Call for power sharing at grassroots level

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education welcomes the historic commitments from both the DUP and Sinn Fein to move towards a power sharing government. Nationalists and Unionists sitting down in government together sends a strong signal to the electorate that there is willingness towards breaking down the sectarianism and segregation that have accumulated over decades and which deeply divide Northern Ireland.

Moving forwards together is a slow and difficult journey as the integrated sector can testify to after 25 years of bringing communities together through the growth and development of integrated schools – which could be called grassroots power sharing. But the rewards are immense if agreement can be reached and better understanding and tolerance of each other’s identity can be achieved. We would urge all political parties to grasp this opportunity to work together to bring about a shared future for the people of Northern Ireland.

Deborah Girvan, Communications and Lobbying Manager, Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education

  • Des

    This does look like progress at long last but as a friend on another forum said….why does it have to be these two oafs representing the good people of Northern Ireland?

  • observer

    err but isnt state education integrated?

  • willis

    Obs

    Please, tell me more, what do you mean by integrated? Allowing everyone to be a cultural Prod?

  • willowfield

    Regarding integrated education, the elephant in the room is the fact that the RC Church insists on maintaining its own separate (state-funded) schools system. For so long as this continues and members of said church are determined to send their children to segregated schools, we will never have an integrated system.

    And further, it is a political impossibility – for entirely different reasons – for either unionist or nationalist parties to confront the issue.

    To be realistic, the best way forward is to take small steps first: something along the lines of Bain (I think), who recommends sharing facilities. Perhaps then parents will see how ridiculous it is to have schools divided along religious lines: Catholics use the buildings on the right; Protestants go to the ones on the left.

    To encourage sharing, the Government should give preferential funding to those schools willing to do it.

    Sadly, I can’t see a DUP-Provo coalition government being remotely interested.

  • Aaron McDaid

    willowfield: “Sadly, I can’t see a DUP-Provo coalition government being remotely interested.

    SF would certainly be interested in decreasing RC Church involvement in education. Are you assuming that SF are necessarily the mirror image of the DUP? The DUP are the more religious party, and SF the secular party.

  • observer

    state education is provided for everyone regardless of religion. that sounds awfully like integrated to me

  • Cahal

    Observer
    “state education is provided for everyone regardless of religion. that sounds awfully like integrated to me”

    At the risk of feeding the troll, you are incorrect in your assumption. To obtain integrated status, the following must be at least attempted.

    a) at least 40% of the first year intake in any year are pupils of the Catholic tradition and at least 40% of pupils are of the Protestant tradition;

    b) at least 40% of the teaching staff are of the Catholic tradition and at least 40% of the Protestant tradition;

    c) at least 40% of the governors are of the Catholic tradition and at least 40% of the Protestant tradition;

    d) the Catholic and Protestant communities within the schools are accorded equal respect and standing;

  • observer

    At the risk of feeding the troll, you are incorrect in your assumption. To obtain integrated status, the following must be at least attempted. –
    Cahal were not talking about “integrated status”, state schools are open to all regardless of religious back ground.

    these are integrated, not religious based

  • GavBelfast

    Quite true, Observer.

    That was Lord Londonderry’s policy.

    Who threw a big joint spanner in the works?

    That’s right: the Catholic Church and the Orange Order.

    Strange bedfellows then, now we have even stranger bedfellows.

    😉

  • manweulstermanpleaseban

    oh, silly me…i am a practising catholic and can live in the middle of the shankill quite easily as it is an area available to all the people.

    it is only my belief that it preventing me from doing this.

  • philip

    So what was the last 40 years all about?

  • GavBelfast

    Yes, silly you, you said it yourself.

    (I agree with integrated education myself, it just wouldn’t be particularly necessary if religious heavyweights had left education alone in the past.)

  • kensei

    “(I agree with integrated education myself, it just wouldn’t be particularly necessary if religious heavyweights had left education alone in the past.)”

    The Catholic Church has been involved in education before the state even thought about it.

    “the growth and development of integrated schools – which could be called grassroots power sharing.”

    Cute. But complete bollocks whatever the merits of integrated scholling.

  • DK

    State schools are as integrated as the area they represent. So, one on the Shankill would have zero catholics, while one in South Belfast would be 40%+. The theory is that State schools are supposed to be non-biased, but the practice is that evangelical christians control quite a lot of them and guide their ethos accordingly.

  • integrate

    Observer,

    State schools may in theory be open to all, but in reality many are former church schools, handed over to the state and with representatives from those churches still involved in the schools.

    If those state schools are either going to remove those clergy from their Boards, or have representatives from all churches on them, then fiar enough. I don’t see that happening somehow.

    How many ‘mixed’schools have a real balance in the staff, Board Of Governors and pupils. How many have a curriculum which reflects the mixed nature of the school ? – not very many. The only schools which seem to me to meet that criteria are Integrated Schools.

  • Rupert

    A friend teaching in England has told me that there is a legal requirement for state schools to have a predominantly Christian ethos. This is strange, given the catchments area is made up of mainly non-practicing Christians or Muslim families. Despite this, an act of daily reflection is compulsory and has to be Christian in nature.

    In France, state education is secular but private schools are free to do their own thing. Is this the way to go?

  • kensei

    “In France, state education is secular but private schools are free to do their own thing. Is this the way to go?”

    As long as it is tax deductible, go for it.

  • Elvis Parker

    ‘Nationalists and Unionists sitting down in government together sends a strong signal to the electorate that there is willingness towards breaking down the sectarianism and segregation that have accumulated over decades and which deeply divide Northern Ireland.’
    Deborah the triumph of DUP and SF actually entrenchs sectarianism!
    If a DUP Minister gets Education he will probably use Bain to undermine both Irish Language and Integrated schools

  • StarHound

    Ian Paisley hasn’t suddenly become less Unionist and Gerry Adams hasn’t become any less Republican. I think that some of us are maybe getting a bit carried away with this “New Dawn” business.

    This seems like a cheap PR attempt for the integrated education lobby, yet again telling us that they know better than parents. There is more than one way to educate and there has to be room in the system for choice.

  • willowfield

    AARON

    SF would certainly be interested in decreasing RC Church involvement in education. Are you assuming that SF are necessarily the mirror image of the DUP? The DUP are the more religious party, and SF the secular party.

    Provisional SF has never made any statement, AFAIK, in favour or reducing RC Church involvement in education. I do not believe – even if they wanted to – that they would be brave enough to do it. They have too many votes to lose.

  • Am I the only person to wonder why an education body has issued a statement that goes far beyond any conceivable educational remit?

  • Aaron McDaid

    willowfield,
    From http://www.sinnfein.ie/policies/document/128 : “In a famous debate with Daniel O’Connell in 1845, Thomas Davis argued for non-denominational non-sectarian education. As Republicans, we advocate the complete separation of Church and State in all of Ireland”

    They advocate more choice for all parents, whether for denominational or non-denominational schools. Given that most parents seem to want more integrated schools (if I remember the survey results correctly), this policy would be effectively a decrease in denominational schooling. There is an entirely reasonable concern in the six counties that state run education in NI could be a method for religious education through the back door – but with proper devolved powersharing government SF can and I believe will push for genuinely unbiased state education and/or integrated education not run directly by the state.

    willowfield:
    They have too many votes to lose.

    If anything, SF would lose more votes if they wanted more religious education or even to maintain the status quo. Both the hard core support and the floating voter would be against it. I don’t see any reason why SF would even want such a policy.

    This is another example of the flawed logic which suggests that SF must be the mirror image of the DUP. Despite the benefits and/or flaws of each party, there are not the mirror image of each other. Nor are their supporters.

  • willowfield

    You’re right about one thing: DUP and the Provos are not mirror images. The DUP, for all its faults, does not have its own illegal crime gangs and death squads.

  • kensei

    “You’re right about one thing: DUP and the Provos are not mirror images. The DUP, for all its faults, does not have its own illegal crime gangs and death squads.”

    Why take in house when you can outsource? Anyway, having been proven wrong, you don’t have the grace to put your hands up and admit it. Nice one.

    Sf are wrong on it anyway.