In the second part of last night’s set piece on Hearts and Minds between Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd and the DUP’s Mervyn Storey we got the answer to a question I posted a week ago. Apparently John O’Dowd doesn’t think that Cardinal Brady should just “move on” from his concerns about the ESA because his views “aren’t based purely on politics” [So much for the primacy of politics then – Ed]. Thanks Noel! And no wonder Mervyn Storey was cautious in his response. Despite John O’Dowd’s assertion that “the Boards of Governors will still remain as the employing body”, the Cardinal was of a completely different opinion when he appeared in front of the Assembly’s Education Committee – and, below the fold, the anonymous “spokesman for Ms Ruane” seemed to agree with the Cardinal’s interpretation of the Bill.
[Cardinal Brady] said that one clause in the Ministers draft education Bill making the ESA the employer of all staff in all schools was unacceptable. This is a fundamental impediment to the ability of owners/trustees to exercise their right and duty to promote and safeguard the ethos and defining character of a school. To exercise our duties as trustees adequately we require that the board of governors of each school shall be the legal employer of all staff in the school, he added.
According to the Irish Times report, the anonymous spokesman for Ms Ruane, the NI Education Minister, appeared to agree with the Cardinal’s interpretation of the Bill.
A spokesman for Ms Ruane said the commissions suggestion that individual boards of governors, rather than the ESA should be the formal employers of staff would depart from the arrangements in the education Bill. It would also depart from the current arrangements for Catholic maintained schools, in which teachers are employed by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, and non-teaching staff are employed by the Norths education and library boards.
It is not clear from the submission why the commission feels that only individual school employers can safeguard the ethos of Catholic schools, particularly when at present the vast majority of Catholic schools are part of collective employment arrangements, he added.
And how can the Boards of Governors still remain the employing body if they’re not the employing body at the minute?