Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Why integrated education deadly serious issue for Frank Carson's son

Frank Carson's son Tony
Frank Carson's son Tony

Comic Frank Carson's son has said it is time for politicians and the Catholic Church to "be brave" and stop ignoring support for integrated education here.

And the entrepreneur – who revealed he is trying to help bring a £30m project to the province – said the education movement would help bring more inward prosperity.

Tony Carson (below), who travelled to Belfast for a charity gala night in honour of his father, said integrated education would create a more stable society that would "help solve capital starvation that Northern Ireland faces".

He was speaking days after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the results of a poll which showed 79% of people would support a request for their child's school to be integrated.

Mr Carson, who moved to England with his family when he was 13, said when he was approached by the Integrated Education Fund and told what it was doing, he said that for the first time "I thought there is some hope".

He added: "I used to be asked in England: 'Tony, what is all this stuff that is happening in Northern Ireland?'

"As a young lad, 21 years old, I would say 'I've no idea'." He said it was now time to help bring prosperity to Northern Ireland via education.

"So we would like everyone to wake up to this poll with 79% saying you can't ignore it any more.

"It is not just heartening, it is more than that–it is shocking – 79% of people want it but politicians and clergy want to dumb it down to 'sharing', not integrated."

Mr Carson said the multi-million pound project he is working on could benefit Northern Ireland, but alluded to the fact that it is hard to attract investment because of the past problems of violence.

"I am involved in trying to put a substantial project together for Northern Ireland – I can't say what it is yet.

"But it is between £20m and £30m in its first phase; it will bring employment, it will bring a lot of good commercial things. This is a UK-based project for Northern Ireland trying to get investors' heads around putting money into Northern Ireland.

"I'm trying to broker it as the Ulster guy and say 'it is a great place'."

He added: "Integrated education will help solve that capital starvation that Northern Ireland has got, because it doesn't get enough inward investment to create jobs and prosperity."

And he said his late father (above), who died last year aged 85, would have been proud to have seen the results of the poll.

"He would have cracked a joke about something or other to shame maybe somebody to coming on board. He would have been very happy."

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