FROM: David Calvert, TUV Upper Bann
We share the obvious disappointment and disbelief of parents in Upper Bann that Controlled schools within the Dickson Plan were not treated with equality in the recent announcement from the Sinn Fein Education Minister concerning allocation of finance for new school buildings.
To ignore one section of the community in allocating all the finance to three Roman Catholic schools and one integrated school shows an obvious bias and is not in line with Sinn Fein’s policy of “parity of esteem and equality”.
Unlike the DUP we are not surprised at this unfair allocation of funds – it is only to be expected of Sinn Fein/IRA ministers. Lurgan College, Portadown College, Craigavon Senior High and the Junior High schools are all equally in need of funds and new premises, and yet they get nothing. According to the local press Mr O’Dowd has put on the record that “funding for grammar schools isn’t going to happen”. How can the DUP allow this situation to continue when they boast that the DUP is in control in Stormont?”
We are somewhat amazed that DUP MLAs Mr Moutray and Mr Anderson attack Mr O’Dowd for “neglecting funds for the Controlled Sector in Upper Bann”.
After all Mr O’Dowd is a minister in the Sinn Fein/DUP coalition government and it was the DUP who without objection allowed Sinn Fein to hold this office. The question must be asked of these MLAs – what did you expect Mr O’Dowd to do? Were you so naïve that you did not realise how Sinn Fein would act when you gave them power over educational matters? Sinn Fein/IRA are only doing “what it says on the tin”.
When the ministers in the Executive were being selected the DUP had the opportunity to select as first choice the Ministry of Education portfolio, but they failed to do this.
The local DUP MLAs tell us they have been “lobbying for more than 10 years”. They have obviously failed and have been totally ineffective, and clearly have no say whatsoever over education no matter how much they would like to pretend otherwise.
This latest inequality clearly demonstrates why TUV have said from the beginning that the Assembly is undemocratic and clearly works against the Unionist community, as it was designed to do. It appears that Sinn Fein dictates education policy without any effective input or approval from Unionists. We challenge Mr Moutray and Mr Anderson to have this unacceptable policy changed by the Executive of the Assembly where the DUP claims they have a veto, or else bring forward a “petition of concern” to reverse this policy. This must be done to ensure fairness for the other schools in Craigavon. Failure to do so will highlight once again that minority rule is all we can expect from Stormont.
You get what you vote for. By voting DUP you vote for full implementation of the principles of the Belfast/ St Andrews Agreement – the outworking of this is Sinn Fein control of education and absolutely no money for ‘Protestant schools’.