Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Show me evidence of bias against integrated sector, demands John O'Dowd

Education Minister John O'Dowd
Education Minister John O'Dowd

Stormont's Education Minister has challenged Assembly Members to name a school or sector that he has discriminated against.

John O'Dowd said claims he had treated some schools "more equally than others" did not stack up.

Mr O'Dowd had been pressed by MLAs on a recent judicial decision that had criticised elements of his department's policy in regard to area planning and, specifically, the integrated sector.

Last month, Mr Justice Treacy identified a degree of inflexibility in the planning model that inhibited the active promotion of integrated education.

Mr Justice Treacy was ruling in Belfast High Court on a judicial review taken by Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh relating to a decision by Mr O'Dowd in 2012 to turn down a development proposal to expand numbers.

The issue was yesterday discussed in the Assembly chamber and when challenged, O'Dowd hit back. "Name where I have been involved in discrimination against a school? Name them. Because these broad stroke statements do not stack up," he said.

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