DCSIMG

Call to halt ‘area planning process’

Jo-Anne Dobson. INLM4710-882con

Jo-Anne Dobson. INLM4710-882con

The Assembly has passed an Ulster Unionist Party motion calling on the Sinn Fein Education Minister John O’Dowd to immediately suspend the Area Planning process.

Commenting after the successful vote UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said: “The SELB’s Area Planning proposal known as Option A, which would have destroyed the popular Dickson Plan, sent ripples of anger through the community in Craigavon and Tandragee.

“I was proud, alongside my colleague Danny Kinahan MLA, to introduce a motion to the floor of the Assembly which called for the immediate suspension of Area Planning across 
Northern Ireland.

“Following a heated debate in the Assembly Chamber the motion was passed by 62 
votes to 25.”

She went on: “I will not be found wanting in holding John O’Dowd to account - we need to start putting pupils first, and not politics!

“The people of Craigavon and Tandragee have consistently demonstrated their overwhelming opposition to any moves which would damage the Dickson Plan and I have supported them every step of the way.

“They and I want to see the accommodation issues at Craigavon Senior High School resolved, something which has gone unaddressed for far too long!

“That is why our motion at the Assembly is so important as it calls on the Minister to put an end to this dangerous process and look again at how we can make the education system work best for every single child.

“The onus is now on John O’Dowd to listen to the loud voices of the people, recognise the democratic will of the Assembly and put an end to process which is fatally flawed and dangerous.

“Turning the education of our young children into a political football is not helping a single pupil to succeed. I was pleased that our motion received support from political parties across the chamber and am calling on them to join with me in opposing Sinn Fein political doctrine entering our classrooms 
at all levels.

“Under the present Area Planning mess, decisions are either being proposed or taken that will drastically change the entire education system for years to come. Such has been the outpouring of anger among teachers, parents and pupils that all too often, people feel that their rights are being ridden roughshod over!”

Following the debate local DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said, “I took the opportunity to drive home again the shambles that the SELB and the Minister made regarding Area Planning in Craigavon and Tandragee in recent days.

“What we witnessed within our community was an attempt to railroad a flawed Ministerial ideology upon a community that was utterly opposed to the dismantling of a system that has served the area well for 40 years and has produced higher than 
average results.

“The debate provided an opportunity to highlight again the benefits of the Dickson Plan system and to raise the point that the Department needs to act swiftly to address the estate problem with the Senior High, Lurgan Campus however, there is no need to decimate a system just because of an estate issue which can be easily addressed with bricks 
and mortar.”

 

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