Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Alliance should learn lesson on integration

We have just experienced our fourth debate in the Assembly on integrated education which, in itself, is fair enough.

But to be continually leaving blame for the sectarianism of this society at the doors of Catholic schools is getting a bit much.

Each time Alliance speaks on this subject, it appears to lose the run of itself. It is clear their spokespersons have no appreciation of the work done in Catholic schools during the Troubles.

The Catholic school was, for many children, a sanctuary where children felt safe and shielded in a Christian ethos which taught them respect for other children of different religions and of none.

Teachers who worked in those schools (and those who have taken their place) have no need to feel guilty about sectarianism – they were and are no part of it.

I also have to say that, in my many visits to schools in the controlled sector, I never found any evidence of sectarianism being encouraged.

In a modern society there is no reason why parents and pupils should not have a choice in their education.

For some, it will be integrated education; for others it will be faith-based. And that is how it should be.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

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