With the semi-accountable, and semi-detached, polit-bureau unable, or unwilling, to agree to place certain dishonourably leaked confidential papers on the agenda for today’s Northern Ireland Executive meeting, one of the two Ministers involved was always likely to have something to say. As it was Gregory Campbell had another appointment, and so the NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, emerged from the meeting to blame the DUP – despite the fact that, as Mark Devenport puts it, “in truth the minister’s paper is mainly a reiteration of her previous offer of a three year phase out for academic selection.” And we’ve just had another set-piece on that. After all, it’s not as if anyone is surprised at this point, are they? A brief press statement after the NI Executive meeting was followed by a rare live appearance by the minister in a TV studio where, despite channelling someone resembling Paxman, UTV Live presenter Paul Clark failed to get an answer on where the “detailed policies” would appear.. never mind the details themselves. [Caitríona has advisers? – Ed] Apparently so..
From BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport’s blog
Emerging from the Executive, Ms Ruane accused the DUP of blocking her proposals and vowed not to bring forward any new initiative. Instead she says she will have discussions with her officials and act decisively in the days ahead. That sounds like code for issuing guidelines which will not be as binding as any legal regulations approved by the Executive.
With the majority of grammar schools already making preparations for go it alone tests, this afternoon felt like the beginning of an “unregulated regime” for post primary transfer. Whichever side of the argument over academic selection you take, it’s a worrying prospect: potential educational anarchy and pupils and teachers being used as political pawns.