O’Dowd invite to prize giving rescinded

Simon Doyle has an interesting story in today’s Irish News.

The Education Minister, John O’Dowd was invited to be the guest of honour at Parkhall Integrated College at their annual prize giving ceremony. I remember when I was  in first year, my school scoring David Trimble as First Minister to come in and chat to us and it really is a real coup when any minister comes into recognise the work being done by students and teachers.

Back to the story, O’Dowd’s invitation was however, rescended after an Ulster Unionist Councillor, Adrian Watson, who is on the board of governors of the school objected to the invite, threatening to stay away if O’Dowd attended. The paper reports that Watson thought that O”Dowd was not a good role model. I am not exactly sure what O’Dowd has done to not be a good role model for students, but there you go.

Now we get to the pure farce of the story as Simon Doyle reports that even after O’Dowd had been uninvited, Watson still did not attend the prize giving. Watson told the Irish News that the prize giving was not about Sinn Fein, but that he did not believe that having a political guest speaker could offend people.

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  • Rapunsell

    Seen this in the Belfast Telegraph last week and was astounded and speaking as the parent of 3 children in both integrated primary and secondary schools
    John O Dowd is the Education Minister FFS and an eminently suitable person to have at any school prize giving – IMHO – having any Minister speak at an event is not an endorsement of their political views or position individually or their party
    1. who thought it a good idea to rescind the invite? It was insulting bad manners and shows integrated education in a bad light
    2. Adrian Watson does not seem to me a fit person to be on the BoG of an integrated school – its not a good idea to have the Minister for Education speaking at a school event – but it apparently is ok for a prejudiced councillor to be on the school board of governors?

  • Nevin

    “I am not exactly sure what O’Dowd has done to not be a good role model for students, but there you go.”

    David, the Antrim Guardian published the following comments from the UUP councillor:

    “I would have thought that it would be wise to put something like this before the Board of Governors first, but someone clearly thought otherwise.
    “Personally I think that the special guest at any prize distribution should be a person that the young people who have worked so hard can identify with and aspire to.
    “I will play no part in this shameful charade, and even if my child had won a prize, they wouldn’t be there either. This should be a celebration of achievement, but it has been overshadowed by the foolish decision to invite this man.
    “I think I speak for many when I say that he is not welcome. Sinn Fein may have pulled the wool over the eyes of the people who voted them into power, but I see them for what they are – apologists for decades of republican terror.”

    There’s a small typo in the BelTel article. The NEELB CEO is Shane McCurdy, not Shane McCarty.

  • Thomas Girvan

    I would have thought that the sensitivities around a Sinn Fein politician being presented to children should be seriously considered.
    Statistically it would be odds on that there would be children at the school who would have had relatives killed by terrorists.
    Consideration for victims and their families, should be paramount.

  • Séamus


    This man
    is on the board of governors for an integrated school? What an advertisement for the sector.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    This is a non-story, from an abstract position this individual is aligned to a party that endorsed sectarian, ethnic and cultural terrorism and violence with many of its member active participants. Only recently has it been discovered the said party manipulated victims of peodophilia and rape while protecting the perpetrators.

    From a less fundamental perspective the individual is completely incompetent in their role with a tendency to close down controlled schools.

    I know of few from the Unionist community who would be happy with O’Dowd preaching to their children.

  • Sp12

    ahh, integrated education, the solution to all of society’s ills.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    It’s directed at Watson.

  • babyface finlayson

    Maybe,but equally there could be children had relatives killed or injured by loyalist groups or state forces with the support of Unionist parties.
    So to me it is another good reason to get rid of the old generation steeped in the conflict, so many of whom have blood on their hands. They need to leave the stage.
    I don’t think O’Dowd falls into that category so let him get on with his job.
    Those who wish to boycott the event could do so.

  • Sp12

    “I would have thought that the sensitivities around a Sinn Fein politician being presented to children should be seriously considered.”

    Imagine the fuss if he decided not to go because the event had something to do with the DoE awards or something!
    Won’t someone please think of the children?

  • carl marks

    and few in the nationalist community would be happy with a man such as Watson with his obvious hatred of Irish culture being on the board of directors of a school, but we all have to compromise, Tis a pity that Unionists are too small minded to realise this,

  • carl marks

    note Nevin as pointed out before this is the same man who objected to kids bag packing while wearing GAA tops, seems he’s not willing to tolerate any thing nationalist so i think we can take his high handed words with a pinch of salt.
    I wonder what his line is about loyalist bands linked to terror groups walking past the relatives of victims of those same terror groups. i suspect he agrees with his party line and supports them!
    there is a very high level of double standards here.

  • Gaygael

    Adrian Watson may have some form for ill tempered remarks and reactions. Assault against someone in his home I think, dodgy remarks about travellers and same sex couples which he later distanced himself from.
    He was not the UCUNF candidate in 2010, with Sir Reg running instead and losing by 1200, but ran for assembly in 2011 coming third from bottom. He topped the poll in antrim dea 2014.

    It’s this weird identity crises if the UUP. They keep riding two horses. Liberal, modern Brits versus out DUPing the DUP. NI21 would have hastened them having to make a choice. Nesbitt can avoid this temporarily and it suits to have Kinahan as the candidate for Westminster, and Watson shoring up some of that base that may not feel affinity with Kinahan.

    And I worry that Nesbit is going to think that this works if he has any success in Westminster. Play two faces of the UUP and hold the DUP close.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    You know something folks, Unionist have left Slugger so you can thrash it out amongst yourselves you backward bunch of bigots.

  • carl marks

    i think that you have just proved my point for me Joe.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Just stick to your own Carl, no Unionists allowed here.