Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Integrating our schools won't end sectarianism

It is now the conventional wisdom of the British Establishment in Northern Ireland that children must be herded into integrated schools to bring about a united society. This is a moral and political abdication of responsibility by adult society.

What the Establishment wishes to do is to change Catholic/ Protestant attitudes to each other, but can schools do this?

Attitude is easy to form, but difficult to change. It is the opinion of educationalists that, in the formation of attitudes, the home has a weighting of 60, the community 30 and schools 10. So, in changing attitude, the school is a blunt instrument.

Will schooling change that sectarian racist attitude of the Orange Order to Catholics, or to its own members attending Mass?

The only effective way to change attitudes is by the enactment of legislation by central government. Attitudes to race, sexual orientation, smoking, drinking or speeding can be changed by central government legislation; schools have little to do with it.

The Assembly is powerless to change sectarian attitudes since it depends for its existence on an attitudinal sectarian vote.

What divides Catholic and Protestant and keeps a border in existence is attitude to the constitution. That attitude is formed in the home and the community - not in schools.

Schools are a symptom of sectarian division, not the cause of it. If society is to be united in Ireland, the logical and effective thing to do is change the constitution - and that can only be done by legislation enacted at Westminster.

MICHAEL GILLESPIE

Londonderry

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