“I have consistently stated my desire..”

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd may have welcomed the Northern Ireland Education Minister Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane’s announcement of the 2009/10 education budget, but he’s hardly a reliable witness. Elsewhere, BBC NI’s Maggie Taggart details the cuts involved.

The department had set aside £22.7m to finance the early retirement of teachers, that figure is now £6m. School maintenance will get only £5m extra, when the total bill is £200m. There will be no expansion of the youth service and no extra funding for higher energy bills in schools.

“Money has had to be set aside for essentials like extra pay for classroom assistants and cleaners and an additional £4m has to go to schools because there are more pupils than expected,” said BBC NI education correspondent Maggie Taggart. “There is also a shortfall of £6.5m for the programme of extended schools’ activity.”

The Belfast Telegraph’s Kathryn Torney has more details [It’s still ticking – Ed]. Indeed. Meanwhile, there is confusion in the primary sector.. But that’s what happens when you ignore the political reality..