Irish Republican News · October 19, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Robinson opposes Catholic schools

DUP First Minister Peter Robinson has described Catholic education as a “benign form of apartheid”.

In a speech on Friday, the First Minister said the current system, which includes a high proportion of schools under the administration of the Catholic church, must change.

On Friday, Mr Robinson also said he wanted to set up a commission to look at the removal of religious-based education. In a speech in the La Mon Hotel, the DUP leader said Catholic and Protestant schools should be closed or merged.

“We cannot hope to move beyond our present community divisions while our young people are educated separately”, Mr Robinson said.

“The reality is that our education system is a benign form of apartheid, which is fundamentally damaging to our society.”

The Catholic church criticised Mr Robinson’s comments.

Bishop Donal McKeown said the right of parents to choose a faith-based education must be recognised. He said it was the “hallmark of a stable and pluralist society”.

“This key principle, which recognises the right of parents, is guaranteed by the European Convention for Human Rights,” the chair of the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education said.

“It is worth pointing out that parents who choose faith-based schools for their children, pay taxes toward the provision of that education.”

Sinn Fein Assembly member John O’Dowd said Robinson’s focus should be on the bureaucracy within the system and not Catholic education.

“The principle of children going to school together, no-one can argue against,” he said.

“However, I suspect that is not the motivation behind the DUP leader’s statement last night.

“What we are witnessing is an attack on the Catholic education sector, not based on the principle that the DUP support integrated education.

“It’s rather based on the principle that the DUP are opposed to the education sector which the Catholic Church has promoted, quite successfully it has to be said.”


The Stormont Minister of Justice David Ford has insisted there can be no extension of the current equal recruitment policy for the PSNI beyond the time limit of March next year.

The system of ‘50-50’ recruitment which was designed to reverse the historical domination by Protestants of the PSNI (formerly the RUC).

“I believe that after 10 years it is time to move to merit rather than artificial, illiberal quotas,” Ford said.

The Minister was responding to a question from local SDLP Assembly member Dominic Bradley who said that the system of ensuring that 50 per cent of all recruits to the police service were Catholics was one of the “major planks” of the peace process.

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