Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

MLA: Don't be eejits over education

The Assembly has been warned over failure to deliver key education reforms

Politicians at the Assembly are in danger of making "eejits" of themselves over the failure to deliver a central plank of education reform, a Stormont representative has claimed.

Parties, and in particular the DUP and Sinn Fein, have been divided for years on the introduction of an Education and Skills Authority (ESA).

It was envisaged as a single streamlined body to replace the various education boards, thereby saving money and driving up standards.

But the SDLP's Conall McDevitt was criticised by rivals after claiming the continuing stalemate made MLAs appear ridiculous to the public.

Alliance Education spokesperson Trevor Lunn proposed a motion calling on the Education Minister to create legislation to establish the ESA.

But Mr McDevitt attacked the record of the Assembly on the issue and said MLAs should be debating legislation instead of discussing its continuing absence.

"Instead we're having talks about talks, about possibly doing something whenever the talks are over about having more talks, and maybe thinking about having a Bill," he said.

The South Belfast MLA said parties had made manifesto commitments on education at last May's elections, but had yet to pass any legislation in the subsequent six months.

"It really is a shocking, shocking indictment of us all," he said.

"We seem to have all forgotten that we made that pledge. Or if we haven't forgotten that we made that pledge, well, where is the action on it? Or do we write these things just, frankly, to make us look like absolute eejits in the eyes of our population here?"

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