“Those were the days, my friend..”

When the Northern Ireland Education Minister announced the detailed policies guidance privatisation of the post-primary transfer system to the NI Assembly Sinn Féin MLAs packed into the benches behind Caitríona Ruane in an obvious attempt to demonstrate the party’s support for her position. Even the International Representative for West Belfast was there, and he had migrated from the back-bench to a more unfamiliar seat on the front-bench. [But where was Martin McGuinness? – Ed] Where indeed.. On the Politics Show today Kevin Sharkey’s report, on whether Caitríona Ruane has been damaged politically by the debacle, looked promising but was unbalanced by a couple of unreliable witnesses on academic selection. What’s not explored is how far up within one of the parties of the polit-bureau any of that political damage would [be allowed to] reach.

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  • Things could not be worse for SF in this regard. There are already 300 people signing a petition for her reisgnation on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=52674922609

    The group was et up just this week.Over 80% of those polled on the Education for all blog want her to go.

    I thought the commentators were being very gentle on this highly beleagured minister.

  • slug

    You ask “Damaged Goods?”

    No. Damaged Bads.

  • joeCanuck

    Past best by date.
    Use at your own risk.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    There clearly has been an orchestrated campaign by her political enemies and by the DUP in particular to damage Ruane – and a clear suspicion that that they have simply played politics with this issue in order to do so.

    The progam was disappointing in not looking at how support for Ruane is holding up on the ground although saying that this was important issue. I would suspect that many Nationalists will support her given the anti-Irish/ROI bile being spouted and the realissation that the DUP are equally responsible for the lack of progress.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Considering that Ruane is beyond all reasonable criticism, the ability of the DUP to orchestrate such a damaging campaign suggests a fearsome unionist political machine. Does it not, Kieran?

  • cynic

    “There clearly has been an orchestrated campaign by her political enemies ”

    …… and it must be terrible every morning to look in the mirror and see her biggest enemy staring at her

    It’s a sign of political maturity to realise that some of your own Ministers are totally useless.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “It’s a sign of political maturity to ” put important issues before playing politics – the Bobby Bowl doesnt really matter – so Gregory can throw a funny one on that but some might think that the DUP would see the bigger picure on education. But I suppose for people who believe in the old testament and struggle with 19th century concepts such as evolution – it all must sometimes be a bit too much for them.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Yet still these people have somehow managed to “orchestrate a campaign” that has made Ruane a cross-community laughing stock.
    What century does that make her from?

  • Shore Road Resident

    Let’s just summarise Kieron’s position here:
    “Caitriona Ruane – outsmarted by idiots”.

    I think that encapsulates it nicely. Well done.

  • george

    Shore Road – Do not underestimate the campaign that the media has undertaken against the Minister, “slamming the Minister” for not achieving consensus with other parties, I’d be worried if the Minister had have achieved consensus with the DUP. All the DUP and UUP have done is vitriol and name-calling, nothing else. The SDLP decision to side with unionists has bolstered the pro-selection lobby and they should hang their heads in shame.

    Now that the guidelines have been issued things will turn around and if schools choose not to follow the guidelines then they are showing themselves up as being pro-selection as they have a clear choice to be part of a new beginning to education.

  • Seymour Major

    I find it hard to believe that Ruane made all her decisions on her own. That seems to be the way it is presented. Taking all the flack without consulting McGuiness would have been unusual.

    She may not be the greatest communicator. She may not have had the best delivery in the Assembly but the result would have been the same whichever Sinn Fein politician held that Ministry.

    If SF forces her to fall on her sword, she will be making a sacrifice for the party but I think that would draw the fire onto SF. I think she will stay.

  • It was the civil servants what done it – Sammy et al.

    The brain trust civil servants and a cadre of part-time direct rule ministers in Rathgael relied on advisors from all quarters who fed and wined and bought into the idea that comprehensive, local schools (remaining divided on religious grounds) would answer the question of what to do with estate overprovision.

    Ten years later the harsh reality that these people hadn’t worked out a solution has come home to roost. The price for their incompetence? planned deregulated chaos.

    The birth rate excuse evaporated as quickly as it was forced down the public’s throat. How come no mention of the increase in the birth rate relative to education? The news last week was filled with the implications for the health service. Planning? Balmoral High springs to mind.

    The politicans can get themselves off the hook here with an accountability exercise examining the “evidence” from the advisors.

    Ruane is a mere distraction. Remember that it was the proposers of this chaos who described it as a unionist problem. Let them sort it out themselves. Avoiding the tar baby would spare the electoral fall out.

    Returning to the 11-plus is the obvious answer.

  • Twelve = (eleven plus one)

    The selection debate was conceded/lost by a very poor Sinn Fein Negotiating team at St Andrews.

    Catriona is not the best communicator.
    Her delivery is poor, and she loves to have a “wind” at pan Unionism.

    However it was the “Negotiating” team that done it.

  • cynic

    “the DUP would see the bigger picure on education”


    Perhaps they do…..but its not the same picture as the Minister. There are different views don’t you know

  • So what are the DUP proposals to move forward?

    The privatised AQE linked test is hardly a triumph.

  • willis


    “So what are the DUP proposals to move forward?

    The privatised AQE linked test is hardly a triumph.”

    Sense at last! Your fearless pen is finally turning on the DUP.