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Side-stepping political leaders can't be allowed to keep ignoring integrated education promises

Letter of the day: Shared Future

Whilst ordinary citizens await the formation of a government for Northern Ireland and the presentation of a budget, the scant news we hear from the negotiations is all about sticking points, red lines, broken promises and 'forgotten' commitments.

As we approach another Good Friday, it's inevitable that thoughts turn to 1998 and the negotiations that led to the Belfast Agreement, which explicitly included a commitment to growing integrated education. Shouldn't this be on the list of broken promises? It seems to be one of the issues forgotten or abandoned by the powers-that-be.

The number of children and teenagers in integrated schools has grown since Easter 1998. But this is largely thanks to the commitment of parents and of principals and governors who have worked to bring their school's local community together, by establishing new integrated schools or transforming existing schools to integrated status. Not once has the initiative been taken by government.

If political leaders are committed to the future of Northern Ireland, they need to remember the previous promises made regarding educating young people together. There has been, in the past year, an Independent Review of Integrated Education, published in the last minutes before polling closed on March 2 but now ignored by the bigger parties amidst the wrangling and rumours about the future of the Assembly.

We need to see a leadership emerge which can assure us this review will be properly considered and acted upon.

The sidestepping of the issue of our divided education system reflects, shamefully, the lack of political will to create a properly shared future.

Marie Cowan

Chair of the Integrated Education Fund

Belfast Telegraph

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