victim. Oh woe woe is you. When your milk smelt a bit off this morning was that because it came from a Prod farm and was labelled, ‘lower grade for fenians only’?

    Whats the best place to put an integrated school, in an area with a strongly mixed population…makes sense eh?

    Glanarm has a much more even protestant/catholic split that Carnlough. A quick study of government stats would reveal that. If you were a nuetral coming in from outside i suspect there’d be no contest, it’d be Glenarm.

    Anyway if you put McMullan up to lobby for ya what do you expect? They lobbied better for what appears a more logical decision end of story.

    Taxi for Donnelly.

  • eranu

    hey nevin, that statistics site is pretty handy, cheers!

  • fair_deal

    Paddy reilly

    “Unfortunately the right to religious education is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights/ Human Rights Act so this is not an option.”

    That article provides no obligation on the state to pay for it. Neither does the FCNM.

  • Carnlough resident

    Harpo – re message 7; What do you know about Carnlough? I live there and I know of nothing that would legitimately lead to it being described as “a cold house for Unionists”. Other than a majority Catholic population, that is. “Fact” my ar*e, that’s a sectarian view if ever I heard one.

  • Lwevi: It depends on the ehtos and the drive in state schools has always to make the kiddies thank God they were born a little English boy. The Catholic view was more catholic.

    Harpo: Cold house, as in david The Committe Trimble is underatating the sectarianism the 6 cos praticed against Taigs. Unless you can produce evidence the Catholics of that village have made it a cold house for Protestants, you should withdraw your remark.

  • fair_deal

    I live there and I know of nothing that would legitimately lead to it being described as “a cold house for Unionists”.

    The sectarian attacks in the village last year perhaps?

  • Carnlough resident

    “The sectarian attacks in the village last year perhaps?”

    I am not aware of any sectarian attacks last year – any sources for this claim?

  • fair_deal

    “any sources for this claim?”

    At the Larne DPP meeting in August 2005 the police commander when commenting on sectarain attacks said there had been three sectarian attacks in the previous weeks in Carnlough.

    If the morton news site is working there was an article about it there.

  • fair_deal

    6.01 Sectarian Incidents

    Councillor Fulton requested a breakdown of figures in respect of sectarian incidents.
    The District Commander advised that recently incidents of a sectarian nature had occurred in Carnlough, (three against Protestants), Glenarm, (one against Protestants) and Larne (two against Catholics).

  • abucs

    all this continued talk of abolishing Catholic schools.

    i wouldn’t wish my children to go to a secular state school.

    Why do you think you have the right to force me to ?

  • Carnlough resident

    fair_deal, thank you for that. I have to concede the point. It saddens me greatly to read that.

  • Carson’s Cat

    I would never force you to send your Children to any particular school. However, if you want to have them educated by any particular sect (Catholic or evangelical Protestant) then I do object to paying for it.

    If you want them to have a religious education (IMO) then put your hand in your pocket and fund it yourself.

    There should be a state education provided for everyone else.

  • Nevin

    6.01 Sectarian Incidents (DOC file)

    Councillor Fulton requested a breakdown of figures in respect of sectarian incidents.
    The District Commander advised that recently incidents of a sectarian nature had occurred in Carnlough, (three against Protestants), Glenarm, (one against Protestants) and Larne (two against Catholics).

  • abucs

    i understand your point CC but surely everybody pays taxes. Do not i also pay for secular state schools ?

    With Catholic schools standing mostly on ground not paid for by the government then surely, if anything, the state has got a good deal.

  • Antrim Coast Road resident

    This ‘Daily Ireland’ article is so riddled with inaccuracies it is hard to know where to start.
    One example; “the NEELB had previously voted to locate the New Glens integrated school in Carnlough…there are more than children currently in integrated education in Carnlough, compared to 22 in Glenarm.”

    Some facts-
    There was until 3 years ago, a controlled (state) primary school in Carnlough, and a a controlled (state) primary in Glenarm.
    Due to falling rolls (related to the decline in the number of non RC children in the village) the Board was obliged to look at the viability of Carnlough CPS. After this review and in order the save the school, its Board of Governors on the recommendation of Roy Beggs and Joe Reid (fmr UUP councillor) applied for controlled integrated status. Carnlough controlled integrated Primary school has been doing well and its rolls have been healthy ever sense.

    However it recent years there has been a drastic reduction in numbers at the controlled primary school in Glenarm and its future had to be reviewed. (The Byzantine reasons for this are not unrelated to a fallout amongst the congregation of the local Presbyterian church and a significant number of pupils, including the Minister’s children being transferred to Carnalbanagh PS.)

    To save themselves, they (Glenarm) applied for integrated status. During this time,
    the Board recommend closure of Glenarm CPS and Carnlough was brought into the mix re integration. The numbers do not stack up for 2 integrated PS in the same vicinity, and while the Carnlough folk feel understandably sore about losing their school- which was working- Glenarm with a much more mixed population base and a modern site is more sustainable in the long term.

    This ‘report’ is based on a Sinn Fein Councillor (from Cushendall who does not even represent the area) gurning to this ‘newspaper’ about an attributed comment about Carnlough and its suitability for sustainable integrated state education. It could be argued that it is not as suitable in terms of integated as Glenarm, but this decision is a blow for the small Protestant population still remaining there. Whether a reference to a Cold House is helpful is oipen to debate, but we do noit know the context in which it was made. (Could perhaps the SF councillor and the ‘paper’ and the ‘blogger’ be hyping this up for there own ends???? Surely not!) If Carnlough is a cold house for Prods, it is going to become even more so when the school closes. But the only ‘fury’ that has been sparked is in the minds of Messrs McMullan and Barnes and the Daily Ireland. (PS is the Hunger Strike memorial erected by SF blowins from West Belfast still up??)

    One could ask what business is it of Mr McMullan to be deciding where a state school should or should not be located. Does his grandchildren go to state schools, integrated or otherwise? I doubt it, but no one, democratically elected or otherwise, outside the CCMS and the RC Bishops has any say in the provision of schools in the catholic maintained sector. Perhaps that should be ‘sparking fury’ amongst the population.

  • fair_deal

    The payment of taxes does not provide any of us with specific control on what they do or dont pay for us with. We all pay for the NHS whether we go private or not.

  • abucs

    Do you want control of the Catholic school system Fair_Deal ?

    Surely there is some control over syllabus and the fact that the funding is distributed by a secular state gives quite a lot of power.

    Not to mention each school of course has to be within the bounds of common law with what-ever they teach. They also need to be relevant and prepare students for higher education or employment prospects.

    The end result is whether people who go there are satisfied with the education of their children.

    I am all for mixing of people on all levels but i don’t want a secular education for my children.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Indeed we all pay taxes – well most of us anyway – there are a few workshy students on here too probably.

    The state gets a p*ss poor deal from Catholic Schools. We have to pay all the costs and get b*gger all input into how they are run. How many unionist councillors sit on the CCMS? Compare that to the Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors on Education and Library Boards.

    I know I shouldnt make the automatic assumption that unionist=Protestant and nationalist=Catholic, but lets just run with the generalisation for a moment.

    If you want to educate your child in a ‘Catholic’ school, a ‘Muslim’ school or one which educates it entirely through the medium of mime then by all means go ahead. However, dont expect me to pay for it.

    By having one state system then we actually do get a de facto integrated system. However, the Catholic Church isn’t too chuffed with that idea, and neither of course is the ‘integrated’ sector as its removal would of course mean that a lot of do-gooders would lose that warm fuzzy glow in their hearts which they currently get because despite the fact that little Johnny/Sean/Anne/Aoife didnt pass the Transfer Procedure and couldnt get into the Grammar school we wanted to send them to, no-one will ever know because we can seem nice and send them to an integrated school instead.

  • fair_deal

    “Do you want control of the Catholic school system Fair_Deal ?”

    No, I don’t want control of the catholic schools. I want the state to spend its money on a single integrated secular system.

    “but i don’t want a secular education for my children.”

    Fair enough but the state is under no obligation to pay for it.

  • abucs

    CC, you make a fair point about Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors on Education and Library Boards although i still believe the state does have ultimate control over Catholic schools.

    I would say that if the state didn’t like something taught in such schools then they’d have a lot of leverage to get it changed.

    At the end of the day, i think the saying ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’ does have some relevance here.

    I would say that the CCMS is fully aware who ‘butters their bread’.

    I don’t think such control is transparently obvious, but i believe it is still there.

    My concern with secular schools is that it becomes wishy-washy and is held ransom to the ideology of all the ‘do-gooders’ you mention above. In the end it become irreligious IMHO. Of course there are many people who are quite happy with that. I’m not, and I believe i have the right to guard against such a serious development.

  • abucs

    “but i don’t want a secular education for my children.”

    Fair enough but the state is under no obligation to pay for it.

    But i am under the obligation to pay for a secular system ?

  • Just to clear something up – there seems to be a misconception here that there is no religious education in integrated schools.
    At my primary school RE was split into three groups – Catholic, Protestant and a sort of nonreligious Personal/Social education class with parents deciding which one their child attended.
    This was the only time we were in seperate classes. We were all educated about other religions and encouraged to go to each other’s confirmations/church services etc where appropropriate.
    Also to ‘k’, I then attended a very stronly Protestant state school, in a very strongly Protestant village, and in fact we were taught a lot of Irish history, Easter Rising etc. Times change!

  • abucs

    I think that schools have a tremendous authority over particularly young children and this authority sets the parameters on social behaviour.

    The environment of how one should behave and relate to others is part of that authority.

    This is much more important than the religious doctrine that might be taught every Thursday for an hour by someone not connected with the school.

    Secularism in my opinion has no moral authority. Everybodys view is accepted and unfortunately with kids the worst behaviour rather than the best is what rules the classroom.

    i’m not against Protestantism or Britishness here but of secularism and how a secularist school system may develop and the lack of control on the abovementioned authority.

    I’m sure that with integrated education at the moment, it is a conscious choice by parents that care deeply about their children. But on a widespread level the lack of moral authority may dominate and there should be viable alternatives with something so important as the upbringing of children.

    Have to go now.

  • abucs

    okay, one last thing.

    There was an interesting link on slugger recently about a BBC interview with an American lady who was talking about ‘liberalism’.

    The relevant part of the interview was how far a secular school system can go in removing God from that moral social authority i was talking about above.

    Scroll down and click on the ‘watch it here’ link.

    Ok. I’m really going this time. :o)

  • Chris Donnelly


    I must confess to enjoying your little whinge, but you deliberately avoided addressing the contentious issue- namely, that prior to a vote on the location for the school, the Vice Chair of the Board decided to throw in a controversial quip which, in some people’s views, could have had a deciding influence on the final vote.

    Have you any thoughts on that, or are you more comfortable with simply whingeing about taxis in a manner not dissimilar to the nine year olds I teach??

  • bertie

    I went to a state school longer ago than I care to admit and was bored rigid by Irish history.

  • PaddyReilly

    There seems to be a recrudescence here of a particular attitude encapsulated in the old chestnut: they’re not loyal to the crown, but they are to the half-crown which holds that money raised by taxation is purged of any obligation to its unfashionably religious and disloyal contributors, and so should be used solely for perpetrating the prejudices of those who control the public purse.

    Consequently some of our Unionist contributors have managed to persuade themselves that they are paying for Catholic Schools, and not the parents of the actual users.

    It’s not just that the British Prime Minister sends his children to a Catholic School, and so is hardly likely to fall for this big-hearted approach: the Conservative Party contains a significant number of persons of a similar disposition, so this is a total non-starter.

    Plus of course, that you no longer control the Public Purse.

    So the future arrangement, like the present one, will be that Catholic parents, who wish their children to have a Catholic education, will not be obliged to pay twice over in order to do so.

    As regards the benefits or otherwise of Catholic education, I can confirm that a significant number of its end-products emerged from their educational experience wishing that these institutions be abolished forthwith and that their clerical staff be hung from the nearest lamp-post.

    Time, though, is a great healer. There is a danger of swinging from one extreme to another. Generally, it is found almost world-wide that Catholic schools provide a better education than those which are run by the state. For this reason they are favoured; and not just by Catholics. The reasons for this are various: sometimes it is just that it’s easier to expel someone from a religious school.

    Nevertheless, we should still strive to foster closer links among the communities: it might be a good idea to have something like a science school, drawing from state, private and religious stream and meeting together for one week a term or something. Equally, I think too much parental power is a bad idea. We allow our children, in the event of a divorce, to choose which parent they want to live with. I think they should, after a certain age, be the ultimate authority on what school they are sent to.