Belfast Telegraph

NI integrated education body loses out on Nobel Peace Prize

Winner: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Winner: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

By Eimear McGovern

The integrated schools movement in Northern Ireland was pipped at the post for a Nobel Peace Prize after losing out to the Ethiopian prime minister.

Abiy Ahmed was awarded the prize yesterday for his efforts to "achieve peace and international cooperation" after Ethiopia reached a peace deal with Eritrea, ending a 20-year military stalemate.

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) congratulated Mr Ahmed on his success.

It said the nomination was an acknowledgement of the work done in the sector.

"This is wonderful news for a very deserved winner who has worked tirelessly for peace and international cooperation for his country," the group said in a statement.

The first fully integrated school for Protestant and Catholic children opened in Northern Ireland during the 1970s and today around 7% of the school population attend an integrated school.

"NICIE was both thrilled and humbled to have been nominated.

"We would like to pass on our sincere thanks to those who took time and consideration in officially nominating us," the body said.

"From the list of confirmed nominations we were included with some fantastic organisations and individuals, each well-deserved nominees in their own right."

It added: "Whilst winning would have been fantastic, the nomination acknowledges the dedication and great effort of so many incredible people over the last 38 years in the development of integrated education in Northern Ireland.

"For that alone we are tremendously grateful."

Baroness May Blood, campaign chair of the Integrated Education Fund in Northern Ireland, had said earlier this week that they were humbled to have been nominated for the prize, which carries a prize fund of about £730,000 or nine million Swedish krona.

The former Labour peer said international recognition means the work that has been put in for the last four decades is "beginning to bear fruit".

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