“There has to be a consensus found on education”

The BBC reports UUP leader Reg Empey’s comments this evening – “If we can deal with parades, why can’t we deal with education? And we are looking at this as a litmus test of whether the Executive is going to be capable of taking on any more powers”.

Video courtesy of UTV
From the BBC report

On Thursday, Sir Reg said: “The Ulster Unionist Party has long stated its concerns at the dysfunctional nature of the Executive, and we are determined to address its most glaring example – the failure to deal with the crisis in education.

“There is a shocking contrast between daily meetings to discuss parades, and the failure of the Executive to discuss education for two whole years.

“If the Executive cannot fix education – a power we currently have – then it is certainly not in any position to take on something as important as policing and justice,” he said.

Adds UUP statement

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  • slug

    I can scarcely contain myself at the thought that he will be announcing his candidates very soon.

  • st etienne

    what other powers are the executive due to get??

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Did Reg get the ok from the Orange Order to delve into education.

  • willis

    “Is there any going back to the 11+?”
    “I think we are past that point”

    Some sort of progress I suppose.

  • The Raven

    “If the Executive cannot fix education – a power we currently have – then it is certainly not in any position to take on something as important as policing and justice,” he said.

    Can’t say fairer than that, really. He’s not wrong.

  • willis

    “If the Executive cannot fix education”

    Actually the good news is that education will carry on without them.

    While I accept that the current arrangements are not ideal I cannot see the Executive sorting anything out.

  • Pete Baker



    A point other commenters seem to have missed.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The Hillsborough document was a deal to prolong the negotiations for a bit longer nothing more nothing less. It seems they will still fail to actually have an agreement within the new deadlines.

    Reg has a very important point, education is much more important than P&J and it hasn’t been discussed for 2 years, so it needs to be sorted out first.

    Time will tell what he achieves or if it even gets far enough down the road to need him to decide.

  • Pete Baker


    “While I accept that the current arrangements are not ideal I cannot see the Executive sorting anything out”

    Which is Reg’s point.

  • Alias

    “…the dysfunctional nature of the Executive, and we are determined to address its most glaring example – the failure to deal with the crisis in education.”

    It sounds more like a prelude to another 2-year long bun-fight about reform of mandatory coalition.

  • interested

    Empey and the UUP are a joke it was they that put Sinn Fein into power in the first place under the Belfast Agreement that allowed Sinn fein to mess education up, they tend to try and forget that. The UUP cry when they are not included but they did not include the DUP when they were the largest party, double standards from the UUP

  • Driftwood

    The Grammar Schools sorted out selection themselves,very well, without resorting to the pathetic ‘executive’. Proof that we do not actually need an ultra-expensive extra layer of bureaucracy.Thanks to Ruane, we realise life will pretty much function without Stormont to fek it up.
    George Osborne please note. UK regional assemblys-waste of money. Start here-PLEASE!
    Then there are the ludicrous commissions, and the self serving ‘community’ groups etc.
    Loads of ‘fat’ to cut the deficit without touching taxes, George.
    Of course it would be difficult for McWilliams and Lewsley etc to eventually lose their £75k plus salaries. They might have to find a job!!

  • Banjaxed

    Amazing!! I saw this interview live and I blinked.
    WTF was that about, I thought.
    And, indeed, I didn’t give it any further consideration until I saw it posted on Slugger.
    So I watched it again.
    WTF was that about, I thought.
    So I watched it again.
    The reaction was of a similar nature.
    And right in the middle of penning this little piece, I watched it again to see if my initial reactions had changed.
    WTF was that about, I thought.

    I doubt very much if I have ever seen or heard a more pointless piece of interviewing in my entire life. This was merely a whinge of the first order from Empey with not one constructive piece of thinking throughout. And he was allowed to get away with it.
    ”Everybody’s to blame, ‘cept us”, was the main message.
    Did the interviewer ask Empey even once had he recommendations of his own as to how to resolve the current problems with the transfer program? Shucks, that would probably embarrass the man.
    Did he ask him if he thought that the 11 Plus was divisive or progressive? Well, in fairness, nearly. But the boul’ Reg was master of his brief, ‘We’ve gone beyond that’, sez yer man and moved on to continue his girning. As I said uptop, ‘Amazing’!

    Paxman, your job is safe from the baying hound of UTV.

  • joeCanuck

    Didn’t see the interview but ignoring Sir Reg’s apparent lack of leadership skills, it’s a very fair point. Children have been left blowing in the wind, and that should be unacceptable to a large majority on both sides. Don’t get me started on the need for integrated schools.

  • PACE Parent

    joeCanuck on Feb 12, 2010 @ 05:27 AM

    As Willis pointed out in post #6 others have sorted this out for politicians. Perhaps before opening his mouth on education Sir Reg should have published an education policy on behalf of very busy Ulster Unionist Party.

    Now that the 11-plus test results have been issued and parents and children further abused by schools with their self-serving misinformation campaigns, watch out for the political meddlers propose one test, held on one day, badged by GL Assessment on the basis of “community cohesion”

  • By their behaviour so shall they be judged, and the opportunistic behaviour of the UUP in almost all matters recently make it obvious that this latest manoeuvre is but more of the same.

    If the UCUNF project counts for anything then Mr Patterson will be calling Reginald inot his office and explaining that although edcuation is a critical issue, a dim view will be taken if the UUP attempt to use it as an excuse to hold up a deal and therby trying to bolster their hardline support.

  • PACE Parent

    All Sir Reg had to say to Paul Clarke for the purpose of clarity is whether his UU/Conservative group supported academic selection at 11 or not. He is no different from the DUP or Sinn Fein in choosing to hide behind the weasel word ” consensus”
    Perhaps Sir Reg and David Cameron missed the news on the BBC Education website citing a recent ICM poll on grammars

  • PACE Parent

    “He is no different from the DUP or Sinn Fein in choosing to hide behind the weasel word ” consensus”

    He is significantly different if he uses it as an excuse to block a political deal.

  • PACE Parent

    Moderate Unionist on Feb 12, 2010 @ 09:14 AM

    Political deals are simple devices by Sinn Fein and the DUP to provide cover for the failed Assembly and Executive arrangements. That they are in any way propped up by UCUNF speaks volumes about those parties. The unregulated transfer system happened without political support even though the DUP and UCUNF have been fully involved in meetings and discussions with AQE since its inception. The DUP refused to countenance making funding available for the AQE CEA test or computer adaptive testing. No such problem with their MPs extravagant expense account spending but not a cent for a fair effective method of post-primary transfer.

  • innutclem

    Come on now people – Grammar schools no longer exist. With one or two exceptions look at the figures for the number of “Grammar” schools who took pupils with D grades – unbelievable. We need to wake uo and smell the coffee, listen to Primary school heads, working teachers, pupils in all ability schools, parents with children in all ability schools – selection is social engineering and is a fraud. May also make this point as a working teacher or more than 20 yrs experience even the very name AQE makes me sick. The arrogance in this name that only “Grammar” schools provide “quality” education is a lie and a slight on the amazing work that goes on in other post primary schools. CR can’t even get a discussion around the executive table about this – she ain’t the most convincing in how she argues but she is right and thank God the Catholic Bishops have finally woken up to the sheer anti- Christian nature of the grammar lobby – WWJD? He would want to be where the disadvantaged are – and that ain’t in a grammar school

  • PACE Parent

    innutclem on Feb 12, 2010 @ 10:09 AM
    What exactly is a D grade then? What does it tell anyone about attainment in a test. Look at the figures announced by GL Assessment via The Post-Primary Transfer Consortium, which mainly consists of Catholic schools, which said that out of 6,500 entrants, 3,000 were awarded A grades.
    600 got the B1 grade, 658: B2, 513: C1, 567: C2 and 1,164 got a D.
    This test cannot be compared to the CCEA run 11-plus nor the AQEs use of marks. Under AQE the admission to a grammar school should be under strict rank order. What is wrong with a fair equality based system like that? Perhaps you should ask some of your favoured teachers and principals or Sir Kenneth Bloomfield since Inst intend to admit using a different set of criteria.

  • PACE Parent

    Education and the retention of academic selection at 11 is the unionists equivalent of the Garvaghy Road to nationalists. Entering into negotiations with Sinn Fein will only result in concessions and uncertainty. Sinn Fein have lost their fight on education and are tied up. Why Empey has introduced the issue at this time is worrying. Too much advice from Trimble and Gove perhaps?.

  • innutclem

    Pace parent
    I only want to put paid to the lie that grammar schools are not perpetuating social division to their own ends. If selective education becomes the quid pro quo for parading, Irish Lang et al then shame on the person who puts their name to it. We must build a new society from the bottom up where children stay together in local schools from 4-18 where all needs can be met with fair conditons of work and pay for all staff. Future schooling must be based on equal treatment and opportunity for all our children. The current system is based on parents wanting the best for their children AT THE EXPENSE of other children – foul ball for me

  • willis


    It does seem a staggering faux-pas. As many of your contributors have pointed out, the new system is complicated and stressful, but by September the new classes will be filled. There may be court cases and tweaks but the schools have established who is in charge.

  • Driftwood
  • RobertNoonan

    Education is the secret out of this sectarian mess.Some Mothers have grandchildren going to a protestant School, Some to A Catholic school and then there is the others going to a intergrated school.Now tell me at such a young ageis this right, they are already boxed in.

    What is needed a new approach to Education, Could I recommend the Cuban model, Look at it,use the good bits which is quite clear there is a lot of what they are doing is working

  • Raymonds Back

    An interim transfer test for 3 years? Seems to me that this was a proposal of Ms Ruane’s which the parties in the Assembly effectively rejected because they could not reach a consensus on this issue. Slow learners?

    Also, the DUP needs to be called on its blocking of the Education Bills. This smoke screen of equality, ie a group to represent state schools, is bollocks. State schools are not represented because they do not own their schools; they gave them to the state in return for 100% funding. Catholics schools are represented because they still own the schools, and did not get the same 100% funding historically. Wanting to have one’s cake and eat it is not a valid reason for using the Education Committee to block legislation The Executive claims to be behind.

  • joeCanuck

    Robert Noonan,

    By Protestant schools I hope you don’t mean State schools. I came from a Catholic background but sent my kids to State school. Some of my relatives condemned me for sending them to Protestant schools.
    I don’t think there are many Protestant schools; FP’s?

  • PACE Parent

    Consensus on the ending of academic selection prior to a general election? Unionist politicians cannot be so suicidal. The Minister’s proposed new CCEA test will be based on the revised curriculum, set at Level 4 and will result in virtually all pupils getting a “pass” rendering such a method useless for academic selection.
    The AQE CEA test measures attainment in maths and English. The question is whether or not the heads and teachers involved with the group will persist or walk away from their unregulated test so willingly sold to parents this year

  • Raymonds Back

    Given that up until, and indeed for some time after, the Civil Rights’ campaign this was a Protestant State for a Protestant people, the State schools were, and remain, culturally Protestant schools, whether they are faith school or not.

  • bohereen

    well, that’s you told,