Citybeat: Education and consulting the past…

CitybeatTonight I’ll be speaking on the first of a monthly series of short politics slots on Citybeat Radio (podcast available after broadcast). The conversation inevitably centred on Catriona Ruane’s controversial slow, slow motion car crash move to deregulate the selection tests for the Grammars. It’s a strangely right of centre libertarian outcome to a initiative that was intended to shift us a more left of centre egalitarian set up. The banning of teaching for the varios entrance exams in class time likely only to exaggerate a growing class divide in the school system. I also talk about the disastrous PR of the flat payment of £12,000. There is more to the report than that; but given the political illwill stirred particularly amongst Unionists, will its more measured provisions ever see the light of day?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Catriona Ruane’s controversial slow, slow motion car crash move to deregulate the selection tests for the Grammars.

    This metaphoe only holds if the car she is driving has dual controls operated by the DUP and the various back street drivers (SDLP, UU and Alliance) have offered no information on how to avoid the collision although claiming that they would do better if they had control of the vehicle.

  • Mick,

    What time is it on?

    And I like the slow motion car crash. An apt description.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not sure Gari, it’s a pre record. Will get the podcast recording up later tonight I hope.


    I heard you pushing that dual responsibility thing last night. Of course you are right to up to a point. But in truth this was a set piece stand off that some of us were pointing out she could not win when she first brought to the field of play.

    Now, not only does she not win, but she’s done something no US libertarians could have dreamed off, and shredded substantial centralised control over the admissions policy of a whole subset of post primary schools.

    Getting that back is going to take substantial and consolidated political will from the centre. For that to happen, our politicians need to start learning about and talking about education, rather than trying to keep some supposedly useful old shibboleth grinding on…

    It is a failure to address some of the fundamental educational issues that bedevil our schools. And it is solely a failure of the only front seat drivers in the car: Sinn Fein and the DUP.

    Golden rule of politics, number one: never pick a fight you cannot win. Catriona, or whoever was drving this policy inside the party ignored that, and has a disastrous outcome that pleases no one. It is, as you rightly noted, a mess.

    But it does not serve any good or useful purpose (other than a narrow party political one) to obscure precisely who is responsible for this mess and why!

  • Cheers Mick. I agree that the responsibility for this lies not just with Ruane – though her own brand of special incompetence has been spectacularly unhelpful – but with her entire party, who made a mess of this from start to finish through a combination of neglect, the pursuit of party political advantage, and incompetence, both when Martin McGuinness was minister, and in allowing themselves to be outmanoeuvred by the DUP.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “who is responsible for this mess and why”

    Whoever is responsible that should not stop others acting responsibly.

    Is there any good reason why the UU, the SDLP and the Alliance should not formulate a policy and publically publish and then put it to the assembly? What is the Tory policy?

    How have the other parties reacted to Ruanes call for debate on this issue – if they have declined to get involved then they are also partly responsible. Hiding behind the “nothing to do with us” whilst quietly and secretly counting the potential votes is totally dishonest.

  • Sammy,

    Surely though the time for debate has long passed. As in fact has the time for sensible and resolute action. We have got little of value out of this whole thing, and if the grammars introduce tests not based on the curriculum, then the situation has been made worse.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    “Surely though the time for debate has long passed”

    No. Lets hear what the other parties have to offer – if they have nothing to suggest then jabbering about SF-DUP must be viewed as self-serving.

    It was a bit like the Alliance claiming the assembly didnt work whilst simulantously refusing to saying they would not take up the minstry of Justice – which was the one of the main cause of the assembly non-working.

    This is collective failure and reflect very badly on the mall – though clearly the main responsibilty rests with SF-DUP.

  • Tyrone abu

    Ruane and Sinn Fein are responsible for this debacle, but I agree that no party should be hiding behind the curtain gathering votes through their silence on the issue.

    If there is anything at all positive about this education shambles could it be that the discerning voter of all persuaion will now begin to vote on the issues, rather than a ‘themunns and usones’ pattern.

    The ending of selection entirely, goes against the wishes of many parents. The minute details such as age etc., that many could have agreed on, have gotten lost in the fiasco that is ‘Ruaneite’ policy- and Sinn Fein ideology.

  • Sammy,

    The obsession with debate is what got us into the is problem. Reports, soundings, consultations. Fuck all that. The system should have been abolished and replaced at the same time, instead of all this dicking around. I certainly can blame Martin McGuinness for that because he had the power to do it, and he didn’t.

    As for other parties’ concrete proposals. Sure they should produce them, but it would be helpful if the minister responsible did so as well. These proposals remain far from comprehensive or even relatively complete.

  • Mick Fealty

    “Nothing to do with us” pretty much covers it Sam…

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    Nothing to do with us.

    Yes, pretty much covers collective failure and it would be apposite if the other parties would actually confirm publically and clealry that they have nothing to offer the people of Northern Ireland about education – rather than indulging in point scoring whilst the chaos continues.

  • William

    Looks like you are ‘pet of the month’ with the media….what withe the Beeb and now the small Indy stations in Belfast employing your services.

    Heard you with Mark….twittering ….

  • Reader

    Sammy: it would be apposite if the other parties would actually confirm publically and clealry that they have nothing to offer the people of Northern Ireland about education
    The other parties have done OK. After all, Ruane had the Steering wheel, the other parties had the brakes. The UUP, for instance, would have preferred a standardised selection procedure, but Ruane never offered one.
    Also, I’m not aware of Ruane ever discussing the matter with any of the other parties. Was the debate meant to be conducted through newspaper articles?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    what is to stop the other parties trying to agree a joint policy now?

    Except that… is it the case that exactly the same logjam would occur between the UU and the SDLP?

  • But the UUP wants to keep selection, and the SDLP end it.