Ulster Unionist Party Education spokesperson Danny Kinahan MLA has questioned the commitment of the lead parties in the Executive- Sinn Fein and the DUP- to shared education in Northern Ireland.
Mr Kinahan said:
“Yesterday I questioned the Deputy First Minister in the Assembly about what action his and the First Minister’s Department has agreed with the Education Minister on shared education and its funding. The vague nature of his reply confirms my concern that their commitment is less than wholehearted. When combined with the carping attitude displayed by so many MLAs in last week’s shared education debate, I get a distinct impression that leading lights in the Executive are content to continue with a shared out education system , not a truly shared one.”
During Question time, the South Antrim MLA said:
“I welcome any move forward on shared education. However, in last week's debate, the DUP amendment took out all reference to sharing in education other than shared campuses and the signature projects. The dFM's party supported that by abstaining. Does the deputy First Minister actually believe in trying to achieve the long-term goal of a single, shared education system?”
Speaking later Mr Kinahan said:
“The Deputy First Minister’s references to the proposed Lisanelly shared campus project in Omagh are all well and good, but it remains to be seen how truly a shared educational experience that will be. Sinn Fein said they supported the recommendations of the Advancing Shared Education Report issued last year, but by abstaining in the Assembly vote they appear to be back peddling. Meanwhile, previous DUP rhetoric describing segregated schooling as being a ‘benign form of apartheid’ seems to be just that - rhetoric.”