Last week a poll in the Belfast Telegraph revealed that an overwhelming majority of parents here support integrated education. Since then, we have been inundated with messages from readers, teachers, celebrities and business people backing the education of Protestant and Catholic children together
Brenda McMullen, principal of Cliftonville Integrated Primary School, Belfast, said:
"It is very good to hear that the vast majority of parents support integrated education. Since Cliftonville gained integrated status over three years ago, the demand for an integrated school in Belfast is very evident as our intake has doubled. We are hoping that in the near future the Department of Education will increase our enrolment numbers to meet the growing demand for places in the school. Thanks for bringing the findings to my attention – much appreciated!"
Anne Anderson, principal of New-Bridge Integrated College, Loughbrickland, said:
"Just a short email to congratulate you on an excellent article in Belfast Telegraph on Thursday on integrated education. Fantastic to read! We are one of the three integrated schools awaiting a decision on our recent development proposal, as to date we have been capped at 500 pupils, despite being a popular, successful and oversubscribed school. Well done again on a great article for integrated education!"
Heather Watson, principal of Phoenix Integrated Primary School, Cookstown, said:
"There it is in black and white! The integrated debate is gathering momentum... Let's keep it going!"
Denise McBay, founding governor, Blackwater Integrated College and Millennium Integrated Primary School, Co Down, said:
"The need for more places within the integrated sector has never been greater. Politicians must be more proactive in making this a reality."
Gerry Lynch, political commentator and pollster, said:
"Time for Stormont to start listening to the people!"
Irene Donnelly, reader, said:
"The publication of the polling results alongside the recent publication of the University of Ulster report demonstrates how far our politicians and policymakers are behind the public desire for real reform in our education system."
Janice Marshall, principal of Drumlins Integrated Primary School, Ballynahinch, said:
"We have had so many positive comments about the article from parents, governors and other schools – it's been great!"
'Culturecreature', website reader, said:
"Integration is a no-brainer!"
Joyce McMeekin, reader, said:
"If our politicians aren't prepared to provide real leadership on breaking the influence of the vested interests in our education system then perhaps it's time for an independent commission. It happened with policing, why not education?"
Rosie Hassin, reader, said:
"People are becoming more aware of the benefits of integrated education. More communities are seeing the positive impact of integrated schools, teaching young students about integration in a peaceful environment. This helps Northern Ireland become more open-minded about different people's backgrounds and different cultures."
Ron Stitt, reader, said:
"May I say your article on integrated education is food for thought and one which I have strongly supported – kids learning together."
Jeffrey Johnston, reader, said:
"I am delighted to see the strong parental support for integrated schools."
'Samphony', website reader, said:
"You can use whatever language you want to try and justify the disgusting segregation of Northern Ireland's children, but whatever the reason you choose the Protestant/Catholic segregation is just as morally wrong as the black/white segregation that once existed in the USA. It is a form of mutual apartheid that is the overriding block to societal harmony in Northern Ireland. Twenty years of 100% integrated education would cure an incredible amount of ills, but it won't happen because too many selfish and twisted people find reasons to prop up and propagate their own fears, suspicions and so-called 'cultural identity'."
'Colmoni', website reader, said:
"An integrated education system is a must, for a host of cultural and economic reasons. It must be a secular system – a school system that offers primacy to no particular religion is one that offers a fair and pluralistic environment."
'Footstool', website reader, said:
"The people are way ahead of the politicians. We need normal political parties here and a healthy opposition to keep them in check and balance."