“we are over committed to over spend and these projects will be delayed”

Unlike last week, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, was on time today to make a statement to the Assembly on the review of her department’s programme of capital building schemes.  But, as the BBC reports, the statement was somewhat lacking in detail

The minister told the assembly that she has made decisions on which of the 69 schools are to get the go ahead for new buildings.

She said most have been approved, some have been told to do extra work with the possibility of being approved, and some have been turned down.

However the minister refused to divulge the list of schools affected.

Ms Ruane said she would write out to schools individually to tell them their fate.

Assembly members complained that she had not shown them the full criteria for deciding which schools had been approved for funding.

And, the UTV report suggests, even those approved may not get built for some time

If all of the plans were given the go-ahead it could cost around five hundred million pounds, but according to the minister the money is simply not there.

“The reality is with the reduced capital budget allocation available to me we are over committed to over spend and these projects will be delayed,” she said.

“If additional funds are not allocated to Department of Education for capital build projects then I fear a delay on commencing these schools for some months is inevitable.

“We simply cannot build schools without the money.”

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  • Mick Fealty

    So what do you call a school’s building programme without budget? A political fiction?

    We know the identity of one of the schools who’ve been promised money they are not now going to get: Scoil na Fuiseoige in Twinbrook. According to a letter in today’s Irish News they were promised a new build 13 years ago:

    “The minister did not build the school when times were good when she had the money and did nothing and knew of the appalling conditions in Scoil na Fuiseoige.

    “No doubt the Sinn Fein machine will go into overdrive to blame Sammy Wilson and others. This too ignores the fact that Martin McGuinness failed to build the school when he was minister of Education.”

  • Drumlin Rock

    Why not scrap the A5 up-grade and spend that £500,000,000 on schools instead?

  • DC

    TO add to that – the A2 Shore Road upgrade is now being given an amber light by Connor Murphy – people in East Antrim have waited since the time of horse and cart it would seem to get this upgrade and now it is likely to be pulled.

    Belfast Telegraph reports it – here

    Great expectations……not fulfilled.

  • DC

    Just to add to this botched strategy – in relation to the now evaporating chance of getting a better road network – the people in east Antrim also have the added insult of not having any new trains running on the line into Belfast.

    Talk about zero-strategic delivery of infrastructure projects to citizens there plus the added negative impacts on lifestyle when having to commute into town either by road or rail.

    Looks as those both unionism and nationalism have failed the area on that issue. Perhaps Alliance can truly capitalise next time round?!

  • Alias

    The Irish government shouldn’t be using Irish taxpayers’ money to fund roads in the UK. It is theft by a quisling Irish government, and a good example of how Her Majesty’s Government is using ‘The Process’ to siphon money out of the Irish state and into the British state. That 400 milion repays a large part of MI5’s investment in that process, making it money well spent from the British government’s perspective.

    So I agree that the money should be spent on “schools instead” but on schools for the childern of the taxpayers who earned that money and paid it over to the Irish state…

    Anyway, it is pure farce for your Executive to announce a school-building project and then anouunce that it is all academic because there is no money to pay for it.

  • Lions led by Dunces…

  • Jamesie

    Unfortunately the click is now ticking for Catriona.

  • ScottishJ

    Sad to admit but the clock seems to be ticking for Catriona. It will be interesting to see what support she gets from SF

  • DC

    I had posted a response to Drumlin’s comment – but still waiting for moderation.

    Do you guys moderate everything with links in it?

  • Mick Fealty

    DC, the settings will delay any post with 2 or more links in it… nothing to do with any unacceptable content… It’s a form of spam filtering…

  • Munsterview


    When you are snipping your retirement cocktail by the banks of the Dead Sea, that road will be part of Irish infra-structure : it is an investment in our own future!

  • hoboroad

    Catriona Ruane’s job as Education Minister is secure. According to a Republican source speaking to Ken Reid of UTV.

  • Cynic

    Anyone know why?

  • Cynic

    I think thats what they say about every manager, just before they are sacked….

  • Cynic

    “we are over committed”

    Didn’t she mean “promoted”

  • Should the Northern Ireland Education Minister Caitriona Ruane Resign ? Vote Now http://twtpoll.com/i4rc6m

  • Munsterview

    Thirteen Bloody Votes !

    This is the level of interest despite all the hype against her ?

    It would seem that there is more shadow than substance to this whole debate if this is any indication to go by !

  • joeCanuck

    We have talked a lot here about inadequacies of our “indigenous settlement”. The system badly needs a mechanism to remove inadequate/incompetent Ministers from their portfolios. A “cabinet” vote perhaps.

  • MV

    I wonder if the small number is partly due to people like me who voice opinions (which we are allowed to have) but refrain from voting. (which we are unable to do) Or perhaps no one has much time for meaningless votes?

    I have to say that as far as I can see Ms Ruane appears to be the epitome of incompetence.

  • Munsterview


    I do not know how long the vote on Caitriona has been running. I just looked it up, there were thirteen votes and the default button is set on ‘ Yes’ she should go.

    Thirteen votes do not exactly suggest that the North is on fire over the issue!

  • Munsterview


    Caitriona, be the criticism merited or otherwise, is constantly slated in slugger and she in particular is singled out by Unionists backwoods men in all media as the club to bash Sinn Fein over the head with.

    The reality is that here is a site offering an opportunity to post on her performance and comment as to whether she should stay of go and only a dozen people could be bothered to vote for her to go.

    This begs the question; just how much is Caitriona’s performance a real issue that matters to ordinary voters and how much is it a manufactured issue by her opponents ?

    However it is dressed up or explained, the amount of votes generated would indicate that The Minister’s performance is a non issue or at least a very minor one that is not exactly gripping the imagination of the general public to the extent her political opponents would like to portray!

  • MV

    I have taken a keen and occasionally disbelieving interest in Ms Ruane since she took on Education.

    I think I have to agree with you about the vote but since I did not look at it I have no idea if it was a scientific poll or a wind up. My instinct was to ignore it, and I think that may be what most have done.

    SF have to learn that incompetence, in any profession is usually rewarded with a swift return to the dole queue, or in the case of most politicians the almost as rewarding back benches,

  • Driftwood

    It’s not. It just means that everyone in Northern Ireland knows our sandpit assembly is a pathetic joke, but not worth worrying about. The REAL stuff happens at Westminster, but we have a PRETEND assembly at Stormont in order to appease those who think otherwise-or pretend to think. When you think ‘Government” think Westminster. When you think ‘Wee pretendy assembly set up to appease those who pretend we are not governed from Westminster’ think Stormont Parish Council.

  • John East Belfast


    Who are you trying to kid ?

    Ruane has reigned over chaos in her department and her performance in South Down was the vote that mattered.

    She is a serial loser and if it wasnt for the fact that her inability is damaging the NI education system I wouldnt mind because she is also tarnishing the whole SF brand

  • Munsterview


    We are now in other territory : I sat around a table for some years where Sinn Fein National Exectuive policy decisions were taken, we all had our input ( if we wanted to ) and once majority decisions were taken, we collectively went along with these decisions.

    I personally believed in the European Union and that Ireland should be there at the heart of it. However I still went out and totally upheld Sinn Fein Party Policy by doing everything possible to promote the anti-campaign.

    Caitriona is not on a solo run here, the policies that she is promoting were first mediated through a Sinn Fein policy committee. Then these in final draft went before the Sinn Fein National Exectuive for approval after which they were again mediated through the Assembly Exectuive and had to become part of a mutually agreed Program of Government before these policies were proposed by Caitriona as public policy.

    The braying back benches on the DUP can play to the gallery all the want for public consumption but this is the political reality of the situation. Somebody of your apparent political nous should also know of this process of having policy established.

    For a woman to join the ‘sexist lad pack’ against this woman Minister and take the tripe against her at face value do not say too much for feminism or sisterly solidarity!

    If the policy Caitriona is perusing, is incorrect, then lay the blame for that policy where it belongs, collectively before the Assembly Exectuive and prior to that, before the Sinn Fein National exectuive, both of whom approved it.

    Far from her current position being indicative of her failure, the fact that she has not wavered or been diverted, is an indication of her determination and resilience in the face of what has all too often descended into personalized sectarian and sexist opposition!

  • MV

    The problem is not her sex! indeed equality demands I respond to her presentation, and implementation of policy in exactly the same way I would if Martin McGuinness were still in charge of education, or even (God forbid) Ian Paisley jun. were anyone ever foolish enough to give him such a role.

    I totally agree with you about the ‘committee’ process, and that speaks volumes about members of such ‘committees’.

    I also agree with SF about the need for equal opportunities in education. The eleven plus and all such elitist methods, virtually condemn some children before they reach puberty. The very idea of it, once rationally examined, is absurd! It should have no place in education. Actually its the one thing that aught to cross party lines, but it has to be carefully worked out before presentation, and that presentation has got to be professional

  • John East Belfast


    they dont build roads to last these days like the Romans used to do !

  • Munsterview

    “………… I also agree with SF about the need for equal opportunities in education. ……..”

    If you do you have also come to the nub of the problem with Caitriona; she do also but she is opposed by a coalition of vested interests who want to preserve the elitist educational system as structures which has long since ceased to serve all children equally.

    These vested interests know that if the educational debate is centered on education per se and how first, second and third levels best serve the public good, their little cosy cartels would be exposed and they would loose an argument that is basically concerned with preventing the democraticasion of educational access.

    If these vested interests attack policy they are exposed so they attack the person and her competence , etc. Senior Civil servants up there were used to a situation where they told Ministers what to do, they do not like it one little bit when faced with a Minister who tell them what to do, especially when that Minister is both a woman and a Shinner.

    Remember the same ‘closed shop’ applied to University here in my teens. My third level was technical, I picketed Government Ministers and lobbied for accessible third level for all. I installed technical services and was shop steward on the Regional College where my own son graduated from.

    These were only tolerated by the Third Level elites on the understanding that they could only award diplomas. It took the advent of Limerick University to break the strangle hold of the old system and have third level open to all as a right.

    However the fees issue could again interfere with that, thanks to Batt O’Keeffe himself ironically a former Regional College lecturer.

    Incidentally do you not think that the DUP are preparing fast for a United Ireland ? In this educational issue look at how they can be in Front Bench Government and Back Bench opposition at the same time. Nothing these people could learn form Fianna Failure about being in Government and opposition simultaneously………. they sure have come a long way!.

    If we could only get Sammy Wilson to wear clothes when abroad rather than running around naked we could be well on the way to civilized Government up there !

  • MV

    I know there should be agreement on this, thats what makes me so angry. It is not as though the opposition was unexpected!

    The thing about the Assembly is it really is ‘war’ by other means. Its no good being able to ‘shoot and run away’ whoever is in the Assembly fighting for the nationalist cause, has got to have their facts straight, their figures to the nearest decimal point and be absolutely ‘bullet proof’ in their presentation.

    In the case of education is should not have been hard. The south has an excellent system, and it will be even better when authority is taken away from the RCC. The foundation is there. The UK introduced comprehensive education decades ago, and all the pitfalls are there for all to see.

  • Reader

    Munsterview: Somebody of your apparent political nous should also know of this process of having policy established.
    Great, unless you are in a Coalition government. When did the end of selection ever get agreed by the Executive?
    Does Catriona’s approach to Coalition Government accurately reflect SF’s approach, and is that therefore what SF’s coalition partners would have expected from SF in the republic too? No wonder SF has so many problems finding partners for voluntary coalition!

  • Reader

    Munsterview: For a woman to join the ‘sexist lad pack’ against this woman Minister and take the tripe against her at face value do not say too much for feminism or sisterly solidarity!
    How is it any more ‘sexist’ than SF’s attacks on Ritchie? Why did Gildernew and Foster get so much less abuse than Ruane?

  • Reader

    Munsterview: I personally believed in the European Union and that Ireland should be there at the heart of it. However I still went out and totally upheld Sinn Fein Party Policy by doing everything possible to promote the anti-campaign.
    “Party before Country”, then.

  • Munsterview

    The difference of being a ‘one man band’ or a party member !

    Same dichotomy faced by individuals since the foundations of Greek Democracy : be a single, but uninfluential voice, however loud, or band together with like minded individuals to get as much as possible of shared policy or beliefs implemented.

    Anybody believing in the principle of political organization and having strong personal beliefs must also be prepared to be occasionally offside with their party majority view; they can then either accept majority view and continue to work inside party structures or make the grand pointless gesture !

    By accepting majority party decisions and working to party objectives, such individuals have goodwill and support available to them on other issues from the party as a whole and sections of the party they otherwise may not have had. This is the essence of democratic party politics for better or worse!

  • Reader

    Munsterview: Same dichotomy faced by individuals since the foundations of Greek Democracy : be a single, but uninfluential voice, however loud, or band together with like minded individuals to get as much as possible of shared policy or beliefs implemented.
    It is natural, and pragmatic, for people to compromise on issues to form, or to join, or just to vote for parties. It is sensible for party members to compromise on a manifesto, and for candidates to commit to delivering the manifesto if elected.
    But you described a single issue vote. What happened was, you went out to persuade your friends, relatives and neighbours to vote for your party position and against what you thought was in the national interest. That isn’t politics – that’s tribalism.
    And after the campaigning, I wonder whether, in the privacy of the voting booth, you voted for what you thought was right, or you voted for what your party wanted.
    Do you not wonder why SF is shedding some of its most loyal old workers? At the other end of the spectrum: do you not wonder why the party struggles to appeal to Prods? Some people can’t buy the tribal package the party is selling.

  • Munsterview

    What I gave a personal example of is something that occurs on a regular basis inside all political parties; in fact if National Party Exectuive members do not find themselves offside occasionally with aspects of party policy then their sincerity and own belief systems are open to question.

    EEC and later EU membership was a fundamental aspect of Irish International Policy : it was my personal belief then as it is my current belief that we could not have remained outside the European Union and maintained a positive economic expansion in new electronic and chemical industries etc unless and until we could compete on equal market access for exports.

    I know of one instance of where there was a cheese factory build : it never produced a single kg of cheese but it allowed an upgrade of other factory facilities that otherwise would not qualify and something like fifteen years of payments were made to this small rural co-op not to produce cheese. All of these monies were re invested in the co-op for the community.

    The Eu was not all loss and devastation; there were also a lot of positive benefits.

    As to whether it was correct for the Twenty-Six counties to have such reliance on Dell type companies more interested in financial subsidies than stable industrial commitment is another matter; the situation had to be dealt with as then was. I see 60% of the second level class prior to mine emigrate, most of mine and many ot those that came after were able to stay at home from the late 60’s onwards.

    The Sinn Fein party as a whole took a different stand : it is equally important in a democracy to have both sided of an argument canvassed and passionately debated. At the end of a campaign in the privacy of the poling booth it is up to each individual to vote as they see fit.

    The same situation arose from the Peace Process; quite a few long serving Republicans North and South had reservations about the agreements, or indeed the possibility of reaching agreements much less their implementation. Many of these Republicans also accepted majority decisions, stayed active in Sinn Fein and continued to work for agreed party policy despite their personal beliefs.

    You and some like minded individuals may see that as tribal; most however will see it as pragmatic, political maturity!