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DUP MLA warns of 'broken Ulster'

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A decline in morals has led to a 'broken Ulster' which is fuelling Protestant under-achievement in education, says a DUP politician

A decline in morals has led to a 'broken Ulster' which is fuelling Protestant under-achievement in education, says a DUP politician

A decline in morals has led to a 'broken Ulster' which is fuelling Protestant under-achievement in education, says a DUP politician

A decline in traditional values and morals has created a "broken Ulster" which is fuelling Protestant under-achievement in education, a DUP politician has claimed.

The remarks came as Stormont parties united behind an Assembly motion calling for efforts to tackle lower levels of attainment at school among pupils from Protestant working-class communities.

But while most speakers blamed deprivation and the decline of long-standing industries for the trend, the DUP's newly-elected David McIlveen said the declining role of religion and "moral fibre" had to be considered.

He also, meanwhile, used his maiden speech to reveal his late grandmother's Irish republican beliefs and dedicated his election success to the Co Cavan-born woman's memory, despite not sharing her political outlook.

Mr McIlveen, whose father is the prominent Free Presbyterian minister of the same name, said educational under-achievement was a major issue in Protestant working-class areas.

"However, I think that what we have to accept is that whilst this is a debate that circles around education, the education aspect of it is really just the tip of the iceberg," the North Antrim MLA said.

"As I have spoken to many people who work within the education sector, particularly in working-class areas, it is very clear that this debate spans into other departments. It really goes right to the very moral fibre of where Northern Ireland is at this present time.

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"Because, whether we like it or not, in our schools and in our working-class estates, particularly in Protestant areas, there is a lack of parental guidance, there is a lack of pastoral guidance... and this is the biggest issue we have here, in working-class Protestant areas at the moment."

He recounted a case of drunkenness involving two 12-year-old girls and added: "What we have to realise is that we have a much deeper problem than what is just happening within the schools. David Cameron, our Prime Minister, in the last election fought on the basis of 'Broken Britain' and I believe sincerely that we have a case of 'Broken Ulster' in this society at this moment of time."

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry said the issue of educational under-achievement was linked to deprivation across the community. Both he and Education Minister John O'Dowd were in the chamber for the debate and speakers from all parties said the issue required action.


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