“Do we call academic selection something else?”

BBC NI’s Politics Show today kicked off with political correspondent Martina Purdy talking about what was “by no means a normal Executive meeting”. Followed by the Chairman of the Assembly’s Education Committee, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, clashing again with Sinn Féin’s new education spokesman, John O’Dowd – I’ve put that discussion below the fold. Next on the education agenda, some lateral thinking, considerable brain-storming, real debate, discussion, dialogue and indeed negotiation.. Or perhaps not..

And Sammy Wilson and John O’Dowd.

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  • Gregory

    O’Dowd knows that Ruane is finished.

    I think one is going to find out if the odd pedophile was working at DENI itself.

    I’d give that a couple of days. We may even find a pedophile ring or something.

    The reason the yanks are interested is that our old Special Branch friends apparently destroyed a few important records.

    The best way to keep stuff bomb-proof is to destroy any records the FBI may want to see.


    Oh dear, poor Ms Ruane.


  • Steve

    my prediction greg is that Ruane will be around longer than you

  • Gregory


    If subdued sniggering by Sinn Fein was fatal, I’d be hurting some. The facts are,

    Ruane has lost credibility with the voters and much of their rank and file. I don’t think it is going to take that much more.

    it is not just page two of ‘The Irish Catholic’, we have a valid working campaign amongst real Catholics, and we are getting there.

    We will never stop, that’s our talent, we do not stop. we are in the always business.

    Sinn Fein are gratuitously offending Catholics in major archdioceses in the USA.

    For far too long they’ve motored haphazardly with a few tame clergy. Those days are over.


    DENI have been operating like the States of Jersey, à la Haut de Garnne.

    So it is goodbye Ruane.


  • The Raven

    “Doctor! Doctor, he needs his meds….!”

  • Gregory

    You missed the ball there.


    Fact, Ruane will do anything, absolutely anything, chew broken glass even, except ban sex offenders from working in schools,

    Why is that? I think Goggins has the answer.

    Don’t you?


  • Pete Baker


    There’s a ball already on the pitch and it isn’t your single transferable topic.

    To all

    Could we focus on commenting, at least for now, on the content of the original post rather than solely on the content of other comments.

  • [aside]Moyle District Council gets this week’s Bollards Award for obstructing the Fire and Rescue Service near Blackrock Strand.

  • Pete Baker

    As I was saying..

    “Could we focus on commenting, at least for now, on the content of the original post..”

  • Gregory


    Fair enough

    I was involved in bits of the above.

    The criticism of Ruane in the Catholic media, LIfesite, Irish Catholic etc, that is just to mark her cards, so she knows.

    I arranged that (in person) specifically so there would be no misunderstanding on the part of Sinn Fein that it was a straightforward Catholic (transferable) issue for us.

    In other words, it didn’t matter ‘what’ we were criticizing her for, it was important for SF to know it is not going to stop.

    and on that, The DUP approached me before that debate. I can’t go into the details.

    It was however the same ‘transferable’ issue.

    I can tell you this,

    the NIO were also offering one-off individual briefings to Ruane’s media critics, that wasn’t about selection either.

    The PSNI were asked to call up one or two MLAs and ask them to stay out of it. For reasons of public confidence etc.

    So, more to follow.


  • Driftwood

    Pete, i’d like to post a reasonably long comment, but gregory’s single minded abstractions are, to put it mildly, making this thread, and others, offputting.
    The education issue is arguably the most important one facing the assembly, in terms of workability and acceptibility, but the ball is being kicked in to the long grass by this guys warped thoughts.
    It wrecks a thread and ruins debate. But that’s the way it is I suppose.

  • willis


    On this occasion I completely agree with you.

  • Pete Baker


    It’s very simple.

    And consider this a yellow card.

    Commenting here is a privilege not a right.

    If you continue to abuse that privilege it will be withdrawn.

    Now, if we can get back to the actual topic.

  • Gregory

    Anything you say Peter,

    Sorry to cause upset. You’re the Guvnor. Take this as public contrition.



  • Gregory

    Dear Driftwood

    I’m sorry about that,

    I think the slant I was putting on things was a bit jarring. You have my apologies.

    all the media articles which were published in Northern Ireland or Dublin or the USA ( which I arranged) were directed towards DENI’s inability to manage consensus.

    Only one article mentioned the other thing. So if you were following that end, you’d see I am sayting the same kind of thing as many other people.

    Sorry again


  • Pete Baker

    You had a relevant comment, Driftwood?

  • Driftwood

    I’ll keep it brief Pete
    I work in the education field. There are varying opinions on the way forward, not least the Dickson plan, but the infrastructure is not there yet, and i feel the FE colleges are being overlooked. A stopgap measure needs to be introduced. Catriona alluded to one, but typically didn’t expand or try to gather consensus. She just presented a vague outline and said there you have it. No detail or implementation plan. Not good enough in my opinion.
    The credibility of this executive is at stake and look at the “proposal”? Genuine opinions welcome,(I’m for bed now) but lets keep the ball on the pitch?

  • willis


    As you work in the education field you may be able to answer this:

    Are the Maintained sector committed to the removal of Academic selection? The Bishops say they are, and only one school has stepped out of line, to be rewarded with a blow from the crozier.

    If they are and are planning towards this then the settlement will just be about satisfying the 32 Grammars that they will still get a supply of top A level results.


    That is a very odd set. The doors behind Jim’s head give the impression of them being in a charlie bucket style glass elevator.

    O’Dowd is coming on though…

  • ZoonPol

    Maybe we should have a referendum on the matter of selection: as the Assembly is subordinate to the Parliament then the referendum is compatible with this very important issue. We should leave such issues to our politicians as it is just a football to them.

  • dodrade

    What odds now on Ruane winning South Down in 2010?

  • agh

    I find it quite intriguing how she rarely (if ever) debates her ideas on TV. It always appears to be O’Dowd. This in itself is an absolute joke – I thought the point of having a minister was so he\she would be accountable? Does she refuse to sit down with any other polititions on TV or what’s the story?

    She does make fantastic TV, however, shame she’s got such an important job…

  • Karly

    how can an important education issue become sectarian????????!!!!!!!!

  • I’m surprised that the merits of integration during a period of rationalisation haven’t been raised; perhaps the Executive to a man and a woman is in favour of ‘faith’ schools.

    There are two (not quite) comprehensive schools in Ballycastle, a non-denominational one and a Catholic one. AFAIK the late Bishop Donal Lamont was an alumnus of the ‘cross-community’ Ballycastle High School. The school probably became less cross-community when the Catholic grammar and secondary schools in the town were merged to form a Catholic comprehensive.

    I wonder how many children are bussed away from the district to the grammar schools in Coleraine, Ballymoney, Portstewart and Garron Tower.

    Dominican College in Portstewart has a Catholic ethos that would appear to be a bit different from other Catholic schools; many of the pupils and teachers are non-Catholic and the principal is an elder, maybe even clerk of session, in Ballywillan Presbyterian Church, Portrush.

  • Gregory

    “I’m surprised that the merits of integration during a period of rationalisation haven’t been raised; perhaps the Executive to a man and a woman is in favour of ‘faith’ schools. ”

    They’re not raised in a practical way.

    Catholicism is a parallel aspect of society be it the mainstream or the minority. The Lib Dem or APNI arguments are not something to be flattered with anything other than implacable rejection.

    It’s cheaper – no
    It’s better – no
    It’s state money – no
    It will solidify the ‘peace’ – no.
    Can we talk about it? – no

    We live in a society with major anti-faith initiatives, on a broader level, it doesn’t even make any sense to allow other schools to come into being which will be anti-Catholic.

    That conflict has to be articulated via laity, or by imported hierarchy, until the local infrastructure is able to escape its various problems.

    So the argument against the Bishop of Portsmouth on a related theme, is that the Vatican doesn’t hold to his views and death squads are killing our religious in Brazil, and we hold the line, in solidarity with the Vatican.

    Everything comes must from the idea of danger. So, we just don’t get into a debate with the APNI. The question we ask, is one of threat, “can they do this to us”. if the answer is “no” we make sure it stays that way.


  • 0b101010

    Attendance at Catholic maintained schools will likely drop over time as normalisation takes hold and faster still if they accept the proposed comprehensive system; very few are attending based on the desire for instruction through faith.

  • Gregory

    “very few are attending based on the desire for instruction through faith.”

    There is no point half-believing in anything, we can manage by getting smaller.