The President of Ireland has again shown his support for integrated education in Northern Ireland after welcoming two of the leading campaigners to his Dublin residence on Friday.
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina met with Baroness Blood and Paul Caskey of the Integrated Education Fund at Áras an Uachtaráin, where they discussed the Baroness’ work in education and her contribution to peace and full participation in society for children and parents.
President Higgins paid tribute to the work of the Integrated Education Fund and to Baroness Blood in particular, after discussions on how the whole of Ireland can make further progress in co-operation.
“The work of the Integrated Education Fund, which supports communities and schools who are working to create a shared future based on integrated education for their children, is of the greatest importance in its potential contributions as to how we might realise a peaceful and fulfilling future for all of the children on the island of Ireland,” said President Higgins after the meeting.
“Sabina and I have been long-time supporters of the Educate Together movement.
"We were founding members and active Board members of the Galway School Project,” he said.
“We remain convinced that the ethos of practical equality that informs the Integrated Education and Educate Together movements is pivotal for our common future.
“An inclusive approach to the education of our young people is an empowering one. It is one of the most important factors in enabling our children to become independent minded, yet socially informed and responsible, democratic citizens; citizens who are encouraged and enabled to envision the means to a better and fairer society, a shared society where there is room and appreciation for the views, skills and identities of all,” said the President.
In April, President Higgins said educating pupils based on the their religious background is “abandoning them to parcels of hate and memory that others are manipulating”.
“Who in 2021 can justify the teaching of children separately on the basis of belief?” the President said in an interview with RTE to celebrate his 80th birthday.