Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein MLA responds to 'scaremongering' claim over letter to principals

A Sinn Fein MLA has hit back at criticism for allegedly accusing teachers in Londonderry of scaremongering over funding cuts.

Last Friday, Foyle MLA Karen Mullan sent a letter to principals, in response to a letter the principals had sent to parents.

The letter to parents outlined a lack of support and funding available and the potential it had to threaten the quality of service being delivered in schools - pointing the the reduction in the amount available for each child.

Last month schools in Northern Ireland were told they would be required to live within their shrinking budgets, with spending on pre-school, primary and secondary education per pupil 46% higher in Scotland, 18% higher in England and 31% higher in Wales.

A response letter from the Sinn Fein MLA to the concerned principals was posted to Twitter by journalist Leona O'Neill.

"I like parents and school principals am fully supportive of the request for greater funding to go to education," writes Mrs Mullan.

"There has been no lack of political support from myself or my party colleagues when it comes to arguing for greater financial support for education."

Mrs Mullan goes over a number of funding challenges, and Northern Ireland's position in relation to the rest of the UK.

In the final paragraph on the first page she writes: "While I recognise some schools are facing significant pressures it is important to point out that not all schools are experiencing the issues highlighted in the letter. Such broad and sweeping assertions have the potential to cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for parents."

Responding to the letter, SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: "How dare Sinn Fein accuse our teachers of scaremongering?

"So Sinn Fein think they know better than our teachers and principals who are trying to run schools with huge cuts to budgets, often spending from their own pockets, in deteriorating conditions!

"Redundancies at an all time high no capacity for recruitment, not to mention the huge issues with schools maintenance!

"When was the last time Sinn Fein even visited a school?"

Karen Mullan responded by tweeting out the letter with an additional paragraph included on the second page.

In the tweet she writes: "At no stage did I tell anyone to stop scaremongering I reiterated my wholehearted support for schools facing sustained ToryDUP cuts & pointed out the most effective solution."

On the second page of the letter, it reads: "I and my colleagues will continue to make the case for greater resources for public services and particularly for education. I would appreciate if you could respond and give me a detailed breakdown on the issues that are impacting on teaching and learning in your school and I will make contact with DE and the Education Authority on your behalf."

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