Education & Inequalities: Progress for Working-Class Protestant Boys; No Movement on Greater Catholic Inequality

In June, the Department of Education published the 2015/16 Qualifications and Destinations of NI School Leavers report, which outlines the academic performance of our pupils according to a range of criteria, including school types, gender, relative poverty and religious background of pupils.

After the publication of the 2014/15 report 12 months ago, I wrote this piece on Slugger, highlighting how more than 10,000 working-class Catholic and Protestant boys (ie those entitled to Free School Meals) had left school over the 8 years to that date without securing 5 ‘good’ GCSEs.

In the piece, I illustrated how the evidence clearly pointed towards the need to recognize the existence of two underlining themes if we are to decisively address educational underachievement and make serious inroads into addressing inequalities in Northern Ireland: firstly, the disproportionately high percentage of poor Catholics in the state, and, secondly, the disproportionately high percentage of working class Protestant males struggling to perform well in our education system.

There is no silver bullet to effectively counter educational underachievement.

Understanding the many and varied factors inhibiting children and young people from fulfilling their academic potential leads to an appreciation of the necessity of breaking the cycle of poverty affecting many working class communities as a central objective to make truly transformative changes across society.

Amongst others, these factors include parental, peer and communal expectations, pressures and influences; self-expectation; quality of teaching and learning exposed to at school; school culture; relative poverty household and community background; date of birth; special needs; social and emotional wellbeing.

The 5 ‘good’ GCSE benchmark is widely regarded as a useful one because a failure to obtain what can be viewed as a basic academic profile can severely restrict the employment and therefore life ambitions and prospects for young people, not least those in working class communities without the parental or community support and network to help secure stable employment paths.

These are where the NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) are to be found in our society.

But they are not an acronym. They are real human beings, and addressing profound issues in our society ranging from employment and training to mental health, parenting responsibilities, crime, drug & alcohol addiction and paramilitarism requires recognizing these realities and planning to tackle them accordingly.

Fast forward twelve months, and the publication of the latest figures allows us to examine what, if anything, has changed.

On a positive note, there is clear progress being made with regard to improvements in academic attainment for Free School Meal Entitled (FSME) Protestant boys.

The 34% figure for Protestant boys achieving 5 ‘good’ GCSEs represents a significant advance on previous figures. With some 43.6% of FSME Catholic boys also achieving this in 2015/16, the gap in terms of percentage of poorer pupils obtaining the basic academic threshold of 5 ‘good’ GCSEs is narrowing as the percentage and numbers of poorer Protestant boys securing this academic outcome increases sharply, particularly when compared with pre 2012/13 figures, when less than one in five poorer Protestant boys left school with five good GCSEs.


% and Numbers of FSME Boys Securing 5 ‘Good’ GCSEs
Protestant BoysCatholic BoysDifferential
Number of boys failing to secure

5 ‘good’ GCSEs

4,351 8,059 

To put this in context, were just 94 more FSME Protestant boys to have secured 5 ‘good’ GCSE grades in 2015/16, then the percentage of working-class Protestant boys so doing would have exactly matched their Catholic counterparts at 43.6%.

For the record, the equivalent figures for girls shows that some 42.5% of FSME Protestant girls secured the 5 ‘good’ GCSEs in 2015/16 (351/825) whilst 53.1% of FSME Catholic girls also obtained those grades (979/1845.)

It should also be pointed out that, over that time period (2007/08-2015/16) just over 1,000 boys of No religion or Other religions with FSME have also failed to secure 5 ‘good’ GCSEs.

The increased academic performance being noted amongst poorer Protestant boys comes at a time when the issue of educational underachievement has gradually been replacing academic selection as the primary discussion theme in education based political discourse locally. Of course, the two are not unrelated, but it is certainly the case that educational underachievement is a feature in any and all education systems.

A number of excellent reports into the academic performance of working class Protestant pupils have been produced by Dawn Purvis and John Kyle over recent years, and this theme has been widely and properly recognized throughout and beyond the sector.

The BBC NI True North documentary series recently included an episode entitled ‘Jobs for the Boys’ which highlighted the plight of working class Protestant boys in Belfast as part of a programme focusing on a project involving three such boys.

The programme has also formed a part of BBC NI’s Make It project which seeks to promote training and employment prospects for young people. The series has also included the Belfast football agent and businessman, Gerry Carlile, visiting Belfast Boys’ Model School to speak with boys from the school.

The Department of Education has also been running two pilot full service provision programmes in Belfast over the past 11 years, with the first pilot being established in the two post-primary non-grammar schools serving the overwhelming majority of working class Protestant pupils in north and west Belfast: the Belfast Boys’ Model School and Belfast Model School for Girls.

Both schools have also benefitted from brand new state of the art school buildings in that time, to the tune of tens of millions of pounds. In 2014/15 alone, the schools also received an additional £385,000 as part of the full service pilot.

Since 2009, a similar full service community network has been launched in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast, also in receipt of £385,000 of additional funding in 2014/15.

The Delivering Social Change: Improved Literacy and Numeracy Signature Programme played a critical role in helping to target pupils at risk of underachieving across schools at primary and post-primary level in a way that demonstrably secured marked improvements for the duration of a programme that, unfortunately, could not be continued due to financial constraints (I wrote about the programme here and here on Slugger in recent years.)

Last year, the North Down DUP Councillor, Peter Martin, published a report called No Child Left Behind which explored the issue of educational underachievement and floated a number of productive proposals.

There remains plenty of room for improvement, and retaining a focus on the issue of educational underachievement and, more importantly, actions designed and delivered at government level to effect positive changes will be important to ensure that advances continue to be made.

With regard to Catholic inequality, there remains no sign of the gap closing, as evidenced by the stubbornly static levels of free school meal entitlement for Catholic and Protestant pupils. This merely confirms the picture of significantly greater Catholic deprivation in the state from the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (2010) which is due to be updated later this year.

The stark reality is that Catholic children continue to be disproportionately significantly poorer than their Protestant counterparts, and this is likely to be reflected in the results of the updated deprivation measure.

In 2015/16, 31.2% of Catholic pupils of GCSE age were entitled to Free School Meals. This contrasted with 20.6% of Protestant pupils.

As the table clearly illustrates, there is no sign of greater Catholic deprivation being effectively addressed within our society.

% of GCSE Age Pupils Entitled to Free School Meals by Religion 2007/08- 2015/16


The increases in pupils eligible for FSM entitlement since 2014/15 relates to an extension in criteria for inclusion (Working Tax Credit free school meal criterion), but this has only had the effect of further illustrating a poverty gap which shows no sign of narrowing.

Confronting the reality of greater Catholic poverty levels in Northern Ireland must be a priority for government agencies and any revived Stormont administration alongside the reality of greater educational underachievement amongst working class Protestant boys. The evidence clearly indicates that approaches to date have failed to decisively close the poverty gap. Furthermore, there is a clear correlation between relative poverty levels and academic attainment which indicates that a key primary obstacle to tackling educational underachievement in Northern Irish society is the higher levels of poverty amongst the Catholic population.

With regard to improving levels of attainment amongst working-class Protestant boys, there remains a marked cultural difference borne out in the relative performance of pupils at primary to post-primary transfer level which will continue to frustrate efforts to firmly close the gap in percentage terms between poor Protestant pupils and their Catholic counterparts in particular.

That is something I will address in more detail in a forthcoming article on Slugger.



  • james

    Oh, this is a new angle direct from the Sinn Fein press office, c/o Mr. Donnelly.

    Their previous company line had always been that ‘Protestants’d be thick’.

  • ted hagan

    ‘Their previous company line had always been that ‘Protestants’d be thick’.
    Seems you’re trying to prove a point. Could you not come up with something slightly more intelligent in response to an intelligent article?

  • Abucs

    Not sure if poverty is the right word. I also think that if Catholic children are relatively worse off then it is much better to assess why this is the case first.

    Not a big fan of automatically going to government to force some sort of equality on society without fully understanding underlying reasons.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Brilliant piece; thanks for researching it so well and also for including the link to Dawn Purvis’s report – a must read.
    It is fascinating that despite decades of higher educational attainment there is still noticeable inequality in deprivation measurements. Might it be divisive to explore the reasons?

  • Reader

    Ben De Hellenbacque: Might it be divisive to explore the reasons?
    It has to be done.
    Suspect number one – distance from Belfast.

  • Aodh Morrison


    Look at what themuns are getting!

  • Old Mortality

    Might the higher level of free meals in Catholic schools be due to slightly larger families and/or a higher propensity to claim? The controlled primary school in a rural area which my children attended has had a consistently low figure for free meals which is at odds with the apparent circumstances of families whose children attended the school. Perhaps when few other children in the school are receiving free meals, there is a disinclination to claim unless in very difficult financial straits. Conversely, when most of the children in a school are having free meals there might well be a greater readiness to make a claim.
    I think free school meals is a very crude indicator of material circumstances especially since people with comparatively high incomes can qualify through being in receipt of minimal tax credits.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Right, so, does any one have any solutions?

    I find the free meal ticket a crude indicator for what it’s worth.

    Anyhow, I just did a jobs search and found nearly 3000 jobs posted for the Belfast area and nearly a thousand posted for the Dungannon area (on if anyone is interested).

    Is that a starting point?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Of course it has to be done and the findings have to lead to solutions and the solutions have to be applied.

    I don’t understand “distance from Belfast” apart from urban & rural deprivation affecting individual lives differently.

  • Surveyor

    How many of those jobs require you to have at least 5 GCSE’s at grade C?

  • Glenn

    Until the last assembly Sinn Fein/IRA held the education portfolio. Martin McGuinness from December 1999 to October 2002, then Caitríona Ruane from May 2007 to May 2011, then a 5 year gap. The office was then taken over by John O’Dowd from May 2011 to May 2016. Then Peter Weir for May 2016 to March 2017, until the Sinn Fein/IRA collapsed the assembly.

    So the majority of the time given in the tables education was under the control of Sinn Fein/IRA, so the question needs to be asked what are were they doing???

  • james

    “Until the last assembly Sinn Fein/IRA held the education portfolio. Martin McGuinness from December 1999 to October 2002, then Caitríona Ruane from May 2007 to May 2011, then a 5 year gap. The office was then taken over by John O’Dowd from May 2011 to May 2016. Then Peter Weir for May 2016 to March 2017, until the Sinn Fein/IRA collapsed the assembly.”

    What were they doing?

    Serving their own ends.

    Sinn Fein have a vested interest in creating and perpetuating a disadvantaged, less well-educated class of nationalists. Nationalists who pursue tertiary level education and have successful careers are less likely to vote Sinn Fein.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It varies; the Lidl warehouse worker (8 – 9 quid per hour, company pension after a year) made no mention of academic requirements.

  • Dullahan

    It’s actually a pretty good indicator. You might want to check out – The Reliability of Free School Meal Eligibility as a Measure of Socio-Economic Disadvantage: Evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study in Wales

    Forgive the spoiler but it concluded that: ” In terms of assessing the reliability of eFSM as a measure of socio-economic disadvantage, this simple binary measure is a very good indicator.”

    Interestingly, it did question the link between Free School Meals and academic attainment.

    If that’s not exciting enough then the criteria to qualify for free school meals is outlined here –

    It states to be eligible the parent or guardian must be in receipt of:

    Income Support;
    Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
    Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance;
    Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit;
    Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit with an annual taxable income of £16,190 or less.


    if you are an Asylum Seeker supported by the Home Office Asylum Support Assessment Team (ASAT); or
    if your child has a statement of special educational needs and is designated to require a special diet.
    Student(s) can apply:

    If the course you are studying is a full-time course and you are receiving benefit in your own name.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade


    “On a positive note, there is clear progress being made with regard to improvements in academic attainment for Free School Meal Entitled (FSME) Protestant boys.”

    They were helping poor Irish Protestant boys receive a good education, it would seem.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    A marvellously bonkers theory!

  • Georgie Best

    Given the explicit intention of the unionist parties, with the full encouragement of unionist voters, is to economically disadvantage nationalist border areas, then there is an obvious intention to keep the croppies lying down.

  • murdockp

    Nail on the head. It is in neither DUP or Sinn Fein interest to improve the lot of their hard core support.

    That said a lot of this is over stated.

    In Newry they built 50 disabled parking spaces at their new swimming pool based on disabled bag stats for Newry.

    They did not realise half the town have disabled badges with hardly a limp in sight.

    My personal view is drop the gcses and get these lads into apprenticeships from 15.

    The culture of NI is too academic. We need to change course.

  • murdockp

    No. Because if you cannot take direction or have an attention span or a work ethic no employer has the time to install these values.

    Which is why the Belfast building sites a crawling with lads from every northern county but Belfast.

  • murdockp

    Small point. There is reference the research to boys with out religion.

    Are protestant boys and catholic boys who do not attend church measured as boys without religion or are they measured as having religion.

    Or is the protestant boys and catholic boys terminology simply a cultural identity marker that applies to catholic and loyalist boys regardless of whether they attend religious services.

  • the keep

    If you want a job in Northern Ireland it isn’t hard getting one however some people prefer to take a handout which has a shocking effect on their kids.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m actually startled as to how many jobs there are province wide, time to start booting people off of benefit seekers allowance methinks…

  • aquifer

    The presence of inappropriate roll models may be distracting protestant boys and girls. The security services need to get on top of the alphabet soup brigades. They have started to refuse DUP reps in South Belfast the right to speak now and need to be suppressed.

  • Zack E. Nolan 2

    The real issue here is the number of Roman Catholic children in poverty, something Sinn Fein have never tried to solve.

    The focus on Protestant working class boys takes the focus off SF/IRA and how they have failed the CNR community. Thats the conversation we need.

  • Surveyor

    There are almost 35,000 people or so signing on.

  • Surveyor

    The future is automation anyway murdock. The political class are sticking their heads in the sand about the coming mass forced redundancies.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Isn’t it baffling that there’s such a Labour pool yet companies still have to advertise in such a widespread fashion for thousands of jobs?

    Surely there should be 31 000 people signing on and next to no jobs being advertised?

  • Surveyor

    Whatever you do there’s still going to be 31,000 people unemployed with no jobs to go to.

  • Reader

    Ben De Hellenbacque: I don’t understand “distance from Belfast” apart from urban & rural deprivation affecting individual lives differently.
    There are more job opportunities in Belfast, so the Belfast commuter belt will have less deprivation – Bangor, Newtownards, Castlereagh, Lisburn, Carrickfergus.

  • Gary Thompson

    They might suggest to you that the biggest cause of poverty across the wider community stems from tory cuts.

  • Gary Thompson

    I read an article years ago which gave figures relating to ‘transition’. I cant remember the numbers but it was significant enough. A sizeable section of the unemployed are ‘in betweeners’ made up if people who have just left school or college and are searching for the correct placement, just moved to the area, or have been laid off and are transitioning. This figure it appears is constant if memory serves. In other words a certain percentage will always show as unemployed due to ‘movement’.

  • james

    Oh really?

    What is your explanation, then, for the failure of a succession of SF Ministers of Education?

    I felt I was being charitable in saying it was by design.

    You think it is mere incompetence, we must assume?

    Mind you, since almost nobody in Sinn Fein seems to speak English correctly, it is an act of insanity letting them near education. It is frequently embarrassing to hear them speaking at times.

  • Brian O’Neill

    It’s a marker. They call it perceived identity. Fair to say the majority would not go to church.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Sort of. But there is also a massive tradition of rural based construction companies eg fp McCann in magrelfelt, mivan in Antrim etc.

  • Neil

    What failure? Grades have been consistently improving for both Protestant and Catholic children. You’re welcome.

    Inequality remains an issue but that’s hardly down to the dept of education. The dept of communities is doing well though, removing what little funding working class Catholic school children get (liofa) and wasting millions on land for unnecessary houses in Protestant north Belfast while ignoring severe housing need in the Catholic areas. That would be the DUP controlled dept of communities.

  • the keep

    The dept of communities is doing well though, removing what little funding working class Catholic school children get (liofa)

    Equally I am sure you would be angry about a SF minister taking money of the bandsmen who are from the very same working class.

  • the keep

    The biggest cause of poverty is lazy parents.

  • the keep

    Completely correct is it any wonder why many Businessmen here have bought in Eastern European workers as they are keen arrive on time and flexible.

  • Neil

    Not my hobby horse, but I generally approve of SF ministers offering the hand of friendship towards our Unionist neighbours, so I would have kept it just on pragmatic grounds. Though it was also a SF minister who introduced the grants in the first place. A classic case of what have you done for me lately.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    In other words a decrease of 10%, not bad.


    1/ who would want to invest in a country where workers don’t want to work

    2/ the gaps would have to be filled by immigrants which causes an increase in the cost in private rental market which has a knock on effect to the cost of living thereby exacerbating the poverty issue.

    I don’t see why you’re so hostile to the thought of unemployed people having employment.

  • hgreen

    Automation has been happening for decades. I’m assuming you mean AI.

  • hgreen

    Simplistic nonsense.

  • Ciaran74

    UK 2015-2016 Child poverty is 2 points higher than NI. 2013-14 33% children with Free Meals achieved 5 GCSE’s A-C, dropping 4% from the year before. That’s all I can find on a quick look but it appears we’re neither alone in sidelining working class or poor families/communities and culpable in marginalising them further by promoting selection as better for ‘them’ or investing in them to believe in their futures.

    However, very clearly, back in the goldfish bowl it’s the IRA…….get over yourselves.

  • Georgie Best

    Whatever the bandsmen was about, it isn’t connected to education.

  • the keep

    Yes in exactly the same way Liofa is cross community and educational.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It’s simple, yes.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    The same goes for many unionists including Arlene Foster.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Same as it ever was…..

  • whatif1984true

    FSM entitlement does this correlate with the high numbers of DLA awards/Cars provided in Northern Ireland. My question is whether the high number of DLA recipients in NI (twice that in UK) would translate into higher numbers of FSM recipients than in the UK.
    There is then the question why do we have so many DLA recipients and is a DLA recipient less likely to value education for their children? I dont have any answer to that but the above figures can hide a much more complex story.

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: Same as it ever was…
    So what’s the plan? Swap the populations of Bangor and Coalisland?
    About 20 years ago the Civil Service was cast to the four winds. My brother in law followed his job 70 miles west, which rather undermined the immediate effect, but he will retire fairly soon. But what can be done abou the private sector?

  • Skibo

    As one who has attended University, I call you out on your utter cods wallop!
    Just because you say it, does not make it true.
    What you have to realise is with every 3 Nationalists you meet, two of them vote for Sinn Fein.

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly : Progress for Working-Class Protestant Boys…
    I can easily be convinced that Free School Meals entitlement is a good marker for Deprivation. I am not at all convinced that it is as good a marker for membership of the Working-Class.

  • Skibo

    Can you point me towards the manufacturing industry that will employ all these apprentices?

  • james

    Your explanation is “….but the unionists….”…?

  • james

    “As one who has attended University, I call you out on your utter cods wallop!”

    Cods wallop? Do you mean codswallop? What did you study at university?

    “Just because you say it, does not make it true.”

    Ok, but what are you disagreeing with exactly?

    “What you have to realise is with every 3 Nationalists you meet, two of them vote for Sinn Fein.”

    Hmmm… 100% of nationalists vote?

  • I wonder if religion is the main factor in those inequality numbers. I would hazard a guess that a protestant or catholic growing up east of the bann suffer lower levels of poverty than catholics and protestants west of the bann. Its the relatively high numbers of catholics west of the bann that skew the stats. Maybe its a geography problem and not religion problem. Any thoughts?

  • Surveyor

    You’re allowed to work whilst claiming DLA, aren’t you?

  • Surveyor

    I think we’ve reached near enough full employment anyway, have we not?

    Capitalism always requires a certain amount of surplus unemployed people anyway. To start persecuting them now seems churlish.

  • Zeno

    11,000 people applied for jobs in a new supermarket in Portadown. Any new hotel will get 400/500 applications for jobs. A job working in a shop will typically have 40/50 applicants. People do want jobs going by that.

  • Old Mortality

    Bangor and Strabane maybe but not Coalisland which is only a snort step from Dungannon with its 1,000 vacancies according to a post elsewhere in this thread.

  • Old Mortality

    That is usually referred to as frictional unemployment.

  • hgreen

    It’s nonsense as well.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That’s a good post Zeno.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Feel free to explain why there are so many unfilled posts then and why I’ve heard people complain about the difficulty in finding staff.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    SF Ministers of Education seem to be overseeing exam results that consistently outperform neighbouring Great Britain. If the North’s education system is failing on their watch it really does make one wonder what must be happening on the “chalkface” over in Blighty.

    Now, if I have you right, you seem to be positing the theory that SF are deliberately suppressing the education of Nationalist youngsters in order to maintain a downtrodden underclass that will vote for them? If that is what you are putting forward, it is, without the slightest doubt, the most ludicrous thing I have ever read on Slugger. Where is the evidence for this? Why are so many people from the

    (If this isn’t what you are saying you have my fulsome apologies for taking you up wrong.)

  • Zeno
  • Skibo

    Is there a thousand vacancies because the immigrants are moving home?

  • Skibo

    I mention cod’s wallop as two words as I believe you are trying to make a cod out of people, resulting in your phrase as cod’s wallop. I did, however, miss the hyphen!
    I studied Chemistry and Computers. Later on I studied Civil Engineering.
    What am I disagreeing with? The fact that you say educated people will turn them against Sinn Fein. I am the obvious example that you are wrong What I am saying is education actually turns people towards reunification and the Sinn Fein message. It is the younger, better educated Nationalists who are flocking to Sinn Fein.
    I have not always been so confident on the issue of reunification but what I hear in the general chit chat and see on the ground with electoral results is a general acceptance that things are starting to fall into place for a positive move for reunification.
    Hmmm! Where I come from, Nationalist voting is around 70%. I think I am fairly safe in saying that two thirds of Nationalists vote for Sinn Fein.
    Stop underestimating the character of the Nationalist voter who is voting Sinn Fein.

  • Skibo

    What you have to realise is the fact that the DLA is actually linked to health. The claimant rate in the UK may actually be down to the fact that people in the UK as a whole are not served as well by their elected representatives as they are in Northern Ireland.

  • Skibo

    Zeno it is the exact same in all areas of the North.

  • Skibo

    Is that frictional or seasonal?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    How is being facilitated into the path of gainful employment ‘persecution’? For the landed gentry and aristocracy perhaps, but not for the ‘working class’ surely?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’ve narrowed down the criteria a bit and there are admittedly less entry level jobs than I thought but there’s still way more than I was lead to believe, especially at the big meat plants.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Wait a cotton-pickin minute, that article is 5 years old!!!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    So in theory, no part of Belfast should be worse off than rural areas?

  • Surveyor

    That’s the point, what gainful employment? You just don’t get it, do you?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Clearly I don’t, I’ve highlighted that there ARE jobs, that there ARE people on the dole and that there are children who are in poverty.

    My radical solution is to cajole long term dole claimants into jobs where possible/available. Granted they may be McJobs to begin with but so what, one has to start somewhere.

    And I’ve seen it happen too, I worked for a company in Glasgow that took on ‘hopeless cases’ from an area of high unemployment and some of them flourished.

    I don’t believe every unemployed person is a ‘Frank Gallagher’ but not do I believe that every unemployed person is a ‘Daniel Blake’ either.

  • james

    “That you say educated(sic) people will turn them against Sinn Fein.”

    Hmmm….seems university isn’t what it used to be..

    “I am the obvious example that you are wrong.”

    Is it obvious? ‘Entitled millenial’ is how you’re coming across here, frankly – and that by no means correlates to either ‘well-educated’ or intelligent.

    “What I am saying is education actually turns people towards reunification”

    Why? What on earth are the supposed benefits – beyond the satisfying-but-ultimately-harmful scratching of an 18th century itch which has long since turned septic.

    “and the Sinn Fein message.”

    What is the Sinn Fein message exactly? In your own words.

    “It is the younger, better educated Nationalists who are flocking to Sinn Fein.”


    Younger, possibly, since ignorance does not alter much with age – indeed its main defining characteristic is an imperviousness to the wisdom that should come with age. We can assume that a 60-year-old voting SF is neither more or less ignorant than a 16-year-old making his X beside whichever sectarian schmuck is standing for the Sinners.

    Better educated? Unlikely, since that would imply a degree of ability in critical thinking. And that’s kryptonite to the tired old slogans that the Shinners continue to peddle.

  • Skibo

    What is this (sic) supposed to stand for. play the ball and not the man.
    You are right, university is not what it used to be. It is now open to all on a basis of educational ability and not what family you come from.
    The Sinn Fein message is simple and it is as fresh today as it was the day that Pearse read the proclamation on the steps of the GPO. It is the right of every Irish man and woman regardless of creed or colour to equally determine the direction of the Irish Nation. To build that Nation for the good of all the people of Ireland.
    Sinn Fein believes that the Island of Ireland is the best model for a profitable state. Unionism seems to believe that we cannot support ourselves and need to keep the parental link to the British Parliament.
    I believe our future lays in working together for the good of the whole of Ireland.
    I hear no critical analysis of that, just insults and accusations.
    You accuse Sinn Fein of being sectarian yet the physical action of setting up Northern Ireland and the enforcing of politics and security for over seventy years was based on sectarianism and domination.
    At some stage, you will start to listen to the words of Sinn Fein and to what they mean, rather deciding what you think they mean.

  • 05OCT68

    If a person is unemployed & on benefit it is incumbent of them to seek employment. Now I don’t dispute the figures re available vacancies but I would add that the locality of vacancies is important. A lot of the vacancies may mean travel costs for example & factoring in potential loss of say housing benefit it could put potential employees off. That why Derry wans are always harping about road & train services to Belfast. I’ve always said if we can’t get the jobs to Derry lets get Derry people to the jobs. I would further add that it is also incumbent of employers to pay a decent wage instead of relaying on the government to subsidize employees with in work benefits. The old YTP scheme was disgracefully abused by some employers, getting subsidized “Trainees” then dumping them at 18 when the subsidy ran out then starting another “Trainee” the next week. We have employers complaining of a lack of skilled employees the same employers refusing to invest in apprenticeships or paying apprentices minimum wage instead of JIB or union rates & some that I know of not paying apprentices to attend the “Tech”. Some employers don’t see apprenticeships as an investment in the future of their company.

  • puffen

    Teachers should hang their heads in shame.