As DC noted in the comments zone of Brian’s post on our special little pleaders, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson made an interesting pitch during the Conservative Conference fringe event on NI today.
With a number of NI Executive ministers present, Owen Paterson argued that the “British taxpayer should not continue to subsidise segregation” in NI, and he highlighted segregated education here as a particular example of “a criminal waste of public money”.
Speaking to UTV in Birmingham after the event NI deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, appeared to enthusiastical endorse Owen Paterson’s comments
Mr McGuinness – told UTV he was an “integrationist”.
“The first decision I took as minister of education was to establish two integrated schools in Belfast”, he told UTV. “I’m all for it”.
Back in Northern Ireland, however, the current Education Minister Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane’s reaction was more… traditional.
“It is irresponsible to make ill-informed comments about areas which are not your responsibility. Mr Patterson [sic] is thankfully not in charge of any Department in the north of Ireland.”