Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has described the decision of Southern Education and Library Board members to vote in favour of Option A, effectively ending the Dickson Plan system, as a ‘betrayal of public opinion.’ Mrs Dobson was reacting to the vote by the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) in favour of Option A by 9 votes to 5.
Commenting the Upper Bann MLA said: “The SELB has effectively done John O’Dowd’s dirty work for him. I have been consistent in my support for the retention of Dickson because it delivers excellent results for young people.
“Many families across this area will be furious and feeling totally let down by the SELB. The Dickson Plan retains massive public support and for the SELB to cast aside the views of the public in favour of a politically motivated comprehensive system is a complete betrayal of their views.
“Despite efforts by my colleagues, Ronnie Harkness and Sylvia McRoberts, to gain an extension to the time for a decision to be made, the SELB pressed on with a potentially flawed process which does not have the support of the people of Upper Bann.
“In many ways it reflects more of the ‘so what’ attitude displayed recently by John O`Dowd.
“For many years the people of Upper Bann have made their voices crystal clear in support of the Dickson Plan and the decision by the Board today flies in the face of that.
“There are question marks hanging over this whole process and the fact that the SELB would not even facilitate a recorded vote on the matter does nothing to allay people`s fears.
“I am referring the process to the equality commission for investigation as I believe that rules and conventions may have been glibly set aside in pursuit of Option A.
“The Ulster Unionist Party are clear in our view that the Dickson Plan system must be retained.”